Monday, 1 March 2021

NUI Galway’s Active* Consent, USI and GRCC launch “Start Here”campaign that will provide tools on how college staff and students can support someone who discloses sexual violence or harassment to them NUI Galway’s Active* Consent, the Union of Students in Ireland and Galway Rape Crisis Centre have launched an eight-week “Start Here” social media campaign. This national campaign empowers college students and staff with basic information to respond to disclosures of sexual violence and harassment. It was launched online today (1 March 2021) by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD. The new “Start Here” campaign tools include a downloadable card of tips on disclosure, a series of short videos that work through the tips, and open access to Active* Consent’s 45-minute eLearning module on consent, sexual violence and harassment based on further data gathered from the Sexual Experiences Survey carried out in 2020 by the Active* Consent team and Union of Students in Ireland. Active* Consent and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) have partnered with Galway Rape Crisis Centre (GRCC) to turn these findings into a set of tools that could be disseminated and amplified online to give college students and staff access to key information. Over the next eight weeks, “Start Here” will offer: Basic do’s and dont’s of receiving a disclosure Key information on support services and how to access them nationally Current research statistics on college students’ experiences of sexual violence and harassment Open access to Active* Consent’s self-guided 45-minute eLearning module on consent, sexual violence and harassment The opportunity to access online student-tailored disclosure training by Galway Rape Crisis Centre Ongoing interactive content diving deeper into all of this information in detail through quizzes, stories and other forms of direct engagement Minister Harris stated: “I would like to pay tribute to NUI Galway’s Active* Consent, USI and the Galway Rape Crisis Centre for developing the “Start Here” campaign. My Department is determined to tackle sexual harassment and sexual violence in our Higher Education Institutions and this eight-week social media campaign will help empower students and staff with information and advice on how to respond practically and compassionately to disclosures of sexual violence and harassment” Charlotte McIvor, co-lead of Active* Consent and lead on this campaign with Alexandra Black at NUI Galway, said: “Key to Active* Consent’s mission is doing the research and then creating tools and experiences that build knowledge and engagement for students and staff regarding consent, sexual violence and harassment. “Start Here” meets this aim by taking an intimidating topic for many and translating it into sound bites and concrete steps that college staff and students can make use of in the real world.” As part of this launch, Active* Consent also announced the full details of their staff training programme which is now accessible, including a 15-minute animation to introduce all college staff to basic information about consent, sexual violence and harassment and a First Point of Contact training programme created in partnership with Galway Rape Crisis Centre. Union of Students in Ireland President, Lorna Fitzpatrick said: “USI is delighted to partner with the Active* Consent team on this national campaign aiming to advise students on how to best support their friends or classmates during and after a disclosure of sexual violence or harassment. The results from the Sexual Experiences Survey emphasised the crucial role friends and other peers play when it comes to supporting survivors of sexual violence and assault. The main objective of this campaign is to provide students with practical knowledge and understanding of how to support someone who discloses to them. This campaign has the potential to make a significant impact on creating a supporting environment for survivors of sexual violence, assault and harassment.” Cathy Connolly, Executive Director, Galway Rape Crisis Centre, said: “Galway Rape Crisis Centre has been supporting survivors of sexual violence for almost 40 years. One of the key things we have learned is that the response a survivor receives when disclosing their experiences can have an impactful and long lasting effect. GRCC are delighted to be partnering with the Active*Consent team and the Union of Students in Ireland on this national campaign. The campaign aims to give students and young people access to information on how to best support their friends and themselves when a disclosure of sexual violence or harassment happens, and offers the opportunity to build further skills in this area. Part of GRCC’s mission is to work towards ending cultural and societal tolerance of sexual violence and this campaign is a positive step in this direction.” Active* Consent is funded by Lifes2Good Foundation, Rethink Ireland, NUI Galway, Higher Education Authority and Department of Education and Skills. To track the campaign on social media, follow Active* Consent on: Facebook: Active Consent at NUI Galway; Instagram: @activeconsent; Twitter: @activeconsent and use the hashtags: #StartHere #IBelieveSurvivors. To view the "Start Here" elearning module see: https://activeconsent.usi.ie/training/#/ and to access the campaign website visit: www.nuigalway.ie/activeconsent/start-here/ For more information about the “Start Here” Campaign or how to work directly with Active* Consent, email activeconsent@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Monday, 1 March 2021

NUI Galway hosts series of online events and special documentary launch ‘Travellers in Higher Education – Building a Sense of Belonging’ charts ambitions and experiences of students   Traveller students at NUI Galway have taken to the screen to share their experience of studying at university and to encourage others in the community to aim high in education. The short documentary ‘Travellers in Higher Education – Building a Sense of Belonging’ has been produced as part of the efforts by the University's Access Office to support Travellers as role models and their participation in education. The film was released as part of today's events to mark Traveller Ethnicity Day, which was launched by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, T.D., and attended by President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh.  The documentary features compelling interviews with students as they reflect on their experiences and pursuing goals. Anna Keane was an early school leaver who always felt education was for other people. “It was very daunting, being honest. It was kind of that imposter syndrome. Do I belong here? Am I able to do this? “I don’t feel I am a role model but if I am that’s a nice thing to feel. I just hope our stories inspire anybody out there watching.” Jason Sherlock, from Galway, is a final year BA Arts and Economics at NUI Galway. “I was kind of hiding my identity through secondary school. I felt it was the only way for me to get through it. I wasn’t sure would people be comfortable with me if I said who I was, my identity,” Mr Sherlock said. Emma Ward is 18, from Athenry, and the first in her family to go on to third level education. “I just want to do something with my life, even though I’m in a wheelchair. I don’t want to let it define me. I’ve never let it define me,” she said.  Ann Marie Ward works with Glionndar Community Group in Athenry and studied a Bachelor of Community, Youth and Family Studies. “We got other education that you could not buy at university. Our parents instilled in us the ability to see other people for being themselves and to not be judgmental.” The documentary was filmed and edited by Dawid Piotr Szlaga of Wild Island Pictures and part-funded by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth in support of Traveller Pride Week. Within the EU, Ireland has one of the highest participation rates for third-level education. However, a Government report from 2019 cited recent studies that found there are only 61 Travellers in higher education. Approximately 1% of Travellers have a third-level education. Owen Ward, programme coordinator in NUI Galway’s Access Centre, last year became the first Traveller to sit on a university governing authority in Ireland. “Traveller students in third level are pioneers. We don’t have to give up our cultural identity for academic achievement. It is an asset. Younger students need to see the value in that and use it,” Mr Ward said. "Understanding and providing for the particular needs of Travellers as they seek to access and progress in higher education is critical to ensuring that the Traveller community can fulfil their potential through education especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. “At NUI Galway we work hard to make this a reality. However, I believe that within a national context, a whole education approach is important for enabling participation by Travellers in higher education. That is why we need a National Traveller Education Plan.” Imelda Byrne, Head of the Access Centre at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway has a proven track record of widening participation of Travellers in higher education. In 2018, there were 61 Travellers in higher education with approximately 20 of them studying at NUI Galway. In the same year, the Mincéirs Whiden society, the first Traveller student society was established and NUI Galway is the only university to include Travellers for the University of Sanctuary scholarships.” The documentary can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr98Es1pGUtMJxyT3RrWWug Ends

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

NUI Galway has joined forces with a new European network to accelerate clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccines. The EU VACCELERATE project connects all stakeholders involved in vaccine development on the continent in order to speed up the next two phases of vaccine trials for Covid-19. Some 21 countries are involved as part of pandemic preparedness on a pan-European scale, creating the backbone of a new structure to coordinate the fast and effective testing of vaccine candidates. NUI Galway lead, Professor Declan Devane, Deputy Dean of the University’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, said: “We are delighted to play our role in enhancing Ireland’s capacity to conduct vaccine clinical trials for coronavirus and beyond. “Our role in VACCELERATE focuses on two particular areas - a living mapping and living systematic review of global Covid-19 vaccine trials of which there are currently 164, including 104 which are recruiting participants, and secondly an exploration of the barriers and facilitators to vaccination uptake in adults internationally.” The VACCELERATE project is led by the University Hospital Cologne, Germany and involves 26 partners from 16 EU-member states and 5 EU-associated countries, with other countries encouraged to join. NUI Galway and UCD are the Irish partners in the network, with funding provided under EU Horizon 2020. VACCELERATE will coordinate phase 2 & 3 Covid-19 vaccine trials in all EU-member states and EU-associated countries under one strategic-scientific umbrella. The network will link capable clinical trial sites, expert knowledge and promote transparent exchange of expertise in the vaccine development field. An important step in building this network is identifying clinical trial sites, 200 of which have already been identified, and laboratories with the capacity to perform vaccine clinical trials. VACCELERATE will also facilitate access to vaccine trial volunteers by setting up volunteer registries at https://www.vaccelerate.eu/volunteer-registry/index.html The project will promote harmonised acquisition, open exchange and consolidation of data for enhanced analysis across trials. This cooperation will generate solutions for characteristic problems in vaccine development that emerge in a pandemic and find answers to identified pressing public health questions. The European Commission is aiming to use VACCELERATE for the long-term increase of vaccine development capacities. Ends

Thursday, 29 April 2021

The Moore Institute, Centre for Global Women’s Studies and School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway will host a webinar about the protest events in Myanmar following the military coup. The free online event takes place on Thursday, 6 May at 2pm. The coup d’état in Myanmar, led by the Commander-in-Chief of the military, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, has brought to a halt the tentative democratic transition in the country. Popular protest continues, taking the military and observers by surprise by its size, unity and innovativeness. The webinar session will hear from Vijaya Nidadavolu who has been on the ground in Myanmar until recent events obliged her to leave. She will discuss the forces behind the popular protest movement and describe how prolific protest art movement led by youth, including young women in particular, is being used as a form of resistance. Vijaya Nidadavolu is a Gender and Development specialist with years of experience in using popular culture and media for advancing gender and social justice issues. She has lived in Myanmar since 2015, until her recent departure. Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, said: “The violent suppression of protest in Myanmar has sent shock waves around the world. We have had little chance to hear in an extended way from people with direct experience of what is taking place. The role of protest art in resisting the takeover is very compelling.” Dr Nata Duvvury, Director of Centre for Global Women’s Studies, said: “A distinguishing feature of the current protests in Myanmar is the presence of young women in unprecedented numbers who are leading new provocative strategies upturning the traditional gender norms of the culture in highly subversive tactics. “Young women who did not previously consider themselves as political have mobilised in large numbers in the protests. They have taken common symbols associated with women’s domesticity such as pots and spatulas as weapons of resistance in their artwork conveying the potency of the resistance movement.” To attend the webinar, please register on https://nuigalway-ie.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_xr1aKMFeTF6nIoLIhb3nIQ. For further information about the webinar please contact daniel.carey@nuigalway.ie. Ends

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

In simulations using this new model, the local authorities that receive the largest grants are Donegal, Galway, Meath, Laois, and Wexford County Councils Researchers at the Whitaker Institute in NUI Galway have developed a new methodology for estimating top-up grants for local councils with insufficient revenue bases. The research has been published in the 2021 Spring issue of The Economic and Social Review, Ireland’s leading journal for economics and applied social science. Stephen McNena co-author of the report from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, explains: "Currently, these so-called equalisation grants are funded primarily from the 20 percent of Local Property Tax receipts that are pooled and redistributed as additional payments to councils with smaller revenue bases, with the allocation based on historical baseline supports. Of the 31 local authorities, 20 are in receipt of these payments, totalling €133.5 million for the year 2021. The local authorities that currently receive the biggest grants in euro terms are Tipperary, Donegal, and Mayo County Councils, and Waterford City and County Council." Under the revenue equalisation model proposed by the authors, as is common in other local government systems internationally, the equalisation transfers are based on a well-designed formula, objective and quantifiable data and estimates of fiscal capacity. Regarded as the ‘most sophisticated technique for assessing interjurisdictional differences, and designing an equalisation transfer system’, fiscal or revenue-raising capacity is the potential ability of a local government to raise own-source revenues. In the Irish case, own-source or local revenues are raised through commercial rates, the Local Property Tax, and fees and charges for goods and services. Estimates of fiscal capacity for the 31 local councils are calculated, and compared to a standard defined as the national average of the fiscal capacity estimates. Where the fiscal capacity of a local council is less than the standard, a local council receives an equalisation payment equal to this shortfall. In the new model, 22 local authorities are eligible for equalisation grants, totalling almost €210 million with the funding now derived from central government. In this study's simulations, the local authorities that receive the largest grants are Donegal, Galway, Meath, Laois, and Wexford County Councils.  Given the highly political nature of fiscal equalisation, any new redistributive scheme will inevitably result in losers and winners. Per head of the population served, the study found that the biggest winners are Galway, Laois, Meath and Wexford County Councils. Given that the Local Property Tax will no longer be used to fund these equalisation payments under this new model, urban councils also win out with an additional €40 million revenue income available annually to the four Dublin local authorities to fund essential services for their residents. Dr Gerard Turley, co-author of the study from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, concludes: "As for the sensitive issue of the losers, alternative sources of funding include, if the fiscal space allows, higher taxes locally levied on commercial and/or residential properties, or in cases where it is deemed necessary, a temporary transition payment from central government. Either way, our new model provides for a local government funding model that is more transparent, sustainable and, most importantly from the perspective of financially weaker local councils providing comparable levels of public services, equitable." The authors manage the local government finance website www.localauthorityfinances.com, which is part of the Whitaker Institute’s research infrastructure at NUI Galway. To read the full paper entitled 'Equalisation transfers and local fiscal capacity: A new methodology for Ireland' visit: www.esr.ie or https://www.esr.ie/article/view/1497. Ends

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

CodePlus opens a pathway for young women to a computer science career en thousand girls attending secondary schools throughout Ireland are being targeted to redress the gender imbalance in the take-up of Computer Science in Ireland’s third-level colleges. CodePlus, a Computer Science (CS) outreach engagement project pioneered by Trinity College Dublin, is to be rolled out across the country by Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software in partnership with Trinity, NUI Galway and University of Limerick (UL) over the next 24 months. The programme is funded under the SFI Discover Programme and will encourage, facilitate and provide opportunities to teenage female students to engage with Computer Science. According to Clare McInerney, Education and Public Engagement Manager with Lero, research into the CodePlus initiative shows it positively impacts female secondary school students. “The CodePlus programme is a powerful, non-formal outreach project encouraging adolescent girls to explore careers in Computer Science,” she said.  Professor Brendan Tangney, from the team at Trinity College Dublin who developed the CodePlus programme, said they found young women who participate in the 20-hour course were more likely to select a Computer Science course at third-level. “It is wonderful to see these young women grow as the course progresses. Selection of a CS course on their CAO application became a real option for them, but more importantly, they felt they would be well able for a CS course,” added Professor Tangney. Lero’s Dr Cornelia Connolly of NUI Galway’s School of Education said the goal of CodePlus is to redress the imbalance in CS graduates coming out of Irish third-level colleges. “When you look at the percentages of all undergraduate degrees in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) awarded to females over the last seven years it is stuck at just 18%, and a lowly 20% for CS courses. We need teachers and students to sign up for CodePlus. Young women are missing out on great careers in Computer Science and Computer Sceince needs more women designing for and with women; developing and leading the way,” Dr Connolly continued. Ms McInerney of Lero and UL cited the United Nations, Action Plan to Close Digital Gender Gap as one of the foundations driving the expansion of the CodePlus programme in Ireland: “Women’s equal and meaningful participation in the digital society is seen as both integral to the realisation of women’s rights in the 21st century, as well as the realisation of a just, inclusive, and rights-based information society and to achieve global objectives around gender equality and women’s empowerment by 2030.” Launching the 2021 programme today, the CodePlus team ran an online event for TY, 5th and 6th-year secondary school girls. A panel of female software industry professionals spoke about their individual career experiences to inspire and enthuse students about Computer Science. Teachers, pupils and schools who want to participate in the CodePlus initiative should contact codeplus@bridge21.ie -Ends-

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

New research from NUI Galway has revealed four different types of individual who post about charity on their social media, and it found that some types are less altruistic than they might first appear. It is a challenging time for all businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Particularly so for charity organisations who are very reliant on donations of time and money from the public and often use social media in their marketing campaigns. The research was conducted in collaboration with the University of Zaragoza in Spain, and follows charitable initiatives such as the Ice Bucket Challenge and #nomakeupselfie which, as well as being awareness and fundraising initiatives, became social media sensations. The researchers wanted to know whether people who posted about charities on social media were making charity donations, or whether they were all about the action, rather than the cause. Dr Elaine Wallace, co-author of the research and Senior Lecturer in Marketing, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, said: “Although social media can be an excellent way to spread your message, there is some cynicism about these campaigns, as people participate but not everyone donates. One critic even labelled these campaigns a ‘narcissists' bonanza'.  “Previously, the term ‘Conspicuous Donation Behaviour’ was developed to explain acts of conspicuous compassion such as publicly wearing ribbons following a donation so that everyone can see that we have donated. However no-one knows whether our social media posts reflect what we do offline. We could post a selfie as part of a charitable campaign to show others how good we are, without ever donating. Or we might donate, and we might also post online to make sure everyone on social media knows about it. And this poses the question, are we ‘dirty altruists’?” The authors investigated the views of 243 Irish and 296 US Facebook users who had posted about a charity on Facebook. They measured their Conspicuous Donation Behaviour, their Facebook activity (their time spent online and number of Facebook friends), their traits (such as materialism and self-esteem), and their intention to donate time or money to that charity. Using a cluster analysis technique, four types were revealed, common to Ireland and the US: ⦁ Quiet Donors: This group are not materialistic, and they have low interest in impressing others. They are the least active on social media, but they are likely to donate money to the charity. The study labelled them ‘quiet donors’ as they are inconspicuous about their charity donations, and are not involved with conspicuous donation behaviour. ⦁ Friendly Donors: This group are active on Facebook and post about a charity only when it has a deep personal meaning for them, rather than to impress others. They have a lower need for uniqueness, and so they are not worried about standing out on Facebook. They have a high intention to donate time and money, and will donate when the charity has personal meaning. ⦁ Facebook Expressives: This group are most active on Facebook, and very conspicuous in their posts about charities online. They have a high need for uniqueness, and they may be posting about charities in order to stand out and impress their large number of Facebook friends, or because they believe it is socially acceptable. Yet they have a low intention to donate money or time to the charity, so their real world behaviour does not match their online posts. ⦁ Dirty Altruists: This group has the largest number of Facebook friends. They have a high need for uniqueness and high levels of sensitivity to others’ views of their posts, meaning they are careful to post about popular items. Unlike the Facebook Expressives, this group donate offline, but they admitted in the survey that they post about charities on Facebook to impress others. They also are highly materialistic, and so their charitable posts may be a form of conspicuous consumption. The study authors labelled them ‘Dirty Altruists’ because they are altruistic, but their altruism is tarnished because it is partly motivated by their need to make an impression on social media. Dr Isabel Buil, co-author of the study, University of Zaragoza Spain, said: “Social media presents great opportunities for charities to spread their message and engage a wide network. Our study shows that, for some (the Facebook Expressives), their online charity posts are not matched by charitable behaviour. Another group will post and donate only when the charity has a personal meaning for them (the Friendly Donors). Other types give, but they vary by the amount they post about it on social media, with Quiet Donors engaging very little with Facebook, and others by their use of social media for impression management (the Dirty Altruists).  “However, even the Facebook Expressives have the potential to spread awareness about the charity as they often have large numbers of Facebook friends. We hope our findings help charities to identify the likely donors, even the quiet ones, and those who might help to spread awareness.” To read the full study in the journal, Emerald Insight, visit: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JSM-06-2020-0216/full/html. Ends

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

A study led by Dr Liam Morrison from the Ryan Institute in collaboration with Dr Sita Karki from ICHEC at NUI Galway, have used macroalgal blooms for the assessment of the ecological status of coastal and estuarine areas in Ireland. The use of earth observation data sets to map green algal cover based on a Vegetation Index index was explored. The study was published in the international journal Frontiers in Marine Science. Several optical and radar satellite scenes from the European Space Agency and National Aeronautics and Space Administration missions were processed for eight different Irish estuaries (Clonakilty, Courtmacsherry, Lower Blackwater Estuary, Dungarvan, Bannow Bay, Tolka, Malahide and Rogerstown) of moderate, poor, and bad ecological status of estuaries and coastal lagoons. Satellite images acquired during low-tide conditions from 2010 to 2018 within 18 days of field surveys were considered.  The estimates of percentage green algal blooms coverage obtained from different earth observation data sources and field surveys were significantly correlated in terms of temporal and spatial accuracy. The results showed that the adopted technique could be successfully applied to map the coverage of the blooms and to monitor estuarine areas in conjunction with other monitoring activities that involve field sampling and surveys.  The combination of wide-spread cloud-coverage and high-tide conditions provided additional constraints during the image selection. The findings showed that the scenes of variable resolutions could be utilised to estimate bloom coverage. Moreover, Landsat, which is a legacy mission from NASA, can be utilised to reconstruct the blooms using historical archival data.  Considering the importance of biomass for understanding the severity of algal accumulations, an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) model was trained using the in situ historical biomass samples collected by Environmental Protection Agency and those collected during previous research projects by the group.  The model performance could be improved with the addition of more training samples. The developed methodology can be applied in other areas experiencing macroalgal blooms in a simple, cost-effective, and efficient way.  The study has demonstrated that both the vegetation index-based technique to map spatial coverage of macroalgal blooms and the machine learning model to compute biomass have the potential to become an effective complementary tool for monitoring macroalgal blooms where the existing monitoring efforts can leverage the benefits of earth observation data sets.  To read the full study in Frontiers in Marine Science, visit: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2021.633128/full. Ends

Monday, 26 April 2021

Tá an chomhpháirtíocht idirnáisiúnta idir OÉ Gaillimh, an Eagraíocht Idirnáisiúnta um Imirce (IOM) agus Cúnamh Éireann le hoiliúint sna meáin maidir leis an imirce agus leis an mífhaisnéis a chur ar fáil  Bunaíodh comhpháirtíocht dhomhanda nua idir OÉ Gaillimh agus an Eagraíocht Idirnáisiúnta um Imirce, le tacaíocht ó Chúnamh Éireann, le dul i ngleic le bréagnuacht faoin imirce. Is tionscnamh atá á stiúradh ag IOM é Acadamh Meán na hImirce Domhanda, lena mbaineann cláir sa litearthacht mheán le hoiliúint a chur ar mhic léinn agus ar iriseoirí i dtreo agus gur féidir leo mífhaisnéis a aithint agus a bhréagnú agus dúshlán a thabhairt di freisin. Tá an tionscadal á chomh-mhaoiniú ag Ciste Forbartha an IOM agus ag Cúnamh Éireann, agus tá forbairt an bhunchúrsa dhomhanda á stiúradh ag Tom Feel, Ceann Disciplín na hIriseoireachta agus na Cumarsáide in OÉ Gaillimh. Reáchtálfar na cláir i gceithre thír i dtosach báire – Meicsiceo, an tSeirbia, Maracó, na hOileáin Fhilipíneacha – sula reáchtálfar i dtíortha eile é de réir mar a leanann an tionscnamh ar aghaidh. Deir Simon Coveney, an tAire Gnóthaí Eachtracha, T.D.: “Léirigh na 12 mhí seo a chuaigh thart a thábhachtaí agus atá an nuacht agus foinsí nuachta maidir le heolas a thabhairt dúinn agus oideachas a chur orainn. Cé gur contúirt í an bhréagnuacht a bhfuil a thuilleadh daoine ag éirí feasach fúithi, níl a fhios ag go leor cén chaoi a gcuirtear ina coinne ná a nochtar í. Mar sin de, cuirim fearadh na fáilte roimh thionscnamh tábhachtach seo OÉ Gaillimh agus Cúnamh Éireann le dul i ngleic leis an mífhaisnéis agus leis an mbréagnuacht atá á scaipeadh faoin imirce.” Deir Lalini Veerassamy, ceannaire misin na hEagraíochta Idirnáisiúnta um Imirce (IOM) in Éirinn: “Agus Acadamh Meán na hImirce Domhanda á bhunú againn, tá sé tábhachtach institiúid acadúil iontaofa ar nós OÉ Gaillimh bheith ag oibriú linn d’fhonn uirlisí oiliúna caighdeánaithe maidir leis na meáin agus leis an imirce a fhorbairt. Maidir leis an mbunchúrsa domhanda de, déanfar é a comhthéacsú d’fhonn go léireoidh sé na dinimicí imirce éagsúla ag leibhéal náisiúnta agus réigiúnach agus cuirfidh sé ar fáil d’iriseoirí ar fud an domhain na huirlisí riachtanacha le scéalta níos cothroime agus níos cruinne faoin imirce a fhorbairt, beart a laghdóidh scaipeadh na mífhaisnéise.” Deir an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh: “Baineann tionscadail mar seo go díreach le péire dár gcroíluachanna. Trí bhíthin tacú le meas agus le hoscailteacht, tá súil againn go mbeidh tionchar claochlaitheach againn ar an tsochaí, in Éirinn agus go hidirnáisiúnta, agus go mbeimid inár n-eiseamláir sármhaitheasa thar chríocha ár nOllscoile féin. Is saineolaithe ar an litearthacht mheán iad ár n-acadóirí iriseoireachta agus is onóir dóibh bheith ag oibriú leis an IOM ar an tionscadal idirnáisiúnta ríthábhachtach seo, atá á tacú ag Cúnamh Éireann, agus a mbeidh tionchar leathan dearfach aige ar fhoghlaim na sochaí.” Forbróidh Acadamh Meán na hImirce Domhanda ríomhfhoghlaim agus ábhair oiliúna le dul i ngleic leis an mbréagnuacht. Díreofar aird ar an mífhaisnéis agus ar an mbréagaisnéis maidir leis an imirce, lena n-áireofar oiliúint a chur ar mhic lénin le hinneachar díobhálach a aithint agus rianú; fóiréinsic dhigiteach agus teicnící fíoraithe; agus iriseoireacht sonraí. Tarraingeoidh cúrsaí ar shonraí agus ar thaighde faoin imirce, agus scrúdófar an chaoi a mbíonn tionchar ag forbairtí domhanda amhail COVID-19 ar an imirce agus ar thuairimí an phobail freisin. Molfar do mhic léinn an t-ábhar casta is imirce ann a scrúdú agus scéalta atá spéisiúil, caolchúiseach agus bunaithe ar fhianaise a fhoilsiú. Tá sé i gceist ag OÉ Gaillimh Scoil Samhraidh a reáchtáil do rannpháirtithe in 2022 freisin. Críoch

Monday, 26 April 2021

Global project to challenge fake news on migration International partnership of NUI Galway, the International Organisation for Migration and Irish Aid to offer media training on migration and misinformation A new global partnership has been established involving NUI Galway and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), with the support of Irish Aid, to tackle fake news around migration. The Global Migration Media Academy is an initiative led by IOM, involving media literacy programmes to train students and journalists to identify, challenge and debunk misinformation. The project is co-funded by the IOM Development Fund and Irish Aid, with the development of the global foundational course being led by Tom Felle, Head of the Discipline of Journalism and Communications at NUI Galway. The programmes will initially run in four countries - Mexico, Serbia, Morocco and the Philippines - before expanding to other countries as the project evolves. Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs T.D., said: “The last 12 months have shown us all how important our news and news sources are for keeping us informed and educated. While fake news is a danger that more and more people are aware of, countering it or revealing it isn’t something that many know how to do. Therefore I warmly welcome this important initiative from NUI Galway and Irish Aid to tackle misinformation and fake news being spread about migration.” Lalini Veerassamy, chief of mission of International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Ireland, said: “As we establish the Global Migration Media Academy, it is key to have a reputable academic institution such as NUI Galway working with us to develop standardised training tools on media and migration. The global foundation course, which will be contextualised to reflect different migration dynamics at a national and regional level will equip journalists from all over the world with the necessary tools to develop more balanced and accurate narratives on migration which in turn will reduce the spread of misinformation.” Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “Projects such as this speak directly to two of our core values: respect and openness. By championing respect and openness, we hope to have a transformative effect on society, in Ireland and internationally, setting a positive example of excellence beyond our University. Our journalism academics are international experts in media literacy and it is an honour for them to work with the IOM on this vitally important international project, as supported by Irish Aid, which will have far-reaching positive learning for society.” The Global Migration Media Academy will develop e-learning and training material to tackle fake news. There will be a focus on misinformation and disinformation around migration, including training students on identifying and tracking harmful content; digital forensics and verification techniques; and data journalism. Courses will draw on migration research and data, as well as exploring how unfolding global developments like Covid-19 influence migration and public attitudes. Students will be encouraged to explore the complex topic of migration from different perspectives and publish compelling, nuanced and evidence-based stories. NUI Galway is also planning to host a Summer School for participants in 2022. Ends

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

NUI Galway is extending an invitation to the public, patients, carers, and the wider research community to attend the Sixth National Public and Patient Involvement in Research Conference on Wednesday, 28 April. The Conference will be an online event, running from 10am-1.45pm. Patrick Murphy, Network Manager at the Primary Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland at NUI Galway, and one of the event organisers said: “Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) helps ensure that health and social care research is more relevant to patients and their needs, and that research is focused on what matters most to patients. It can also help ensure that the results of research are shared with the public and with patients in a way that is accessible to everyone.” Martha Killilea, from the PPI Ignite Network at NUI Galway, co-organisers of the conference, added: “Patients, and indeed their carers, are experts in the reality of living with an illness. Researchers bring their own expertise, including in-depth research skills and a knowledge of existing research evidence, but often do not have personal, lived experience of the topic they are researching. Patients and researchers can therefore collaborate together to conduct research that is of high-quality and also focused on patient needs.” The theme for this year’s conference is ‘PPI: Creating the New Normal in Research’ and will celebrate the successful integration of PPI into research in recent years, and will include two keynote presentations from: Embedded Patient Researcher Robert Joyce, who is the first person to be employed in NUI Galway in a PPI role, will speak about bringing his 28 years of lived experience with secondary progressive Multiple Sclerosis to a research team. Dr Martin O’Halloran, Techrete Professor of Medical Electronics at NUI Galway, will focus on embedding PPI in medical device development in Ireland, for example women with lived experience of cancer treatment working with researchers for a solution for hair loss. The conference will include interactive sessions, where attendees will have the opportunity to hear from PPI contributors, and to speak with contributors in current research. Attendees will be able to choose from sessions focused on three different topics: PPI Contributors: My Voice Shaping Research Public and Patient Involvement Around the World Including the Excluded Wendy Costello, a PPI contributor on the conference organising committee, and co-chair of the interactive session’ PPI Contributors: My Voice Shaping Research’ said: “The interactive sessions will be a great opportunity to network virtually and feel part of the global discussion on PPI. The planning by a diverse committee has made this overall programme the most exciting yet.” The conference will close with presentations from the 2021 NUI Galway PPI Ignite award winners and from Professor Sean Dinneen who is leading the newly established national PPI Ignite Network. Speaking about the Conference, Professor Dinneen said: “It is great to see the National Public and Patient Involvement in Research Conference entering its sixth year and going from strength to strength. Meaningful involvement of the public and patients in health and social care research is becoming a feature of the Irish (and international) research landscape and this is reflected in the content of this year’s conference programme.”  Registration for the conference is free, but those wishing to attend must register in advance. Full details are at https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/public-and-patient-involvement-ppi-in-research-conference-galway-tickets-143702147993 or email ppi@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Following feedback from the first survey in 2020 the researchers have produced a ‘Helping Hedgehogs’ information leaflet Researchers from NUI Galway and the National Biodiversity Data Centre are once again calling on citizen scientists to help to record data and movements of the humble hedgehog. This year, the researchers have planned a more involved hedgehog survey with volunteers invited to conduct assessments in their local area between May and September. The methodology follows that developed by the Mammal Society of the UK, which uses footprint tunnels to determine if hedgehogs are present in various habitats. Researchers are asking volunteers to place ten footprint tunnels, a small tunnel made from corrugated plastic containing two sheets of paper and ink in the centre to capture the footprints of the hedgehogs, within a 1 kilometre square area for five nights and check them each morning for signs of hedgehogs. The Irish Hedgehog Survey was launched in the summer of 2020 with members of the public asked to submit records of hedgehog sightings online. The response to the survey saw over 2,000 hedgehog sightings reported for the year from all over Ireland, with many reporting hedgehogs regularly visiting their gardens through the summer. Researchers also received many requests for information on how to attract hedgehogs into the garden or help a sick or injured animal so they have produced an informative leaflet called ‘Helping Hedgehogs’ with tips for making your garden more hedgehog friendly. The leaflet is available to view, download and print from the project website https://www.irishhedgehogsurvey.com/helping-hedgehogs. The Irish Hedgehog Survey forms part of the research of PhD candidate Elaine O’Riordan from Zoology, School of Natural Science, Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, who said: “The aim of the survey is to provide information on the types of habitats where hedgehogs occur, and where they don’t. We are hopeful that a lot of volunteers will get involved and survey different types of habitats in urban and rural areas. We are delighted with the response to the Hedgehog Survey so far. People seem very interested in hedgehogs and care about them very much.” “We are very pleased to have teamed up with project partners from the county councils of Galway, Kilkenny Roscommon, Mayo, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and Dublin City as well as the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Ulster Wildlife Trust and Cork Nature Network. With their support we hope to train and mobilise teams of volunteers in these areas.” This survey would be suitable for interested individuals, local wildlife or conservation groups and community and youth groups. Participants are welcome from all over Ireland. Volunteering workshops will be available online in early summer 2021 with more information on the survey, instructions, and equipment needed to carry out the project. There will also be live training events facilitated with the Hedgehog Survey project partners. Full details of dates and locations of the volunteer workshops will be available on the project website https://www.irishhedgehogsurvey.com/. For further information on the project, training, or survey news, please email irishhedgehogsurvey@gmail.com. -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Research on Driving Remote Innovation is published in MIT Sloan Management Review Research from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics in collaboration with Dublin City University has been published in the prestigious US publication, MIT Sloan Management Review. The research 'Driving Remote Innovation Through Conflict and Collaboration' examined how business leaders can promote innovation in remote teams. The research uncovered two complementary principles of leading remote teams for innovation - connecting for collaboration and connecting for contradiction – which are both essential to creating opportunities for innovation. In the absence of face-to-face interactions, the research suggests that leaders must purposely connect with their immediate team members one-to-one, to enable more engaged exchanges of collaboration required for innovation and understanding and responding to the individual challenges of team members. Remote working can be a boon for innovation by enabling greater diversity of views, supporting connecting for contradiction. Virtual conversations can include external experts and remotely located colleagues as they are much more cost- and time-efficient to organise than in-person meetings. This tactic of exaggerating differences in opinions and expertise is required to encourage more vigorous debate and stimulate fresh ideas for innovation in remote working. Operating in tandem, these two approaches ensure that leaders create a virtual culture where new ideas arise, the most promising of which can be translated into innovative outcomes to help ensure the long-term success and delivery of the organisation's strategic goals. The study was led by Esther Tippmann, Professor of Strategy at NUI Galway, Pamela, Sharkey Scott, Professor of Strategy and International Business at DCU and Mark Gantly, Adjunct Professor of Management at NUI Galway. To better understand the long-term implications of the Covid-19 pandemic for leadership, the research team collected detailed interview data from 20 leaders in different household name US multinationals across the world. They included a mix of young, high-growth organisations and well-established global giants, and firms with digital and physical offerings. They examined what the leaders saw as the long-term implications of the pandemic on their organisation (if any) and what leadership competences they foresee as most important. Professor Esther Tippmann, NUI Galway, said: “Organisations have traditionally relied on the energy of co-present teams to stimulate ideas for innovation. Before the pandemic, many leading innovative organisations invested heavily in attractive workplaces. However, office work had to be abandoned when the Covid-19 pandemic demanded an incredibly fast transition to remote working. Now, it is clear that remote working, in a managed way, is here to stay. With productivity goals being largely met, we found that many organisations find it challenging to embed innovation in their remote teams. So, the leadership principles for driving innovation in remote teams offer explicit guidance for leaders. We studied multinationals located in Ireland. However, the principles are of relevance to all types of organisations where remote working is an integral part of the organisational model.” To read 'Driving Remote Innovation Through Conflict and Collaboration' in MIT Sloan Management Review, visit: https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/driving-remote-innovation-through-conflict-and-collaboration/?use_credit=91851988c40ebbe236f5561e167c9ab8. Ends

Monday, 19 April 2021

NUI Galway partners in week-long technology festival highlighting how companies are turning to cloud computing platforms to drive digital transformation to shape the future of work    The AtlanTec Festival is set to return again in 2021, with virtual events from 17-21 May on the theme of ‘Thriving through Digital Transformation’. The event is supported by NUI Galway, and run by itag (Innovation Technology AtlanTec Gateway), the non-profit, industry-led community of technology companies in the west of Ireland.   Now in its 7th year, the annual AtlanTec Festival of Technology brings together technology communities from home and abroad, for five days of international keynote speakers, moderated panel conversations, tech talks, fun and inspiration. Last year over 3,000 people connected online at AtlanTec, proving that though times may be uncertain, one fact remains true, there is power in people coming together.    Thriving through Digital Transformation highlights that increasingly, companies are turning to Cloud Computing platforms to drive their Digital Transformation; not just for their business needs, but also to shape their Future of Work. This festival brings together local, national and international speakers to explore some of the key challenges and opportunities this presents.   This year’s dynamic panel of international keynote speakers and panel guests includes: Nicklas Bergman (Futurist), Bruce Daisley (The Joy of Work), Dr. Jessica Barker (Cyber UK), Gary Short (Data Scientist AMEY), Sarah Armstrong (Microsoft Cyber Consultant) and Marek Zmuda (Intel Movidius).   NUI Galway speakers will include: Dr Venkatesh Kannan on how the Quantum Computing work at the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) is positioning Ireland in Europe and globally; Jim Duggan, Personal Professor in Computer Science, on his work on infectious disease modelling; Dr Ed Curry on data sharing spaces to power AI; and Dr Noel Carroll, Programme Director of the MSc Information Systems Management on his work related to digital transformation and citizen development. Itag’s AtlanTec Festival is a key event in Ireland’s tech conference calendar and is supported by the technology cluster along the AtlanTec Gateway including Cisco, Genesys, Fidelity Investments, HPE, IBM, Storm, NUI Galway and itag Skillnet and many more.   According to Caroline Cawley, CEO itag, “AtlanTec 2021 brings together people and companies re-defining the global Tech industry. We will welcome people from all around the world this May and they are coming to AtlanTec 2021 to learn about the latest trends to drive their Digital Transformation and the latest thinking and the newest products that will shape their Future of Work. Thriving through Digital Transformation answers a key question facing all Tech companies - where to next?”  Ruth Hynes, a member of the event organising committee and Innovation and Engagement Officer at NUI Galway, added: “There is a real sense of coming together with AtlanTec, even if we are doing so remotely again this year rather than on campus. So much innovation in technology comes out of our part of the world, from the start-up community right through to companies that are household names. As a university we are proud to be part of this dynamic ecosystem and look forward to the festival in May.” Rapid transformation and change is a key feature of the technology industry and staying up-to-date can be challenging. AtlanTec 2021 offers a comprehensive platform to all in the technology community including IT Professionals, Developers, Cloud and Cyber Experts, IT Leaders and Technologists for deep knowledge gathering and networking.                                  Registration is required to attend, to book your place visit: https://atlantec.ie/  Follow on Twitter @atlantecfest and on Facebook at AtlanTec Festival. View short AtlanTec video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76lpiUDG428.   Ends 

Monday, 19 April 2021

Survey led by NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission is seeking participants to give their experience of remote working one year on from lockdown and future preferences post-pandemic Researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission are seeking participants for the annual national Remote Working in Ireland Survey. The third survey will gather data on employees’ experiences of remote working one year on from lockdown and seek inputs on their preferences post pandemic. The survey is led by Professor Alma McCarthy and Noreen O’Connor at NUI Galway and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at the Western Development Commission.  The study will provide insights on how remote working has changed employees work and employment experiences and builds on two previous national surveys undertaken by the team. In addition to analysing trends across the three surveys, data will capture managers’ experiences of leading and supervising their teams remotely, both now and their future plans post pandemic. Speaking about the annual remote working survey, Professor Alma McCarthy, Professor of Public Sector Management, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, said: “The surveys we did in 2020 were of huge interest to the public and we got over 12,000 responses from employees who were working remotely across the country.  There are significant changes in how we work arising from the Covid-19 crisis.  It is timely to capture the trends and experiences one year on. The third survey will also provide insights into how managers are finding team management in a remote context, which has not been examined to date.”  Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission, said: “Much has been learned about the transition to remote work over the last year. Creating a national network of more than 400 remote working hubs and the National Remote Work strategy are just part of the response to what we have learned. This information helps to inform the decision making about balanced future development in our country, helping the transition to a low carbon economy and ultimately has the potential to transform the way we live and work.” The research team will analyse the findings of the third national remote working survey and make them publicly available on both NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute and the Western Development Commission websites in early May 2021. The report and key statistics from the first and second national surveys are also available on these websites. The remote working study findings will be available to inform employers about employee experiences of remote working. The research team will provide recommendations for employers on how to better manage remote working in the current crisis as well as more generally. To complete the survey visit https://bit.ly/3g4DnJA. To view both previous surveys on the Whitaker Institute’s Project page, visit: https://bit.ly/3mFwgZg.   -Ends-

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair in Children Youth and Civic Engagement at NUI Galway will deliver the D’Arcy McGee Beacon Inaugural Fellowship Lecture, hosted by the University of British Columbia. The online lecture entitled ‘Empathy Education: Intersectional Approaches to Youth and Civic Engagement’ will take place on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 6pm BST. During his lecture Professor Dolan will discuss how empathy education in secondary schools and community youth programmes enables young people to be responsive to others and more responsible in their behaviour. Using methodologies such as training youth to be social researchers, or peer to peer learning through music, sport and literature are all crucial parts of empathy and compassion education. Research has shown that these methods not alone can be woven into the classroom settings to reduce hate speech, racial profiling and other discriminatory behaviours by young people, but they also promote positive behaviour. Speaking ahead of the event Professor Pat Dolan, NUI Galway, said: “While we know that empathy education is crucial for positively engaging young people in their families and communities, we should not have to focus on young people’s negative or riotous behaviours as a means of valuing them. “The instances of violence involving youth from loyalist and nationalist communities in Northern Ireland last week is a serious concern. It occurs in the context of a segregated schools system in Northern Ireland, coupled with a lack of cross community empathy education, which if it did exist it could have helped prevent the violence that is based on a lack of understanding among young people who actually have far more in common in terms of their disadvantage.” The lecture is free to attend and open to the public. For more details, or to register for the event visit: https://bit.ly/3djBXJs or email gillian.browne@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

NUI Galway partners with 12 European institutions to build new resources to aid digital decoding of literature NUI Galway’s Moore Institute has joined forces with 12 other institutions across Europe for a research project that aims to aid new approaches to the study of literature in the digital age. Computational Literary Studies Infrastructure (CLS INFRA) is a four-year partnership to build a shared resource of high-quality data, tools and knowledge needed for literary studies using artificial intelligence and other computational methods. The project is being supported with €5 million funding from the European Commission. Dr Justin Tonra, Lecturer in English at NUI Galway, whose work in the project will focus on bridging the gap between computational and traditional literary studies, said: “When studying literature we often focus on a small number of books by a small number of authors. With the aid of computers, we can ‘read’ literature at a scale that opens windows onto topics like gender, language and colonialism, and how they are represented in our shared and varied European cultural heritage.” The overall aim of CLS INFRA is to open up the best data mining resources Europe has to offer in the growing field of Computational Literary Studies, which enables a big-data approach to the study of culture. For instance, it can help scholars to detect patterns which show what literary genres were prevalent at certain times; if and how gender manifests in the language of writers; whether the movement of literary style can be mapped across time and space. The CLS INFRA project will identify and map the specific requirements of researchers who wish to study literature using technology and AI. Partners in the 13 institutions will bring together existing resources as well as develop new tools, services and literary collections. A further aim of the project is to open up Computational Literary Studies to more researchers and enable investigation into Europe’s multi-lingual and interconnected literary heritage and cultural diversity. Support services and training will be provided to researchers who are new to the use of computers and AI for literary study. Scholars from under-represented regions and languages, as well as independent and citizen scholars, will also be supported. Dr Maciej Eder, Director of the Institute of Polish Language at the Polish Academy of Sciences and Principal Investigator of CLS INFRA, said: “This is a very exciting project which promises to make great advances in how we use computers to study literature. “One of the great challenges to Computational Literary Studies is that the landscape of digital literary sources is very fragmented, as scholars and readers struggle to find texts that are made accessible and reusable in standardised ways. CLS INFRA will address this deficit in a way that will allow the field to flourish.” Dr Tonra added: “The partnership of 13 European institutes will also foster systematic and meaningful cooperation across national borders and linguistic boundaries, as well as disciplines of study. “Human beings are storytellers. Nowhere do we see the expression of human ambitions, values, norms and desires more clearly than in the collected literary works that have been created over centuries of human creativity. “The emergence of information and communications technologies has given us an unprecedented opportunity to share, compare and understand this legacy across national borders and linguistic boundaries.” Ends

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

NUI Galway Professor's discovery on silent killer condition could profoundly change care for patients New research led by a professor at NUI Galway is set to change how doctors treat some patients with high blood pressure - a condition that affects more than one in four men and one in five women. The study by researchers at NUI Galway, Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School found no evidence that diastolic blood pressure - the bottom reading on a blood pressure test - can be harmful to patients when reduced to levels that were previously considered to be too low. Lead researcher Bill McEvoy, Professor of Preventive Cardiology at NUI Galway and a Consultant Cardiologist at University Hospital Galway, said the findings have the potential to immediately influence the clinical care of patients. Professor McEvoy said: “We now have detailed research based on genetics that provides doctors with much-needed clarity on how to treat patients who have a pattern of high systolic values - the top reading for blood pressure - but low values for the diastolic, or bottom, reading. “This type of blood pressure pattern is often seen in older adults. Old studies using less reliable research methods suggested that the risk for a heart attack began to increase when diastolic blood pressure was below 70 or above 90. Therefore, it was presumed there was a sweet-spot for the diastolic reading.” High blood pressure is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with more than 1 billion people having the condition. It is linked with brain, kidney and other diseases, but it is best known as a risk factor for heart attack. More recently, high blood pressure has emerged as one of the major underlying conditions that increase the risk of poor outcomes for people who become infected with Covid-19. Professor McEvoy and the international research team analysed genetic and survival data from more than 47,000 patients worldwide. The study, published in the prestigious medical journal Circulation, showed: :: There appears to be no lower limit of normal for diastolic blood pressure and no evidence in this genetic analysis that diastolic blood pressure can be too low. :: There was no genetic evidence of increased risk of heart disease when a patient’s diastolic blood pressure reading is as low as 50. :: The authors also confirmed that values of the top, systolic, blood pressure reading above 120 increased the risk of heart disease and stroke. Blood pressure medications reduce both systolic and diastolic values. Professor McEvoy added: “Because doctors often focus on keeping the bottom blood pressure reading in the 70-90 range, they may have been undertreating some adults with persistently high systolic blood pressure. “The findings of this study free up doctors to treat the systolic value when it is elevated and to not worry about the diastolic blood pressure falling too low. “My advice now to GPs is to treat their patients with high blood pressure to a systolic level of between 100-130mmHg, where possible and without side effects, and to not worry about the diastolic blood pressure value.” Dr Joe Gallagher, Irish College of General Practioners’ Lead, National Heart Programme, said: “This data helps remove uncertainty about how to treat people who have an elevated systolic blood pressure but low diastolic blood pressure. This is a common clinical problem which causes much debate. It will help impact clinical practice internationally and shows the importance of Irish researchers in clinical research." Ends

Monday, 12 April 2021

Projects to connect researchers with community and voluntary organisations to share knowledge and develop new insights to enhance wellbeing and delivery of services Ten projects from NUI Galway have received funding of over €113,000 from the Irish Research Council to connect researchers with community and voluntary organisations. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the wellbeing of different groups in society and on the delivery of services is a significant theme within the research projects being announced. The ten projects from NUI Galway will reach out across communities to look at diverse issues that include those affecting the LGTBQI+ community, senior citizens, understanding the nature of rural crime, diversity in theatre for young people, humanitarian practice, remote management of heart failure, judicial education and conduct, access to cardiac care online, therapeutic care needs for mild dementia and the prevention and treatment of post-partum haemmorage. The ten funded projects will be led by: ⦁ Dr Sinéad Hynes, Occupational Therapy, who will work with The Alzheimer Society of Ireland to develop recommendations and identify what the future care needs of older LGTBQI+ people living with dementia in Ireland are. ⦁ Dr Haroon Zafar, School of Medicine and BioInnovate Ireland, who will be part of a research collaboration with Croí, the Heart and Stroke Charity on the remote management of heart failure during Covid-19 through ‘telehealth’. ⦁ Dr Charlotte McIvor, Drama and Theatre Performance, who will partner with Baboró International Arts Festival for Children on the first national project to look at interculturalism, diversity and inclusion in theatre for the young audiences sector. ⦁ Dr Michael Lang, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, whose research will contribute towards a better understanding of the nature of rural crime – perceived, experienced, and recorded – and will analyse how it varies across different regions of Ireland. ⦁ Dr Orla Dolan, Occupational Therapy, whose research will look at an evidence base for meeting therapeutic care needs using Virtual Cognitive Stimulation Therapy with individuals living with mild to moderate dementia residing in the community in Ireland. ⦁ Dr Barry McDermott, Engineering and Informatics, who will work in partnership with Busitema University on a novel low-cost, robust device for the prevention and treatment of post-partum haemorrhage in low resource settings. ⦁ Dr Oonagh Meade, School of Psychology, who will partner with Croí Heart and Stroke Charity who have developed “MySláinte”, a new cardiac rehabilitation programme delivered online to ensure equal access to cardiac rehabilitation in Ireland. ⦁ Dr Rónán Kennedy, School of Law, who will partner with the Trust for Civil Liberties, Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and with Dr Laura Cahillane of the University of Limerick to examine whether the establishment of the Judicial Council will bring the Irish approaches to judicial conduct and ethics and judicial education and training up to international best practice. ⦁ Dr Miriam Haughton, Drama and Theatre Performance, who will work with Age & Oppportunity on the documentary 'Mad, Bad and Dangerous: 'Difficult' Irish Women Abroad'. ⦁ Dr Kevin O'Sullivan, Department of History, who will be part of a research collaboration with Dóchas - the Irish Association of Non Governmental Development Organisations focusing on the historical research into humanitarian practice. Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President of Research and Innovation at NUI Galway, said: “Collaborative partnerships with community and voluntary organisations in civic society are integral to research at NUI Galway. These community organisations bring new energy and innovation to our research, and as partners we work together to find solutions that enhance their services. Openness is one of our core strategic values. Open research brings challenges posed by society to our community, and these diverse and inclusive projects will undoubtedly improve the standards of care and service provided to the wider world. I thank the Irish Research Council and the Government for their support of these projects and look forward to the outcomes from these valuable partnerships.” The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD welcomed the funding by the Irish Research Council this week for 76 New Foundations projects that will bring researchers and community/voluntary organisations together to share knowledge and develop new insights to help create a better society for all. Minister Harris said: “These research collaborations are helping with some very important community and voluntary sector projects. I welcome that the highest ever number of funding awards are being made today by the Irish Research Council to support these research collaborations with the community and voluntary sector." Along with the strand engaging civic society, the New Foundations scheme also includes strands supported by government departments and agencies. In each of the past three years, a dedicated strand of the call provides opportunities for researchers to work on important areas of policy, including global development, crime, creativity and children. Commenting on the funding partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown said: “The ongoing partnership between the Irish Research Council and the Department of Foreign Affairs under this programme is very welcome and continues to build a pipeline of research collaborations for future projects that support enhanced cooperation between the global north and global south, focusing on innovative responses to global challenges within the framework of the 2030 agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals." Since 2015, over 200 community, voluntary and charity organisations have engaged across various Irish Research Council programmes, 278 projects have been funded with an associated investment in excess of €6.5 million. The New Foundations scheme will run again this year and further information is available here. -Ends-

Friday, 9 April 2021

Beidh seisiún eolais fíorúil ag OÉ Gaillimh dóibh siúd ar spéis leo an Clár Rochtana do Mhic Léinn Lánfhásta. Beidh an seisiún ar siúl Déardaoin, an 15 Aibreán, idir 7-8.30pm. Cuirfear tús leis an bpróiseas iarratais don Chlár Rochtana do Mhic Léinn Lánfhásta i mí Aibreáin agus tabharfaidh an seisiún seo eolas faoi chúrsaí, an próiseas iarratais agus tacaíochtaí éagsúla atá ar fáil do mhic léinn ionchasacha atá 23 bliain d’aois agus níos sine. Is ann don Chlár Rochtana do Mhic Léinn Lánfhásta chun bealach iontrála malartach chuig an oideachas tríú leibhéal a chur ar fáil do dhaoine ó chúlraí socheacnamaíocha nach ndéantar ionadaíocht sách láidir orthu ag an tríú leibhéal agus, ar chúiseanna éagsúla, nach bhfuil a bpoitéinseal iomlán oideachais bainte amach acu agus, dá bhrí sin, nach bhfuil an gnáthriachtanas oideachais is gá acu chun dul ar aghaidh go dtí an tríú leibhéal. Tá sé mar aidhm ag cláir Rochtana OÉ Gaillimh tacú le mic léinn muinín a chothú iontu féin, ina gcumas acadúil, agus tacú leo barr a gcumais a bhaint amach. Beidh ionadaithe ón Ionad Rochtana agus Comhordaitheoirí Cláir ar líne chun comhairle a thabhairt agus ceisteanna a fhreagairt agus tacú leo siúd ar mian leo an chéad chéim a ghlacadh chuig oideachas tríú leibhéal. Dúirt an Dr Mary Surlis, Bainisteoir Sinsearach ar Ionad Rochtana OÉ Gaillimh: “Tá an timpeallacht teagaisc agus foghlama ar ár gcláir Rochtana bunaithe ar threoir agus tacaíocht a thabhairt dár gcuid mac léinn ag gach céim dá ndul chun cinn. Níl sé rómhall riamh d’uaillmhian a bhaint amach agus tá ár gcúrsaí deartha chun bunús láidir a thabhairt do mhic léinn atá ag filleadh ar an oideachas agus iad ag dul ar aghaidh go dtí an tríú leibhéal. Táimid ag tnúth, mar is gnách, le cohórt nua mac léinn dár gcláir 2021/22.” Chun clárú don seisiún eolais téigh chuig https://bit.ly/3uahrAq. Tá tuilleadh eolais faoin gClár Rochtana do Mhic Léinn Lánfhásta le fáil ar www.nuigalway.ie/access/mature-students -Críoch-

Thursday, 8 April 2021

NUI Galway will hold a virtual information session for those interested in the Access Programme for Mature Students. It will take place on Thursday, 15 April, from 7pm-8.30pm. The application process for the Access Programme for Mature Students will open in April and this session will provide information on courses, the application process and various supports available to prospective students aged 23 and over. The Access Programme for Mature Students is designed specifically as an alternative admission route to third level education for people from socio-economic backgrounds that are underrepresented at third level, who for a variety of reasons, did not reach their educational potential, and do not have the necessary conventional educational requirement to progress to third level. NUI Galway’s Access programmes aim to support students to build confidence in themselves, in their academic ability and to support them to reach their full potential. Representatives from the Access Centre and Programme Coordinators will be online to advise and answer questions and to support those who wish to take that first step into third level education. Dr Mary Surlis, Senior Manager of NUI Galway’s Access Centre, said: “The teaching and learning environment on our Access programmes is built on guiding and offering support to our students  at every stage of their progression. It is never too late to fulfil your ambition and our courses are designed to provide students returning to education with a strong foundation as they progress to third level. We are looking forward as always, to yet another new group of students to our 2021/22 programmes.” To register for the information session visit https://bit.ly/3uahrAq. Further information about the Access Programme for Mature Students is available at www.nuigalway.ie/access/mature-students. -Ends-

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

50 students will diagnose and treat sick teddy bears, and children will learn how to take care of their teddy’s health focusing on general health, lifestyle, and emotional wellbeing For the 16th year running NUI Galway is inviting children to its award winning Teddy Bear Hospital, which will take place online on Saturday, 17 April from 12pm-3pm.  Over the years, children have attended the hospital with teddy bears suffering from an imaginative range of sore ears, sick tummies and all kinds of other weird and wonderful ailments. This year, childrens’ appointments will be carried out virtually, and will educate the children  on how to treat their sick teddy at home. The event is organised by the Sláinte Society, NUI Galway’s health promotion society that focuses on promoting all aspects of physical and mental health. Up to 50 medical, healthcare and science students will diagnose and treat the teddy bears. In the process, they hope to help children, ranging in age from 4-8 years, feel more comfortable around doctors and hospitals. Tristiana Dalchand, second year Medical student at NUI Galway and co-auditor of Sláinte Society, said: “Given the current circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, we believe it’s really important to maintain engagement with as many children as possible through the Teddy Bear Hospital. We hope to remind children and their teddies that the doctor’s office and hospitals remain a fun, comfortable, and safe space.” On arrival at the virtual Teddy Bear Hospital, participants and patients will be greeted by two teddy doctor specialists. The children and their ‘patients’ will learn how to take care of their teddy’s health through three main themes: general health, lifestyle, and emotional wellbeing. Andrea Dimitrov, second year Medical student at NUI Galway and co-auditor of Slainte Society said, “Covid 19 has been challenging for all of us and we hope to provide an engaging, fun, and educational event that the children can participate in and interact with each other. This pandemic has highlighted the importance of community, and we hope to continue bringing the community together through the Teddy Bear Hospital.” Due to limited capacity of this year’s virtual Teddy Bear Hospital, Sláinte Society are also holding a drawing contest. Children are encouraged to submit a drawing of themselves and their teddies to be in with a chance of winning one of two €50 vouchers for Smyths Toy Store.  To enter the drawing contest, please email submissions to tbh.drawing.contest@gmail.com and include, name, age, and hometown. The closing date for submissions is Wednesday, 14 April, and the two winners will be announced on Saturday, 17 April. Places for the virtual Teddy Bear Hospital are limited. To apply to attend the hospital please visit www.nuigalway.ie/teddybearhospital by 5pm on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Those selected to attend will be contacted by Thursday, 15 April. -Ends-

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Three NUI Galway based programmes will engage more than 385,000 members of the Irish public with science in 2021 Three NUI Galway public engagement and education outreach initiatives have been awarded funding of more than €339,000 through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme. It will fund projects dedicated to inspiring and empowering over 385,000 members of the public in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. The funding awards were announced by Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, as part of a national investment of €5.2 million through the Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme. NUI Galway Funded Projects Cell EXPLORERS (€267, 636 funding award) Cell EXPLORERS is a successful science education and public engagement programme locally delivering educational science outreach activities to school children and the Irish public. Led by Dr Muriel Grenon, College of Science and Engineering, the programme has the dual benefit of engaging children and the public, while developing graduate student and researchers’ public engagement skills in a way and at a scale that is unique in Ireland. It has reached more than 38,500 members of the public and involved more than 2,250 team members since its creation in 2012. In 2021 and 2022, the programme will run school visits and tailored activities nationally, through its network of 13 teams based in 15 institutes of technology and universities. New partnerships will include the Galway STEAM Project (a joint TUSLA and Foróige project) to provide better reach to those who do not typically engage with STEM.  The programme‘s research shows that many children (aged 10-12 years) have narrow and stereotypical views of what a scientist does and have had few opportunities to meet a scientist. Drawing from these findings and others Cell EXPLORERS will revise both its activities and practices by applying the Science Capital Teaching Approach, a specific way of teaching that employs social justice methods designed to both broaden young peoples’ views of what it means to be a scientist, and widen participation in Science. See www.cellexplorers.com. CÚRAM ‘Science Waves' Project (€43,719funding award) CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices will run an education and public engagement programme that aims to raise awareness of its research and increase understanding of preventative behaviours which can reduce the incidence of chronic illness.  The current Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need for members of the public to better understand science and its impact on their lives. More than ever, there is a greater need for clear science communication. However, the pandemic has exposed the existing divide amongst children who have access to learning material online and those who don't. CÚRAM’s Science Waves project led by Andrea Fitzpatrick, aims to create content which is accessible to everyone and gives clear information about science. Science Waves is a series of six science radio shows co-created by children and scientists for children. CÚRAM will work with children from underrepresented communities to create accessible, engaging, and fun radio shows, which are aimed at children aged 10–12 years old. The radio shows will broadcast later this year on the NUI Galway student radio station, Flirt FM, and will also be released through the CRAOL network of community radio stations. See www.curamdevices.com. ReelLIFE SCIENCE (€27,987 funding award) ReelLIFE SCIENCE is a nationwide science video competition, which encourages young people and the general public to discover more about STEM and its impact on individuals, society and the environment, while developing their creativity, communication and digital skills. Young people from schools and youth organisations are challenged to research a STEM topic and communicate it to the public through an engaging and educational three-minute video. Led by Dr Enda O’Connell, College of Science and Engineering, ReelLIFE SCIENCE has enabled more than 16,000 young people from 500 schools and youth organisations all over the country, to engage with STEM in a novel way. In 2021, ReelLIFE SCIENCE will continue to engage students and teachers in primary and secondary schools across Ireland, while also specifically targeting, training and empowering youth workers and leaders in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon youth organisations.  The deadline for submitting this year’s three-minute video entries is Friday, 15 October with the best videos awarded €1,000 and will be screened for the public at the Galway Science and Technology Festival in NUI Galway. See www.reellifescience.com. Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway, said: “Outreach and public engagement are integral to research at NUI Galway. Engagement is a feature of all stages of research, and we value the insight we derive into the pressing scientific and social questions from our partners. Openness is one of our core strategic values. Open research is a proven path to inspire young minds to take on the challenges posed by the sciences and to creatively approach the evident social issues of the moment. These excellent and innovative programmes will create new energy, inspire young people to aspire to careers in the sciences, and broadcast the standards of excellence the community expects of us. I thank Science Foundation Ireland for their support of these programmes and look forward to the events and activities that are planned.” Speaking about the announcement Minister Harris, said: “I am delighted to announce the 49 projects that will receive funding through the SFI Discover Programme. As we continue to live through the Covid-19 pandemic, we are more conscious than ever of the importance of supporting the public to have access to and to understand the issues that impact our collective future, and the role science and technology can play in providing solutions. These projects will play a role in starting conversations about the role of STEM in society and inspiring our young people to explore careers in these areas. I wish all the recipients every success in the roll out of their projects.” Science Foundation Ireland has invested in public engagement projects through the Discover Programme since 2013. This year’s funded initiatives are estimated to reach a wide audience of people in STEM Topic, while 49 diverse initiatives will be supported by this year’s programme, with successful awardees being carefully selected through international peer-review. -Ends-

Thursday, 1 April 2021

NUI Galway’s Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching has partnered with the University’s Inclusive Learning project team to host a virtual symposium on Inclusive Learning on the 7 and 8 April. The two-day symposium, with an international line-up of speakers and panellists, will explore issues of diversity and inclusion in higher education – locally, nationally and internationally.   The event will highlight the importance of centering the student voice through panel discussions and workshops on new insights into, and recommendations around, student experiences of inclusion and exclusion. As student populations become increasingly diverse, the symposium will look at what higher education institutions can do to create a truly inclusive learning environment. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “As our students bring increasingly diverse experiences to our university, representing all the talents in society, we recognise and respect the importance of exploring what we can do to create a truly inclusive learning environment. As a place of learning, we value openly listening, reflecting upon and responding to the needs and concerns of students, while also supporting our staff to navigate an increasingly complex teaching and learning landscape.” Speakers and panellists include: Dr Shivaun Quinlivan, NUI Galway Dr Lucy-Ann Buckley, NUI Galway Henriette Stoeber, European Universities Association Dr Ebun Joseph, University College Dublin Anne Marie Stokes, Galway Traveller Movement Dr Jesse Stommel, University of Mary Washington Professor Julie Rattray, Durham University Tracy Galvin, Queen’s University Belfast Hamsavani Rajeswaren, Alliance of Choice Dr Sharon Flynn Irish Universities Association The symposium will be of interest to those who are involved in Higher Education, with students particularly welcome to attend and contribute actively to the discussions. Tickets for the free two-day virtual symposium are available from https://bit.ly/3wa04RV  or visit www.eventbrite.co.uk and search for 'Virtual Symposium: Inclusive Learning in Higher Education'. -Ends-

Monday, 31 May 2021

As part of EU Green Week, NUI Galway and Pintail Ltd will host a webinar entitled ‘Towards Zero Pollution in the Production of Green Fuels and Chemicals’ on Friday, 4 June, from 10-12.35 CEST (9am-11.35am Irish time). The event will consist of a webinar with presentations from academic and industry representatives of six Horizon 2020-funded projects, including two coordinated by NUI Galway, FlowPhotoChem and Solar2Chem. The aim of the webinar is to raise awareness of the technical solutions that leading European organisations are developing to combat climate change, in particular to reduce or eliminate the carbon footprint in the production of green fuels and chemicals. Webinar organiser, Dr Pau Farras Costa of NUI Galway’s School of Chemistry said: “Despite the progress made in decreasing the impact of the industrial sector in Europe, a great challenge still exists in lowering its carbon footprint by progressively substituting the use of fossil fuels. A paradigm shift is needed in the manufacturing of chemical goods and high value added products, where disruptive technologies will play a key role to achieve the climate change targets for 2050. The European Commission is investing in those technologies with the aim to develop negative emission solutions and lower Europe’s carbon footprint. “The coupling of renewable energies with carbon capture and utilisation is one of the envisaged solutions. The research community in Europe is driving this development through a strong collaboration between academia, industry and policy-makers. Solutions for distributed production of chemicals involve direct solar energy conversion technologies, whereas large-scale production requires a more integrated coupling of renewables with catalytic processes. During this webinar, we will examine which technologies are currently under development in Europe with examples from six recently funded projects.” To register for the webinar, or for more information visit bit.ly/3sPJcgI. For more information on EU Green Week visit https://www.eugreenweek.eu/. -Ends-

Monday, 31 May 2021

NUI Galway graduate Eoin Murphy is the 2021 winner of the €2000 Mary Mulvihill Award, the science media competition for third-level students that commemorates the legacy of science journalist and author Mary Mulvihill (1959–2015). Eoin won the top prize for an urgent and moving audio documentary, ‘Black Market Oxygen – The Peru Project’, which examined the contrasting experiences of Ireland and Peru during the Covid-19 pandemic. The piece was inspired by a photograph in The Guardian showing a stand-off between hundreds of impoverished and desperate families attempting to leave Peru’s capital, Lima, on foot to return to their home villages, and riot police, who blocked their path in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The documentary, which Eoin wrote and narrated, is a stark reminder that old age and underlying conditions are not the only factors that exacerbate vulnerabilities to Covid-19. “The incredible speed of innovation, which the scientific community has demonstrated since the beginning of 2020, will only be truly realised in years to come,” Eoin notes. “But what is already clear to see is that the inequality which exists around the world means that the poorest nations are being left behind in their Now in its fifth year, the competition invited entries this year on the theme of ‘Virus’. Entrants were encouraged to consider the concept in its broadest sense – not only in terms of infectious agents, such as SARS-CoV-2, which has come to dominate our lives – but also in terms of computer viruses and other metaphorical uses, notably the media phenomenon of ‘going viral’. The diverse entries included considerations of different aspects of virology, such as human endogenous retroviral sequences, which play essential roles in human biology, and bacteriophages, the viruses that attack bacteria, which have therapeutic potential as next-generation antibiotics, also an analysis of the ‘infodemic’ that has accompanied the present pandemic, and another on the difficulty faced by asylum-seekers in direct provision trying to maintain social distance in over-crowded accommodation. A native of Ennis, County Clare, Eoin is a biochemist, a passionate science communicator and an educator. He currently combines his work as a part-time student on DCU’s M.Sc. in Science and Health Communication with his role as a teacher of biology, mathematics and general science in Ballinrobe Community School, in Ballinrobe, County Galway. He is a former Hardiman and Irish Research Council scholar and has a first class honours degree in biotechnology from NUI Galway and has completed two research MSc. degrees, in cancer and the genetics of Huntington’s disease, but has found himself increasingly drawn to science communication and education. He has taught in England and Canada, as well as in Ireland. He is currently collaborating with the British Council on a pilot science communication programme for transition year students. He also co-presents an Instagram TV show, @2baddadstalkscience, and has contributed articles to headstuff.org, Siliconrepublic.com, RTE Brainstorm and the British Council’s Voices magazine. “The judges were greatly impressed with the volume and variety of this year’s entries,” said Anne Mulvihill, a sister of Mary’s and a member of the judging panel from the inception of the competition. “Eoin Murphy’s excellent audio piece was a unanimous winner and, given that Mary did a lot of audio work, it’s additionally fitting that the piece is in this medium. There was also consensus amongst the judges on giving the highly commended award to Matthew Thomas’s strong essay. We congratulate both winners and send our thanks and appreciation to all the entrants who took part in this year’s competition.” The Mary Mulvihill Award is a project of The Mary Mulvihill Association, an initiative established by the family and friends of the late Mary Mulvihill (1959–2015) to honour her memory and her work in science journalism, science communication and heritage, and to promote her legacy. It administers and awards funds to support projects that commemorate her work and its significance. Further information: https://marymulvihillaward.ie/. -Ends-

Friday, 28 May 2021

Sinéad Burke, Founder of Tilting the Lens, will deliver keynote address The world’s largest Disability Law Summer School focusing on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will take place virtually from 31 May - 2 July. The Summer School, hosted by NUI Galway’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy, will focus on Article 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Access to Culture, Recreation, Leisure and Sport for People with Disabilities. This year the Summer School will take place over five weeks with the programme containing a mixture of specially pre-recorded content, live panel discussions, interactive events, comedy sets, and a DJ’d dance party.  Sinéad Burke, disability activist and Founder of Tilting the Lens, will deliver the keynote address focusing on the right to participate in cultural life and how this right can be achieved in practice for disabled people. Over the five weeks speakers, many of whom have been directly and actively engaged in drafting and implementing the UN Convention, will include: Robert Martin of the United Nations Convention for Rights of People with Disabilities Committee Comedian Rosie Jones Irish author Louise Nealon Jess Thom from Tourettes Hero Playwright Rosaleen McDonagh Professor Eilionóir Flynn, Director of Centre for Disability Law and Policy and Co-Director of the Summer School, said: “The global pandemic has highlighted new ways to make culture more accessible, for example, through live streaming of cultural events. Nevertheless, disabled people are still excluded from accessing culture in different forms and much work remains to ensure full and meaningful participation of disabled people in all forms of cultural life. The summer school aims to bring together those who are leading in establishing cultural rights for people with disabilities, advocates and human rights experts in order to learn from each other – and develop ideas in this crucial area.” Co-Director of the Summer school, Maria Ni Fhlatharta of NUI Galway’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy, said: “Access to culture is so often forgotten about when we talk about human rights, but it forms such a crucial part of our lives – from sport to concerts to play as children. I am really excited about the programme this year, we have a diverse range of speakers with some really incredible artists, academics and human rights activists.” Registration for the Summer School is still open and further information is available at  https://bit.ly/3fLHh8s, or contact Sharon Hegarty at 087 7987254, Joanna Forde at 086 4181673, or email disabilitysummerscho@nuigalway.ie  -Ends-

Thursday, 27 May 2021

NUI Galway study confirms that the Noble False Widow spider does have public health implications Research team have established a DNA database to allow clinicians dealing with cases to confirm the species identity using genetic analysis Epidemiology of bites reveals that almost all bites occurred in and around the home, and 88% of bites occurred when the victim was either asleep in bed or when the spider was trapped in clothing In parts of Ireland and Britain, the False Widow spider has become one of the most common species of spiders found in and around urban habitats A team of scientists from NUI Galway have published a new study showing that Noble False Widow spiders can deliver a bite that requires hospitalisation. The threat posed by the Noble False Widow spider has been debated among spider and healthcare specialists for many years. This new study, published in the international medical journal Clinical Toxicology, confirms that some bite victims experience symptoms very similar to the true black widow spiders and some severe cases require hospitalisation. Originating from Madeira and the Canary Islands, the Noble False Widow spider Steatoda nobilis, now has the potential to become one of the world’s most invasive species of spider. It was first documented in Britain over 140 years ago, but in recent decades the species has suddenly increased in numbers, significantly expanding its range and density. The reasons behind this sudden expansion are not clear. Scientists have ruled out climate change as the likely cause but have suggested that a new genetic mutation within the species may have made Noble False Widows more adaptable to new environments. In addition, the species has benefited from an ever-increasing  globalised economy, hitchhiking in containers and crates throughout the globe. Human movement has largely contributed to spread this species throughout Europe, North Africa, West Asia and parts of North and South America. In parts of Ireland and Britain, it has become one of the most common species of spiders found in and around urban habitats. With the increase in False Widow spiders around homes, bites are becoming more prevalent, and scientists are now beginning to realise the full medical importance of these spiders. Envenomation symptoms can be both localised and systemic, ranging from mild to debilitating pain and mild to intense swelling. Some victims have experienced tremors, reduced or elevated blood pressure, nausea and impaired mobility. In rare instances, victims have developed minor wounds at the bite site or had to be treated for severe bacterial infections. The research team at NUI Galway have established a DNA database to allow clinicians dealing with cases to confirm the species identity using genetic analysis. This is especially important when the spider has been squashed so an accurate identification of the spider can be made. The study also provides epidemiology of bites which reveals that almost all bites occurred in and around the home, and 88% of bites occurred when the victim was either asleep in bed or when the spider was trapped in clothing. The team are encouraging members of the public to email them at falsewidow@nuigalway.ie if they think they may have been bitten. Dr Michel Dugon, Head of the Venom Systems Lab at NUI Galway and senior author of the study, said: “In addition to their medically significant venom, Noble False Widows are extremely adaptable and competitive in the wild. Two decades ago, this species was almost unknown in Ireland, the UK or in continental Europe. We still have much to learn about its genetics, origin, behaviour and development. One thing is certain though: this species is here to stay, and we must learn how to live with it.” Dr John Dunbar, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Venom Systems Lab at NUI Galway and lead author of the study, said: “Speculations around the potential severity of the bites by the Noble False Widow have been debated for many years. We only compiled envenomation cases where we had a clear identification of the spider responsible for the bite. We had to rely on DNA extraction and genetic profiling to confirm some cases. We are encouraging people to capture a photograph of the spider immediately after being bitten. Our latest study confirms without a doubt that Noble False Widows can cause severe envenomations (the process by which venom is injected). “This species is increasing its range and population density which will undoubtedly lead to an increase in bites (since submitting our study in March we have already received further confirmed bite cases). While most cases will have a mild outcome, we need to continue to closely monitor bites by the Noble False Widow to understand the potential range of symptoms and to treat severe cases when they occur.” Aiste Vitkauskaite, MSc student in Toxicology at NUI Galway and joint lead in the study, said: “Approximately ten species of Irish spiders have fangs large enough to bite through human skin, yet over the past five years, we have never heard of anybody being bitten by any of the native species. Within the same period, we have recorded dozens of confirmed or probable False Widow bites. These spiders will become increasingly common and so will their bites.”  Professor Derek O’Keeffe, Professor of Medical Device Technology at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician, University Hospital Galway said: “This innovative research led by Dr Dugon and his team clearly demonstrates that Noble False Widow spider bites may result in significant patient morbidity that requires hospital care. This is important as previously we only had anecdotal evidence of its potential harms in victims and therefore this new evidence will allow the updating of clinical guidelines and protocols. These findings demonstrates the key importance of interdisciplinary collaboration between scientists and clinicians to improve patient care.” The full study in Clinical Toxicology is available at https://doi.org/10.1080/15563650.2021.1928165. -Ends-

Thursday, 27 May 2021

The Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University in Canada will host the D’Arcy McGee Beacon Lecture, in partnership with the Ireland Canada University Foundation, with President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, as part of the D’Arcy McGee Beacon Lecture Series. From afar, a beacon provides light, guidance and hope in challenging times. The D’Arcy McGee Beacon Fellowship facilitates such critical connection over distance. This programme enables leading Irish and Canadian academics, researchers and thinkers to connect online, in a programme of activity designed to nurture and develop strong and fruitful collaborations which will enrich connections between both countries. The inaugural Beacon Lectures by Dr. Mary McAleese (President of Ireland, 1997-2011) and the Honourable Jean Charest (Premier of Quebec, 2003-2012), took place in 2020. In 1963, while touring Ireland, then-president of the United States John F. Kennedy commented, "if your eyesight is good enough, and the weather is clear enough, you can see Boston." Not true, “In fact, geographically it is Newfoundland. So the connections between Ireland and Canada have always been strong,” says Professor Ó hÓgartaigh. On Friday, 28 May, Professor Ó hÓgartaigh will discuss the influence third level institutions have in diversifying local economies. Ó hÓgartaigh will demonstrate how NUI Galway is a prime example of how post-secondary education directly impacts the regional economy. Professor Ó hÓgartaigh will also deliver two additional online workshops for the Mount Royal University community, offering perspectives on NUI Galway’s development as a bilingual University and on creating global citizenship. Galway and the west of Ireland, like Calgary and Alberta, is familiar with rotating industry demand. As Western Canada translates into a more diversified economy, Professor Ó hÓgartaigh will share his own experiences and will talk about how the Galway region has successfully adapted to industry needs, with third level education playing a major role. Professor Ó hÓgartaigh says: “To me, one of the things universities do is, if you link with your hinterland, that's a reason for students to come. And when students come to your university and stay, then they create a broader talent pool, which makes the hinterland stronger, which makes a reason to come to the university, which then makes the university and the hinterland stronger. So it's a virtuous circle that universities create, which is a different type of diversity, which makes for a more diverse talent pool.” In the 1970s and 1980s, Galway was home to roughly 20,000 or 30,000 residents. Today it’s now above 80,000. “Where did that other 30,000 to 40,000 come from? Mainly from outside Galway, and we're one of the more diverse cities, certainly in Ireland. So any diversification with universities brings in a broader or more diverse talent pool”, adds Professor Ó hÓgartaigh. Brian Traynor, Acting Dean of Mount Royal’s Faculty of Business and Communication Studies, says: “Professor Ó hÓgartaigh has an international reputation as a leader in Irish universities and the Irish language. When we discussed the possibility of applying for the D’Arcy McGee Beacon Fellowship, we found there are strong parallels between NUI Galway and Mount Royal University. We are confident that strong relationships can be built between both universities. Future possibilities could include: student study abroad opportunities, faculty exchanges, and shared learnings around community engagement.” The additional workshops, related to the role of the Irish (Gaelic) language and educating global citizens, will be focal points of discussion. Traynor says that was one of the underlying reasons for developing relationships with Galway. Profssor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh has worked in Boston as a Fullbright Scholar as well as in Wellington, New Zealand, as a faculty member, and has also previously worked in France. “I think more and more now, we see the importance of citizenship and the role of the university in society, and not just the economy. In Europe we have the Erasmus program, in which our students travel from our university into other countries for a semester, at least, sometimes a year. And there is a view that the program has really created a very strong European citizenship, and a very strong sense of understanding between students, and, ultimately graduates.” NUI Galway has a long history of leading social change and serving the population of Western Ireland to help transform the economy while keeping a strong emphasis on its cultural heritage, and it plays a particular role serving the social, economic and cultural needs of its region as a university with an international reputation and reach. To attend the lecture by Professor Ó hÓgartaigh on 28 May entitled 'The influence of universities in diversifying and strengthening local society and economy - case study NUI Galway' register at: https://bit.ly/3vonF0s. -Ends-

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Two NUI Galway students, Elizabeth Hunt and Harry King, are part of an Irish third level student team who will present their project on fast fashion at the Climate and Community Conference, hosted by The Institute of International and European Affairs and the Embassy of France In Ireland, on Thursday, 27 May. The project entitled ‘Know your Label’ was created by a team of four students, Elizabeth Hunt and Harry King from NUI Galway, and Orla Murphy from DCU and Evan Mahony from UCD. The project came about in March this year when a Climathon volunteering event was organised, aided by the ALIVE Student Volunteering Programme in NUI Galway. At the end of a month-long project, teams from different universities around the country presented their ideas to a panel of judges, with the aim of coming up with an initiative around the areas of climate and sustainability. Based on the UN Sustainable development goals 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 13 (Climate Action), ‘Know your Label’ is proposing to develop a label that can be placed on clothes to inform the consumer of its environmental impact. The team has designed a label with three key environmental metrics - water used, kilometres travelled, and energy used, that will be displayed with the aim of encouraging consumers and companies to operate more sustainably. They also propose to accompany the label with a barcode that will lead the consumer to an app, which will provide more detailed information around the product. ‘Know your Label’s’ spokesperson Orla Murphy will present the project to a panel with Inna Modja, Land Ambassador, UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, at the conference this Thursday at 11:15am. Harry King, a third year Bachelor of Commerce (Global Experience), student at NUI Galway, said: “It has been a privilege and an honour to work with my team on the pressing issue of fast fashion. We are looking forward to the opportunity to have such high-profile figures hear our idea. I have learned so much and the project has ignited my passion for climate action in every walk of life. We hope our idea can have a positive impact in the fashion industry and encourage more transparency.” Lorraine Tansey, ALIVE Student Volunteering Programme Manager at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted across the campus to engage with the French Embassy to Ireland in support of their five-week programme for design thinking and innovation towards a sustainability project with a student focus on the campus environment. This national programme gives our students opportunities to connect with a wide variety of students, exposure to a world stage through an international conference and the confidence to make change for impact.” The online event is open to the public. To register or for more information visit: https://bit.ly/3wwZj58. -Ends-