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Thursday, 22 September 2016

New insights into the formation of tiny particles in marine air which ultimately impact cloud, weather and climate

Research published in today’s issue of Nature has provided new insights into the formation of tiny particles in marine air which ultimately have an impact on cloud formation, weather patterns and global climate. The international team, which included the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway’s Professor Colin O’Dowd and Dr Darius Ceburnis, gathered data from field stations on the west coast of Ireland, Greenland and the Antarctic. “Atmospheric aerosols are tiny airborne liquid or solid droplets or particles, ranging from nanometers to tens or even hundreds of microns in size”, explains Professor O’Dowd, Director of the Centre for Climate & Air Pollution Studies in the School of Physics and Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. “They essentially act as condensation sites for water vapour leading to the formation of haze and cloud layers which ultimately help to keep the earth system from overheating. They do this by reducing the amount of solar energy passing through the atmosphere and absorbed by the Earth. An increase in the abundance of these tiny particles leads to more reflective haze and cloud layers. The end result of more reflecting haze and cloud layers is to partially offset the degree of global warming by greenhouse gases.” Professor O’Dowd continued: “For the first time, we have measured, at a molecular level the nucleation, or formation mechanism and the nucleating molecules forming these tiny particles, less than a nanometer (a thousand of a millionth of a meter in size), in marine air. Our experiments reveal that the formation and initial growth process is almost exclusively driven by iodine oxoacids and iodine oxide vapours and that cluster formation primarily proceeds by sequential addition of HIO3, followed by intracluster restructuring to I2O5 . These observations will help us understand the feedbacks between the marine biosphere and global climate change. The Mace Head atmospheric research station was the key experimental or ‘atmospheric laboratory’ facility leading to the new discovery.” Professor O’Dowd was recently award the Mason Gold medal by the Royal Meteorological Society, the Royal Irish Academy and the Appleton Medal by the Institute of Physics for his research into atmospheric composition and climate change. He is also ranked among the ‘World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds’ by Thomson Reuters. The full paper ‘Molecular-scale evidence of aerosol particle formation via sequential addition of HIO3’ is published in today’s edition of Nature, with co-authors from: University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; Leibniz-Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS), Germany; University of Eastern Finland, Finland; Aerodyne Research Inc., USA; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Finland. -ends-

Thursday, 22 September 2016

NUI Galway Lecturer Recognised as Fellow of International Education Society

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Further Gains for NUI Galway in Prestigious Global Rankings

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

UN to hear that global epidemic of violence against women has dire economic consequences


News Archive

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

New insight into the function of a gene important in the suppression of cancer is published today. Researchers at the National University of Ireland Galway have shown that the TP53 gene has even greater anti-cancer activity than previously thought. Professor Noel Lowndes is head of the Centre for Chromosome Biology at the National University of Ireland Galway and a Science Foundation Ireland Principal Investigator. Lead-author on the paper and an expert in DNA damage, he explains: “TP53 is one of the most potent genes in the human genome at preventing cancer and hence is termed a tumour suppressor gene. The importance of TP53 as a tumour suppressor is best illustrated by its mutation in at least half of all human cancers.” Previously, TP53 has been known to function in processes that prevent cancer cells from multiplying in the body by either triggering their own destruction, or preventing cell division. Together, these processes are recognised as potent anti-cancer mechanisms. Professor Lowndes continued: “In our recent work we add a new role to the expanding list of anti-cancer mechanisms controlled by TP53. We show that TP53 directly regulates the repair of broken DNA. Broken DNA is the most dangerous type of DNA damage as it can result in cell death or loss of genetic information in those cells that survive the break. There are two major competing biochemical pathways for repairing broken DNA. One simply re-joins the two ends of the broken chromosome. The other uses a nearby intact DNA molecule of the same sequence as a template to repair the broken chromosome. Our work demonstrates that TP53 directly influences the regulation of these two pathways. Thus, loss of TP53 during cancer development will drive the evolution of cancer cells towards ever more aggressive cancer types.” The research team hopes this new insight will impact upon diagnosis of cancer and improved therapeutic interventions. The research is published in the Royal Society journal Open Biology today in the article ‘A role for the p53 tumour suppressor in regulating the balance between homologous recombination and non-homologous end joining’. -end-

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Students from the NUI Galway’s Psi Chi Honour Society in Psychology will host a public lecture by Professor Brian Hughes on pseudoscience in psychology. The lecture, entitled ‘“Trust Me, I’m a Psychologist” (Said No One Ever): Distinguishing Good Behavioural Science from Bad’, will take place on Thursday, 29 September, at 7pm. The lecture will examine the extent to which imperfect science threatens the impact and credibility of psychology, and argues that society at large stands to gain when psychologists promote and defend scientific standards. Professor Brian Hughes, Professor of Psychology and Dean of International Affairs at NUI Galway, said: “It is often easy to forget that psychology is a scientific discipline, and that is its core activity is the production of findings that help resolve debates about human behaviour and well-being. It is so easy to forget this that sometimes psychologists themselves fail to remember it. Scientifically limited research, in other words, bad science, has become a significant problem in modern psychology.” Professor Hughes’s research focuses on psychological stress and its impact on health, and on psychological and social moderators of stress. He also writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, and medicine. Professor Hughes’s recently published and critically-acclaimed book on the subject, Rethinking Psychology: Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudoscience, focuses on the philosophy of science within psychology, critiques controversial practices and challenges the biases which threaten academic rigour within the field. Hannah Durand, President of the NUI Galway Psi Chi Honour Society, said: “The purpose of our society has been to promote excellence in the science and application of psychology, and this lecture will certainly contribute towards achieving that goal. The topic of pseudoscience in psychology has wide appeal and important implications not only for aspiring psychologists, but also society at large. We look forward to seeing a diverse audience and to the fascinating discussion that is sure to follow Professor Hughes’s lecture.” The free lecture will take place in the O’Flaherty Lecture Theatre on the Arts/Science Concourse at NUI Galway. For more information contact psichinuig@gmail.com. -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Professor Daniel Carey, Director of NUI Galway’s Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies, has been appointed to the Board of the Irish Research Council. The Irish Research Council (IRC) supports excellent research and recognises creative individuals with innovative ideas, thus enabling a vibrant research community which enriches Irish research, the economy and society. “I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with the IRC, particularly at a time when government funding for research is under review in the context of Innovation 2020. As director of a research institute in the humanities and social sciences, I’m especially keen to support and promote the work of Irish academics in these fields. We face a lot of challenges, but at the same time we have great strengths to draw on and potential for the future”, said Professor Carey. Professor Carey is a graduate of McGill University, Trinity College Dublin, and Oxford University. He has published seven books on literature, history, economic thought and colonialism, and a range of articles on the history of travel, anthropology, history of science, and politics. He is general editor working with an international team to edit a landmark work of English exploration and expansion, Richard Hakluyt's Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques, and Discoveries of the English Nation, forthcoming in 14 volumes with Oxford University Press. Established in mid-2012 under the Government’s Public Sector Reform Plan, the Irish Research Council is a merger of two former councils - the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS), and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) The IRC is an associated agency of the Department of Education and Skills and operates under the aegis of the Higher Education Authority. -Ends-


Events Calendar

Upcoming Events Time / Date Location
The Darkside of Enterprise Social Media [Whitaker Ideas Forum] 13.00 Wednesday,
28 September 2016
CA110, Cairnes Building
The Darkside of Enterprise Social Media [Whitaker Ideas Forum] 13.00 Wednesday,
28 September 2016
CA110, Cairnes Building

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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Frozen Ocean – A Photographic Diary of a Winter Expedition into the Antarctic Sea Ice

The public are invited to a fascinating public lecture of a winter expedition with the German icebreaker “Polarstern” to Antarctica. The talk will be delivered by Professor Peter Lemke of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz-Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Germany on Wednesday, 14 September, at 7.30pm in the Colm O’hEocha Theatre in the Arts Millenium Building at NUI Galway. Professor Lemke has participated in nine polar expeditions with the German research icebreaker “Polarstern”, and has collections of stunning photographs depicting the Antarctic landscape and intriguing experiences to share. He is visiting Galway to participate in the Atlantic Ocean Climate Scholars Programme which is a week-long intensive, accredited workshop examining how climate and oceans interact, with particular examples from the Atlantic Ocean and higher latitudes. The lecture is open to members of the public and is part of a workshop organised by Dr Pauhla McGrane of the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART) being held in Galway, from 12-19 September,offered to international postgraduate students of marine, atmosphere and climate-related sciences. “Polar regions play an important role for our climate, but direct observations are difficult to obtain and can only be achieved with greatest effort. This is especially true in wintertime” said Professor Lemke. “Severe blizzards, being trapped between thick ice floes and forced to drift with the ice, the darkness of the polar night and temperatures around minus 30°C. This presentation will take you along on an extraordinary winter expedition into the Antarctic Ocean. It shows the beauty of the frozen ocean, presents some insight into polar and climate research, and demonstrates everyday life on a research icebreaker,” he continued. High latitudes have received attention recently because of significant changes in the atmosphere, sea ice, and ocean, and on land, especially in the Arctic. The surface air temperature in the Arctic has increased about twice as fast as the global air temperature. The Arctic sea-ice extent in summer has decreased by 35% since 1979, and the sea-ice thickness during late summer has declined in the Central Arctic by about 40% since 1958. A warming has also been observed at depth in the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean. But surprisingly there is no negative trend observed in the Antarctic sea ice. Both, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass, and the sea level is rising. Most of these observed trends are in agreement with warming scenarios performed with coupled climate models, which indicate an amplified response in high latitudes to increased greenhouse gas concentrations. But details of the complex interaction between atmosphere, sea ice and ocean, and the impacts on the ecosystem and the human society are still only marginally understood. Results will be shown from the latest Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and from a winter expedition the speaker has lead into the ice-covered Weddell Sea (Antarctica). Dr Pauhla McGrane, coordinator of SMART said: “We are delighted that Proffessor Lemke has agreed to provide his unique insight into carrying out climate research in hostile polar environments, particulaly when accompanied by such beautiful stark images. This is especially relevant as this year we will run the second North South Atlantic Training Transect on-board the RV Polarstern from Germany to South Africa which will train 24 postgraduate students, including seven Irish students, in researching climate, ocean and atmospheric interactions at sea. These innovative offshore international collaboarations, developed with AWI, the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) and funded by the Nippon foundation are essential in developing excellent climate and ocean scientists to measure and understand our changing planet”. Professor Lemke continues to work on the observation of climate processes in atmosphere, sea ice and ocean and their simulation in numerical models for the polar components of the climate system. On six expeditions on Polarstern he acted as chief scientist.  For more than 30 years he served on many national and international committees on polar and climate research. He was the Coordinating Lead Author for Chapter 4 (Observations: Changes in Snow, Ice and Frozen Ground) of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007. The IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with Al Gore in 2007. For the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC published in 2013 Proffessor Lemke worked as Review Editor of Chapter 4 and as Lead Author of the Technical Summary. All members of the public are welcome and refreshments will be served afterwards. The Atlantic Ocean Climate Scholars Programme is a collaboaration between SMART, NUI Galway, AWI and the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) that is funded by the Nippon foundation under NF POGO Regional Training fund.  -ends-