Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Seven new NUI Galway projects to respond to the COVID-19 emergency were announced by Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD today.  The rapid response research projects are part of the national, coordinated research and innovation funding response to the COVID-19 pandemic involving leading funding and innovation agencies*. The seven NUI Galway projects to be awarded funding are:  Equipment to make it easier and safer for patients with COVID-19 to breathe Expediting the diagnosis of COVID-19 in a clinical setting using AI enabled analysis of CT scans Improving long-term patient recovery and reducing disability after COVID-19 critical illness using microRNA-based approaches Identifying mental health needs and best practice for psychological support in frontline healthcare workers during and after the COVID-19 outbreak and in future pandemics Modelling real-time population-wide impacts of COVID-19 Optimising Covid-19 social distancing communications: Identifying and addressing psychosocial determinants of social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic Rapid response and learning for later: establishing high quality information networks and evaluation frameworks for the National Ambulance Service response to COVID-19 Speaking today, NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said:  “As a region renowned for creativity and as a global medtech hub, our University has been to the fore in looking at innovations that can support the response to the COVID-19 crisis.  Our main aim is to serve the public good and the range of activities announced today highlight how we are working not only to address the health challenges created by this pandemic, but also our understanding of the economic and social implications. “It’s important that as a society, we firstly address the current crisis and then look to the future.  We find ourselves having to re-imagine our humanity as we face new times and new realities. Our community is at the centre of innovations to respond to the crisis and the solutions to restore our society after this pandemic.”    Vice President of Research at NUI Galway, Professor Lokesh Joshi added: "There has been a tremendous response to the COVID-19 pandemic from our research and innovation community here in Galway. Our people have mobilised across all the disciplines and are collaborating to find innovative approaches and new insights for this globally-shared challenge.  Ireland's COVID-19 Rapid Response research and innovation funding initiative is a welcome support to these efforts, and I congratulate the many NUI Galway awardees whose projects seek to benefit patients, frontline healthcare workers, and wider society." *Health Research Board, Irish Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. About the Projects Dr Aaron Golden, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics, aims to build an AI imaging system to support radiology teams in expedited diagnosis of early stage COVID-19 disease using CT scans. The project will build on published open source data from China and, working with clinical radiologists in Ireland, differentiate using a desktop tool a COVID-19 patient's CT scan as opposed to that of a patient with community acquired pneumonia or other more common lung disorders. The project team includes Dr. Christoph Kleefeld (Medical Physics & Clinical Engineering, University Hospital Galway) and Dr. Declan Sheppard (Clinical Director of Radiology, University Hospital Galway). Siobhan Masterson, Discipline of General Practice, will provide information networks  and evaluation tools that will help the National Ambulance Service (NAS). With the NAS at the forefront of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in a climate of innovation and adaptation, the project will include learnings from ambulance services abroad and share the Irish experience. Professor Brian McGuire, School of Psychology, will identify best-practice guidance for mental health specialists and managers tasked with supporting front-line workers struggling with psychological distress due to the COVID-19 crisis. The project will include includes psychologists, a psychiatrist and ICU doctors based both in Ireland and in Italy. Dr Gerry Molloy, School of Psychology, seeks to better understand what will help people understand and achieve the required level of physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project will help inform public health officials as to how best to communicate about the need for current and any future relaxed distancing measures. Professor Cathal O’Donoghue, Dean of Arts and Social Sciences, will develop a mechanism to deliver real-time analysis of the economic, social and health implications of COVID-19 related interventions. By modelling household incomes, taxes and benefits, the project will help identify who is most likely to suffer from loss of income, leading to more effective targeting and budgeting of income support measures. Professor Martin O’Halloran and Professor John Laffey will further develop their CPAP/BiPAP Hood for safe oxygen delivery to COVID-19 patients. Supported by local med-tech companies, the multidisciplinary Inspire team are developing oxygen equipment that is easy to manufacture and safe to use, and will reduce risk of infection to front-line healthcare staff and help reduce the demand on more invasive, mechanical ventilators for patients.  The INSPIRE team is composed NUI Galway and GMIT researchers, UHG clinicians, medical physics and nursing staff, and is supported by groups and individuals from across Galway, including local medtech, ICT, manufacturing, and quality and regulatory advisors. Dr Kasia Whysall,  Disciplineof Physiology, aims to help improve long-term patient recovery by reducing muscle wasting and frailty, especially among older patients. Her approach will investigate whether microRNAs, small molecules which regulate the function of our cells, can predict or improve muscle health and strength following critical illness such as COVID-19.  The project is a collaboration with NUI Galway’s Dr Brian McDonagh and Professor John Laffey, Dr Bairbre McNicholas of University Hospital Galway, Professor Ken O'Halloran from UCC and Dr Rónán O’Caoimh from Mercy University Hospital Cork. For details of other COVID-19 projects from NUI Galway - https://www.nuigalway.ie/our-research/covid19/ -Ends-

Monday, 27 April 2020

Researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission (WDC) have launched a national survey to gather data on employees’ experiences of remote working in these unprecedented times.  This project is being led by Professor  Alma McCarthy, Professor Alan Ahearne and Dr Katerina Bohle-Carbonell at NUI Galway and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at WDC.  The COVID-19 crisis has catapulted hundreds of thousands of employees and their employers into a work pattern and routine vastly different to their normal daily work experience.  This radical change happened suddenly and for the vast majority the change effectively occurred overnight.  While some employees have experience of remote working, many find themselves operating remote working without any time to plan, negotiate, organise and set-up remote working in conjunction with their employer and manager. Speaking about the national survey, Professor Alma McCarthy said: “Anecdotally, we understand employees are responding in diverse ways to mandatory remote working: some are finding it very difficult to adjust to remote working with no social contact with colleagues and the need to self-structure their work; others have significant challenges managing caring (child and/or elder) responsibilities with work; and yet others are enjoying the absence of the morning and evening commute, no traffic, and report higher productivity levels.  We are undertaking this survey to gather data on employees’ experiences of remote working in these unprecedented times.”  The NUI Galway and WDC COVID-19 Remote Working Survey will gather data about the following questions: how are employees adjusting to remote working, what is going well and what changes would employees suggest?; how are employees responding to remote working from a well-being perspective?; how is remote working impacting employee productivity?; and what lessons can be learned about remote working that could be retained/sustained post-COVID-19? WDC CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin said ‘the move to remote working has allowed many, but not all, employees to continue to work during the current crisis. The WDC has published a significant body of work on how remote work has developed over many years so this anonymous survey will help to shape national policy. As well as improving individuals’ quality of life, working part-time or fulltime from home or from a hub can make a huge difference to rural and regional communities. ’ The research team will analyse the findings of the survey and make them publicly available on NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute website and on the WDC website.  The data and 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 bit.ly/covid19remoteworking ENDS

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Times Higher Education Rankings Recognise Contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goals The new Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings has placed NUI Galway 10th in the world for addressing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal for research on life below water and support for aquatic ecosystems. In the second edition of Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings, which was released today, NUI Galway has been ranked 68th in the world for addressing the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals overall. The new rankings provide a measure of the extent to which universities are having a positive social and economic impact on the planet; from climate action and gender equality, to good health and wellbeing. It is the first university ranking to use this criteria, rather than traditional metrics, such as reputation and research prestige. Speaking on the announcement of this year’s Impact Rankings, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “The sustainable development goals are arguably the most important targets for the world to meet, and it’s heartening to see Irish universities taking such a lead role in addressing them.  As we see recent research linking air pollution and COVID-19 outcomes, the need to create a better and more sustainable future for all has never been more urgent.  The current pandemic is highlighting healthcare inequalities globally, which we must work to address across all aspects of our research, from health sciences to the humanities.  “At NUI Galway, sustainability is a key strategic priority, and we look forward to progressing our work to address these global challenges as part of our central mission to serve the public good in our words and deeds.”  NUI Galway performed strongly in a number of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including: SDG 14 Life Under Water Measuring the University’s research on life below water and efforts at supporting, educating and sustaining aquatic ecosystems both locally and globally, NUI Galway were ranked in the Top 10 for education and actions to support aquatic ecosystems, both locally and globally.   SDG 3: Good Heath & Wellbeing: This measures the University’s research on key diseases and conditions, international collaborations with global health organisations and its support for healthcare professions and the health of students and staff. SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy This measures the University’s research related to efficient energy consumption, our own energy use and policies and our commitment to promoting energy efficiency in the wider community. NUI Galway was awarded Energy Team of the Year at last year’s Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland awards.  At 36% energy reduction, NUI Galway continues to work towards an ambitious target of a 40% energy reduction by 2020. SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities: This measures the university’s research on sustainability, our role as custodian of arts and heritage and our internal efforts on practicing and promoting sustainability. NUI Galway performed particularly well for its research and support for sustaining and promoting Arts and Heritage. SDG 16 Peace Justice & Strong institutions: Measuring the University’s research on Law, Human rights and international relations, and our participation as advisors and influencers of government policy, the University performed particularly well for its research and work with government and policy makers. SDG 17: Partnership for Goals This measures the broader ways in which the University supports the UN SDGs though collaboration with other countries, the promotion of best practices and the publication of data for informing research and decision making. The University has a long tradition of partnership regionally and globally on projects for the benefit of communities.  Find out more about the Impact Rankings visit https://www.timeshighereducation.com/opinion/new-way-defining-excellence-higher-education, or view the full methodology at https://www.timeshighereducation.com/university-impact-rankings-2020-methodology. A full list of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals can also be found on the United Nation’s website at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org. -Ends-

Saturday, 18 April 2020

New research  due to be presented at this year’s European Congress on Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID)* has revealed the presence of disease-causing E.coli  in recreational waters, including from beaches rated excellent under EU criteria. The study is led by Professor Dearbháile Morris and Dr Louise O’Connor at the School of Medicine, NUI Galway. E.coli are part of the normal gut flora of humans and animals, but not all E. coli are exactly the same. Some E. coli can produce toxins that can cause serious infection in humans. Shiga -toxigenic E. coli (STEC) are pathogenic E. coli that can cause severe intestinal infection and potentially renal failure and death. Ireland has had the highest incidence rate for human infection with STEC among EU member states for many years, reporting 10 times the EU average in 2017. This research looked at recreational waters for the presence of STEC. Seawater, river and lake samples were collected around Ireland between December 2018 and October 2019 and examined for genetic markers of STEC. Of the 75 samples tested, 49 (65%) were positive for the presence of STEC genetic markers, including 29/52 (56%) seawater samples, 14/15 (93%) river samples and 6/8 (75%) lake samples. Professor Morris says: “To our knowledge this is the first investigation of recreational waters across Ireland for the presence of STEC. There was a high occurrence of genetic markers for STEC in the samples tested, highlighting the need for further investigation to establish the scale of the problem, not only in Ireland but globally. It is worth noting that all of the bathing waters tested were designated as of good or excellent quality based on current EU bathing water quality monitoring criteria. Bathing water quality is assessed based on estimating the total number of E. coli in a 100ml sample over a defined time-period (May to September). Bathing waters in Europe and elsewhere are not routinely monitored for the presence of STEC.  This study highlights the limitations of only assessing the total number of E. coli present as an indicator of water quality without taking into consideration the potential pathogenicity of some variants.” -Ends-

Friday, 10 April 2020

New system to safely deliver adjustable ventilation and will halve the number of ventilators needed for patients Clinicians and members of the medical technology (MedTech) sector in Galway have designed a new ventilation system to maximise the usage of ventilators treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Inspire Team, based at NUI Galway, have designed a new system to support clinicians to safely split ventilation between two patients, while maintaining the ability to individualize the breath size and the pressure levels required by each.  With health systems globally coming under significant pressure to ventilate COVID-19 patients, it is hoped this new system can help alleviate the pressure on resources in hospitals.  The system is being made available to health services globally on the website  www.galwayventshare.com and it has been designed so that it can be replicated using medically approved ventilator equipment that already exists in most hospitals. The system allows for delivery of the correct lung volume based on each patient’s requirements which can be adjusted as necessary. The amount delivered can be verified through a tablet connected to the ventilator, giving more confidence to the clinicians through individual patient monitoring. The design has been approached from a COVID patient perspective. Patient requirements can vary and the team have ensured that the volume can be adjusted for each patient to cater for this and adjust over time as needed. This is particularly effective for people with lung disease or respiratory illness. Speaking today, alongside co-leads Jack Connolly and Atif Shahzad, Tim Jones said: “The team has come together mindful of the need for speed in developing and sharing solutions that can treat the COVID-19 pandemic. We are making our findings available to colleagues worldwide to help alleviate some of the pressure on hospitals challenged by a shortage of ventilators.  We are meanwhile moving to complete sensor and interface prototypes and rigorously test the full system, with all findings to be shared widely as soon as they’re available.” The Inspire Team is comprised of alumni of the BioInnovate medical device training programme at NUI Galway, who work throughout Galway, one of the world’s MedTech hubs, where approximately half of the world’s ventilators are produced.    Commenting on the potential benefits to hospitals Professor John Laffey, Professor of Anaesthesia at the School of Medicine in NUI Galway, and a Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Galway University Hospitals, remarked: “The idea of using a ventilator to ventilate the lungs of two patients is very much a last resort. Unfortunately, we have heard some reports of intensive care colleagues in other countries in the tragic situation of having to choose which one of two COVID-19 patients to offer ventilator support to. This innovation will change that decision from one of having to decide which patient to provide this life supporting technology to allowing one to provide ventilatory support to both patients, buying time to allow one source additional ventilators. This solution developed in Galway is an important advance over others because it allows one to control key ventilatory parameters for each patient separately, which is really important for a severe lung disease like COVID-19, and it monitors each patient separately.” Speaking today, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “Experts in the Galway med-tech hub are playing an active part in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Inspire Team have come together from a range of industry and clinical backgrounds with one aim – to help patients during this pandemic.  It’s a core value of our University to work for the public good and the alumni of our Bioinnovate programme are exemplars of this mind-set, by sharing their knowledge globally to support health systems and humanity around the world.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Study published in Nature’s journal—Climate and Atmospheric Science New research published by NUI Galway’s Centre for Climate & Air Pollution Studies (C-CAPS) has shone light on the impact of clouds on climate change. The study has raised serious doubts of the likely impact of human-led interventions involving methods of cloud ‘brightening’ to counteract climate change. The new study has been published today in the Nature’s journal – Climate and Atmospheric Science. The study looks into clouds, with one of the most important types of elements in clouds thought to be sulphate.  Clouds, which are made of many droplets of condensed water on air particles, cool the climate by reflecting sunlight.  According to recent theories, more air pollution serves as condensation points for cloud droplets leading to more solar reflectance. This has led many to believe that fossil fuel emissions and other air pollutions may off-set global warming through cloud ’brightening’.  The Galway study found the addition of a small amount of sea-salt can dampen the effect of clouds becoming brighter as a result of increased sulphate in the atmosphere. Professor Colin O’Dowd, Director of C-CAPS and Established Chair of Atmospheric Physics, said: “The study backs up our previous thinking that sea-salt will factor out other substances and cause competition between potential nuclei influencing cloud reflectance. This means that recent theories that increased sulphate production can decrease the impact of climate change need to be reconsidered. Science is clearly pointing to the fact that carbon-based human activity is hurting our environment and there’s only one pathway to solve this - less fossil fuel and no interference with nature.” Researchers from NUI Galway joined the Spanish research vessel BIO Hesperides circling Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, known as the world’s cleanest laboratory.  The purpose of the expedition was to examine how the world’s atmosphere is functioning in a pollution free environment.  Lead author Dr Kirsten Fossum commented: “Clouds, particularly those overlying dark ocean surfaces, are the Earth’s key climate regulators, accounting for half of global reflectance. Pollution-induced changes to cloud reflectance, represent the single biggest uncertainty in predicting future climate change.  The large area covered and systematic evidence from the cruise to Antarctica provided the vast sample of clean air needed to conclusively support this study.” The study was funded by SFI through the MaREI centre and the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. The Antarctic cruise that led to this study was organised by the Institut de Ciéncies del Mar (CSIC), Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The researchers behind the study run the Mace Head Air Pollution and Climate Laboratory on the west coast of Ireland where they study the cleanest air in Europe and in the northern hemisphere. The team also recently released a unique smartphone app, known as StreamAir, it provides real-time weather forecasting and highlights key drivers of air pollution and climate disruption through air quality indications. To read the full study in Nature can be viewed at https://www.nature.com/npjclimatsci/. For more information on Mace Head, visit: www.macehead.org. -Ends-

Friday, 27 March 2020

New therapies for pneumonia patients being developed Quick profiling of immune response in patients to be researched NUI Galway has begun a comprehensive review of its existing healthcare research to repurpose it to help fight the spread of COVID-19. A team of researchers at NUI Galway is examining an existing study of interventions for patients with community acquired pneumonia which is rapidly being repurposed to examine COVID-19 patients. This study is being revised and repurposed to enable healthcare professionals to offer novel emerging therapies to the sickest patients. A new working group has been established to give healthcare professionals the ability to quickly profile the immune response of severely ill patients with a view to guiding therapeutic options. The working group comprises of the University’s top academics in the fields of haematology, immunology and ID. The University’s critical care researchers are working with the Irish critical care trials group and international pandemic research consortia to develop and rapidly implement Clinical Trials in patients with COVID-19 Severe Respiratory Failure in order to test and gain access to novel therapies as they emerge. President of NUI Galway, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said “NUI Galway exists for the public good. The Irish people have answered the Government’s call to combat the spread of Covid 19, and the University is mobilising all its academic capabilities to join this global action.  While we’re also repurposing our research to combat this crisis, I’d like to pay particular tribute to our medical community, staff and student doctors and nurses who are on the frontline saving lives in our hospitals, nationally and internationally. They making a great contribution throughout the world and our impact is at its most profound through them and their commitment to others.  We are deeply grateful to them.” Vice Dean for Research at NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, and Professor of Anaesthesia, NUI Galway and Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Galway University Hospitals Professor John Laffey added: “There are several emerging drug therapies for COVID-19, including antivirals, chloroquine and derivatives, steroids and immune modulating drugs. However, the research is at an early stage and further comparative studies are needed to determine their effectiveness before we will know what are the best therapies for COVID patients. Our research focuses on what we already know about virus induced severe respiratory failure and how we can quickly adapt it to make early and effective interventions to save the lives of thousands of people.” Healthcare students at NUI Galway are playing a vital role in the provision of healthcare- in their clinical placement and through volunteering, both in contact tracing and at various testing centres across the city.  The Inspire project, led by Professors Martin O'Halloran and John Laffey, is an industry-academic partnership based at NUI Galway, designed to deliver fast-to-clinic medical devices to support the COVID-19 effort. The Inspire team is composed of over 30 clinicians, medical physicists, engineers and other healthcare staff from UHG, NUI Galway and the local medtech industry.  The team have a number of development streams, addressing topics ranging from infection control to improving oxygen delivery to critically ill patients. One notable stream involves the establishment of a video-conferencing system in ICUs, to allow isolated quarantined patients keep in daily contact with their families. This work is supported by IBM, Cisco and Apple. A second project seeks to reduce the infection risk associated with high-flow oxygen delivery, supported by Tympany, Venari Medical and Endowave, amongst others. If successful, this work will reduce the current dependency on ventilators, allowing for more patients to receive life-saving oxygen therapy.   A new website called www.covidmedsupply.org has been created by NUI Galway and the University of Limerick to offer essential aid in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The new global platform is designed to help local organisations, such as industry, businesses, universities and labs provide available personal protective equipment. The teams in Evidence Synthesis Ireland, Cochrane Ireland and the HRB-TMRN, all based in NUI Galway are, with the help of the University Library and colleagues throughout the University and broader research community, supporting a number of prioritised COVID-19 related projects including membership of the International Cochrane COVID-19 Executive Response Team, conducting rapid updates of Cochrane systematic reviews (e.g., personal protection equipment), mapping of COVID-19 evidence and conducting a number of World Health Organisation prioritised rapid reviews of evidence. Other measures being investigated by NUI Galway researchers include; enhancing the capacity of doctors to provide respiratory support for COVID-19 patients; using data to accurately predict modelling and potential trends of the virus and preclinical studies into COVID-19. -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Public can now have early alert on toxicity level of national and European air pollution episodes Tuesday, 10 March, 2020: NUI Galway’s Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies (C-CAPS) has launched a new app to provide real-time forecasting data on atmospheric composition which will shine a light on the key drivers of climate change and air pollution and build on its internationally-recognised Mace Head Atmospheric Research station.  The C-CAPS’s Mace Head research centre in Connemara is one of the most important facilities for atmospheric composition observations globally and has been operating as far back as 1958. Executive Dean of Science and Engineering at NUI Galway, Professor Walter Gear, said: “We are very proud of the work we do here and its contribution to European health and to informing measures to protect our planet.  We are now adding this new app, StreamAIR, that will help to raise further awareness about air pollution and climate issues and their implications.” “Ireland and the world’s future can only be safeguarded by an immediate reduction in harmful emissions.  Cleaner air can yield co-benefits for human health and for the planet by reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.  Meeting our requirements under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is a major challenge for Ireland but by using our technologies here in Galway, Ireland can accurately measure and report the progress it is making.” Mace Head is a member of a number of regional to global networks, contributing data and analysis to a wide range of atmospheric problems.  In particular, it is a World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) atmospheric composition and climate research station, and a European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP) supersite with the aim of solving transboundary air pollution problems under the United Nations Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP). The Centre’s Director, Professor Colin O'Dowd said “The StreamAIR app is an extension of the Mace Head real-time data system, designed to fuse together real-time observation and forecast data on multiple platforms including mobile devices.” Through StreamAIR, NUI Galway and Mace Head not only provide current real-time data to a range of agencies and networks, the Facility has generated some of the most important long-term observation datasets of greenhouse gases (GHGs), such has carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone, and ozone depleting substances such as CFCs, along with Particulate Matter (PM), such as sulphate haze producing acid rain.   Professor Colin O'Dowd added, “These long-term trends have underpinned successful policy development and intervention in acid rain and ozone depletion issues, but a lot of work still remains for GHG warming agents, driving global warming.  In fact, ozone is a double agent  - while it is critical to have (stratospheric) ozone high in the sky to protect us from the sun’s harmful UV rays, at the surface, (tropospheric) ozone is a harmful air pollutant, causing premature deaths and mortality, and also a short-term warming agent (i.e. its lifetime is much shorter that CO2) in terms of global warming. The StreamAIR app brings the polluting agents and global warming agents together into the palm of everybody’s hand, emphasising that both types of agents must be reduced through co-benefit observations, research, and policy development.” Dr Liz Coleman, the Principal Researcher on the project, funded by the SFI MaREI Energy, Climate and Marine research centre, said that the app has the potential to identify the sources of air pollution, as well as the toxicity level of air pollution episodes. This information can be combined with exposure data to better inform the public of the potential risks from a national level to a European scale. This enables users to protect their health by taking necessary precautions when a pollution event is forecasted on the app.    The app can be downloaded from the App Store. For more information visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/science/research/macehead/ or watch a video on the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies at https://vimeo.com/bbcswcp/download/371385129/d8dbcd983d. ENDS

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

University to host international conference for next generation of solar scientists NUI Galway has continued to build on its credentials as one of the world’s leading centres on sustainable manufacturing research having won a €4 million project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme, to produce chemicals using solar energy. Part of the project is to train 15 early stage researchers as specialists in using water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen to produce solar chemicals such as hydrogen, ammonia and methanol. The kick-off conference for the researchers will take place at the end of March in Galway. At present, there is a gap in Europe in the area of solar chemicals production and their usage in industry and mobility. NUI Galway has been working in this sphere for some time and is already involved in an exciting project to power public transport using green hydrogen. An NUI Galway pilot project to produce hydrogen from solar to power the public transport fleet in the Canaries will commence shortly. The latest project, known as SOLAR2CHEM, is led by Dr Pau Farràs Costa of the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway who is also driving the Canaries’ hydrogen pilot. SOLAR2CHEM includes nine academic organisations and three non-academic partners to provide training programmes on scientific, technical and personal development skills. The programme includes secondments to leaders in solar chemical development including Japan and the United States. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “NUI Galway has committed itself to put Climate Change at the centre of the agenda for the University. We recently developed a five-year strategy to drive radical change in how our economy and society develops underpinned by values, including sustainability, and SOLAR2CHEM shows our capacity to deliver sustainable technologies that deliver for Ireland’s research and development sector, further enhancing our ability to attract foreign direct investment.” Head of SOLAR2CHEM at NUI Galway, Dr Pau Farràs Costa said: “I will be delighted to welcome European colleagues here to Galway on 27 March to begin work on this solar chemicals project. It will help to further establish NUI Galway as Ireland and Europe’s leading university for sustainability. We plan to work hard to deliver an intensive training programme that explores new methods of solar energy conversion to deliver a future supply of sustainable chemicals for the European Union. The EU needs to become leaders in this field and our university will be proud to work with the highest tiers of academics and industry to achieve this.”  NUI Galway is involved in over 133 Horizon 2020 projects and has received over €63 million in direct funding from the programme. NUI Galway places a strong focus on providing a supportive and exciting environment for its researchers and was awarded the ‘HR Excellence in Research’ logo by the European Commission. -Ends-

Monday, 24 February 2020

The study was published in world’s leading science journal Nature Energy A new study written by three NUI Galway academics on how renewable energy sources can generate storable hydrogen fuel through water electrolysis has been published by the world leading multi-disciplinary science journal, Nature Energy.  The study was written in collaboration with the University of Liverpool and the Technical University Berlin. The three NUI Galway academics involved include Dr Wenming Tong, Dr Roghayeh Sadeghi Erami and Dr Pau Farràs Costa. NUI Galway’s recently published strategy focuses on sustainability as one of its core objectives.  Hydrogen has experienced a massive growth in interest with large car manufacturers and oil and gas companies showing a clear shift of their investment strategies towards it.  Hydrogen is a clean energy vector and is seen as a key component in the energy mix to meet the targets of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals which relate to climate change mitigation. The NUI Galway study looks at how electric current in the form of electrolysis can be applied to water to produce a chemical reaction to produce hydrogen and how the renewable energy source can be stored. The study analyses current costly methods of electrolysis such as used in the desalination of sea water and addresses potential other approaches that yield stronger results to deliver more sustainable energy production and storage. Potable and clean water is a precious resource which should not be used to produce fuels. The lead author of the study, Dr Pau Farràs Costa of the Energy Research Centre at the Ryan Institute of NUI Galway, said: “Hydrogen is one of the world’s most exciting fuels and can be the key to unlock Ireland’s energy needs for the next 50 years.  This study looks at how installing an electrolyser, a device which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrical energy, will allow us to achieve Ireland’s climate targets in transport, heating, energy and storage. With the right vision and drive, Ireland can be a world leader in developing new clean technologies as it doesn’t have other major energy industries to displace.  Hydrogen can deliver to all sectors of society, creating a zero-emission economy.” Dr Farràs Costa is one of Ireland’s experts in synthetic chemistry and catalysis, having received numerous awards and fellowships, including the prestigious Newton International Fellowship by the Royal Society in 2013 and the Great North Museum Fellowship in 2015 for outreach activities.  He has published over 30 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has been selected as Emerging Investigator 2018 by Chemical Communications. At present, there is a gap in Ireland in renewable energy and its storage, and hydrogen can be the key to solve the issue. NUI Galway has been working in this sphere for some time and is already involved in exciting projects to power transport fleets using hydrogen.  The full study can be viewed at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41560-020-0550-8. -Ends-

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

NUI Galway will celebrate Irish Traveller Ethnicity Day by hosting the ‘Travellers in Education: Building a Sense of Belonging’ event on Wednesday, 26 February. Irish Traveller Ethnicity Day marks the anniversary of Travellers gaining ethnic status, while celebrating Travellers culture and heritage including music, craft traditions and language. The event will showcase the rich cultural heritage of Irish Travellers through the Traveller Living Exhibition which is open to the public from 10am – 2.30pm outside Áras na Mac Léinn. The exhibition, a vibrant recreation of Traveller life in the 1950s includes a fully restored barrel-top wagon, a traditional tent, a flat cart, a working tinsmith, a storyteller, and a campfire. Irish traditional music and Sean-nós dancing will also feature. Parallel to the showcase, the Access Centre will facilitate workshops to highlight pathways into university, specifically medicine and law, while outlining the multiple supports available to potential students. Imelda Byrne, Head of NUI Galway’s Access Centre, said: “The Access Centre is delighted to collaborate with our student societies, the Office of the Vice-President for Equality and Diversity, and Traveller Organisations across our region in organising this unique event. The first of its kind in any third-level institution in the country the event is core to the University’s strategy, particularly the values of openness and respectfulness delivered through the School of Sanctuary programme. We are proud and excited to host this event.” At 1pm in the Bailey Allen Hall (NUI Galway), there will be panel discussions focusing on the student experience and Travellers in education with: Hannagh McGinley, PhD Student in Education; Owen Ward, Access Centre; Martin Ward, WestTrav; Senator Alice Mary Higgins, Dean of Students Michelle Millar, and others. The panels will also hear from current students and graduates from NUI Galway amongst other higher education institutions about their experience in higher education. NUI Galway’s Owen Ward, Schools of Sanctuary Coordinator at NUI Galway, said: “This event highlights the openness of NUI Galway and participating schools where equality, diversity and inclusion is embedded within all its actions. This creates the opportunity for all students, including Irish Travellers, to commence building their sense of belonging at NUI Galway, while building bridges between all communities.” The event is organised by the NUI Galway’s Access Centre, Mincéirs Whiden Society and in collaboration with local schools participating in the NUI Galway Schools of Sanctuary programme. The participating schools are St. Marys College, Our Lady’s College, Scoil Bhríde Shantalla and Scoil Chroí Íosa. NUI Galway’s Schools of Sanctuary programme aims to empower students to cultivate their sense of belonging within education while enhancing their knowledge of pathways into Higher Education. The programme is an important element of the NUI Galway University of Sanctuary initiative and the University’s Strategic Plan. -Ends-

Friday, 14 February 2020

NUI Galway is exploring the designation ‘Age Friendly Campus’ through a student lead project that will see three initiatives on campus focus on welcoming members of the community to engage through a campus walk, public seminar and computer classes. NUI Galway students from second year Biomedical Science and the Older Persons Council (OPC) have worked together to organise these three events to progress a campaign for an Age Friendly University. The students have aimed to tackle three main areas: to raise awareness of the biodiversity walks on campus, to encourage participation in technology and to discuss the ‘Age Friendly Ireland’ programme. “Welcoming older people to our university is very important as it will encourage us all to engage more in wellness, cultural, social and educational opportunities” said Lorraine Tansey of NUI Galway’s Community Knowledge Initiative. “The main overall goals are to create a more diverse university campus, promoting more intergenerational engagement and helping to challenge stereotypes and combat ageism.” The World Health Organisation has identified aging populations as a major area of focus for cities, hospitals and educational institutions in proactive engagement with increasing diverse needs. The three events are free, open to all and are student-lead.  The Age Friendly Walk will be held Monday 17th of February at 11pm. Meeting point at the Cathedral. The Age Friendly Computer Classes will be held Tuesday February 18th, Tuesday March 3rd and Tuesday March 10th from 12pm-12:45pm in the ILAS building on the ground floor G007. The Age Friendly Designation for NUI galway Seminar will be held Tuesday 10th of March at 12pm in the ILAS building on the ground floor G007. The guest speaker Dr. Kieran Walsh, Professor of Ageing and Public Policy will offer an insight into the national Age Friendly initiatives. To book your place on these events please call Lorraine Tansey 091-495346.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

UNESCO Chair Professor Pat Dolan and actor Cillian Murphy today (Thursday, 23 January) launched a new initiative to introduce Empathy education for secondary school students in Ireland. The programme, Activating Social Empathy, is part of a suite of work undertaken by a team of researchers at NUI Galway that has developed a concrete basis for understanding empathy education among adolescents. A major focus of the UNESCO Chair’s work both nationally and internationally, is the role of empathy in the development of social understanding and its potential to enable young people to foster better social responsibility, civic behaviour and critically, action.  UNESCO Chair and Director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, Professor Pat Dolan said: “Within schools, empathy education initiatives like the one we launch today equip young people with vital skills in social emotional learning as well as offering them opportunities to engage in active citizenship and more compassionate caring towards others. Empathy education is urgently needed in schools to curb hate speech aggression and racial and other forms of negative profiling – it is imperative that the new incoming Minister for Education and Skills adopts empathy education in the same way as maths or other stem subjects.” Earlier work by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre (UCFRC) research team conducted with adolescents identified a need for greater focus on the promotion of empathy related skills and social values in Irish secondary schools.  In response, researchers at the Centre have developed Activating Social Empathy, an interactive, social and emotional learning programme to teach empathy skills and foster positive peer relations among secondary students. The programme is designed to form part of the Junior Cycle Wellbeing Programme and targets students’ learning and skill building around four key principles: Understanding Empathy, Practicing Empathy, Overcoming Barriers to Empathy, and Putting Empathy into Action.   Professor Dolan continued: “The Activating Social Empathy programme was piloted in seven schools from September 2017 to June 2018. Overall, feedback on the programme was positive, with students and teachers typically reporting that the programme had a positive impact on students' empathy and personal development. Due to this initial positive feedback, we are now preparing to begin the next evaluation phase.” Following a two-year feasibility testing phase, the programme is being launched as part of an evaluation study using a randomised-control design, in 25 schools nationwide involving over 2000 students. The evaluation will assess the impact of the programme on students’ empathic attitudes, social values, and interpersonal behaviours. The evaluation is being carried out by the UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre (Prof. Pat Dolan & Dr Charlotte Silke) and the School of Education (Dr Niamh Flynn & Emer Davitt) at NUI Galway. The full, evaluated programme will be available as a free resource to schools in Ireland from September 2020.           The launch, which was also attended by youth advocates for empathy education, provided an opportunity to showcase the Youth as Researchers Video Resource Library for Schools and Community Groups, developed in collaboration with Foróige, narrated by Cillian Murphy. The event is part of a broad focus of the UNESCO Chair in extending the broader ethical education of youth in national and international settings in collaboration with UNESCO.        Commenting on the event, actor and Centre Patron Cillian Murphy said: “You can’t really be an actor without employing empathy as a very important tool in your arsenal. In supporting this education programme which we are launching today, my hope is that it will help young people see that everyone has a different story and everyone’s story is valuable.” -Ends-

Monday, 13 January 2020

As part of NUI Galway’s 175th anniversary celebrations, Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, today chaired a special seminar highlighting the important role of the higher education sector in both shaping and implementing government policies, as well as its pivotal and enabling role in delivering societal wellbeing and change. NUI Galway last week launched its new strategy, titled “Shared Vision, Shaped by Values” which places the shared values of respect, excellence, openness and sustainability as the guiding light for the future direction of the University.  It will see NUI Galway focus on its continued contribution to enhancing policy and society, while sustaining our planet and people.  Speaking today, President of NUI Galway Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “The higher education sector in Ireland is vital to our society and the knowledge economy.  We are here for our students and society, and through our research and teaching aim to provide major social, economic and cultural impact.   Our new strategy is focused on living our values of respect, excellence, openness and sustainability, and today highlights our emphasis on cooperation, meitheal, with educators, policy makers and regional partners to support the sustainable development of our region.” Speaking at the event, Minister O’Connor said: “Our society and economy depend on the higher education sector to develop quality research and deliver excellence in teaching and learning for our students.  The sector plays a pivotal role in sustainable development by supporting students to develop the relevant knowledge, skills and values to become informed active citizens, and I welcome the collaborative approach of NUI Galway to shape policy with a shared focus on societal wellbeing.”  The event included a series of panels and contributions on government policy, driving innovation, the impact of culture and creativity and collaboration to maximize regional impact.  Joining staff and students of NUI Galway were representatives from: Department of Education and Skills, Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture Hewlett Packard Enterprise Galway Arts Festival Land Development Agency Galway City Council -Ends-

Thursday, 9 January 2020

NUI Galway today outlined a new strategy which places the 175 year old institution as a central driver of transformational change for Galway and the West of Ireland. The new strategy, titled “Shared Vision, Shaped by Values”, has been developed following extensive dialogue with students, academics, alumni, policymakers, and the wider community, marks a new approach for NUI Galway, and places the shared values of respect, excellence, openness and sustainability as the guiding light for the future direction of the University. The strategy will see NUI Galway focus on its continued contribution to enhancing policy and society, enriching creativity, improving health and wellbeing, realising potential through data and enabling technologies, data science and sustaining our planet and people.  With these strengths, NUI Galway will lead through its contribution to the region’s international reputation as a recognised centre of excellence for Medical Technologies, Data Science, Culture and Creativity, Climate and Oceans, and Public Policy. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “We are a university with no gates.  Our location at the very edge of Europe gives us a unique perspective and an opportunity. Our regional footprint is the largest of any University in Ireland spanning the Atlantic seaboard. Galway is the most international city in Ireland. Our uniqueness means we can work in ways others cannot.  At the edge, we look at the world from a different angle. Between sea and land, we see the horizon every day and, like all great explorers, all great adventurers, we wonder what’s on the other side.  This places us in an international context and enhanced co-operation with other international institutions, from this place and for this purpose, will also therefore be a focus of our new strategy.   “For the public good, NUI Galway belongs to the people. In this strategy and in these times, we will use our location for the benefit of Ireland as an institution formed by values. Our research, our teaching and our engagement – with our students and our staff – has purpose, evoking also our sense of people and place, further contributing profoundly to the sustainability and development of culture, creative industries, data science, medical technologies, marine ecology and our economy. For example, given our geography at the intersection of Europe with the North Atlantic, the climate information we can gather is unique. The University will deliver subsequent climate research for the benefit of humanity. Beidh an Ghaeilge freisin i gcroílár straitéis agus structúir na hollscoile, luachmhar agus aitheanta mar luach dár gcomhluadar,” he added. The strategy also outlines an ambitious development programme, titled “Building for the Future”, which will see NUI Galway leading the transformational change of Galway and the West of Ireland, with major social, economic and cultural impact for future generations. This includes the prioritisation of the following, for example, based on the NUI Galway’s shared values: Open to our communities, a new innovation district, incorporating a riverside campus, on Nuns’ Island / Earls Island as the primary driver of the urban regeneration of Galway city and a landmark cultural and performance space, acknowledging the University’s role as a national cultural institution and its contribution to Galway as a city of culture; Reflecting respect for our students, additional affordable and sustainable on-campus student accommodation and a sports campus for the future, delivering a new Water Sports Centre and 3G pitch; Contributing to sustainability, universal design principles in our capital development across all our campuses and a programme of retrofitting older buildings to enhance physical access for all and expansion of the Galway to Connemara Greenway with greater connections for cyclists and pedestrians between the campus and the city; Committed to excellence, a new Library, incorporating a Learning Commons that encourages and supports new forms of learning and engagement applying the expertise of the University, through the creation of a new “City Lab”, in partnership with regional and national stakeholders, to make Galway and the wider region a better place to live and work. The University is also determined that employment at NUI Galway will be fair, equitable and inclusive. The University is committed to the practice of maintaining and promoting decent, high standards of employment and fairness for all those who work on its campuses. The critical role of the University in delivering sustainable development is central to the strategy. NUI Galway has signed the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Accord, moving to further develop research and teaching focused on the SDGs, and together developing a roadmap to move ambitiously towards a carbon neutral campus by 2030. Professor Ó hÓgartaigh continued: “We are here for our students and society, and now we must be here for our planet too. Our new strategy recognises how critical this moment is and, as the generation most influenced by climate change, our students demand climate action through our research, our teaching and our influential role as a public institution. We are distinctively shaped by our values, which emerged in consultation with our students, our staff and our other partners.  Those values shape the research which drives us, the teaching we share, the support we give and our engagement in the world and for the world.  Mar a spreagann dán Uí Dhireáin, tá currach lán éisc anseo, ag teacht chun cladaigh … san Earrach thiar.”  For more information visit www.nuigalway.ie/strategy2025/. -Ends-

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Academics from NUI Galway’s School of Education have been awarded research funding for a three-year international project that will develop teachers’ research skills and networking practices. The researchers, Dr Tony Hall and Dr Cornelia Connolly, have been awarded European funding for the project, which will develop teachers into teacher researchers and evidence informed practitioners through an innovative infrastructure. Aligning to the work conducted nationally by the T-REX consortium (which includes NUI Galway, the University of Limerick, Mary Immaculate College and Marino Institute of Education), this funding was awarded through the Erasmus+ programme, and will  support international partnerships seeking to enhance education. The NUI Galway have been joined with research partners from across Europe including the UK, Poland, Greece and Spain. Dr Tony Hall, Deputy Head, School of Education, said: “The development of a network of research teachers will reduce the gap between research and individual teaching practice, thereby giving back agency to the very people who will need to make use of, and who should be driving forward, research in schools.” Dr Cornelia Connolly, Co-Principal Investigator, added: “The project will deliver freely accessible tools to enable teachers to access research, help them design and carry out their own small scale projects, and publish and share their findings with peer groups across the EU.” The project will seek to inform teacher education practice in its partner countries and strategically target stakeholders and policy makers at its seven external multiplier events. The resources will also be made freely available for across the European Union, following project completion in August 2022. -Ends-

Monday, 16 December 2019

Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, will deliver a public lecture entitled ‘What does climate change really have to do with human rights?’ at NUI Galway. The event will take place on Thursday, 19 December, from 12.30-2pm in the Distillery Buildings, Law Library, Dublin 7, and is co-hosted by the Irish Centre for Human Rights, the Ryan Institute, NUI Galway and the Human Rights Committee, Bar of Ireland. This event marks the launch in Dublin of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights, led by Dr Maeve O’Rourke, which includes a focus on climate justice and Ireland’s (non-)performance regarding its climate change mitigation obligations. The lecture will be chaired by Chief Justice, Hon Mr Justice Frank Clarke, and will draw from Professor Alston’s recent UN report on climate change and human rights, in which he described the extreme inequality and suffering that climate change is causing around the world and the steps that governments - and all members of society - particularly in wealthier countries need to take, urgently, to address the climate crisis. Commenting on the upcoming event, UN Special Rapporteur, Professor Alston said: “Climate change is going to affect all of us, and dramatically, but you’d never know that from the reaction of the legal and human rights communities.” UN Special Rapporteur, Professor Alston, will address the threats posed by climate change to the future of human rights, and the risk that progress made on human rights, poverty reduction and democratic governance, will be undone. He will highlight the need for human rights activists, lawyers, scientists and Governments to act now, with greater urgency, mobilising policy measures, law reform initiatives and human rights advocacy to secure policy and legislative changes. Professor Alston will also reflect on recent global developments as people globally, and young people in particular, put increasing pressure on their governments to act. Professor Siobhán Mullally, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, said: “Climate change threatens human rights, including the most fundamental of rights, the right to life. Globally, rights to livelihoods, health, housing, and decent work, are facing urgent and destructive threats globally and locally. Human rights activists, lawyers, Governments and policy-makers need to mobilise and to take courageous and bold steps now to safeguard the future of our children and the fragile protections of human rights that we have fought to defend.” Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “It has been estimated that the richest 10% of the world’s population are responsible for almost half of total lifestyle consumption emissions. At the other end of the income scale, the poorest 50% of people on the planet are responsible for only 10% of total lifestyle consumption emissions. While contributing the least to causing the climate change problem, it is the poorest and marginalised in our societies that are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts and shocks.” Professor Spillane stressed: “As the world’s leaders assemble for the COP25 climate negotiations in Madrid, there are major action challenges to be addressed relating to both reducing emissions and distributive justice to strengthen the climate change resilience of the poorest and most marginalised in society. While ‘Leaving No One Behind’ and ‘Reaching the furthest behind first’ has been a clarion call of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, it remains to be seen what scale of climate justice actions will be deployed by our governments and institutions towards such ambitions.”  This event will appeal to policy-makers, NGOs, Government, lawyers, and all those interested in human rights, law, politics, poverty, climate change and/or environmental issues generally. The event is free but places must be reserved on Eventbrite https://bit.ly/2qHPoNO. The UN Special Rapporteur Professor Alston's report on Climate Change and Poverty can be accessed at https://bit.ly/2PzpQKY and a summary is available at https://bit.ly/38orE1Y   . -Ends-

Thursday, 12 December 2019

University to shape Legacy of European Capital of Culture with a cultural legacy programme which will have a lasting impact on Galway’s creative arts sector NUI Galway announced its strategic partnership with Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture today (12 December 2019) at the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance. The partnership was officially launched by Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, and Arthur Lappin, Chair of Galway 2020. As European Capital of Culture 2020, Galway has a unique opportunity to build a lasting legacy for the cultural and creative arts sector in the city and its hinterland, boosting the reputation of the city and region, and building new relationships across Europe and the wider world. As Official Legacy Partner to the European Capital of Culture project, NUI Galway will support the development of a cultural legacy programme which will have a lasting impact on Galway’s creative arts sector. The multi-strand partnership to support the delivery of the legacy of Galway 2020 includes: A Legacy Cultural and Performance Space Demonstrating its commitment to Galway as European Capital of Culture 2020, the University has committed to considering the legacy of Galway 2020 in terms of space, both physical and conceptual, for the performing arts. This will build on the development of the Regeneration Master Plan for Nuns’ Island, which is being implemented in cooperation with Galway City Council. The brief for the performance space will be co-developed with Galway City Council and will involve broad consultation with cultural and arts organisations. Culture at the heart of the University’s Role Culture and the creative arts have always been at the heart of the University’s mission. NUI Galway has long been a wellspring of creative talent and is making an active contribution to building Galway’s reputation as an internationally recognised centre for culture, creativity and innovation. The University will invite ambition in research that enriches creativity and culture, and it is committed to partnering with and supporting cultural and creative organisations, regionally and nationally, to champion cultural expression for all.  The legacy of Galway 2020 will include the creation of new teaching courses – including a new Masters in Producing and Curating, the recruitment of new students into Creative Arts programmes, and the development of new local, national and European partnerships in teaching and research. NUI Galway to host Galway 2020 Events NUI Galway will become a hub for selected Galway 2020 events, bringing leading artists, researchers and audiences to the campus, expanding on its commitment to playing a leading role, as an engaged university, in the life of the City and the region. Galway 2020 events to be hosted on campus include three Gala Concerts, one with the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra, another with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, as well as the grand finale of Cellissimo, a major new International Triennial Cello Festival by Music for Galway. Other events include elements of Project Baa Baa, a programme of events celebrating all things sheep and a major international conference on Cultural Legacy organised by the University. To finish the year-long programme of events, NUI Galway will host a spectacular light installation illuminating the iconic Quadrangle for the Closing Ceremony of Galway 2020 in January 2021. Dedicated Projects for 2020 Galway 2020 in association with NUI Galway will present two further projects in the Galway 2020 programme – The Immersive Classroom and Aistriú. The Immersive Classroom aims to engage students, educators, and the general public in critical debates about the way we think about our world, knowledge and embodied learning by using innovative technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Aistriú will focus on Irish language literature on the theme of migration, shedding new light on some of the best-known Irish language writers. Earlier this year, a four-week capacity-building workshop, Future Landscapes, featured an exhibition showcasing work drawn from theatre, visual and digital arts, and animation. European Cultural Parliament comes to Galway The University hopes to bring members of the European Cultural Parliament to Galway and its regions to set up workshops exploring sustainable cultural ecologies in building new European networks and opportunities for artists and cultural workers. University Network of Capitals of Culture NUI Galway will host the University Network of European Capitals of Culture conference. The theme for this European conference is: ‘Re-thinking Cultural Capital(s): Inclusivity, Sustainability, and Legacies’. The University will also host the annual conference of the International Federation for Theatre Research, the world’s largest gathering of theatre scholars and practitioners, during the 2020 Galway International Arts Festival.  Monitoring and Evaluation The University and Galway 2020, in collaboration with The Audience Agency, will deliver the monitoring and evaluation for the European Capital of Culture programme. NUI Galway will deliver an innovative European research project and gather and analyse data to assess the impact of the European Capital of Culture designation on Galway City and County, in support of a research framework and evaluation plan currently being developed by The Audience Agency. As key educators of future arts practitioners, managers and academics in the cultural and creative industries in Ireland and abroad, the University has a strong interest in establishing educational frameworks that are responsive to the European Capital of Culture status and that can serve the arts, business and cultural communities that will grow in response to 2020. Speaking at the launch of the Strategic Partnership, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, commented: “As a university for the public good, we are delighted to announce our strategic partnership with Galway 2020. As the official legacy partner to the European Capital of Culture project, NUI Galway is committed to respecting and supporting the development of a cultural legacy programme which will leave a far-reaching impact on Galway city and its hinterland. We value our openness to our communities and are therefore also delighted to make available our campus to several events throughout 2020 as well as hosting our own dedicated projects. This partnership will enable the University to continue to enhance and enrich the excellence of our creative and cultural programmes for our students, ensuring that they enjoy a sustainable future contributing to this sector in Galway.” Arthur Lappin, Chair of Galway 2020, said: “The legacy of Galway 2020 will be the ultimate measure of our success as European Capital of Culture. The announcement today that NUI Galway is our Legacy partner is a hugely significant moment in the evolution of the project. The depth and breadth of our partnership is a huge tribute to NUI Galway and its President, of the vision and leadership in our common goals.  Legacy will take many forms and it is so reassuring to know that when the work of Galway 2020 is done, this great institution will carry the torch of underpinning our legacy in so many ways.”  For more information about NUI Galway’s Strategic Partnership with Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/galway2020/. -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

NUI Galway student recognised for volunteering efforts To celebrate International Volunteers Day 2019 NUI Galway along with 9 other universities and institutes of technology have come together through the Campus Engage initiative to launch their first ever student volunteering annual report to highlight the activities and achievements of their students. Colm O’Hehir, Campus Engage Officer, said: “Student volunteers play such a constructive role in communities, often providing vital services for excluded and vulnerable people. Volunteering is for all and that idea of inclusiveness translates into the work student volunteers do daily across the country. Today is a day to celebrate volunteers and our report highlights some of the students who are helping achieve a more inclusive future for all.” An Impact Assessment of Irish Universities, conducted by economists Indecon, revealed that in 2017/18 over 17,500 student volunteers donated three million hours of their time to causes both at home and abroad, at an estimated value of €28.4 million to the exchequer. studentvolunteer.ie  is an online tool that supports students wishing to volunteer in their communities. The portal is the first of its kind globally - a national volunteering database specifically created for higher education students. It was developed in 2016 by ten third level institutions through Campus Engage.  There are now more than 1000 organisations and 14,000 students registered on the website, with over 4,000 new student registrations in the 2018-19 academic year. Through studentvolunteer.ie, new student volunteers have clocked up a total of 39,746 hours through volunteering opportunities promoted. Overall, students successfully volunteered for 3,391 opportunities. One such volunteer isNUI Galway mature access student Michelle Mitchell, a dedicated volunteer, who earned the NUI Galway ALIVE Certificate in recognition of her volunteering efforts. Michelle’s volunteering is with organisations that offer mental health, physical and intellectual disability supports. Michelle identified a gap in resources for families who have children with special needs, chronic illness and disabilities, and developed the Special Heroes Ireland initiative that provides educational and recreational activities in Galway. In particular, Michelle and other volunteers organise workshops for the siblings of those with disabilities to help parents who have to spend a lot of time tending to their additional needs child. Michelle said: “We work with families to help the sibling of the child, as parents who have a child with a special need or chronic illness have to focus their time and attention on that child. We create opportunities so they can learn to cook, make movies, do artwork.” Ends

Monday, 9 December 2019

NUI Galway’s Lorraine Tansey was one of 28 President’s Award Leaders who was recognised at a special Civic Merit Award Ceremony. The President’s Awards recognise these Leaders from all over Ireland who have supported young people to take part in the Gaisce programme for more than five years.The ceremony was MC’d by Gold Awardee Jamie Moore and the guest speaker on the night was Irish sports commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh.  Speaking about the Civic Merit Awardees, Yvonne McKenna, CEO of Gaisce – The President’s Award said, “Gaisce are delighted to celebrate the work of our President’s Award Leaders. We could not empower young people to realise their potential without them. Our President’s Award Leaders truly are the lifeblood of the Gaisce programme.” She continued: “Five years is a big milestone, and the time and hours given by you all collectively is enormous. Incalculable, however, is impact you have all had on the lives of young people in Ireland, an impact that will continue to be felt long after they have received their Gaisce award.” Lorraine Tansey as NUI Galway’s President Awards Leader has been supporting students to achieve the challenges of the Gaisce award programme for fifteen years. Lorraine said: “Community volunteering, skill development and physical movement are the three main components of the award and students inspire us across the campus to actively engage in civic skills.” A special message from the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins was read by Chair of Gaisce – The President’s Award John Cunningham: “I thank you for the generous support you offer to the many young people who, every year, undertake the Gaisce journey. That is a greatly empowering journey on which you all play an important part, impacting positively on the development of so many of our younger citizens.” Gaisce – The President’s Award is a personal development programme for young people which enhances confidence and wellbeing through participation in personal, physical and community challenges.   Since its inception in 1985 over 178,000 young Irish people have completed a Gaisce Award, including former Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh and Irish rugby international Robbie Henshaw. -Ends-

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

New video documentary highlights people who work in labs are using 15-16 times more plastic than the average person in Ireland CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway has launched a new short video documentary ‘The time to green our labs is now’ as part of the Galway Green Labs initiative, which recently led to the CÚRAM lab being the first in Europe to be awarded Green Lab Certification. The video documentary tells the story of the Galway Green Labs initiative, which was spearheaded by Dr Una Fitzgerald, a CÚRAM funded Investigator and Director of the Galway Neuroscience Centre at NUI Galway. Together with her ‘green team’ of CÚRAM researchers and staff, and with the support of the University Registrar and Deputy President, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, and the Community University Sustainability Partnership, she is working to transform practice across campus to address issues such as plastic waste, energy reduction, recycling, and water usage. Dr Una Fitzgerald, NUI Galway, explains her motivation for establishing Galway Green Labs: “What has emerged is that people who work in labs are using 15-16 times more plastic than the average person in Ireland. This practice is done more so out of convenience than out of necessity, so we’re trying to change mind-sets to heighten our awareness of the cumulative negative impact on the environment of this way of working. All we’re asking lab scientists to do is question what they’re doing - to ask themselves, “Is there something I can do to lessen the environmental impact of my work in the lab”. And to talk to others, and spread the message of the urgent need for change.” University Registrar and Deputy President, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, is supporting the initiative and commented: "For many years NUI Galway has been improving its performance in terms of energy efficient buildings, waste management, water use and more. Recently we've brought together a Community and University Sustainability Programme that is looking at practices and spreading what we do out into the entire community and crucially bringing it into educational practices under the model Learn - Live - Lead. The Galway Green Labs initiative is a major part of this work." Certification was awarded this November by My Green Lab, a non-profit organisation that aims to fundamentally and permanently improve the sustainability of scientific research by unifying and leading scientists, vendors, designers, energy providers, and others in a common drive toward a world in which all research reflects the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility. Run for scientists, by scientists, it leverages its credibility and track record to develop standards, oversee their implementation, and inspire the many behavioural changes that are needed throughout the scientific community.  Though My Green Lab focuses solely on laboratory environments, it believes its activities will excite similar changes across other industries, and in the private lives of the millions of people who spend their time in labs. Alison Paradise, CEO of My Green Lab, commented: “Labs comprise an industry that is three times larger than the construction industry and half the size of the automotive industry. Labs, for all their good intentions, are estimated to discard over more than 5.5 million metric tonnes of plastic each year, which is enough to cover an area 23 times the size of Galway ankle-deep. They also consume 5-10 times more energy and water than office spaces. If every lab in Ireland were to turn off just one piece of equipment overnight for a year, it would be the equivalent to offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions associated with driving 2.8 million kilometres.” Sinéad Ní Mhainnín, Resource Efficiency Officer, Connacht Ulster Regional Waste Management Office, who appears in the film, is supporting Galway Green Labs, and says: “By 2020 we aim to achieve a 50 percent recycling rate for municipal dry recycling. Working with Dr Fitzgerald and the Galway Green Labs team is going to go a long way to help us in achieving this goal.” The documentary is funded by CÚRAM, SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway, Connacht Ulster Regional Waste Management Office and St. Anthony’s and Claddagh Credit Union, Galway. For more information about Galway Green Labs, contact Dr Una Fitzgerald, NUI Galway, at una.fitzgerald@nuigalway.ie.  Click here to view the Galway Green Labs short video documentary:https://vimeo.com/375847945. Follow on Twitter at #GalwayGreenLabs and @GalwayGreenLabs.  -Ends-

Thursday, 21 November 2019

NUI Galway will promote the meaningful integration for Ireland’s newest communities, breaking down barriers to education, and eliminating discrimination in all its forms  NUI Galway will celebrate its recent designation as a University of Sanctuary today (Thursday, 21 November) with Galway City Mayor, Councillor Mike Cubbard and NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh attending the event from 10am-12pm in the Aula Maxima. The 2019 University of Sanctuary scholarship recipients from several diverse and under-represented backgrounds will also participate in the event. Minister of State for Equality, Immigration, and Integration, David Stanton, TD will also launch the University’s annual report on Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) for the academic year 2018/19 today (Thursday, 21 November). President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “We commit to broadening access to university education from under-represented groups, while leading on and promoting equality and diversity throughout the University. While we look at diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, culture, language, religion, and experiential upbringing, we look at people simply as people. Fellow human beings on a journey through life. “Education is key to supporting society’s development and it’s fundamental that our education system does its utmost to assist those most in need. Students who have fled war, persecution, genocide, and many other human rights violations deserve our support. Their resilience should be rewarded, and we are pleased this week to award eight University of Sanctuary scholarships in 2019, underlining our commitments to developing our position as a University of Sanctuary.” In 2017, student members of the Fáilte Refugees Society created a university-wide movement to challenge educational inequities, prejudice and racism that existed nationally and in the West of Ireland in particular. NUI Galway’s student-led society, Minceirs Whiden (Travellers Talking), is the first student society for Travellers in Ireland established by a university, and gives our students from the travelling community a place to talk and share support. Six undergraduate and two postgraduate University of Sanctuary scholarships have been awarded in 2019, which include: four scholarships in College of Science; two in Business, Public Policy and Law; one in Engineering and Informatics, and one in Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies. Figures published in the annual report show that the NUI Galway community is increasingly reflective of the diverse society and of the diversity in the West of Ireland. NUI Galway had 3,972 international students in 2018/19, making up 18% of all undergraduate students and 28% of postgraduates. The numbers of international staff have also grown by 4% (from 20% to 24%) in the last year, with more than 110 countries represented on campus. NUI Galway also records statistics for average age, gender breakdown, and staff with disabilities. The annual Equality, Diversity and Inclusion report outlines key achievements during the past year, including: The success of the University of Sanctuary campaign, placing NUI Galway among those universities internationally who work to ensure that higher education is accessible and welcoming to asylum seekers, refugees and to members of the Traveller Community. The celebration of 20 years of Access Programmes, which support individuals in realising their educational potential through various non-traditional entry routes to higher education. The development of equality and inclusion priority actions to link with the University’s new Strategic Plan, which will be launched in early 2020. The embedding of Athena SWAN, a gender equality award, throughout the University and its Schools. The undertaking of a Gender Pay Gap analysis, ahead of required government legislation, to proactively confront any issues that may be present due to gender inequality. The Gender Pay Gap captures the extent to which women are represented evenly across an organisation, at both junior and senior levels. The development of a Staff Guide to Disability in the Workplace to support staff who require reasonable accommodations. The establishment of an International Staff Network to support and provide a voice for all non-Irish staff members of NUI Galway. Places of Sanctuary Ireland (PoSI) is a network of groups in local communities which share the objectives of promoting a culture of welcome and inclusiveness across Irish society for those seeking International Protection in Ireland. Their University of Sanctuary initiative encourages and celebrates the good practice of universities, colleges and institutes welcoming refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants into their university communities in meaningful ways. The University of Sanctuary steering committee at NUI Galway also includes the Irish Traveller community in its remit, with a focus on the promotion of Irish Traveller culture as an innate and positive element of Irish society, and to address the low levels of participation at second and third-level education amongst Irish Travellers. Speaking at the launch, Minister Stanton said: “I am delighted to be at NUI Galway today to launch this report. With this being their third Annual Report, it is clear that the University actively lives by its values and that equality, diversity and inclusion are front and centre in the way it carries out its role. This Report encapsulates the great progress that NUI Galway has made in recent years and demonstrates that it remains committed to creating a welcoming work and study environment where diversity is celebrated, where everyone can contribute and reach their full potential, and where everyone is treated fairly and respectfully.” NUI Galway’s Vice President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Professor Anne Scott added: “I am delighted to see this report of our programme of equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives launched today by Minister David Stanton. This annual report provides clear evidence that we in NUI Galway are making significant progress in building a sustainable diverse and inclusive culture in our university. We all appreciate that we are on a stimulating journey with significant challenges ahead. However, our commitment to this broad-based agenda is clear. We look forward with confidence to building on these achievements and continuing this important work in academic year 2019/20.” Guest speakers at the University of Sanctuary celebration will include the Mayor of Galway City, Mike Cubbard; NUI Galway President, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh; NUI Galway's Students' Union President, Clare Austick, as well as student representatives from across the university. There will be live music on the day from the Galway One World Choir, as well as from colleagues in the Centre of Irish Studies at NUI Galway. To read the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) annual report, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/equalityanddiversity/. -Ends-

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

NUI Galway’s Centre for One Health will host a free public event, ‘Resistance Rebellion – The Rise of Superbugs’ on Monday, 18 November at 7pm in the Orbsen Building at NUI Galway. The event coincides with European Antibiotic Awareness Day. Antibiotic resistant bacteria, often called “superbugs” are appearing and spreading all over the world. These mutant bacteria grow and spread quickly because of choices people make about the use of antibiotics, such as using antibiotics when they are not needed, and the control of spread of infection. Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to human health. It is estimated that by 2050, 10 million deaths per year will be due to antibiotic resistant infections unless the world takes action now (according to the Review of Antimicrobial Resistance commissioned by the UK government in July 2014). Society has a role to play in making sure antibiotics are used in the right way to secure their use for our children and our grandchildren. Dr Dearbháile Morris, Co-Director of the Ryan Institute Centre for One Health and Head of Discipline of Bacteriology, School of Medicine, NUI Galway, says: “European Antibiotic Awareness Day is a reminder of how much the discovery of antibiotics has helped us all to live longer and healthier lives, but also of how much is at stake if we do not act to safeguard antibiotics. If we do not have antibiotics that work, certain types of surgery and cancer treatments will become almost impossible to perform safely. We can safeguard antibiotics by making sure we only use them when we need them, by making sure we complete the dose as directed by the doctor, by not sharing antibiotics with others and by making sure we bring back any unused antibiotics to the pharmacy for correct disposal.” The free event will give everyone the opportunity to meet and discuss with experts what society can do to solve the problem of antibiotic resistance. Speakers include NUI Galway’s Professor Martin Cormican, HSE National Clinical Lead on Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control and Ms Caroline Garvan, Superintending Veterinary Inspector in the Antimicrobial Resistance division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. Professor Cormican and Ms Garvan will talk about how antibiotics are becoming less useful in both human and veterinary medicine and will highlight the One Health concept, which recognises that human health is linked to the health of animals and the environment that humans share with them. To register for this free event please click here. For further details, contact Dr Dearbháile Morris at dearbhaile.morris@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

For the second year running, NUI Galway students will be taking the plunge into the sea every day in November to raise funds and awareness for NUI Galway students’ mental health and wellbeing services. ‘Coldvember’ was organised in 2018 by six NUI Galway students as part of the Movember movement, a leading charity working to raise awareness and funds for men’s health, and raised over €7,000. NUI Galway student and one of the organisers, Eoin Ryan, said: “Based on the success of last year we were keen to take on the challenge again, however we all agreed that we would like to see the entire campaign focused around the University, so that our effort could have a greater impact in our community. We approached the Students’ Union and the University’s counselling services and we began to discuss where our money would have the greatest impact, and also how we could use our campaign to spread a positive message about mental wellbeing.” The students hope that money raised from the campaign will provide more access for students to counselling sessions and provide education for staff and students through workshops. They aim to help enhance the use of virtual counselling in the NUI Galway students Counselling Services by providing trained counsellors to review exercises undertaken by students, providing feedback, and organising one-to-one sessions if needed. Barney McIlroy, NUI Galway student and event co-organiser, said: “NUI Galway’s student counselling service offers free counselling to over 19,000 students, and already does great work in providing workshops to students and staff. However, in a community the size of NUI Galway, and with the prevalence of very broad mental health issues amongst college students, there is always a lot asked of them, and there is always more that could be done. Another aim is to promote positive mental wellbeing, primarily through the act of getting a group together and jumping in the sea. This aim is much less tangible than our financial goal, but is of equal importance to us!” For those wanting to join or support ‘Coldvember’ please follow the students on Instagram @coldvember_nuig where times and locations will be updated regularly. For more information or to donate visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/coldvember-nui-galway. -Ends-

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) recently announced the winners of its 2019 Energy Awards at a gala event which saw NUI Galway take away the top prize for Energy Team of the Year. NUI Galway has set its sights on the campus being one of the greenest universities in the world. They impressed judges with their inclusive and long-term approach to energy management. As part of its strategy, the Energy Team run initiatives and campaigns which encourage and provide tools to students and staff on how they can reduce energy use on campus and in their homes. Already at 36% energy reduction, NUI Galway continue to work towards their ambitious target of a 40% energy reduction by 2020. NUI Galway are committed to reducing energy and carbon consumption in line with the Government Climate Action Plan 2030. The Energy Management System developed by NUI Galway Energy Team allows for independent verification and monitoring by SEAI of our energy and carbon reduction on campus. The Energy Team will continue to lead by example by implementing best practices in energy efficiency to meet the highest energy management standards and be at the forefront of sustainable development. The University aims to deliver on this commitment by promoting the concept of energy efficiency at all levels in the organisation from students and academics to administration staff and contractors.  Earlier this year, the University was awarded the internationally recognised Green Flag by An Taisce’s Green-Campus programme on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education. The SEAI award further demonstrates the Universities commitment to sustainability and its achievements to date.  Assistant Director of Estates Operations, Noel O’Connor, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this award, it validates the hard work and dedication that the Energy Team has been putting in for many years. We all have a role to play in helping to build a sustainable society, and universities in particular, have a responsibility to promote sustainability through leadership, education, knowledge exchange, research and corporate social responsibility. A sustainable campus is one which maintains a green and healthy environment, promotes the use of resources efficiently and instils in graduates and staff the importance of urgently tackling environmental challenges.”  A total of nine awards were presented to businesses, communities and public sector organisations recognising their commitment and dedication to excellence in energy management and creating a cleaner energy future. Congratulating all the finalists and award winners, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, said: “How we respond to the challenge of climate disruption will define us as a generation. These awards are a good opportunity to highlight those taking leadership and managing their energy use in a more sustainable way.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Global warming is now a major threat to the ability of our food systems to equitably feed a growing world population, a major conference in Dublin will hear this week. Climate change is likely to reduce global production of staple foods such as rice and wheat, while causing a reduction in the nutritional value of important staple foods. Such issues will form the agenda of the annual conference of the Irish Forum for International Agricultural Development (IFIAD). Not only are crop yields and the nutritional value of foods under threat from climate change, but the change in temperatures is also likely to have a dramatic effect on crop diseases and on pest populations. Warmer conditions and changing seasons are affecting the breeding cycles of insects harmful to agricultural crops, livestock and human life. Climate change poses the most severe threats to the food systems, livelihoods and nutrition of rural people in some of the poorest and most vulnerable regions of the world. Established by a consortium that includes the Dept. of Agriculture, Irish Aid, Teagasc, Ireland’s agricultural development NGOs and Irish universities, IFIAD’s 4th Annual Conference takes place at Iveagh House, headquarters of the Dept of Foreign Affairs today (Wednesday, 23October). Guest speakers at the event include keynote speaker Gilbert Houngbo, a former Prime Minister of Togo who is President of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Julia Wolf, climate change officer at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Lawrence Haddad of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Bruce Campbell from the global Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security program of the CGIAR. Irish youth leader and climate change activist Sophie Healy Thow, Margaret Ngetha of Self Help Africa and John Gilliland of Devenish Nutrition will also speak at the event. The Chair of IFIAD, Professor Charles Spillane from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “The food systems that supply our food and nutrition will need to undergo significant transformations if they are to become more sustainable and equitable in the face of climate change and other sustainability crises. Such shifts will require large-scale changes in how our food is produced, processed and consumed in everyday diets. We face major challenges to reduce the environmental footprint of our foods while increasing its nutritional quality and affordability. In parallel, our agrifood value chains and associated employment will need to become more resilient to adverse impacts of climate change. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development contains the pledge to “leave no one behind”, and in particular to “reach the furthest behind first”. “From a nutritional perspective, the 700 million people suffering from severe undernutrition, and the 650 million people suffering from severe over nutrition leading to obesity, can be considered as amongst the nutritionally “furthest behind”. This years IFIAD Conference will debate what can be done to ensure a “just transition” of our food systems in the face of climate change to better meet the needs of those who are nutritionally the “furthest behind”. The Conference will present some of the measures and options for our food systems to respond to these issues, nationally and globally.” IFIAD was established as a forum for Irish researchers, practitioners and policy advocates to better leverage Ireland’s expertise for the benefit of development programmes overseas, and to maximise Ireland’s contribution to agriculture-driven poverty reduction in developing countries. -Ends-

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, a Nanoscientist from the School of Physics at NUI Galway is fundraising for the initiative Homeward Bound, a ground-breaking leadership programme for women working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Homeward Bound culminates in a research trip to the Antarctica this November and aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in making decisions that shape the planet. Launched in 2016, the inaugural programme culminated in the largest ever female expedition to Antarctica. Homeward Bound takes place over the course of a year, supporting women in science to significantly improve their clarity, confidence, shared vision and strategic capability. It helps women to take up leadership roles globally and to proactively contribute to a sustainable world both individually and collectively. At the end of the programme this November, Dr Fairfield and her cohort will travel to Antarctica, an iconic and challenging landscape that is experiencing some of the most severe consequences of climate change, with implications for the entire world. Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, School of Physics at NUI Galway, says: “To solve societal challenges like climate change, we can’t ignore the talents of half the population, women, and especially at the leadership level. Research has shown that diverse groups produce better science, better business, and more creative solutions to problems. We don't just need diversity of people - we need diversity of thought.” This is the second expedition trip Dr Fairfield will make. In June 2017 Jessamyn completed a two-week Arctic Circle residency program on board a ship that brought together scientists and artists who together looked at ways of highlighting the importance of the Arctic and how the changes there will affect humanity. During the trip Dr Fairfield built a detector out of ice to capture energy from cosmic particles passing through. Homeward Bound was founded 10 years ago by Fabian Dattner (an Australian leadership activist and consultant), in collaboration with Antarctic marine scientist Jess-Melbourne Thomas. Together, they garnered the support of significant scientific bodies and women of influence, created a strong leadership team and teaching faculty to get the project off the ground. In 2015, the project went viral and the first leadership programme and Antarctic voyage took place in 2016. Dr Fairfield has opened a crowdfunding page to support this year’s programme and funds raised will go towards the Homeward Bound programme costs, which cover leadership coaching and tools, visibility and science instruction, and of course, the capstone voyage to Antarctica in November 2019 with 100 women in STEM from around the world. The programme is also funded in part by the Office of Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway. For more about Homeward Bound, visit: https://homewardboundprojects.com.au/about/. Visit Jessamyn’s crowdfunding page at: https://chuffed.org/project/jessamyns-leadership-voyage-homeward-bound To read Dr Fairfield’s blog ‘In Search of Polar Perspectives’ visit: https://letstalkaboutscience.wordpress.com/2019/09/04/polar-perspectives-homeward-bound/ -Ends-

Thursday, 12 September 2019

The Global Goals Jam is an international event where creative teams work together on local challenges related to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals NUI Galway will host the Global Goals Jam, an international event which will see over 80 Jams held around the world on the weekend of the 20 September. Alumni, current students, staff and members of the public are invited to participate in the workshops that will seek to address local issues in light of the global development goals. The weekend workshops will demonstrate and teach how virtual reality technology works, experiment with 3D printing and explore all the MakerSpace resources in the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway. Technology and social entrepreneurship workshops will allow participants to collaborate and launch solutions for long-term impact. The event is organised as a collaboration between NUI Galway’s James Hardiman Library, the volunteering programme ALIVE, and entrepreneurship programme, Launchpad, campus sustainability team, and the nonprofit organisation, The Ladder. Lorraine Tansey of ALIVE said: “Across the University campus are the tools and resources to connect students, staff and the public at large to the sustainable development goals and make real changes. We are delighted to come together for this event and highlight social entrepreneurship skills. Together we can work across disciplines to look at pressing environmental concerns.” To register to attend the event and learn more please visit www.studentvolunteer.ie/nuigalway/news/nui-galway-hosts-the-global-goals-jam-2020 -Ends- 

Monday, 9 September 2019

NUI Galway’s Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) has been shortlisted for the 2019 Chambers Ireland Corporate Social Responsibility Awards. The CKI is one of 35 finalists shortlisted following 1,700 applications submitted for the awards.  The CKI has been shortlisted in the category of ‘Community Award’ alongside six others. This is the 16th year of the Corporate Social Responsibility Awards and only the second time that a university in Ireland has been shortlisted.  The Community Knowledge Initiative was established at NUI Galway in 2004 and originally funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies to foster and spread deeper commitments to community, civic engagement and social responsibility. A core function of the CKI has been to educate students for their role as active citizens and to ensure that the NUI Galway is a valuable resource to local, national and global communities. NUI Galway was the first university in Ireland to develop this commitment and since that time other universities and institutes of technology have followed the path created by NUI Galway.  Dr Lorraine McIlrath, Director of CKI, said: “As a university in Ireland, we want to better serve community and society in a sustainable and meaningful way. NUI Galway’s Vision 2020 centralises the importance of civic engagement, volunteering, service learning, research and engagement with communities as hallmarks of the University experience and practice.” Over the last fifteen years, the CKI has developed a series of pathways that connect the university, its staff and students to the community through civic engagement and social responsibility projects, including: the ALIVE Volunteer Programme which has seen over 12,000 students volunteer in the community over the last decade; Community Service Learning which sees 1,500 students undertake community projects every year; and the Youth Academy, a mini-university that caters for 10-12 year olds and provides 25 courses every semester. Another successful project is Café Saol, which was established on a pilot basis in 2015. It is the first and only social enterprise café on a higher education campus in Ireland, and it became a mainstream NUI Galway catering facility in 2018. The café promotes inclusive employment practices for those marginalised from employment. Dr McIlrath added: “All of the activities are only possible because of the community of practice approach we adopt to deliver all of our programmes. The CKI is a very small team so we work in partnership with 3,000 staff of the university. Our aim is to develop an ethos of engagement across the university, working in collaboration with others to create larger social change.” The Chamber Ireland Awards are partnered by Business in the Community Ireland, run in association with the Department of Rural and Community Development and sponsored by BAM Ireland.  The Awards event will take place in Dublin on Thursday, 19 September 2019.  -Ends-

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Three NUI Galway students receive student sustainability leadership awards Three NUI Galway Students were awarded Student Sustainability Leadership Awards as part of the University’s drive to advance student participation in sustainability efforts on campus. The awards were made across three project themes areas namely Energy, Water and Nature and Ecosystems.  Award recipients include Róisín Doherty, from Westport Co. Mayo, who is studying with the College of Science; and Enda Gilgarriff from Headford, Co. Galway, and Séan Harkin from Lifford, Co. Donegal who are students with the College of Engineering and Informatics. The students will share the €10,000 prize and undertake summer internships with the NUI Galway Community and University Sustainability Project team (CUSP) to gain experience in sustainability related research application, networking, and communication with experts in the field. The NUI Galway Student Sustainability Awards Programme is part of the NUI Galway Sustainability Strategy 2017-2020. The Strategy sets out a vision of establishing NUI Galway as a top-class, green, smart and healthy campus. The Strategy was developed by the Community and University Sustainability Project Team (CUSP) following a campus-wide inclusive and holistic engagement process. Speaking at the announcement of the Awards, Michelle O’Dowd Lohan, Sustainability Engagement Associate at NUI Galway, said: “CUSP recognises the key role that students will play in establishing a sustainable university as key drivers and developers of change. We are keen to develop student leaders that are dedicated and enthusiastic about developing a more sustainable campus and community and student input is crucial to support the implementation of Strategy targets and objectives.” The awards programme is funded by NUI Galway Student Union through the Student Project Fund.  -Ends-

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

University secures An Taisce’s prestigious international Green Flag accreditation NUI Galway was recently awarded the internationally recognised Green Flag by An Taisce’s Green-Campus programme on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education. The internationally recognised ‘Green Flag’ award was announced following a rigorous assessment process.    The Green-Campus Programme is an international environmental education and award scheme that promotes long-term, whole college action for the environment that empowers both students and staff to create a more balanced campus community and to reduce environmental impacts and associated costs. The Green Flag Award is the result of many years of hard work undertaken to promote best practice in sustainability across five themes which include energy, waste, travel, biodiversity and water.  Environmental, Health and Safety Manager at NUI Galway Lorraine Rushe said: “This award is hugely important to the University as it recognises the engagement by staff and students and the vast effort and hard work that is ongoing in the thematic areas. Each theme poses its own unique challenges but is essential to ensuring that our campus achieves environmental, social and economic sustainability, which will benefit us now and into the future. Attaining the ‘An Taisce Green Campus Flag’ will act as a visual sign of the Universities commitment to sustainability and its achievements to date.” Campus projects in the area of sustainability include: A 34% reduction in energy since 2006, a metric audited and validated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). This exceeds the SEAI national target of a 33% reduction by 2020, which has resulted in a refreshed target of 40% reduction by 2020. This has been achieved through a range of measures, including a combined heat and power plant, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic panels, air to water heat pumps, the introduction of biomass boilers and the implementation of LED high efficient lighting systems across campus. Subscribing to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan in 2018 and introducing a pollinator-friendly planting scheme throughout the campus. The introduction of composting stacks, bird boxes and insect hotels to the Biodiversity Trail and other locations across campus, in addition to the establishment of herb beds and two new fruit gardens, which are used by staff and students and in campus restaurants. Reducing the impact of transport through the University’s park and ride shuttle bus service on campus coupled with the cycle-to-work scheme and the installation of 14 electric car-charging points across campus. A curriculum focus on sustainability with 230 modules across all Colleges that contain an element on, or a focus on, sustainability. Ensuring all disposable cups across outlets on campus are biodegradable. NUI Galway set up a Community and University Sustainability Project in 2015 under the direction of the Registrar and Deputy President, which launched its Sustainability Strategy in 2017. The Green Campus Committee work very closely with the Community and University Sustainability Project (CUSP) team and their work involves spreading information to the wider University audience on issues varying from energy and greenhouse gas emissions to biodiversity, health and wellbeing, the built environment, research and learning and governance and leadership.  Registrar and Deputy President of NUI Galway and Chair of the Community and University Sustainability Project, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, said: “NUI Galway recognises that we all have a role to play in building a sustainable society and universities have a particular responsibility to promote sustainability through education, knowledge exchange, research, corporate social responsibility and shaping future agendas. A sustainable campus is one which maintains a green and healthy environment, promotes the use of resources efficiently and instils in graduates and staff the importance of tackling environmental challenges.”  Professor Ó Dochartaigh concluded: “This achievement would not be possible without the commitment of the campus community. The buildings and estates team, academics, administrators and students and staff across the campus have all played an important role in achieving the Green Flag. NUI Galway will continue to promote sustainability beyond the Green Campus programme and incorporate it into all aspects of University life as this is of utmost importance to the implementation of our Sustainability Strategy”. Michael John O’Mahony, Director of the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce, congratulated the NUI Galway Green-Campus Committee on their programme. “The commitment of the Green Campus committee and the wider campus community in NUI Galway is evident by the number, range and impact of activities being undertaken. Furthermore, the structures are in place to have sustainability at the core of how NUI Galway operates. The work in the areas of renewable energy and biodiversity are examples of best practice. The teamwork of staff, students and contractors in the Green Campus efforts are to be applauded. We are delighted to officially recognise the efforts of all at NUI Galway and we look forward to continuing to work with them.” -Ends-

Monday, 19 November 2018

Two NUI Galway start-up companies were in the US recently for the second annual Blackstone LaunchPad Powered by TechStars Bootcamp. The programme brought together entrepreneurial teams from across the US and Ireland to take part in an innovation bootcamp with access to world class mentors and content to further accelerate and develop their businesses.  LaunchPad, based on the NUI Galway campus, is a highly experiential entrepreneurship program open to students, alumni and staff offering coaching, ideation and start up creation support. The programme focuses on innovation and entrepreneurial education and training, entrepreneurship events and community building, and provides supports and funding for early stage student start-up companies. As LaunchPad at NUI Galway continues to globalise its programmes, offerings such as this bootcamp give early stage entrepreneurs access to one of the world’s most well-known and respected entrepreneurship accelerators across the world, Techstars. Techstars is a global leader in the startup ecosystem, providing a network with access to over 1.5 million founders, investors and mentors. Over the course of the New York programme NUI Galway start-ups engaged with a diverse mix of mentors, start-ups and potential investors at SAP Next Gen HQ at Hudson Yard in New York. The programme resulted in Bladecomp and Stericision start-ups benefitting from personalised mentoring, unique Techstars expertise and content and support from business leaders including Jean Case from the Case Foundation. SteriCision is a newly funded Enterprise Ireland project developed from the BioInnovate Ireland Fellowship programme based at NUI Galway. The team are developing an innovative medical device to reduce infection following surgery. Barry McCann, Commercial Lead for the project, commented: “Attending the Blackstone Launchpad powered by Techstars event was a tremendous opportunity for us to grow our mentor network and learn from some of the most successful entrepreneurs and investors in the US. We are extremely fortunate to have an entrepreneurship programme such as Launchpad on campus that can accelerate good ideas and bring them to a global platform.” BladeComp is a wind and tidal turbine blade design software. BladeComp provides a faster, easier and more reliable blade design process. The team includes Dr Jamie Goggins, Dr Edward Fagan, Dr Yadong Jiang and Dr William Finnegan from the MaREI Centre, Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. Needing a faster way of modelling blades and a framework for the novel analysis and design techniques developed at NUI Galway, the team built automated design software to meet this need. The team have recently used BladeComp to design next generation tidal turbine blades (among the largest in the world) for a leading tidal turbine manufacturer, Orbital Marine Power Ltd. Edward Fagan of the BladeComp team, commented: “The Techstars event was a fantastic opportunity to get feedback on what we’ve done so far, and advice on how to effectively take our venture forward. The experience, mentorship and guidance we received was more than we could have hoped for. LaunchPad at NUI Galway provide an invaluable service to the development of entrepreneurs at the University”. Speaking at the LaunchPad Global Bootcamp, Natalie Walsh Executive Director of LaunchPad at NUI Galway, said: “It is always inspiring to work alongside early stage entrepreneurships but to work with TechStars in New York City and watch our start up teams flourish and grow through the supports provided has been amazing. We will have unparalleled access to the TechStars network and content and we are very excited about the future of entrepreneurship at NUI Galway.” -Ends-

Monday, 12 November 2018

NUI Galway student Nicole Loughlin is organising a fundraising campaign entitled ‘Let’s Make it Happen’, to fund the building of a Post Primary School in Malawi. Nicole, a fourth year student on the BA Mathematics and Education Programme, is from Shrule, Co. Mayo, and her idea originated from a summer visit to Malawi, where she witnessed first-hand the poverty crisis than engulfs this developing country. Malnourished babies and children struggling to survive, orphanages attempting to take care of children with no parents and children walking severe distances every day in order to try and get any form of education so that they can better themselves. Nicole said: “Prior to my visit I was filled with the stereotypical perceptions of a developing country which included images of poor malnourished infants barely dressed, displaying ribs and swollen stomachs. I was pleasantly surprised and shocked however as I was presented with smiling faces of respectful and loving children.” After meeting some of the children of Malawi Nicole, a pre-service teacher, was inspired to take action and proposed to organise the construction of a rural secondary school as it was clear that the provision of education was minimal. While the ‘Let’s Make it Happen’ campaign is formed around the building of a secondary school, Nicole’s vision is to go much further than this and wishes to reach as many people as possible. She commented: “My aim is to bring people on this social venture where we work towards one united goal - coming together as school communities and wider, to raise awareness surrounding developing countries and Global Citizenship Education. The aim is to construct this Post Primary School, while also establishing lasting connections with a rural community on the other side of the world, our world.” Nicole is currently on School Placement at her own secondary school, Presentation College Headford, where she is kickstarting the campaign. Here she is mentoring a committee of Transition Year students to help her with the campaign. Students in her TY Maths class are participating in a Statistical Research Project whereby they investigate, analyse and subsequently draw conclusions on the contrasts that present us between the developed and developing world. The School of Education at NUI Galway is fully supportive of the campaign and commends the great work Nicole is doing in creating awareness of Development Education and building a school in Malawi. Dr Cornelia Connolly, Joint Programme Director of the BA Mathematics and Education Programme, said: “This project exemplifies the calibre of pre-service teacher on our BA Mathematics and Education programme and we are fully supportive of the project and Nicole’s work.” Nicole’s classmates and a number of other local schools have agreed to fundraise for the project the aim is to encourage other regional schools participate in the Global Citizenship Education Week running from Monday, 10 December until Friday, 14 December. A week in which Global Citizenship is celebrated and students are made aware of conditions which children of similar ages are facing every day in developing countries. In order to build a two-classroom rural school along with two pit latrines the campaign needs to raise approximately €11,000. To raise such a substantial amount, the ‘Lets Make it Happen’ campaign are inviting schools to participate in a ‘Christmas Jumper Day’ on Friday, 14 December, where students have permission to wear their Christmas Jumper to school and in turn will donate €2. Taking into consideration some schools may have already fundraisers in place, or may not be able to run a ‘Christmas Jumper Day’, schools are invited to participate and fundraise by their own means. For more information on the project Nicole can be contacted at n.loughlin2@nuigalway.ie or contact Dr Cornelia Connolly, NUI Galway’s School of Education, at cornelia.connolly@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

NUI Galway’s Healthy Heroes event will return again this year taking place from 13-14 November. This two-day event, organised by healthcare students from the Association of Medical Students Ireland (AMSI) Galway and the University’s Paediatric Society, will focus on teaching primary and post-primary school students from around County Galway about the importance of being a “Healthy Hero”, and trying to live healthily. Both days will consist of workshops in NUI Galway run by experts in the fields of nutrition, exercise, mental health, physiology and anatomy. The project stems from the students’ belief that Ireland’s obesity epidemic will not cure itself. In the past two decades, the numbers of overweight and obese persons in Ireland have doubled. Rosie James, a fourth year medical student and one of the project’s collaborators said: “Overweight Ireland 2009 report shows that at age 13, 13% boys and 9% girls are overweight. I’d like to see medical students take initiative to raise awareness on this issue. Promoting healthy eating at a young age can help to prevent diseases later in life, such as type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis or hypertension.” The first day (Tuesday, 13 November) will focus on primary school students with a series of workshops including:   The National Dairy Council (NDC) will run a nutrition workshop which will focus on portion sizing and healthy foods A children’s meditation and yoga workshop will be delivered by instructor Penny Jones A physical activity and physiology class called ‘Dance for your dopamine, HIIT for your heart’ will be given by Dr Sarah Gundy of Science Foundation Ireland which will involve fun exercise while learning how this exercise helps your body A human anatomy and cell biology workshop will be taught by Cell EXPLORERS, the NUI Galway School of Natural Sciences outreach programme that engages young people in cellular and molecular biology Second level students are invited to attend a ‘Teen Day’ on day two (Wednesday, 14 November) for a series of workshops focusing on overall health and healthcare issues facing young people in Ireland, such as mental health promotion, alcohol and drug safety, and obesity reduction. The workshops will include: The National Dairy Council (NDC) talk on nutrition, including dispelling popular dieting myths Crossfit Galway will run an exercise class specifically designed for teens The Soar Foundation will talk about mental health; including how to recognise the signs of stress, how to seek help and some helpful coping mechanisms Croí and Youth Work Galway will speak about the effects of drugs, alcohol and smoking and teach some practical life-saving manoeuvres Maria Regan, a third year medical student, said: “In a digital age where many claim to be a healthy lifestyle expert, Healthy Heroes offers students understandable, factual information on how to best look after their own health. Through effective take home skills taught by experts this event helps to instill healthy habits in students.” Lidia Shafik, a third year medical students, said: “Healthy Heroes is a fun and interactive form of preventative medicine and is really essential in all ages. This is why we’ve designed teen day, to revive their core knowledge of mental, physical and nutritional health and moreover, add to it! Likewise with alcohol and tobacco abuse becoming widespread among Irish young people, with 16% to 29.9% of teens as young as 13 having already started smoking, the importance of constant education in these matters cannot be overstated.” The event is sponsored by NUI Galway, Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM), , SuperSubs, French Vanoli School of Fitness, Fyffes, Glenisk, Cell Explorers, Soar, Youth Work Galway, Croí, Dunnes Stores, Dr Madeleine O'Reilly’s Dental Surgery, Spun Out, and the National Dairy Council. For further information on the events email amsi@socs.nuigalway.ie or paediatric@socs.nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Friday, 26 October 2018

Galway’s innovators join biggest global climate action hackathon in history at NUI Galway led event to reduce carbon footprint of Galway City Galway City’s innovators today (26 October) join over 100 cities across 44 countries on six continents in a day of innovation to generate pioneering ideas that could lead Galway towards the zero-carbon economy of the future. Climathon Galway 2018 harnesses the energy and dynamism of all interested groups and individuals to develop and scale innovations towards a zero-carbon future for Galway City. Prospective innovators join Challenge teams, each addressing a range of sustainability challenges, ranging from energy efficient buildings, substitution of plastics to low carbon diets.   This is the third year that Galway has participated in the Global Climathon hackathon, which is again hosted by NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, in partnership with TechInnovate and the Portershed in Galway’s Innovation District. Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, highlights: “Cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions. With 90 percent of the world’s urban areas situated on coastlines, cities are at high risk from some of the devastating impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels and powerful coastal storms. Coastal cities such as Galway are on the frontlines of global climate change and are well-positioned to play a leadership role with sister cities worldwide in driving global action to address climate change. The Climathon event presents a unique annual opportunity for multiple innovators, groups and individuals to work together to develop and scale innovations towards a zero-carbon footprint horizon-point for Galway city districts, sectors and inhabitants.” At Galway Climathon 2018, each team develops their own innovation idea throughout the one-day event, facilitated by the Techinnovate team based at NUI Galway, culminating in a pitch competition at the end of the day before a judging panel. The top three teams will receive prizes, supports and advice to progress their innovations on to accelerator and entrepreneurship programs that will in turn translate them into start-up companies, social enterprises or funded projects/programmes. The global initiative Climate-KIC is an annual event that empowers individuals and organisations to work together in order to develop new solutions to the climate crisis at the city scale. Originally conceptualised as a 24-hour hackathon by Climate-KIC, Climathon has since taken off as a global movement, engaging citizens on climate action, and providing cities with continued support on the unique challenges they face. Dr Peter McKeown and Dr David Styles from the MSc in Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) program at NUI Galway, indicated: “Galway can lead in this global challenge, having been in the firing line of a number of powerful storms over the past few years. It is therefore apt that Galway harnesses the creativity and international innovation leadership for which it is renowned to lead global efforts in climate mitigation.” Climathon 2018 provides a unique opportunity for innovators, change agents and stakeholders in Galway to ideate new technologies or ways to implement existing technologies that can effectively decarbonise the city, and, indeed, other cities globally. For more details on Climathon 2018, visit: https://climathon.climate-kic.org/galway and follow updates on Twitter: @GalwayClimathon ‏ For more information on Climate-KIC, visit: https://climathon.climate-kic.org/en/cities. -Ends-

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

NUI Galway’s Moore Institute and Galway University Foundation will host a climate-themed exhibition, Art on the Edge, in the Hardiman Research Building during the month of November. Featuring original artwork by NUI Galway physical geographer, Dr Gordon Bromley, the exhibition includes a mix of drawings and paintings captured from his international field research. The exhibition will be launched at 5pm on Thursday, 1 November followed by a seminar at 6pm by Dr Bromley on The business end of climate research, showcasing ongoing climate research at NUI Galway. The event and exhibition is free and open to the public. Art on the Edge displays science-inspired artwork from almost two decades of field research into earth’s climate system. Dr Gordon Bromley, an NUI Galway Foundation Research Leader, describes the exhibition as “bringing the public face-to-face with climate science – and climate scientists – through a lens of art.” It will feature Dr Bromley’s artwork from the high deserts of Peru to the edge of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, coupled with human artefacts (scientific and everyday items left on the ice such as drink cans, old radiosondes, and a geologic pick axe). It will also feature photographs and video footage from Dr Bromley’s field work in Antarctica, Greenland, Peru, Colombia, and Scotland, demonstrating how everyday people use our landscapes as laboratories and fostering the notion of climate science as a vital element of our community. Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, said: “This exhibition of stunning artwork will inspire much-needed discussion and reflection on climate change. The conjunction of art and science reminds us that only by convening a wider conversation that includes the humanities and Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) can we make progress in public and academic understanding.” Speaking about the seminar, Dr Gordon Bromley from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “The seminar will consider the consequences of climate in flux, including today’s rapid global warming. Earth’s climate is inherently changeable. Human-induced climate change represents one of the greatest uncertainties we face in the 21st Century and beyond. This topic is a highly visible source of public disquiet and political controversy, but the actual science feeding our climatologic knowledge remains mysterious to the vast majority. And it is this disconnect, between science and the public that funds it, that is the biggest challenge to our society’s effective preparation for future ‘climate shock’. “The seminar will serve as an opportunity for us to explore exactly what climate is, how we think it behaves based on scientific research, and plausible scenarios for our future climate and sea level, highlighting the new and ongoing climate research being conducted at NUI Galway.” As part of his international field research in these various locations, Dr Bromley primarily uses the geologic record of glaciation to establish two things: the timing and magnitude of past abrupt climate change events, and the impact of abrupt climate change on Earth’s ecosystems. He also continues to work towards understanding the cause of the ice ages and the sensitivity of our climate to carbon dioxide (for example, if CO2 concentrations double, what exactly will be the magnitude of atmospheric warming?). -Ends-

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Address will include panel discussion with former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights The Irish Centre for Human Rights and the School of Law will host a panel discussion with Dr Mary Robinson on the ‘The Necessity of Advocacy’ at NUI Galway on Wednesday, 24 October. Dr Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002) and the first female President of Ireland (1990-1997), has dedicated much of her life to human rights advocacy, deploying her skills as a lawyer, diplomat and political leader, to promote and defend the universality of human rights. Opening remarks will be provided by Professor Siobhán Mullally and the event will be chaired by Judge Tony O’Connor of the High Court.  Guest panellists include:  Dr Gearóid O’Cuinn and Gerry Liston of the Global Legal Action Network; Dr Maeve O’Rourke, Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Justice for Magdalenes; Professor Donncha O’Connell, NUI Galway and the Law Reform Commission; and Professor Niamh Reilly, NUI Galway. Professor Siobhán Mullally, Established Professor of Human Rights Law, and Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway highlights the importance of human rights advocacy: “2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement. Today we see human rights, and the institutions that grew from these human rights movements, under threat in many parts of the world. At a critical and often troubling time for human rights globally and in Europe, it essential that, as lawyers, we continue to advocate for human rights, and to reflect on the urgency and necessity of advocacy. This event, and the launch of new programmes in Law (BCL) and Human Rights and LLM in International Migration and Refugee Law, will ensure that at NUI Galway, we continue to play our part in training the next generation of human rights lawyers and advocates.” NUI Galway is widely recognised one of the world’s centre of excellence for human rights law and policy. The Irish Centre for Human Rights is one of the world's premier academic human rights institutions. Since its establishment, the Centre has developed a global reputation for excellence in the field of human rights teaching, research and advocacy.  The School of Law will take the opportunity to launch two new courses on human rights at the event – an undergraduate degree ‘Law (BCL) & Human Rights’ and a postgraduate masters ‘LLM International Migration and Refugee Law’. Dr Charles O’Mahony, Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway said: “Next year marks the 170th year of teaching law at NUI Galway.  We are delighted that in our 170th year we will have our first intake of Law (BCL) and Human Rights students.  This is a unique undergraduate programme combining a full law degree with the study of human rights law.  We have made significant changes to our undergraduate programmes meaning that all students will undertake a yearlong professional work placement or study abroad in year three of their degree.  We are delighted to launch our Law (BCL) and Human Rights and LLM International Migration and Refugee Law at this event.  The School of Law and Irish Centre for Human Rights will continue to innovate in human rights scholarship and education and will support our students to realise their career ambitions and goals.” The panel discussion with Dr Mary Robinson entitled the ‘The Necessity of Advocacy’ will take place in the large lecture theatre of the Human Biology Building, NUI Galway on Wednesday, 24 October from 6pm to 8.30pm.  This event is free and open to the public but advance registration is essential at:  www.conference.ie    ENDS

Friday, 24 August 2018

Plant biotechnologists from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway have identified genetic breeding strategies to develop bigger and better sugar beet. Sustainable intensification of agriculture to meet rapidly growing global demand for food and non-food products produced by crops will require higher yielding crop varieties that can produce more food using less resources and land area. For crops such as sugar beet, this means the development of varieties that produce more per hectare, while reducing inputs. The findings from their research has been published in the international journal, BMC Plant Biology. Sustainable intensification of sugar beet supply will require the production of more sugar beet using less resources and land, which requires high yielding sugar beet varieties that require minimal inputs. Professor Charles Spillane’s Genetics and Biotechnology Lab at NUI Galway has been working closely with the international plant breeding company KWS SAAT to develop genetic breeding strategies to produce hybrid sugar beet varieties with higher yield that can maintain high levels of sugar production. Using a combination of molecular genetics laboratory work and large-scale sugar beet experimental field trials conducted in Cork, the research team discovered that the most efficient way to develop higher yielding sugar beet varieties was by tapping the benefits of hybrid vigour*, a topic of focus for the team. The white and brown sugar that the vast majority of food consumers in Ireland include as a sweetener in their daily diet is a naturally occurring biochemical called sucrose. The world’s supply of 185 million tonnes of sugar each year comes from only two crops, sugar cane and sugar beet. Sugar beet was once widely cultivated in Ireland, with the first sugar beet factory built in Mountmellick, Co Laois in 1851. The sugar beet industry was one of the major economic success stories in post-independence Ireland, following the opening of the first sugar beet factory by the Irish State’s sugar company in Carlow in 1926, followed by additional sugar beet processing factories in Mallow, Thurles and Tuam. Changes to the European Union subsidy program in the early 2000’s changed profit margins for the Irish sugar beet industry, leading to the closure of Ireland’s last sugar beet factory in 2006. Without sugar-processing factories, large-scale sugar beet farming effectively ended in Ireland. However, the possibility of resurrecting Ireland’s sugar industry has been boosted by the abolition of EU sugar quotas in 2017, with producer groups such as Beet Ireland seeking to re-establish sugar beet as a sustainable and eco-friendly crop in Ireland that is compatible with the Common Agricultural Policy “greening” measures. This has resulted in the sugar beet industry experiencing a resurgence across Europe, with new sugar beet processing factories under development in the UK and across continental Europe. Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “We need to consider sugars not only as ingredients for sweetening of foods, but also as the molecules upon which a more sustainable sugar-based bioeconomy can be developed that produces multiple bio-based products from sugars. Bioproducts or bio-based products are materials, chemicals and energy derived from renewable biological resources. Sugar beet processing factories are now designed as sugar beet ‘biorefineries’ where sugar is but one of the many bioproducts generated, along with many non-food products such as specialty high-value chemicals, bio-based materials and bioenergy that can displace fossil-fuel derived products. Sugar beet biorefineries in Ireland can play an important role in decarbonisation pathways in Ireland to reduce carbon and resource footprints in the agrifood sector. Sugar-beet biorefineries can act as ‘innovation platforms’ for conversion of sugars to more sustainable bio-derived chemicals and biomaterials. Under its Agriculture and Bioeconomy theme, the Ryan Institute is working on a range of projects to develop next-generation biorefinery and bioeconomy applications for a more sustainable future.” PhD student Brendan Hallahan, a researcher on the sugar beet work at NUI Galway, said: “Over the past decade, our ability to harness genetics to accelerate the breeding and improvement of crops has taken a quantum leap. New research tools such as next generation sequencing, bioinformatics and genome editing are now revolutionising plant breeding worldwide. Next generation varieties of the humble sugar beet crop can be an asset for sustainable development in both Ireland and the EU, if research can continue into plant genetic improvements combined with the establishment of modern biorefineries.”   The research was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council. To read the full research study in BMC Plant Biology, visit: https://bit.ly/2MsEZzi. For more information about the Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre and the Genetics and Biotechnology Research Lab at NUI Galway, visit: www.plantagbiosciences.org and www.spillanelab.org. -Ends-

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

A new online treatment programme called MindfulnessforMS, developed by expert psychologists at NUI Galway has just been launched and aims to help people who are living with primary or secondary progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a lifelong disease of the nervous system including the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves, affecting 2.3 million people worldwide with more than 9,000 people living with MS in Ireland. Symptoms of MS range from mild sensory problems to severe disability. The cause of MS has not been identified and, currently, there is no cure. The Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway, with support from MS Ireland and the Health Research Board, is currently recruiting people with primary or secondary progressive multiple sclerosis to take part in research evaluating the treatment programme. The MindfulnessforMS programme will provide participants with eight online mindfulness-based instruction and practice sessions. Dr Christopher Dwyer, coordinator of the study at the Centre for Pain Research in NUI Galway, said: “MS affects each individual differently, however, understanding how MS impacts people both physically and psychologically, and how they use the supports available to them plays a role in coping strategies for overcoming symptoms. In recent years, mindfulness has emerged as a popular strategy for psychological wellbeing and research has shown that mindfulness-based psychological interventions can be used to help ease MS-related symptoms, including fatigue and anxiety.”  Online interventions have emerged as a popular platform for such programmes, as many people have access to the internet and, perhaps more importantly, because people can log in and practice mindfulness from the safety and comfort of their own home, in a potentially cost-effective manner, without needing to schedule appointments and meet face-to-face with an instructor. The free online sessions within the MindfulnessforMS programme will focus on aiding participants to conduct mindfulness with respect to their attention and awareness of their own thought process. Participants will be provided with instructions on a range of paced activities to encourage helpful coping responses. People who take part in the MindfulnessforMS trial will not need to attend any clinic or NUI Galway at any stage. Materials are tailored for those wishing to learn effective ways of managing their MS. For further information, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/centre-for-pain-research/ To participate in the programme, please email your name, phone number and details of your MS to www.painresearch@nuigalway.ie. GPs or healthcare practitioners who are interested in referring suitable patients to the trial can also use these contact details. -Ends-

Friday, 27 July 2018

Two researchers supported by NUI Galway have been awarded significant European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants for their research into bone fragility in Type-2 Diabetes and the roles and voices of youths in the study of minority and regional language preservation. In total the European Research Council awarded the ERC grants to 403 talented early career researchers in the fields of Physical Sciences and Engineering, Life Sciences, and Social Sciences and Humanities. Researchers will benefit from €603 million in total and up to €1.5 million each, to create their own research teams and conduct pioneering projects. The grants are part of the ‘excellent science’ pillar of the EU’s current Research and Innovation programme, Horizon 2020. On this occasion, Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “In addition to supporting early stage European researchers, the ERC Starting Grants also help enrich the European research field by attracting and retaining foreign scientists in Europe. More than one in ten grantees come from outside the EU or its associated countries. Europe is open to the world!” Dr Ted Vaughan, a Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, has been awarded a €1.5 million European Research Council Starting Grant to conduct ground-breaking research into his project, Multiscale Mechanics of Bone Fragility in Type-2 Diabetes. Speaking about the project, Dr Vaughan said: “Type-2 Diabetes is associated with a higher risk of skeletal bone fractures and contributes to the 3.5 million bone fragility fractures that occur annually in Europe. Interestingly, the elevated risk of fracture in patients with Type-2 Diabetes is not accompanied with any reduction in their bone density. This is in stark contrast to Osteoporosis, probably the most widely studied bone disease, where bone density is significantly reduced. Currently, there is a limited understanding of the physical changes that take place in diabetic bone disease. Also, it is not known why such changes compromise the structural integrity of bone tissue and this presents distinct clinical challenges in terms of both assessment and treatment of bone fragility in Type-2 Diabetes.” Dr Vaughan and his research team will use novel experimental and computational techniques to understand the mechanics of bone fragility in Type-2 Diabetes. A multiscale framework will be used to evaluate fracture processes at several different length scales in the tissue, including state-of-the-art techniques that will identify the role of individual molecules on bone fracture behaviour. The research programme will significantly advance our understanding of the physical mechanisms responsible for bone fragility in Type-2 Diabetes and Dr Vaughan will use this information to develop an innovative clinical diagnostic strategy for this patient population. Research in this area forms a critical need with the ever-increasing world-wide prevalence of Type-2 Diabetes. Dr Ríona Nic Congáil, a scholar of the Irish language and of Irish culture has been awarded €1.27 million for her project, Youth Engagement in European Language Preservation, 1900–2020 (YEELP) with the support of the NUI Galway Research Office. YEELP is the first in-depth, comparative, transnational and interdisciplinary study of the intersection between European youth and the preservation of minority or regional European languages in the period since 1900. The project focuses on three languages of differing statuses and rates of usage – Irish, Welsh and Catalan – and it unites two growing fields of contemporary scholarship: the study of youth, and the study of language preservation. Speaking about the research, Dr Nic Congáil, said: “In the study of minority and regional language preservation, the roles and voices of youths aged between 12-19 years, have been consistently overlooked. In order to address this fundamental gap in contemporary research, this project takes a multifaceted approach to the intersection between youth and language. It does so at a critical period for the study of endangered European languages, with several languages in decline and some facing extinction. Until youth is included in considerations of language preservation, we will not be able to answer fully the question of why some languages thrive while others die out.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “European Research Council Starting Grants are one of the most prestigious and competitive awards for researchers in Europe. This particular award identifies excellent emerging talent and we are delighted that our University has attracted two awards. These awards also highlight our strengths and the depth of our international standing and reputation in the fields of biomedical engineering and the humanities.” Grantees from 44 countries across the world received grants, from as far afield as Vietnam and Argentina. The competition therefore enabled some researcher mobility and the spread of scientific knowledge as 40 grantees will move country to take up their grant, and 16 will come from outside the EU and H2020 associated countries. These Starting Grants will help the selected scientists build their own research teams, leading to job creation as an estimated 1,500 Postdocs, PhD students and other staff could be employed to support them. -Ends-

Monday, 9 July 2018

MaREI secure €4.4 million to support Ireland’s indigenous biomass and bioenergy industry The Research Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) has secured an additional €4.4 million in funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and industry partners under the Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency (SEFE) SFI Spokes Programme, to be based at NUI Galway. Speaking at the launch Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Seán Kyne TD, said: “Climate Action has never been more important to the continued growth and prosperity of our nation as it is now. Ireland has an abundance of natural resources with enormous potential for sustainable energy output, but we need to continue to invest in more efficient technologies for harnessing this potential. I am delighted to see researchers from the SFI Research Centre, MaREI exploring new and innovative technologies to support Ireland’s ambition of meeting national environmental, energy and climate targets, as well as those set by the European Commission.” The Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency research programme led by Professor Henry Curran at NUI Galway and Professor Jerry D Murphy, UCC, leverages the scientific expertise of ten of Ireland’s top academics in bioenergy research across four Universities (NUI Galway, UCC, UL, TCD) and Teagasc. The programme of work will include the technical and commercial expertise of 10 national and international companies. This four-year collaborative programme aims to identify viable routes to increase the efficient utilisation and supply of sustainable energy, and to support Ireland’s ambition to meet National and EU environmental targets. The Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency Spoke, which is affiliated to the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, and run by MaREI funded researchers, has an ambition of developing new processes, technologies and markets through the co-operation of a number of scientists from various disciplines across a number of institutes and working with 10 innovative companies to support Ireland’s energy transition. Professor Henry Curran from the School of Chemistry and Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “The granting of the Spoke award by SFI and the national and multi-national industry commitment endorses and strengthens the research being undertaken in sustainable energy systems by the participating universities and Teagasc.  I look forward to collaborating on world class research that will underpin the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future.” Professor Murphy, Director of MaREI and head of the bioenergy research group, stated: “The benefit of the SFI Research Centres has been immense for research and innovation; Ireland now has a one-stop-shop system for research expertise that includes the best researchers across the island, coupled with the most relevant industrial partners. This removes the previous competition between researchers and enhances research impact through multi-disciplinary, multi-institute input into industrially relevant cutting edge work. This partnership will bring together the top academics and industry in bioenergy and biofuels, with an overarching ambition of meeting the national objective of decarbonising energy and facilitating Ireland’s transition to a low carbon technology.” The Spoke research teams will collaborate in developing technologies capable of converting a wide variety of residues and by-products to homogenous energy carriers and optimising performance of internal combustion engines using advanced fuels including biofuel blends. The Spoke work programme will complement existing MaREI activities in the bioenergy sector as well as adding new competencies in the area of advanced thermal treatment, combustion modelling and design. The outputs of the Spoke work programme will contribute in a measurable way toward important EU and national environmental and economic objectives in the areas of energy decarbonisation, wastewater treatment, sustainable transport, resource recovery, clean air and water, rural development and diversification of agriculture. The technologies to be advanced by the SEFE Spoke will address some of the drawbacks associated with Ireland's reliance on imported biofuels and intermittent renewables by improving the efficiency and reducing the carbon intensity of power generation and transport from combustion and boosting the supply of renewable heat, which makes up 41% of Ireland’s energy consumption, as well as meeting sustainable waste management challenges. Professor Brian Ó Gallachóir, Co-Director of MaREI, commented: “I am particularly enthused by the industry support for this project. Our research in MaREI is greatly enriched through the partnership we have with our industry partners. In addition to deepening our collaboration with Gas Networks Ireland, this project enables us to benefit from collaborating with a wide range of new partners including ABP Food Group, Arigna Fuels, Siemens and NVP Energy. This investment will in turn enable these industry partners to harness and benefit from the research and innovation capacity we have in MaREI.”   Deputy Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, Dr Ciarán Seoighe welcomed the announcement, saying: “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support the Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency Spokes project, which comes at a time when the need for new and innovative means to tackle climate change are sorely needed. The Spokes Programme offers a valuable means for research-active companies to align with any of the 17 SFI Research Centres and utilise the world-renowned expertise and state-of-the-art infrastructure therein. Partnerships such of this support Ireland’s drive towards an environmentally sustainable future and places us at the forefront of renewable energy research.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

The West of Ireland is rich in animal and plant life. But did you know that the NUI Galway campus in the heart of Galway city is also home to a multitude of wildlife? The University’s main campus extends along the River Corrib, and its rich biodiversity has been highlighted through the Intervarsity BioBlitz competition, run by An Taisce and the National Biodiversity Data Centre. To celebrate nature on campus, NUI Galway has launched a Biodiversity Trail, a free trail available to both the campus community and wider public to explore the variety of wildlife on campus. The trail guides visitors through NUI Galway’s natural habitats, which are often also used for teaching and research. The trail takes visitors from the oldest building in the university, the Quadrangle, up along the River Corrib to the northern part of campus. It’s a great way to get outside and enjoy the campus grounds, while finding out a bit more about nature along the way. The birdlife on campus ranges from Ireland’s smallest bird, the goldcrest, to the largest, the mute swan, as well as the world’s fastest animal, the peregrine falcon. The River Corrib and associated wetlands also play host to many fish, aquatic plants and waterbirds. Mammals, including the badger, fox, otter, stoat, woodmouse and pygmy shrew, also call the campus their home. NUI Galway’s gardeners take great pride in the University’s landscape and invite visitors and the campus community to pick and taste from the many fruit trees, berries, organic vegetables and herb gardens. Distinct habitats to be discovered along the Biodiversity Trail: College Park in front of the Q uadrangle - sycamore and horse chestnut trees, and pipistrelle bats at sunset in the summer. Eglinton Canal running underneath the O’Shaughnessy Bridge that links to Fisheries Field - trout, kingfishers and otters. Herb Garden outside Moffetts Restaurant at the Orbsen Building - bees and other pollinators visiting flowers in summer. River Corrib along the campus river path - yellow iris and common spotted orchids in summer, mute swans and grey heron year round. Engineering Lawn in front of the Alice Perry Engineering Building - blackbirds and goldfinches, and clover and buttercups in summer. Deciduous Woodland along the river path between the Alice Perry Engineering Building and Corrib Village - woodmouse, pygmy shrew, bluebells and wild garlic in spring. Alluvial Woodland along the river path past the Dangan Park and Ride facility - alder trees, ivy, fox and stoat and haws in autumn. Reed beds between the river path and the river - common reed, meadowsweet, willow warbler and reed bunting. Menlo Castle and Sports Campus on the opposite bank of the river from the sports pitches - barn owl, peregrine falcon and lesser horseshoe bat at dusk. All of Ireland’s nine bat species have been recorded patrolling the night skies above the campus. The Biodiversity Trail is available in leaflet form from a range of locations around campus including the Information Office at the Quadrangle and the Zoology and Marine Biology Museum in the Ryan Institute, and is also available from Galway Tourist Office. An audio trail is also available in both podcast and downloadable form, which features many of the campus community who are involved in research, teaching and stewardship of biodiversity on and beyond the campus, which takes about 90 minutes to complete. Funding for the trail was provided by the NUI Galway Community and University Sustainability Project (CUSP), the Ryan Institute and the Climate Change and Environment Section of Galway City Council, as part of Galway City’s European Green Leaf 2017 designation. The trail was produced by Jamie Maxwell, Dara Stanley and Caitriona Carlin, with input from many others around campus involved in biodiversity research and stewardship. The audio trail was recorded at Flirt FM by Padraig McMahon. Biodiversity Trail and audio trail versions can be found here: http://www.nuigalway.ie/biodiversitytrail/ Video of the Biodiversity Trail, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFC4-QphfTQ -Ends-

Friday, 8 June 2018

European ENERGISE team launches new online interactive dataset, which maps over 1000 sustainable energy initiatives across Europe NUI Galway, lead coordinators of the €3.7 million pan-European Horizon 2020 project, ENERGISE (European Network for Research, Good Practice and Innovation for Sustainable Energy), along with their partner collaborators, have launched an online database of best practice examples of energy initiatives from 30 European countries including Ireland. The database was launched this week in Brussels as part of European Sustainable Energy Week. In ENERGISE, sustainable energy consumption initiatives are defined as activities that deal with reducing energy related carbon dioxide emissions from households. This can either be in reducing the actual energy consumption or substituting fossil fuels with renewable energy sources. In response to the increasingly urgent climate change challenge, the European Commission is promoting several climate and energy targets with the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonise the economy. However, the current pace and scale of change is insufficient to achieve the necessary sustainability transitions in the energy system as there is an increasing realisation that meeting energy targets is highly dependent on several complex aspects of final energy consumption patterns or energy demand. Recognising these concerns, the innovative ENERGISE research initiative aims to achieve a greater scientific understanding of the social and cultural influences on energy consumption. The project develops, tests and assesses options for a bottom-up transformation of energy use in households and communities across Europe. The ENERGISE research team has conducted a systematic classification of over 1,000 existing sustainable energy consumption initiatives from 30 European countries. The open access online database informs users about the content, scale and objectives of sustainable energy consumption initiatives that specifically address final consumption, as well as providing an assessment of how the challenge of addressing excessive energy consumption is understood. Dr Frances Fahy, lead coordinator of the ENERGISE project from NUI Galway, said: “The database and interactive map will be an invaluable resource for energy practitioners, researchers, community groups or anyone seeking good practice examples of energy initiatives from all over Europe.” Examples of sustainable energy consumption initiatives in Ireland and how they approach the challenge of climate change and the need for energy use reduction: Changes in Complex Interactions - Cloughjordan Eco-Village in Tipperary - An eco-village that promotes sustainable ways of living and encourages knowledge exchange across different levels of society. Changes in Everyday Life Situations - Power of One Street - This initiative was about changing energy practices, educating those involved in the study about how to reduce their energy consumption, and setting them a challenge to do just this. Changes in Individuals’ Behaviour - Be Your Own Energy Manager - This is a ‘train the trainer’ programme which began in a housing estate in County Louth. Changes in Technology - Renewable Energy Dublin (CODEMA and Dublin City Council) - The project promotes the uptake of renewable energy in Dublin through free access to and interaction with up-to-date information on renewable technology installations and capacity in County Dublin. The ENERGISE project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme for three years (2016-2019). The consortium includes ten research partners (universities, research institutes, enterprises and NGOs) from Ireland, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. For more information about ENERGISE or if you if you know of sustainable energy consumption initiatives that are not yet included in the database, visit: http://www.energise-project.eu/ or email info@energise-project.eu -Ends-

Monday, 28 May 2018

The Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway, in partnership with the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive and the Association of Health Promotion Ireland, will host the 22nd Annual Health Promotion Conference on Thursday, 7 June.   This one-day conference will bring together policymakers, researchers and practitioners, with the aim of strengthening the circle of knowledge in relation to participation and empowerment for health and social care service users. In line with re-orienting the health service, one of the health promotion priority action areas identified in the Ottawa Charter*, and the ‘Healthy Ireland Framework’, this year’s conference theme is ‘Participation and empowerment for health service users: Strengthening the circle’.   A number of international and national keynote speakers will feature throughout the conference. Keynote speaker, Professor Sean Dinneen from NUI Galway and Galway University Hospitals, will discuss how the voice of young adults with type 1 diabetes has influenced research being undertaken at NUI Galway.   Professor Anne MacFarlane, University of Limerick, will be asking how community and individual participation in primary healthcare can be strengthened. Professor MacFarlane said: “There is a long standing attention to participation in primary healthcare for different reasons: for shaping policy and the nature and configuration of local services, for setting priorities in practice settings and for ‘patient centeredness’ in general practice consultations. More recently, imperatives from policy makers and funders for Public and Patient Involvement in health research have been gaining momentum across disciplines, including academic general practice and primary care. There are concerns, however, about participation across these different kinds of participatory spaces: is it meaningful? impactful? inclusive of all community members service users and patients?”   Professor Tina Cook, Liverpool Hope University, will discuss the role of participatory health research in promoting positive changes for health through the power of collaborative learning. Joanne Morgan, Community Development and Health Network in Northern Ireland, will speak from a practical perspective on tackling health inequalities by working to empower communities.   This event provides a platform for the exchange of ideas for research, policy and practice developments in participation and empowerment for health service users. It also provides the opportunity to explore how health and social care services can be enhanced to support people in maintaining a good quality of life.   Dr Martin Power, conference co-chair and a lecturer in NUI Galway’s Discipline of Health Promotion, said: “This conference provides a significant opportunity for all stakeholders in health and social care to engage with and reflect on the benefits that can be gained from fruitful collaboration. The conference brings together the interdependent strands of practice, services and research to explore both what can be achieved and how best it can be achieved. The growing recognition of the importance of public, patient and service user involvement is reflected in the diversity of settings, groups and approaches that the conference presentations and workshops examine. A particular feature of this year’s conference is the introduction of a number of open forum workshops, which will further enhance opportunities for dynamic and lively exchanges.”   Dr Catherine Anne Field, conference co-chair and a lecturer in NUI Galway’s Discipline of Health Promotion, said: “This conference is an excellent opportunity to bring together all stakeholders involved in the practice of health promotion. The field of health promotion has always recognised that service users and patients have vast knowledge and expertise about their own health and well-being and we look forward to hearing the valuable contributions of those involved in research, practice and service delivery.”   The conference is relevant to practitioners, researchers and policymakers alike. For further information on the conference including the presentations by the keynote speakers visit https://bit.ly/2ptKsrP. For further enquiries contact hprc@nuigalway.ie   -Ends-

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics at NUI Galway, in collaboration with the 30% Club, is delighted to offer a scholarship for its Executive MBA programme. Globally, the 30% Club is establishing partnerships with a number of business schools to rectify the under-representation of women pursuing post-graduate management education by offering scholarships aimed at women. This scholarship is valued at €13,850 in total for the MBA programme which equates to 50% of the fees (fees are €27,700 over the two years). Closing date for receipt of applications for the coming academic year, including 500 word essay is Friday, 15 June, 2018. Professor Anne Scott, Vice President for Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway said: “We see this scholarship as important in encouraging and equipping talented, experienced women to set their sights on senior leadership roles, to inform and shape the direction of Irish businesses – for the benefit of business and society.” The Association of MBAs (AMBA) has accredited NUI Galway’s Executive MBA as academically rigorous and challenging real-world business education with industry engagement and global learning. With over 45 years of experience in MBA provision, the NUI Galway MBA programme prepares its graduates for accelerated career progression through the acquisition of knowledge, skills and confidence necessary for success in strategic management and senior leadership roles. Professor Breda Sweeney, J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics at NUI Galway said: “The Executive MBA programme can transform career opportunities for aspiring female executives by equipping graduates with important leadership skills, business insight and a network of talented executives from diverse professional backgrounds. The success of our Executive MBA in this regard is evident from the achievements of our alumni.” Launched in January 2015, the 30% Club Ireland’s goal is to achieve better gender balance at all levels in leading Irish businesses and aims to develop a diverse pool of talent for all businesses through the efforts of its members who are committed to better gender balance at all levels of their organisations. The initiative is complementary to individual company efforts and existing networking groups, adding to these through collaboration and the visible commitment of senior business leaders. Galway businesswoman Sandra Divilly fought off tough competition to win last year’s 30% Club Scholarship for the NUI Galway Executive MBA programme. The judging panel noted that while most applicants had enormous career potential and would have been worthy recipients, ultimately the award could be made to only one individual. Reacting to the announcement, Ms Divilly commented: “I am greatly honoured to be chosen to receive the 30% Club Scholarship for an Executive MBA at NUI Galway. The 30% Club is an inspiring initiative to address global gender imbalance issues in organisations. I commend NUI Galway for joining the list of successful universities across the world that support and drive the 30% Club goals. Having graduated from NUI Galway in 1996 with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Information Systems, I have since enjoyed a varied and challenging career in private industry and as a self-employed businesswoman. I am very grateful to NUI Galway and the 30% Club for providing me with this exciting opportunity to undertake the Executive MBA.” Bríd Horan, Steering Committee member, on behalf of the 30% Club said: “We greatly appreciate NUI Galway’s generous support for this valuable scholarship which encourages women to invest in their career development through executive education.” For more information on the 30% Club or scholarship application process, contact Mairead McKeon, Executive MBA Programme Administrator at mairead.mckeon@nuigalway.ie  or visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/business-public-policy-law/cairnes/courses/mba/. -Ends-

Monday, 30 April 2018

  Three NUI Galway researchers have been awarded funding for their projects, which will contribute to the advancement of research in the areas of energy, environment and health.   Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD, announced an investment of €13.7 million in funding for 22 early career researchers with three NUI Galway researchers being awarded almost €1.5 million in total for their projects.      The funding was awarded through Science Foundation Ireland’s ‘Career Development Award Programme’, which supports Ireland’s research talent pipeline by funding excellent researchers still in the early stages of their scientific career.   The three NUI Galway researchers awarded funding are:   Dr Sharon Glynn from the Lambe Institute for Translational Research at NUI Galway. Her research project aims to identify new ways of preventing and treating high grade aggressive breast and prostate cancer. Her project will focus on how ancient HERV-K viruses hidden in our DNA interact with iNOS, an enzyme involved in wound healing and immune regulation, and lead to the development of aggressive breast and prostate cancer. These cancers can be difficult to treat and cause up to 1,100 Irish deaths yearly. By better understanding how HERV-K and iNOS drive cancer, Dr Glynn will have the potential to identify new ways to prevent and treat these cancers. She will also investigate if whether HERV-K blood biomarkers can improve upon current testing for prostate cancer as currently only 40% of men with elevated PSA are found to have prostate cancer.   Dr Dara Stanley from Botany and Plant Science in the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. Her research project will study the effect of climate change and pesticide on pollinators and the sustainable growth of our crops. Bees, and other pollinators, are crucial for the production of at least 30% of our food. Global bee declines have led to concerns over the sustained crop production, with a number of potential causes highlighted. Little research has connected these causes of decline with the delivery of pollination services to crops. In this project Dr Stanley will combine field observations, lab manipulations and predictive modelling to address key knowledge gaps in how climate change and pesticide use can affect crop pollination, and predict how climate change and pesticide use may affect the sustainable pollination of our crops in the future.   Dr Gavin Collins from the College of Science and the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. His research investigates the microorganisms that are used to convert wastes to biofuels. Most bacteria require trace concentrations of metals, and special, proprietary blends of metals are actively dosed into the biotechnologies used for waste treatment in order to improve microbial activity and biofuels production. However, little is known about the microbiology of metal-microbe interactions. Dr Collins’s project will pursue fundamental Microbiology to explore the influence of trace-metals on the activity of individual microbial species, as well as on more complex groups, or biofilms, of microbes. He will also work with industrial partners to develop diagnostic tools, which may be used by biotechnology operators to optimise trace-metals dosing strategies.   Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “I welcome Science Foundation Ireland and the government’s commitment to supporting talented researchers in the early stages of their scientific career through this Ireland’s Career Development Award Programme. I would like to congratulate our three exceptional individuals at NUI Galway who are part of this announcement and look forward to the potential outcomes from their innovative research in advancing solutions to improve human health and sustain our planet.”   Announcing the awards, Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD said: “The awards demonstrate the impressive cutting-edge research taking place in the universities across Ireland. The Science Foundation Ireland’s Career Development Awardees are the future leaders of research and innovation in Ireland. Through their promising work, they will continue to shape our research community, and generate positive impacts at a national and global scale. I believe that the important projects receiving funding today will advance Ireland’s economy and society, and further solidify its reputation as a world-leader in scientific advancements.”   -Ends-  

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Rise and demise of Scotland's last ice fields reveals the conflicting impact of abrupt climate change Results from a major study carried out by scientists from NUI Galway and the University of Maine have indicated that the physical impact of abrupt climate change in Britain and Ireland and maritime Europe may be markedly different from previous perceptions of these events. The study was published today (26 April 2018) in the international journal, Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology. These findings raise the possibility that future weakening of warm ocean currents in the North Atlantic, which some fear will arise due to global warming and melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, will result in a return to a highly seasonal climate in Britain and Ireland and maritime Europe, with warmer summers and colder winters. The study investigated how abrupt climate changes such as high-magnitude shifts in average climate has impacted maritime Europe at the close of the last ice age. The ice age is often thought of as something that happened gradually over very long periods, yet previous studies indicate that this is not the case. Existing climate records show that after the peak of the last ice age, 20,000 years ago, warming of the atmosphere and ocean to modern Holocene (current ‘interglacial’ warm period) levels was not gradual and smooth but dynamic, interrupted by rapid returns in as little as a few years to decades, to very cold climates lasting centuries to millennia, which means it was a very bumpy ride for Earth’s climate out of the ice age. The most recent abrupt climate event is called the ‘Younger Dryas’ and occurred between 12,900 and 11,600 years ago, prior to the onset of our current warm Holocene climate 11,000 years ago. Ice core records from Greenland and palaeoecologic records from throughout Europe are traditionally interpreted as showing the Younger Dryas as a 1300-year period of severe cooling and permafrost in the North Atlantic region, potentially caused by the weakening of warm ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream, that transport tropical heat to Europe. Lead author of the study, Dr Gordon Bromley from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “We used radiocarbon dating of marine shell remains to determine when the last glaciers existed in Scotland, what we call a ‘glacial event’. There’s a lot of geologic evidence of these former glaciers, including deposits of rubble bulldozed up by the ice but their age has not been well established. Instead, it has largely been assumed that these glaciers existed during the cold Younger Dryas period, since other climate records give the impression that it was a cold time. To establish the true age of the glaciers we dated shells that were already dead or had been killed as the glaciers advanced into the fjords and shovelled up seafloor sediments. “Our new radiocarbon data crucially shows that the glaciers existed before the Younger Dryas and that they were melting rapidly and disappeared during that period. As this doesn’t fit with the traditional notion of the Younger Dryas as a uniformly cold event, we found that despite the cold winters, summers had to be warm as it is the intensity of the summer melt season that dictates glacier ‘health’. This finding is controversial and if we are correct, it helps rewrite our understanding of how abrupt climate change impacts our maritime region, both in the past and potentially into the future.” Findings from the data collected This new data collected in Scotland by the scientists, challenges the idea that the Younger Dryas was an abrupt return to a glacial (ice age) climate in the North Atlantic, by showing that the last glaciers there were actually decaying rapidly during that period. They interpreted this meltdown as reflecting atmospheric warming and found that the Younger Dryas was actually characterised by extreme seasonality. This means that although winters in Britain and Ireland were extremely cold, summers were a lot warmer than previously thought, a situation that is 180° from today’s highly maritime climate in this part of the world (mild winters and cool summers). As it is crucial to establish how past abrupt climate change was manifested here in order to prepare for future disturbances, these findings reshape scientific understanding of how the weakening of warm currents in the North Atlantic might impact Ireland’s climate. Findings from the study The shells ended up inside the glacial deposits, where the scientists found them, and provide a maximum age for the glacier advance. Similarly, to determine when the glacial event was over and the ice had melted, they dated a shell and also vegetation that was the first organic matter to colonise the newly ice-free landscape. This data provided a minimum age for the glacier advance. Shells were collected by Dr Bromley from NUI Galway and Professor Harold Borns from the University of Maine at sites on the west coast of Scotland where glacial moraines have been eroded by the sea, rivers, or lakes, affording them access to the shells. Despite being as much as 14,000 years old, the shells were extremely well preserved and some even retained the fragile periostracum (outermost layer of the shell) and membranes joining the valves. Others have been crushed by the weight of ice as the last glaciers bulldozed the seafloor. While all of these shell species are still in existence in the North Atlantic, many are extinct in Scotland where ocean temperatures are too warm. To read the full study in Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, visit: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/2018PA003341  -Ends-

Friday, 16 March 2018

The School of Education at NUI Galway are launching a Design Competition that is open to post-primary school students in Galway city and county. First prize of €500 cash is being sponsored by Iceland Ireland Ltd. This is a fantastic initiative calling for students to design an art piece that combines their creativity, design thinking and environmental awareness while highlighting the significance of the theme ‘Why making Galway plastic free matters to you’.  Designs can consist of art work, design prototypes, models, algorithms, digital stories, sculptures. that build awareness of plastic usage in our world or that offer design solutions to this global issue. The closing date for application is 6 April 2018. Leading the project is Dr Eílis Flanagan in the School of Education at NUI Galway, said: “I am delighted to host a ‘Plastic Free’ design competition for all post-primary schools in Galway city and county. While encouraging pupils' talent for design thinking and creativity, this competition offers an exciting opportunity for young people to think responsibly about their environment and to become part of the global discourse concerning the dangers of plastic pollution in our world.”  Prize winners will be invited to the MakerSpace at NUI Galway to create a prototype of their designs and will showcase their designs and artefacts at the International Society for Design and Development in Education conference at NUI Galway on 28 May.  For more information on the competition visit: http://bit.ly/2FPMnxb -Ends-

Friday, 16 March 2018

NUI Galway has signed the Charter for the Galway and West of Ireland Region of Gastronomy which commits the University to a range of initiatives to support food culture in the region as part of its designation as European Region of Gastronomy 2018. These initiatives will include featuring local produce in campus food outlets; hosting high-profile food-related conferences and a series of public lectures on theme related to gastronomy and food culture. The 17 restaurants on the NUI Galway campus serve approximately 30,000 customers each week and under the Charter, campus caterers have committed to sourcing as much produce as possible from local producers and suppliers as well as supporting food waste minimisation actions within the home and workplace. Dr Philip Smyth, Head of Shannon College of Hotel Management, which is now a college of NUI Galway, said: “Our food culture is vitally important for our health and wellbeing, and signing the charter highlights the University’s commitment to supporting this important sector. We look forward to working with our campus community to highlight the richness of our region of gastronomy and to support sustainable development and innovation.” Over the coming months, the University will host a range of high-profile food conferences, including the Good Food Ireland Conference and Food on the Edge. As part of the programme of events on sustainability, the University in partnership with Teagasc will host an Agri-Food Seminar on Sustainability as well as a Beef and Sheep Workshop in June. Ann Duggan, Commercial Manager at NUI Galway, commented: “Local seasonal produce forms the key ingredient across menus on a daily basis and the five catering companies providing services on campus are enthusiastically working with growers/ producers and wholesalers to create nutritional, tasty dishes for our campus community of approximately 20,000. We also welcome over 10,000 conference delegates and visitors to campus annually. In recent years local, artisan and craft producers have exhibited at receptions for international delegates which has added enormously to the enjoyment of their experience in Galway.   Food is central to the delegates’ experience and having such a wealth of wonderful fresh produce on our doorstep differentiates Galway and gives us a strong competitive edge when competing for international events.” Throughout 2018 NUI Galway highlight areas where it is making a contribution to Gastronomy under the key focus areas, such as Sustainability, Health and Nutrition and Cultural Diversity already established as themes for Galway’s year as European Region of Gastronomy. These will feature in a Public Lecture Series on campus in autumn 2018 which will be which will be free and open to the public. Speaking on the announcement, Elaine Donohue, Programme Lead, Galway European Region of Gastronomy, said: “The European Region of Gastronomy is thrilled to have such committed support from NUI Galway for the year of our designation. They have gone above and beyond in their commitments to develop more local supply chains through our Galway & West of Ireland Food Charter and are looking to engage a large number of their schools in our themes for the year. Through their support, both TouRRoir, a Global Forum from Good Food Ireland, and Food on The Edge, an International Chef's Symposium will be hosted at NUI Galway.” ENDS

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, recently addressed the current ageing policies in Europe, which are narrowly focused and overlook the diversity of our ageing populations, at a European policy seminar in Brussels, hosted by the COST-funded research network on Reducing Old Age Social Exclusion in Europe (ROSEnet). The United Nations has said population ageing is set to become one of the most significant social transformations of this century. Globally, the population aged 60 and over is growing faster than all younger age groups. Focusing on different forms of social exclusion related to older age, ROSEnet, an innovative networking partnership of individuals, including researchers, older people and policy stakeholders from 41 countries, involving over 135 members, asked participants at the seminar to consider the ways in which current policy can tackle exclusion in later life across Europe. With an opening address by Ana Carla Pereira, Directorate General of employment, social affairs and inclusion at the European Commission, speakers at the seminar presented new developments in research and policy. These highlighted the steps necessary to improve social and civic participation in later life. The seminar was closed by Marian Harkin, MEP and Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on ‘Active Ageing, Intergenerational Solidarity and Family Policies’. Professor Kieran Walsh, Chair of ROSEnet and Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, highlighted: “With continuing social and economic uncertainty, it is critical that European public policy reflects the needs of a growing, and diverse, older population. Some older people experience exclusion, which can impact on their ability to participate as full members of European societies.” New developments in research and policy were presented at the seminar, highlighting the steps necessary to improve social and civic participation in later life: Policy aimed at reducing social exclusion in later life should take account of the ways in which exclusion affects different parts of people’s lives. There is a need to be cognisant of how different risks factors for exclusion can be associated with different life-course experiences such as transitions into ill health, or poverty, and different socio-economic demographic characteristics. Developing measures that capture why older people experience lower levels of participation and difficulties in accessing resources and services will help to inform the more effective design and implementation of interventions. Efforts to address old-age exclusion are likely to be more impactful if inclusion mechanisms are relevant to older people’s lives and opportunities, and target different forms of exclusion (not just economic dimensions). The characteristics of different contexts need to be considered when designing measurement approaches, setting policy targets and creating policy interventions. Drawing on state-of-the-art research and policy perspectives, the seminar brought together key European stakeholders and researchers, who are at the forefront of policy analysis, innovation and implementation. The seminar demonstrated the benefits for policy of recognising the contributions of older people to European society. ROSEnet (Reducing Old-Age Exclusion in Europe is an innovative networking partnership between policy stakeholders, researchers and older people from 41 countries, involving over 135 members. For more information about ROSEnet, visit: www.rosenetcost.com -Ends-  

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Signal processing technology to help vehicles see and adapt better to complex environments NUI Galway campus to serve as testbed Researchers from the Lero SFI Research Centre at NUI Galway have signed an autonomous vehicles Research and Development partnership with Valeo, the major automotive supplier headquartered in Paris, France. Funding for the programme comes from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and Valeo. The research will focus on helping autonomous vehicles to better navigate in complex, real world conditions using sensor signal processing technology. A team of up to 30 Lero NUI Galway and Valeo engineers based in Tuam, Ireland, will work on the project. In support of the programme, Lero NUI Galway is hiring ten PhD and two post-doctoral researchers. Valeo, which employs 1,100 people in Tuam, operates the largest Research and Development team in the West of Ireland with over 400 engineers. The project team at Lero, the Irish Software Research Centre, supported by Science Foundation Ireland, will be headed by Dr Martin Glavin and Dr Edward Jones of the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway. Dr Ciarán Hughes, Senior Expert in Computer Vision, leads the Valeo research team. Dr Edward Jones from NUI Galway, said: “In many ways perception of the current state of autonomous vehicle technology is more advanced than reality. While autonomous vehicles are currently operating successfully in several locations, particularly in the US, this is often under road landscape and weather conditions very different to the more complex city and rural environments that would commonly be found in locations such as Ireland or elsewhere in Europe.” As part of the research programme a semi-autonomous car will be equipped to navigate every day hazards on the NUI Galway campus, although the test vehicle will be under human control at all times. Critical use cases will be examined at Valeo’s secured test facility in Tuam. Dr Martin Glavin from NUI Galway, said: “Working with the Valeo Research and Development team, our research aims to develop sensor technology that can see further and adapt to difficult driving conditions such as fog, heavy rain and darkness. It will also be designed to better deal with real life road situations such as cyclists, pedestrians or animals wandering on to the road.” Dr Ciarán Hughes, Senior Expert, Valeo added: “This collaboration brings an 18-year relationship with NUI Galway to a new level, a step that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Lero. At a broad level, the project will look at how to extract the most information possible from automotive sensors, which is critical for highly complex autonomous driving systems.” Speaking about the partnership, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “It is a tribute to researchers in Ireland that Valeo has chosen to work with Lero, the SFI Research Centre for Software Research, and establish this Research and Development partnership here. SFI Research Centres such as Lero continue to make important scientific advances which support enterprise and industry, develop critical skills, support regional development and enhance Ireland’s international reputation. We look forward to seeing the results of the partnership and the sharing of knowledge and expertise it will facilitate.” Joe Gibbs, Business Development Manager at Lero, the SFI-funded Irish Software Research Centre, added: “This is an exciting project at the cutting edge of advanced autonomous vehicle technology. It is significant that this research is taking place in Ireland.” For more information about the research contact Dr Edward Jones at edward.jones@nuigalway.ie or 091 492720 and Dr Martin Glavin at martin.glavin@nuigalway.ie or 091 492035. -Ends-

Monday, 19 February 2018

NUI Galway study on microplastics ingested by deep water fish in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean reports one of the highest frequencies of microplastic in fish worldwide A study carried out by marine scientists at NUI Galway found that 73% out of 233 deep water fish from the Northwest Atlantic Ocean had ingested plastic particles. The research was published today (19 February 2018) in the international peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Marine Science. As part of the study the NUI Galway scientists participated in a transatlantic crossing on-board the Marine Institute’s Celtic Explorer research vessel. During this research cruise they took dead deep sea fish from midwater trawls in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, such as the Spotted Lanternfish, Glacier Lanternfish, White-spotted Lanternfish, Rakery Beaconlamp, Stout Sawpalate and Scaly Dragonfish, from a depth of up to 600 metres using large fishing nets. The fish ranged in size from the smallest species, the Glacier Lantern at 3.5 centimetres to the largest species, the Stout Sawpalate at 59 centimetres. Upon return to Galway the fish were then inspected at the University’s Ryan Institute for microplastics in their stomach contents. Microplastics are small plastic fragments that commonly originate from the breakdown of larger plastic items entering our oceans. Other sources may be waste water effluents carrying plastic fibres from clothing and microbeads from personal care products. Due to their low density, most of these microplastics float at the sea surface. Alina Wieczorek, lead author of the study and PhD candidate from the School of Natural Sciences and Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “Deep water fish migrate to the surface at night to feed on plankton (microscope animals) and this is likely when they are exposed to the microplastics. One of the inspected Spotted Lanternfish, which was 4.5 centimetres in size, had 13 microplastics extracted from its stomach contents. The identified microplastics were mostly fibres, commonly blue and black in colour. Some only measured 50 microns in length. In total, 233 fish were examined with 73% of them having microplastics in their stomachs, making it one of the highest reported frequencies of microplastic occurrence in fish worldwide.” Previous studies have shown that microplastics can be ingested by numerous marine animals from zooplankton, to worms and fishes. The ingestion of microplastics by these animals may cause internal physical damage, inflammation of intestines, reduced feeding and other effects. However, what is also of concern is that many of these ingested microplastics have associated additives, such as colourants and flame retardants that are added to plastics during production process, and/or pollutants that are adsorbed onto the microplastics from the sea. There is now evidence that some of these toxins on the microplastics can be transferred to animals that eat them with potential harmful effects. Dr Tom Doyle, a co-author of the study from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “While there is clearly a concern that the ingestion of microplastics with associated toxins may have harmful effects on these fishes, or even the fishes that feed on them, our study highlights that these seemingly remote fishes located thousands of kilometres from land and 600 metres down in our ocean are not isolated from our pollution. Indeed, it’s worrying to think that our daily activities, such as washing our synthetic clothes in our washing machines, results in billions of microplastics entering our oceans through our waste water stream that may eventually end up in these deep sea fishes.” The fish were sampled from a warm core eddy, which is a circular current in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. Similar to ocean gyres, these currents are now thought to accumulate microplastics and that the sampled fish may have originated from a particularly polluted patch of the Atlantic Ocean. Ms Wieczorek added: “This would explain why we recorded one of the highest abundances of microplastics in fishes so far, and we plan to further investigate the impacts of microplastics on organisms in the open ocean.” The research was carried out within the PLASTOX project, a European collaborative effort to investigate impacts of microplastics in the marine environment under the JPI Oceans framework and supported by the iCRAG (Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geoscience) project, funded by Science Foundation Ireland. To read the study in Frontiers in Marine Science, visit: http://bit.ly/2EEmMHI -Ends-  International Media: BBC News, USA Today, Sky News, La Repubblica (Italian), The Times, the Daily Mail, iNews, and Europa Press (Spanish) National Media: RTÉ News, The Irish Times, the Irish Examiner, TheJournal.ie, the Irish Independent, the Irish Mirror, and Newstalk, The damage microplastics are having on deep sea fish in the northwest Atlantic has been laid bare pic.twitter.com/cHwZSQx9qi — RTÉ News (@rtenews) February 19, 2018 Our trash is harming the deepest fish in the ocean https://t.co/WjlPSV0ivQ via @usatoday — NUI Galway (@nuigalway) February 22, 2018 Microplastics found in deep-water fish https://t.co/WbzpoPhZUj — The Sea-MAT Project (@SeaMATproject) February 22, 2018 Not strictly fish: 73% of deep water fish contain microplastics https://t.co/un700wH1P3 via @RTEBrainstorm pic.twitter.com/xnpkpv1zsG — RTÉ (@rte) February 20, 2018 Fish In The Northwest Atlantic Found To Have High Levels Of #Microplasticshttps://t.co/BYlsSEICyC#Fishing #CleanSeas pic.twitter.com/pamAj4BjcM — The TerraMar Project (@TerraMarProject) February 21, 2018 @nuigalway New paper in @FrontMarineSci on high incidence of ingestion of microplastics by Atlantic fish by @ryaninstitute’s Alina Wieczorek, Tom Doyle & colleagues. https://t.co/eYH7eeMJYe @MaREIcentre @MarineInst pic.twitter.com/msYL3qpx6y — The Ryan Institute (@RyanInstitute) February 19, 2018 High Levels of Microplastics in Atlantic Fish https://t.co/gXvTcCJ7AG pic.twitter.com/uuyq4xFsP0 — ScienceDaily (@ScienceDaily) February 20, 2018 Interview: Alina Wieczorek and Gary Kendellen https://t.co/VICPHVOOOq — NUI Galway (@nuigalway) February 26, 2018

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Students from the College of Engineering and Informatics will host Ireland’s first student-run energy summit, ‘Galway Energy Summit 2018’ on 8 March in the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway. Themed ‘The Future of Energy in Ireland’ and run by the University’s Galway Energy Society, the event is free and open to the public. Founded by Chairperson and NUI Galway final year engineering student Conor Deane, the event aims to take important steps towards energy efficiency in the future. The Summit is particularly timely given Ireland is currently failing to meet EU greenhouse gas emissions targets for 2020. Companies will also have the opportunity to attract some of Ireland’s brightest, innovative young graduates and promote potential internships that may be available. 4pm - 5.30pm - Panel Discussion on ‘The Future of Energy in Ireland’ featuring: Eamon Ryan, TD and Leader of the Green Party. Clare Duffy, Smart Customer Access and Distribution Planning Manager, ESB. Dr David Connolly, Head of Policy at the Irish Wind Energy Association. David Taylor, former Chairman of the Energy Institute in Ireland and current project leader of The Energy Institute’s new ‘Ireland 2050 Knowledge’ website. Moderator, Shane McDonagh from the MaREI research group in UCC and now pursuing a PhD in renewable gas after graduating from NUI Galway with a Masters in Energy Systems. 5.30pm – 7.30pm - The Innovation, Energy and Careers Fair The ‘Innovation, Energy and Careers Fair’ will provide students with the opportunity to speak to potential future employers by bringing together various energy experts, companies, start-ups, students and academics. This event will allow students to understand and become more knowledgeable of the work being done throughout the energy industry in Ireland. Companies such as Accenture and Enerit will promote their work and allow their ideas and methods to inspire others. 7pm Onwards The Summit will close with a networking event in Sult, NUI Galway’s College Bar. The event is a unique networking opportunity for companies, students and those attending to discuss and share thoughts on the Summit’s theme. Dr Rory Monaghan, Lecturer of Energy Systems Engineering in the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “Our students here at NUI Galway have really taken the lead in recent years in highlighting the importance of transitioning from our environmentally and economically unsustainable energy system to one that will allow future generations to enjoy the benefits of energy use while preserving our planet. Events like the Galway Energy Summit are crucial to spreading the message that a clean and sustainable energy future is not only possible, but necessary too.” Conor Deane, Chairperson of Galway Energy Summit 2018, said: “This summit will connect students with the energy industry through meaningful discussion on Ireland’s future energy strategy. This event is not just for engineers, we welcome all students from across campus, and regardless of your course discipline this is a topic that will affect everybody. It will give students and the public the opportunity to network with some of Ireland’s most innovative companies such as Crowley Carbon, Accenture, Jaguar and Landover and ESB X_Site.” Laura Mulligan, Marketing Director of Galway Energy Summit, said: “As a Biomedical Engineering student at NUI Galway, I’ve benefitted from being at the doorstep of a European capital for medical device innovation. I’ve also been fortunate to be immersed in an environment that drives innovation in sustainability and energy efficiency. Living in a city that held the European Green Leaf title in 2017 and hearing about NUI Galway initiatives like the GEEC has contributed to cultivating my interest in energy. Galway Energy Summit 2018 aims to bring energy industry leaders, policy makers, students from all disciplines and the general public together so that we can move toward a sustainable future. Energy is not just the concern of engineers, combatting climate change and creating sustainability is critical to all people of my generation and beyond.” Galway Energy Summit’s main sponsor is ESB with supporting sponsors from Jaguar and Landrover, Ward and Burke Construction, Crowley Carbon, Bank of Ireland, and NUI Galway’s Blackstone LaunchPad, MaREI and Ryan Institute. Registration is free and places are limited due to demand. To register for the Summit, logon to: www.galwayenergysummit.ie For more information about the event please contact Conor Deane, Chairperson of Galway Energy Summit, NUI Galway at galwayenergysummit@gmail.com. Follow on Twitter @GES_2018. -Ends-

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

NUI Galway is calling all wanna-be-engineers to participate in a free full day family event ‘Engineering Our Future: Family Fun Day’, which will take place on Saturday, 24 February from 10am–4pm in the Alice Perry Engineering Building at NUI Galway.  The Family Fun Day is part of the Engineers Week 2018 which celebrates engineering across Ireland. The Family Fun Day will provide plenty of science and engineering shows, movie screening, workshops and hands-on activities that will inspire young (and older) people. Families can watch ‘Dream Big: Engineering Our World’ narrated by Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges which celebrates the human creativity behind engineering marvels big and small from the Great Wall of China and the world’s tallest buildings to underwater robots, solar cars and smart, sustainable cities, and show how engineers push the limits of innovation in unexpected and amazing ways. Young and older attendees can engage with the ‘Spectacular Science of Water Show’ and see how the water cycle works; learn about the impact water has on our weather and other amazing properties of water. See clouds before your eyes, watch what can be done with the power of water and see water being poured straight into ice. Spectacular magic tricks can be experienced with quirky illusions and stunts in the show ‘It’s all done with mirrors’. Is it trapped doors, mirrors, or camera effects? Whatever you discover, more may be revealed! Families are encouraged to come and build your own wind turbine, check if you are stronger than a superhero, learn where water comes from and where it goes, explore the GEEC: Galway Energy Efficient Car, build robots, engage in a LEGO mindstorm or learn about our rich engineering heritage. These and many other activities showing the world of civil, environmental, mechanical, biomedical and electronic engineering, and information technology will be available on the day. Speaking about the Family Fun Day, Professor Peter Mc Hugh, Dean of College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “Engineering is in every aspect of our lives; it allows us to live, communicate, travel, work, play, stay safe and healthy. By taking maths and science from the lab engineers dream of, invent, design and build things that change the reality and future of all human beings. Join us for the Family Fun Day and explore Engineering through exciting, fun and quirky demonstrations, meet with practicing engineers and IT specialists to better understand the role of Engineering in our lives and its impact on our future.” All details about the Family Fun Day are available at www.nuigalway.ie/engineersweek  and bookings of free tickets can also be made through the website. Tickets can be booked in advanced for some shows, but it will also be possible to attend shows without pre-booking on a first-come-first-served basis on the day. For further information on ‘Engineering Our Future: Family Fun Day’ contact Jamie Goggins jamie.goggins@nuigalway.ie or Magdalena Hajdukiewicz magdalena.hajdukiewicz@nuigalway.ie -Ends-

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

NUI Galway launch the European SEAFUEL project for sustainable integration of renewable fuels in local transportation across three remote Atlantic regions NUI Galway has officially launched the SEAFUEL project, which aims to use hydrogen as a renewable resource across the Atlantic area to power the local transport fleet of cars and support the shift towards a low-carbon economy. The project will be piloted in the Canary Islands, Madeira in Portugal and the Aran Islands. Led by NUI Galway, the €3.5 million three year SEAFUEL project will use the expertise and infrastructure of a group of transnational partners in renewable energy, namely solar and wind, to demonstrate the viability of hydrogen as a fuel to be used by the local transport authorities. SEAFUEL aims to demonstrate the feasibility to power local transportation networks using fuels produced by renewable energies and seawater, with no net carbon footprint as promoted by the resource-efficient flagship initiative COM(2010)2020, an EU policy document on ‘a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ within the Europe 2020 strategy. SEAFUEL will cover technical innovation by way of a demonstration plant, a framework for policy implementation and a sustainability analysis of production, and distribution and usage of hydrogen as an alternative fuel in remote Atlantic regions. Dr Pau Farràs from the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, said: “SEAFUEL proposes a sustainable way to power local transportation in isolated regions using renewable resources such as sun, wind and seawater, considering the inherent intermittency of such solar and wind energy.” SEAFUEL will focus on enhancing the green growth and blue economy and paving the way for common renewable energy policies to promote clean and sustainable transport systems. Isolated areas such as islands face the specific challenge of the high cost of electricity and fuel and their dependency on mainland infrastructures. SEAFUEL will target these regions where 30% of fuel consumption comes from local transportation. The project aims to drastically reduce greenhouse emissions, particle matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), in line with the Clean Air Programme for Europe 2008/50/EC, and provide a pathway for isolated regions to become energetically independent, leading to future installations in other Atlantic regions. An alternative fuels model for islands will be developed to fulfil the requirements that each of the partner regions propose for their ‘Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS3), aimed at low carbon economy and efficient use of marine resources. The SEAFUEL project is co-financed by the 2014-2020 INTERREG Atlantic Area programme that supports transnational cooperation projects in 36 Atlantic regions in five countries; France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, contributing to the achievement of economic, social and territorial cohesion. Led by NUI Galway, the SEAFUEL partners include; Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árann Teoranta, University of Liverpool, Action Renewables, HyEnergy Consultancy Limited, Logan Energy, the Institute of Technology and Renewable Energies of Tenerife and the Tenerife Energy Agency, The Regional Agency for Energy and Environment of the Autonomous Region of Madeira in Portugal and the European Hydrogen Association in Belgium. For more contact Dr Pau Farràs Costa, SEAFUEL Project Lead, School of Chemistry, NUI Galway at pau.farras@nuigalway.ie or 091 492765. Visit SEAFUEL at: https://www.facebook.com/SEAFUEL.EU/ -Ends-  

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

NUI Galway, in association with the Kingfisher Club and Aerogen, will host its fifth annual charity 8k Run/Walk on Saturday, 10 March at 10am. This is the first time the 8k will be held in spring and it will appeal to lots of people who want to get fit and healthy for 2018. The popular event consists of a traffic-free, mixed terrain route around the University’s campus and along the banks of the river Corrib. The event is open to everyone, with runners and walkers of all fitness levels catered for. Entry to the event is €25, with all proceeds going to Jigsaw Galway, the official charity partner. A special early bird rate of €20 is available before Saturday, 24 February, with further discounts for group entries. Jigsaw Galway is a free and confidential support service that promotes the mental health and well-being of young people, aged 15-25, living in Galway city and county. Jigsaw also provides advice and guidance to parents, family members, friends and other professionals who are worried about a young person. NUI Galway Vice-President for the Student Experience, Dr Pat Morgan, said: “We have been building on the success of our 8k event on campus year on year. Over 700 people now take part, and we look forward to welcoming staff, students, alumni, friends and neighbours to the University campus to enjoy the outdoors and improve their health and wellbeing. It is the flattest and friendliest 8k course in the country, so book your place today!” To help participants prepare for the event, Aerogen will host a Sign-Up Day for anyone interested on Friday, 9 March from 12pm-2pm in the Insight Building at the front of the IDA Business Park, Dangan. Representatives from Kingfisher Club and Jigsaw will also be present to assist with sign-ups and answer any questions. The Kingfisher Club and the NUI Galway Sports Unit are also organising meet-and-train sessions on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 1pm and Wednesday at 6pm departing from the Sports Centre on the NUI Galway campus. The sessions are free-of-charge and open to all. To register for the NUI Galway 8K please log on to the Run Ireland Website https://www.runireland.com/events/165325 Updates are also available on the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NUIGalway.8kRun All queries on the event can be sent to nuigalway8k@kingfisherclub.com -Ends-

Friday, 2 February 2018

NUI Galway SHEER project to highlight how water quality and access to blue/green spaces can improve our health, wellbeing and socio-economic status in Ireland Researchers from NUI Galway have launched the ‘SHEER’ (Socio-economic, Health, Environmental Research) project, an Irish case study designed to integrate three broad strands of environmental, health and socio-economic data to investigate the complex and all important  links between our environment, our health and wellbeing and our socio-economic status in Ireland. Led by the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, and partnering with the Insight Centre for Data Analytics and the HSE, the €175,000 SHEER project will emphasise how important, and powerful data from different domains is, to decision making, policy development and the very quality of our lives. The pioneering project will deliver a case study and a clear road map for the future direction of our environment, our health and our wellbeing in Ireland. The SHEER project is responding to the European Economic Area (EEA) call for Ireland to be a case study in their 2019 Environment, Health and Wellbeing report. The primary aim of this Environmental Protection Agency funded Irish case study is to complement the EEA’s broad assessment of a healthy environment and to explore possible impact in greater national, regional and local depth through data analytics, visualisation and mapping the key socio-economic, environmental and health forces and patterns at work in relation to water quality and access to blue/green spaces in Ireland. Building upon ongoing work examining blue/green spaces from the Near Health project at NUI Galway, SHEER will improve people’s understanding of the impacts environments such as ‘water quality’ and ‘blue/green spaces’ can have on health and wellbeing. It will also develop and foster a network of diverse stakeholders such as public health, social science, environmental researchers from across Ireland involved in such pioneering multi-disciplinary work, and create a legacy that will advance this field across Ireland. Dr Christine Domegan, Head of Marketing Discipline and Social Innovation cluster leader at the Whitaker Institute in NUI Galway, and leader of the SHEER project, said: “Over the last ten years we’ve contributed to a growing body of evidence that shows human health and a healthy environment are inextricably linked (WHO EURO EH, 2017; EEA, 2014, EPA Strategic Plan, 2016–2020 and Healthy Ireland, 2013-2025). However, without a multi-causal and coordinated approach to data, it is difficult to develop these findings further and use them to inform policies. SHEER will help us to link different datasets together, emphasising how important it is to connect national data to regional and local issues.” This goal is achieved through a work programme gathering extensive information from diverse databases and stakeholders to provide insights and a baseline of evidence synthesis from three largely disparate domains, environmental, health and social sciences. SHEER is designed to deliver national and European benefits to science, policy and civil society while significantly helping to achieve the Environmental Protection Agency’s Strategic Plan for 2016–2020, ‘Our Environment, Our Wellbeing’ and progress the Government’s Framework for improved health and wellbeing 2013-2025 initiative, ‘Healthy Ireland’. For more information about the SHEER project, visit: visit www.nuigalway.ie/sheer or contact Dr Christine Domegan, Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway at christine.domegan@nuialway.ie or 091 492730. -Ends-  

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

First year students from Coláiste Iognáid in Galway win two BT Young Scientist awards for their project, ‘Think Before You Drink: Microplastics’  Three young Scientists Aoibhe Briscoe, Ellie Concannon, and Kate Owens, first year students at Coláiste Iognáid in Galway, competed for this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Awards in the Category Biological and Ecological Sciences with their project ‘Think Before You Drink: Microplastics’. Mentored by NUI Galway, the students won first place in their category and a special award issued by the Environmental Protection Agency for Best Environmental Project presented at the BT Young Scientist 2018. For their project they investigated over 40 tap water samples from 23 primary schools in County Galway for microplastic contamination. They found that 96.9% of all tested samples were contaminated with microplastics and that the level of contamination for drinking water from Galway classrooms (2.7 per 500ml) exceeded the European average of 1.9 per 500ml. The analysis of the samples took place in the lab facilities of the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway under the guidance and supervision of Dr Audrey Morley a lecturer in Physical Geography and member of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy research. Dr Morley advised and trained the young scientists on sample collection and analysis and ensured that all procedures followed previously published protocols for microplastic extraction from tap water samples from a global study commissioned by  the journal Orb in 2017*. In addition to the analysis of the tap water samples, contamination controls were measured at regular intervals throughout the experiment to assess and assure the validity of the results. Speaking about the young scientists work on the project, Dr Audrey Morley at NUI Galway, said: “The identification of microplastic using a microscope can be tedious and time consuming, requiring focus and concentration by the analyst. I was very impressed with the level of dedication and persistence that Aoibhe, Ellie, and Kate brought to the project. It is great to see young women so excited about science and determined to bring about change.” BT Young Scientist winner, Kate Owens, said: “The BT Young Scientist experience has inspired me to be part of solving the problems of the future. President Michael D. Higgins spoke to us about Africa being the largest populated continent in the world and the need for young people to be part of developing solutions for the challenges this presents.” “It was a revelation to us that our love of fast fashion is polluting our drink water, simply by washing the clothes we wear. 77.8% of the contamination we detected in the schools water supply were microfibres. Synthetic fabric fibres that are so small that they could not be filtered by the public water works. Plastic bags and bottles, you can actually see and remove, but you cannot see these tiny, almost invisible microfibres that are bio-accumulating in our bodies, now that is truly scary.” Kate added: “Aoibhe, Ellie and I are a great team and we work well together. Audrey’s guidance and patience gave us a solid, scientific method to undertake our testing and that was the key to our credibility. We were total beginners and she was so incredibly generous with her time. We learned so much from her! We felt that our findings were important and that with our presentation ‘sizzle’, we could get politicians to listen, so we practiced our pitch, over and over until we could say it in our sleep and fine-tuned it over the four days at the RDS. Dressed in our lab coats, no-one was safe and we cornered many politicians including Richard Bruton, Micheál Martin and Heather Humphreys. Leo Varadkar got away but we will be looking for him at the Mansion House in May 2018.” Fellow BT Young Scientist winner, Aoibhe Briscoe, said: “I think the BT Young Scientist competition was an amazing experience, we got to meet so many new people and had the chance to learn so many new things. Working in the lab with Audrey was really fun and I enjoyed it so much, it was very time consuming and tiring but every second put into our project was worth it in the end. It has definitely made me more interested in science and I will definitely do it again next year.” BT Young Scientist winner, Ellie Concannon, added: “I would like to do something that makes a change, I would like to speak out for the people who don’t have a voice. I want to have fun, face challenges, and realise my potential in life. The BT Young Scientist competition was an amazing experience, we were able to share our project with lots of people and educate people about our project who had never heard about microplastics, and we were also able to influence people’s choices for the better. We had such a good time we met loads of new people and got to meet people who could really help us with our project. I absolutely loved it.” -Ends-  

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

NUI Galway and Gas Networks Ireland are leading a new transport revolution as they introduce compressed natural gas (CNG) and renewable gas for trucks, vans and buses. The ‘Causeway’ project also marks a first for NUI Galway, as this is the first time that the University has been successful in securing a funding application from the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility. The Causeway project received approval for €6.5 million co-funding from the European Commission. Causeway will see the development of a natural gas transport re-fuelling network in Ireland.  The project will support an overall nationwide roll-out of 70 compressed natural gas filling stations. In addition to this, a renewable gas injection facility will be built in 2018. This will introduce renewable gas into the natural gas network for the first time. The work which is undertaken in Ireland will be monitored and documented by NUI Galway. This research will then be fed back to gas operators all over Europe and will assist in the development of similar projects across the continent. Commenting on the project, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “This is a major project for NUI Galway to be involved in, as it will form the basis of the first use of an alternative, sustainable transport fuel in Ireland. Within our Ryan Institute for Environment, Marine and Energy Research, in particular, we have built up a track record in sustainability research and innovation. This includes decades of scientific and engineering expertise built up in the area of renewable gas. We look forward to NUI Galway playing a key role in distilling and disseminating the results and impacts of the Causeway Project, not only for the benefit of Ireland, but to provide learnings to other EU member states too.” Denis O’Sullivan, Head of Commercial at Gas Networks Ireland, explained the importance of the project to Ireland: “Transport accounts for over one third of all energy used in Ireland. The development of a natural gas transport network will significantly de-carbonise Ireland’s commercial fleet. CNG, and the soon to be introduced renewable gas, will play a major role in making transport in Ireland cleaner. Gas Networks Ireland is determined to play an important role in facilitating the development of this new, cleaner transport network. It is particularly important that the advances we are making through this project, and through the work of NUI Galway, will play a role in changing the transport landscape throughout Europe.”  The Causeway project, which is funded under the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), will deliver a clean energy project for Ireland’s transport sector, and in doing so, provide a template for the rest of Europe. NUI Galway is leading the dissemination element of the €25 million project. Its work will facilitate new green energy developments across Europe. Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, praised the application teams: “I congratulate both the Gas Networks Ireland and Ryan Institute teams that worked together diligently, over a couple of years, to bring about the success of the Causeway application to the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility – Transport. I thank current staff Pádraic Ó hUiginn, Dr Rory Monaghan and Suzanne Nolan, amongst others, for enabling the University’s involvement in this successful application. I look forward to the infrastructural roll-out by Gas Networks Ireland and to its impacts, which will be studied and disseminated by a Ryan Institute team at NUI Galway.” -Ends-

Monday, 11 December 2017

A recent Marine Economics and Policy Research Symposium provided participants with an update on a wide range of policy topics related to the marine sector in Ireland. Organised each year by the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) of the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, with support from the Marine Institute, this year’s theme was ‘Past, Present and Future’ with sessions dedicated to marine related issues focused on each of these time periods. Dr Stephen Hynes of SEMRU at NUI Galway, spoke of the strong maritime tradition in Ireland and the potential for growth in the ocean economy across a number of industries. “In my view, marine development opportunities lie in what we as a nation have shown we are already good at. For example, using our skills and capacity in the information technology and biotechnology sectors to generate marine communications solutions and to produce new active ingredients for use in food and pharmaceuticals; applying our skills in finance and leasing in the development of shipping services.” Dr Hynes continued: “SEMRU’s ocean economy figures demonstrate particularly strong growth over the 2014 to 2016 period in a number of industries that have previously seen slow growth, or are at the early stages of development such as marine renewables, marine advanced tech and oil and gas.” The Symposium looked to the past in order to see what lessons might be learned for marine policy makers today. Dr Aidan Kane from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway presented historical data from cargo manifestos associated with Irish ports, which gives the researcher an insight into the evolving structure of regional economies in Ireland. The event also focused on the present marine policy environment presented by Professor Cathal O’Donoghue, NUI Galway, who examined the economic strength and weaknesses of coastal areas in terms of unemployment and migration from the great recession through to the recent economic recovery. NUI Galway’s Dr Amanda Slevin then gave a critique of Irish state hydrocarbon management while Tom Gillespie looked at the contribution from having a sea view and what the distance to coastal amenities makes to propriety values. The plenary session was given by leading marine law expert Professor Ronán Long who holds the Nippon Foundation Chair of Ocean Governance at the World Maritime University in Sweden. He gave a fascinating insight into recent developments in climate change and their implications for our ocean resources, particularly in light of the Paris Agreement 2015. The final session of the day examined how marine policy and maritime industries could be transformed in the future. Philip Stephens and Liam Lacey of the Irish Maritime Development Office presented the case for creating an International Shipping Services Centre in Cork, which could deliver on key components of the Government’s integrated plan for the marine industry, creating a flagship project of scale with significant regional development potential. Liam Lacey said: “Ireland has been successful in building world-class financial services and aviation leasing industries.  Building on these successes, Ireland can become a hub for maritime commerce through exploiting existing competitive advantages, being disruptive in a very traditional industry, and reconceiving maritime commerce through blue ocean strategies.  Ireland’s claim is strengthened by Brexit and by the impressive recovery of the Irish economy in recent years.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The Centre for Global Women’s Studies and the MA in Gender, Globalisation and Rights programme at NUI Galway is supporting the international campaign 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which runs until 10 December. The Centre’s sixteen day programme follows the theme, ‘Together We Can End Gender-Based Violence in Education’ focusing on education including Irish schools and third-level institutions. On Wednesday 6 December to mark the anniversary of the ‘Montreal Massacre’, where 14 female students were murdered at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, NUI Galway will host a series of events and talks that are free and open to the public, students and staff from 2pm to 5.30pm. Guided Walks entitled ‘Understanding Gender-Based Violence in Education’ will take place on campus from 2pm to 4pm starting and ending at NUI Galway’s Quadrangle. This will be followed by a Ceremonial Lighting of the Quadrangle in orange as part of the global ‘Orange the World’ campaign and talks by organisers of the event. There will also be keynote addresses in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall at the Quadrangle by Professor Niamh Reilly, School of Political Science and Sociology and Professor Anne Scott, Vice-President of Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence 2017 campaign aims to build awareness and advocate for an end to all forms of gender-based violence in education. Gender-based violence is any form of physical, sexual or psychological violence directed towards an individual on the basis of stereotypes, norms or roles associated with sexual or gendered identity. Dr Stacey Scriver from the Centre for Global Women’s Studies at the School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway, said: “Violence in education is not only a problem for developing countries. Evidence shows that men and women in Ireland are also impacted by violence in and around educational institutes. We all have a role to play in ending gender-based violence in education. Participating in the 16 Days of Activism campaign and developing understanding and awareness of how this issue affects young men and women globally and locally is one small, but significant, way to contribute.” Dr Nata Duvvury, Director of the Centre for Global Women’s Studies at NUI Galway, highlighted: “The ramifications of violence in education are enormous, affecting the capabilities of young people and limiting their future potential, and thus effectively undermining their hopes and expectations of getting an education.” Programme of Events for the Day 2pm-4pm - Guided Walks on campus starting and ending at the Quadrangle, including talks by Lindsey Bacigal, MA in Gender, Globalisation and Rights, Dr Amie Lajoie, School of Political Science and Sociology and Dr Nata Duvvury, Centre for Global Women's Studies at NUI Galway, and Dr Kieran Kennedy, School of Medicine, NUI Galway and the Galway Sexual Assault Treatment Unit. 4pm-4.30pm – Talks from Professor Niamh Reilly and Professor Anne Scott, NUI Galway in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall, followed by the Ceremonial Lighting of the Quadrangle in orange as part of the 'Orange the World' campaign. 4.30pm-5.30pm - Bake Sale to support Galway Rape Crisis Centre and Plan International in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall. To support NUI Galway’s campaign online follow us on Twitter @GlobalWS_NUIG and @16DaysCampaign and #16days or on Facebook at globalwomensstudiesnuig. -Ends-

Monday, 4 December 2017

A new study led by Dr Audrey Morley at NUI Galway, has found that the magnitude of past abrupt climate change events may have underestimated. If so, the impact of current climate change may be larger than expected. The study was published today (4 December 2017) in the international journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. Lead author of the study, Dr Audrey Morley from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “Abrupt climate events that occurred during the last interglacial (warm) period, ca. 125,000 years ago, have been underestimated by up to 4°Celsius. This is important because our current understanding of climate change and our predictions of future climate both rely on past examples from Earth’s climate history. Robust and quantitative methods to deduce the magnitude of abrupt climate events from the geologic record are therefore essential.” In this new study, Dr Morley collaborated with researchers from the University of California-Santa Cruz, Rutgers University New Jersey and the University of Bergen, and studied an established geochemical tool for investigating sea surface temperatures in the past. In the modern ocean, observations have shown that marine plankton (foraminifera) will use more magnesium relative to calcium, which are elements freely available in sea water, when they form their shell in warmer waters. This allows scientists to apply this modern relationship between magnesium, calcium, and temperature to the past by measuring magnesium-to-calcium ratios (Mg/Ca) in fossilised marine plankton that are continually deposited in seafloor sediments. However, there are limitations with the Mg/Ca temperature relationship, because the scientists understanding of other processes that may influence the amount of magnesium in the shell is incomplete. For example, higher carbon dioxide levels in seawater results in lower pH (potential of hydrogen) and lower carbonate ion concentrations. Carbonate ion is the carbon species used by foraminifera to form their calcium carbonate tests. As carbonate ion becomes less available in surrounding seawater the individual organism needs to exert more energy for calcification. Through this process more magnesium becomes incidentally incorporated than what would be predicted by temperature only. Since colder surface waters absorb more carbon dioxide than warmer waters, this leads to generally low carbonate ion concentrations in cold surface waters. Therefore, when magnesium-to-calcium values are measured on fossilised marine plankton that lived in surface waters with low carbonate ion concentrations, this relationship leads to an underestimation of reconstructed temperatures. This study presents an innovative mathematical correction scheme that enables the carbonate ion concentration effect to be isolated from the temperature signal recorded in marine plankton (from magnesium-to-calcium ratios) via subtraction. Specifically, Dr Morley and her colleagues were able to quantify the control of low carbonate ion concentrations values on magnesium-to-calcium ratios for a specific marine plankton species (Neogloboquadrina Incompta) living in the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean, and thereby isolate the true magnesium-to-calcium temperature relationship. Dr Morley added: “Applying the proposed correction scheme to past climate records reveals that we may have underestimated abrupt climate events by up to 4°Celsius during past interglacial (warm) periods. This is particularly important for climate records from the subpolar/polar North Atlantic region that may have experienced abrupt changes in carbonate ion concentrations linked with abrupt climate events. Correcting for low carbonate ion concentration values improves the fidelity of temperature reconstructions and allows a reassessment of the magnitude of climate events occurring during warm climates.”  -Ends-

Thursday, 30 November 2017

A scientist from NUI Galway recently took part in a research sampling expedition at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Northern Ukraine, to sample its soils and investigate what effect the 30 years of exposure to radiation has had on the soil’s microorganisms that inhabit this particular area. DNA from these soils will be sequenced using cutting-edge techniques to reveal in minute detail its population of bacteria and will provide results in early 2018. The outcomes will help determine why radiation is persisting in the soil, and offer new clues as to how to speed up recovery of the ecosystem. The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant explosion in 1986, the most well-known nuclear accident in the world, deposited excess radioactive material throughout Europe. To this day, parts of Scandinavia and the British Islands have higher than expected levels of radiation in their soil due to contamination from Chernobyl. Near the exploded reactor, in the border between the Ukraine and Belarus, soil radiation continues to reach high levels, and a large area has been set aside as a conservation area to isolate communities from the radioactive contamination called the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Despite a substantial decrease in background radiation levels since the accident, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone region remains highly contaminated with radioactive material, particularly its soils and aquatic sediments. Intriguingly, the persistence of specific radioactive compounds in this Zone’s soil greatly exceeds initial projections. The most contaminated area within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is the Red Forest, whose name is derived from the red colour of the dying trees following the disaster. In September 2016 a forest fire burned through the Red Forest, leaving patches of burned and unburned vegetation. The combination of forest fire and radiation made the Red Forest an open-air laboratory for the study of the effect of multiple environmental stresses on ecosystems. Microbiologist, Dr Alexandre B de Menezes from the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway met with colleagues from the University of Salford, the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and the Ukraine’s Chernobyl Centre at the Red Forest where they sampled the radioactive soils. Speaking about the research, Dr de Menezes from NUI Galway, said: “The Red Forest soil is a reservoir of radioactive particles, but we know next to nothing about how soil microorganisms cope with 30 plus years of radiation exposure. This research will not only teach us about the effects of the Chernobyl disaster on these microorganisms, but also reveal basic knowledge about how microorganisms, which are often ignored when we think of ecological disasters, help to sustain an entire ecosystem under great environmental stress.” The soil DNA was extracted at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and will now be used for DNA sequencing. Dr de Menezes will use bacterial DNA sequences from the Red Forest soil to provide insights into whether some bacteria are associated with higher soil radiation, determine if the soil bacterial communities in high radiation areas were more sensitive to the forest fire disturbance and identify new biological mechanisms that could aid in controlling soil radiation. The recent nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, and rising geopolitical tension have re-surfaced concerns regarding the impact of radioactive contamination on communities and ecosystems. This increased threat highlights the need to understand the long-term impacts of catastrophic nuclear accidents and their ecosystems to enable effective containment and remediation measures to be developed. This study is partly funded by the British Ecological Society. -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

MaREI Researchers help win €9.39 million funding for GENCOMM project  An energy sustainability project in which NUI Galway is a key partner has been given the green light after winning an Interreg North-West Europe funding bid for the €9.39 million GENCOMM Project. GENCOMM aims to answer the energy sustainability challenges facing remote communities across North-West Europe through production and storage of renewable hydrogen. The project will build three pilot facilities fuelled by solar, wind and biomass energy sources to measure their ability to produce and store hydrogen. GENCOMM will assess hydrogen’s viability as a sustainable energy solution for heat, power and fuel for communities across North-West Europe. The NUI Galway research, led by MaREI (Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy) funded Investigator Dr Rory Monaghan, are charged with ensuring the long-term impact of GENCOMM by developing H2GO, an online tool to support investment decisions in hydrogen storage, and establishing CH2F, a community hydrogen energy forum, to drive the adoption of the technology. The project is led by Belfast Metropolitan College, and is one of the largest EU projects ever secured by a lead partner from Northern Ireland. On being awarded the Interreg North-West Europe Programme funding, Dr Monaghan, said: “With its exposure to the power of the Atlantic Ocean, NUI Galway and MaREI are at the centre of North-West Europe’s richest concentration of renewable energy potential. Storing that energy, converting it to a useful form, and transporting it to where it is needed are some of the biggest barriers to a sustainable future. By building pilot plants and applying the knowledge we gain through NUI Galway’s activities, GENCOMM aims to make a major impact on the viability of renewable energy.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “The scope of the project and the size of the award are testament to the strength and innovative nature of the project and the high calibre of partner organisations, as we seek to work together to deliver hydrogen-based solutions that will help address energy sustainability challenges to communities across North-West Europe.” NUI Galway is working in conjunction with nine universities and companies across Europe to deliver the GENCOMM Project, including: Belfast Metropolitan College, University Institut National des Sciences Appliquées Rouen Normandie, IZES gGmbH, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, ENSICAEN – CNRS, Pure Energy Centre Scotland, and three further companies in Northern Ireland; Viridian, TK Renewables, and Williams Industrial Services. The NUI Galway GENCOMM team from the College of Engineering and Informatics comprises of Dr Rory Monaghan (Leader), Dr Padraig Molloy and Dr Ed Curry (Co-Leads), Mr Arya Gunawan (PhD Researcher), and Ms Rjaa Ashraf and Mr Wells Tang (Masters researchers). For more information on Project GENCOMM, visit: http://www.nweurope.eu/gencomm/ -Ends-  

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

NUI Galway has announced the appointment of a leading expert in environmental biotechnology, Professor Piet Lens, Established Professor of New Energy Technologies at the University’s College of Science. Professor Lens will spearhead a €5 million research project, through an investment under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship Programme, to develop novel bioreactor concepts that will recover energy from waste and wastewater. The project will add new biofuels generated from waste products to Ireland’s energy mix, and in turn support the Government’s strategy for an energy self-sufficient Irish bioeconomy. Biotechnology harnesses organisms from natural environments to provide foods and medicines and for tasks such as cleaning toxic waste or detecting harmful substances. New technologies have enabled modern biotechnology to become an important part of the ‘smart economy’ in areas such as healthcare, agriculture, the food industry and the environment. Speaking about Professor Lens’ appointment, Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to welcome Professor Lens as he joins our vibrant research community here in Galway. Professor Lens is recognised as a world-leader in the area of environmental engineering and his appointment is an invaluable addition to the ongoing energy research at NUI Galway. His research will develop new technologies to generate energy which will positively impact sustainable food production, environmental protection and climate change.’ There is much media debate about methane emissions from Ireland’s agricultural industry. Cutting-edge technologies can take waste products and use them to produce fuel and other valuable products, while reducing pathogen levels and greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable, biomethane is an important energy source in countries like France, Germany and the UK, while in Ireland preparations are at an advanced stage for State-support incentives for energy production in this way. Within the NUI Galway Ryan Institute, Professor Lens’ programme of work will focus on four components of biotechnology; Research into new bacteria from marine and deep sea sediments for potential energy generation; Demonstrating how bioenergy production processes work using novel analytical techniques and innovative mathematical models; Developing new bioreactor configurations and process trains to make the energy production processes work; Application at pilot and full-scale industrial sites to translate the research findings into marketable bioenergy production technologies, including patenting and licencing. This work is very much aligned with the environmental dimension of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which focus on the sustainable management of natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change. Commenting on his appointment, Professor Piet Lens, said: “Receipt of such a significant grant provides an important opportunity to create an enormous impact in the field of bioenergy production. I’m extremely delighted to be awarded this Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship at NUI Galway, which has a long standing reputation as a world-class research hub in the field of anaerobic digestion and environmental microbiology. I’m committed to contributing to further developments in this area and to supporting a strong national and international network of academic and industrial partners linked to this university.” Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “It is with great pleasure that I announce the appointment of Professor Piet Lens to NUI Galway through the SFI Research Professorship Programme. Professor Lens is a world-leading researcher dedicated to developing novel bioprocesses for the recovery of resources such as energy, metals and nutrients from waste. His work will contribute to the greening of our economy and Ireland’s energy sector, and will support the implementation of a circular economy in Ireland through the invention and application of new technologies. His appointment epitomises Science Foundation Ireland’s commitment to fund world-class research with impact in the energy and environment sectors.” Professor Lens will collaborate nationally with research teams in NUI Galway, the MaREI and BEACON Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres, and the Energy and Dairy Processing Technology Centres. Professor Lens will lead a Seminar entitled ‘Trends in Environmental Biotechnology’ on Thursday 23 November at NUI Galway. To hear Professor Lens speak about his project, visit:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2eVd--_7y4 -Ends-

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Building on its existing reputation as an environmentally-friendly and societally responsive university, NUI Galway has launched a wide-reaching Sustainability Strategy. The strategy illustrates an ambitious vision for the campus to become a role model for the transition to a more sustainable future. The document was officially launched by Senator Alice Mary Higgins at an event held on campus on 15 November 2017 and attended by staff, students and the wider Galway community. The strategy sets out a vision to establish NUI Galway as a leading green, smart and healthy campus. Its successful implementation will ensure that NUI Galway’s reputation around the world is enhanced, that graduates are valued for their world-readiness, that research tackles societal challenges, and that the campus will be a role model for sustainability. The university already has a groundswell of research, events, activities, societies and building initiatives which are related to sustainability. The university offers almost 200 courses covering environmental and/or sustainability issues, and has won the top award for most biodiverse campus at Ireland’s Intervarsity BioBlitz competition. Earlier this year it announced plans to divest from fossil fuel shares. Building on this momentum, the strategy identifies 20 measures for success, under six themes, which serve as indicators for much more extensive work under each theme. An example from each, to be implemented by 2020, include: Research and learning: A 15% increase in sustainability research Energy and greenhouse gas emissions: A 33% reduction in total energy consumption Nature and ecosystems: Compile and implement a biodiversity management plan Health and wellbeing: Strengthen mental health and resilience Built Environment: Reduce water consumption by 20% Governance and leadership: Flagship project with Saolta University Healthcare Group, HSE Community Healthcare Organisation 2, and Galway City Council Attending the launch, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins from Seanad Éireann, said: “It is wonderful to see NUI Galway recognising the crucial role that they and other third level institutions can and should play in shaping a sustainable future on our shared planet. This strategy demonstrates more of the positive joined up thinking seen in the University’s recent commitment to divestment from fossil fuels following a successful campaign by staff and students. While the proposals in this plan are well-grounded in Galway and the campus community, they are also a commitment to partnership with the wider world. The UN Sustainable Development Goals have set out an important blueprint for Ireland and many countries and remind us that sustainability is not only about the environment, it is also about social sustainability. It is therefore great to see holistic proposals in this strategy that range from crucial climate change research to new mental health initiatives with space for new and innovative ideas to emerge.” Speaking at the launch the University’s Registrar and Deputy President, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, said: “We live in times of extreme pressure on the resources of our planet, as well as the increased pressures of society which permeate through to each individual. Today, from this campus which is more than 170 years old, we are putting in place a strategy that addresses today’s reality and puts down our ideas for a more sustainable future. This is, and has been, a collaborative, community effort, and it is only by coming together and working together that we can achieve our desired future.” NUI Galway has already instigated demonstrator projects to inspire sustainable behaviour change and to pilot elements of the Sustainability Strategy. For example, the Battle of the Buildings Project aimed to make students and staff more aware of the energy use of campus buildings and to encourage energy-efficient behaviour through collegial competition. Community effort The strategy is the culmination of a long process of consultation with thousands of members of the NUI Galway staff and students, as well as partners such as the Saolta University Healthcare Group. “Through the consultation process, we spoke with people about sustainability in its broadest sense. We looked across the spectrum, from the built environment to wellbeing, from what we teach in the lecture halls to student engagement in our local communities, from research on energy and ecosystems to governance and leadership. This strategy is the culmination of all of that, and our Learn, Live, Lead approach to Sustainability hopefully gives us the foundation to build an even longer-term strategy and become an exemplar in this space”, explains Dr Frances Fahy, Senior Lecturer in Geography at NUI Galway, and member of the Community and University Sustainability Project (CUSP), which led the strategy creation. The NUI Galway Strategic Plan, Vision 2020, outlines a vision of ‘creating a sustainable campus where all resources are used efficiently and where facilities are managed and services consolidated as efficiently as possible’. To develop and realise this vision, the Community and University Sustainability Project (CUSP) was established in 2015 under the direction of the Registrar and Deputy President. CUSP is supported by the University, Students’ Union, Saolta University Healthcare Group, HSE Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) 2 and Galway City Council, and is funded through the Students’ Projects Fund. The CUSP team is composed of more than 20 students and staff, from across the campus community and Galway University Hospitals. To mark the launch of the strategy and to recognise the community aspect of the initiative, a special event called ‘Galway City’s Sustainability Stories’ was held on campus. With Galway City having been awarded the title European Green Leaf 2017 this year, the event featured short presentations from organisations involved in sustainability throughout Galway City, in different ways and at different scales. Read the report here http://www.nuigalway.ie/sustainability/ -Ends-

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

NUI Galway Cell EXPLORERS science outreach network will bring its ‘Fantastic DNA’ national roadshow to schools during this month’s Science Week. For the fifth year in a row the Cell EXPLORERS roadshow, established by NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences, will once again visit primary schools across Ireland bringing hands-on experiments to over 3,500 school children this term and during this month’s Science Week. The Cell EXPLORERS national network has continued its expansion this year with the inclusion of five new partner teams with NUI Galway, the IT Carlow, Letterkenny IT, Maynooth University, the National Virus Reference Laboratory UCD and UCC. The new teams are joining the network of five existing teams, Athlone IT, UL, IT Tralee and Dundalk IT. Last year, 125 scientists visited 43 schools throughout the country, reaching 1,881 children to teach them about cells and DNA through hands-on activities. According to the statistics, 64% of the children visited last year had not previously met a scientist. Overall, pupils’ feedback was positive, highlighting that their favorite part of the session was the opportunity to use scientific equipment and doing the experiment themselves. “The scientists were brilliant at explaining and it was all fun experiments”, said one sixth class pupil in Co. Kerry. “I liked meeting the Cell EXPLORERS because I never met a scientist who was a girl before”, commented another fifth class pupil from Co. Roscommon. Teachers hosting the ‘Fantastic DNA’ session indicated that it had a made a real impact on the pupils, giving them the opportunity of doing hands-on science and having fun in their classrooms. A teacher from Co. Kerry said: “I thought that today's session was fantastic. The children learned so much and also a greater interest in science was instilled in them.” Teachers also highlighted as major benefits the opportunity for each child to do an experiment and for interacting with local 3rd level scientists, both characteristics of Cell EXPLORERS visits. Dr Muriel Grenon, Founding Director of Cell EXPLORERS said: “We have been piloting a unique way of directly involving Irish higher education institutions in engaging young people in science for five years with the support of Science Foundation Ireland. The expansion of the programme, based on volunteering activities of university students and staff, has grown beyond our expectation. The success of the program is due to our collaborators, based in 10 higher education partner institutions. The participation benefits that we bring to children, teachers and our team members are key motivators for our coordinators to be part of the network despite of the additional workload.” Dr Claudia Fracchiolla, National Coordinator of the Cell EXPLORERS network also commented: “Preliminary research suggests that the programme provides a unique opportunity to the children but also provides benefits to our team members. Volunteers participating in the program develop transferable skills, as well as personal development, which are important outcomes for tomorrow’s researchers, educators, and communicators. Our volunteers would recommend participating in the programme to a friend, and strongly believe that universities and institutes of technology must engage in science outreach.” Cell EXPLORERS activities, and the expansion of the programme to other institutions, is funded by a two-year award from Science Foundation Ireland, NUI Galway and the NUI Galway Foundation.  For more information or to book a show at your school, visit www.cellexplorers.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter @cellexplorers. -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, today (Tuesday, 28 March) presented over 950 student volunteers the ALIVE Certificate for Volunteering. The ceremony was attended by Galway City Mayor, Councillor Noel Larkin. Students have volunteered with a variety of local and national organisations throughout the year including Barretstown, Music for Galway, Scouts, Ability West, and Baboró International Arts Festival for Children. Volunteers have also brought experiments to Galway schools through a wide range of science outreach workshops and participated in reading and mentoring through school homework clubs. Guest speakers shared the impact of the media this year for two important social justice issues including the Galway Traveller Movement who spoke on the success of the ethnicity recognition campaign and the Galway Simon Community reflected on Apollo House. Lorraine Tansey, NUI Galway Student Volunteer Coordinator, said: “Sometimes we see a community event on our television or through social media but it is difficult to connect this to our everyday lives and the behind the scenes collective effort to create social change. The ceremony is an important opportunity to discuss national and local social justice concerns, with our community partners who can share their expertise and inspire the next generation to take action.” NUI Galway student Eavan O’Dochartaigh, who volunteers with Galway 14th, St Patrick's Scout Group, said: “I really enjoy that the Beavers give children a chance to do activities that they might not otherwise get the chance to do (e.g. overnight camping, kayaking). It's great to see the children learning new skills while having fun and making friends. It's also rewarding to see their independence develop as well as friendships that come about because of Scouts.” Rachel Kane, NUI Galway student and volunteer with Ability West, said: “With volunteering you walk away with so much, a sense that you have helped in a small way and made a difference or brought just a little happiness to somebody’s day.” ALIVE is the student volunteering programme at NUI Galway and students are awarded Certificates to acknowledge their contribution to campus programmes and local and international community volunteering. The ceremony is an annual event to encourage volunteering and to thank all the community partners for hosting student volunteers. This year the ALIVE programme worked with higher education institutions across Ireland to successfully launch StudentVolunteer.ie a national platform to match students to non-profits. For further information contact Lorraine Tansey, ALIVE Student Volunteer Coordinator at 091 495346, or email alive@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

NUI Galway-led ENERGISE seeks to transform energy use in households and communities across Ireland and Europe and contribute to European policy-making on reducing energy consumption ENERGISE is an innovative pan-European research initiative setup to achieve a greater scientific understanding of the social and cultural influences on energy consumption. Led by NUI Galway, and funded under the EU Horizon 2020 programme for three years (2016-2019), ENERGISE develops, tests and assesses options for a bottom-up transformation of energy use in households and communities across Europe. ENERGISE is the European Network for Research, Good Practice and Innovation for Sustainable Energy. The research team at NUI Galway are currently looking to identify interesting initiatives for reducing energy consumption in households and communities across Ireland and Europe, inviting people to contact them about their ideas and projects. ENERGISE uses cutting edge research techniques (e.g. Living Labs) to directly observe existing energy cultures in a real-world setting and to test both household and community-level initiatives to reduce energy consumption. Across Europe, there are a many people and organisations that take steps towards more sustainable, low-energy living and this initiative would like to showcase and learn from as many different sources as possible. The ENERGISE team would like to hear and learn from: Those involved in a project that seeks to change the way people use and consume energy. Those promoting energy efficiency and lower energy consumption in households, for example an NGO, an energy agency, a business, a group of neighbours or a social club. Dr Frances Fahy, Head of the School of Geography at NUI Galway and Lead Investigator on the ENERGISE project, hopes that members of local community groups will get involved and let the NUI Galway team know about the many energy initiatives that are taking place all around the country: “Individual energy consumption is a function of who we are, where we come from, as well as the social and cultural contexts in which we live. We are really keen to hear from groups who are involved in any scale of activities that impact or try to influence the way people use and consume energy.” Projects that get selected as part of the research may contribute to European policy-making on reducing energy consumption. The projects may also be shared across 30 European countries through a database the ENERGISE team are creating on their website, and gain international recognition through scientific reports and policy papers. The ENERGISE consortium includes ten research partners (universities, research institutes, enterprises and NGOs) from Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Slovenia, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. To participate send your contact details and basic information about your project, or a project you are aware of to: eimear.heaslip@nuigalway.ie or phone Dr Frances Fahy at 091 492315. For further information about the project visit: http://www.energise-project.eu/ -Ends-

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

A group of five Civil Engineering students from NUI Galway raised €1,000 for local mental health awareness charities Jigsaw Galway and Pieta House West. The funds were raised from an Engineers Ireland West Region table quiz which took place in the Westwood hotel recently. Engineers and Engineering students battled it out for a selection of prizes kindly sponsored by Engineers Ireland, OCC Construction, APS Consulting and the Westwood Hotel. This is an annual event and this year the Engineering students beat the professionals to claim first prize at the quiz. The team of students included: John O’Connell from Killererin, Tuam, Co. Galway; Conor O’Meara from Birr, Co. Offaly; Michael McElrone from Pettigo, Co. Fermanagh, Conor Croxford from Clifden, Co. Galway; and Huseyin Guntas from Turkey. Dr Jamie Goggins, Chairperson of Engineers Ireland West Region and a Senior Lecturer in NUI Galway, said: “It’s great to see enthusiastic engineering students such as John, the two Conors, Huseyin and Michael, take initiatives like this to give back to the community. They are, after all, learning in college how to turn science and technology into things that are tangible and useful to society. This knowledge, together with the work ethic and ethos of these students, will no doubt lead to many positive contributions to society over many years to come during their careers.” Justin McDermott, Fundraising Manager, Jigsaw Galway, said: “We are so delighted to have been selected as one of the charities to benefit from this fantastic fundraiser.  All the funds and support we have received is vital, as it enables us continue to provide our free, confidential and non-judgemental service supporting the mental health and well-being of young people (aged 15-25) in Galway City and county.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

NUI Galway’s Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Society will hold the third annual Climate Congress in partnership with Trócaire. This year the focus will be on Fossil Fuel Divestment and Sustainable Choices, and will take place in The View, Áras na Mac Léinn, on Tuesday, 21 March from 10am until 5pm. Last year, the CCAFS society submitted a petition of over 1000 signatures and a report highlighting the case for divestment of the €3.4 million worth of shares that NUI Galway has invested in fossil fuel companies. This report was welcomed by University President, Dr Jim Browne, and this year the University has agreed to withdraw these investments and adopt a sustainable investment policy. Colm Duffy, Auditor of the CCAFS Society and Director of the Fossil Free Campaign, said: “Divestment movements are happening the world-over and Climate Congress 2017 will reflect this. A variety of guests will speak at the conference exploring the topic of sustainable investment from political, social, and environmental standpoints.” Speakers at the Congress will include: Thomas Pringle T.D., proposer of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill in Dáil Éireann Ian Halstead of L&P Investment Services Ltd. Clíona Sharkey of Trócaire There will also be a participatory workshop on overcoming barriers to political engagement in the context of climate change, facilitated by Nuala Haughey of Think-Action for Social Change. The aim is give individuals and communities the tools to engage in the political system and have their voices heard. The event is free to attend and lunch will be served in the afternoon. Registration for the talks is limited to 100 people and the workshop is limited to 25, so booking in advance is advised at https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/nui-galway-climate-congress-divestment-and-sustainable-choices-tickets-32582584387. For further information contact the CCAFS Society at ccafs@socs.nuigalway.ie, or follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CCAFSsocietyNUIG/ or Twitter at https://twitter.com/ccafssoc. -Ends-

Monday, 13 March 2017

NUI Galway has announced that it is officially committed to divest from fossil fuel shares by the end of 2017. The Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Society of NUI Galway had submitted a petition of over 1000 signatures, and report highlighting the case for divestment of the €3.4 million worth of shares that NUI Galway has invested in companies such as Gazprom and Statoil in late November. This report was welcomed by NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, who highlighted divestment of fossil fuel shares is in line with the values held by NUI Galway with regards to sustainability. “This is an important development and I am delighted that NUI Galway has taken a leadership position nationally in promoting such an ethical investment policy, including fossil fuel divestment.  I’d like to commend the students involved in CCAFS and the Students’ Union leadership who have highlighted an important global issue that impacts on climate change, social equity and a range of important ethical issues today. Their actions and advocacy demonstrate their commitment as global citizens who will shape our planet’s future.” Colm Duffy, Auditor of the CCAFS Society, Director of the Fossil Free Campaign and member of the Student Union Executive Committee, said: “It is with no small measure of delight that we announce NUI Galway’s commitment to divestment. We are extremely happy with the result and the support from Dr Browne. We are glad that this campaign has come to a conclusion, and we look forward to assisting the University in the formation of its Ethical Investment Policy.” In addition NUI Galway’s SU President, Jimmy McGovern, who has worked closely with the CCAFS society, added: “The University’s decision to completely divest from fossil fuels shows leadership in the right direction. This proposal began through student activism and is a prime example of why we must empower students, the future of our society, by giving them a platform to have influence and input in our University’s developments. NUI Galway has given its students that platform in this instance and we applaud them for that.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

‘Harmful Algal Blooms’ is an innovative introduction of Ocean Literacy in Irish secondary schools A marine science iBook entitled Harmful Algal Blooms has been developed as part of NUI Galway’s contribution to an EU-funded European research project Sea Change. The project aims to raise European citizens’ awareness of the ocean’s influence on us and our influence on the ocean, or “ocean literacy”. The iBook will be launched by Professor Colin Brown, Director of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research on Monday, 13 March at 4pm in the Moore Institute Seminar Room, Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway. Dr Christine Domegan, the NUI Galway Principal Investigator for Sea Change, Whitaker Institute, said: “Co-creating ocean literacy calls for collaboration, discussion, participation and engagement across multiple stakeholders in Europe; from policy makers, to educators, and from media to mariners, children and grandparents.” Opportunities to increase awareness of the ocean are limited in the junior cycle science curriculum across Europe. This iBook is designed to infuse the engaging story of Harmful Algal Blooms into teaching across the sciences. Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, occur when colonies of algae - simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater - grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on fish, shellfish, marine mammals, birds and people. During the launch, the author, Dr Robin Raine, from Earth and Ocean Sciences, NUI Galway, will speak about his experiences at the heart of the book. The audience will also be introduced to the teaching design used within the book, which aims to ensure the content can be taken up by Science teachers and students to advance a Sea Change in Irish and European ocean literacy. There was a great response from both teachers and students after piloting the iBook in Irish, Swedish, and Belgian schools.  The iBook was co-edited by Dr Veronica McCauley and Dr Kevin Davison of NUI Galway’s School of Education. Dr McCauley said: “Teachers are becoming more savvy with technology in the classroom and are finding innovative ways to teach the curriculum so that it encourages personal interest in the sciences. This is particularly true given the recent Digital Strategy for Schools, 2015-2020 and its promotion of coding and programming.” The importance of the ocean, and therefore ocean literacy, cannot be overestimated. The ocean defines and dominates everything about our planet. It is home to most of the life on Earth, regulates our weather and climate, provides most of our oxygen, and feeds much of the human population. Dr Robin Raine, author and lecturer at NUI Galway, says: “This book will introduce students to important features of our ocean as well as harmful algal blooms. It will act as a resource for teachers to strengthen and promote science through the topic of marine science.” To confirm your attendance at the launch, please register at: www.eventbrite.ie/e/launch-of-harmful-algal-blooms-ibook-tickets-32407091483 For further information, contact Dr Veronica McCauley, School of Education, NUI Galway on veronica.mccauley@nuigalway.ie. Other marine related resources are available on the project website at www.seachangeproject.eu -Ends-

Monday, 6 March 2017

A new online platform, DASH (Driving All Students Home) has officially launched in Cork, Carlow and Galway and allows students to get taxis even when they have no cash, bank card or phone while ensuring the drivers are paid. DASH was invented by NUI Galway Business Information System student Richie Commins, who has now teamed up with four other NUI Galway students as part of their final year project to take projectdash.ie across the country. The team of students has launched a nationwide campaign where they aim to create an invisible network for students all over the country. After extensive testing in Galway, the app officially launched in the city last week. The project has gathered a lot of momentum in 2017 teaming up with many companies to make the service available where thousands of students have signed up. Students can sign up for free at www.projectdash.ie , upload an ID photo of themselves, add a bank card to pay for emergency taxis, and create a four-digit pin. The students then simply tell the taxi driver their name and Dash PIN number, which allows the driver to check their account on a driver app. Once the driver has verified the fare, the app then processes the payment upon arrival at the destination. Richie said: “It’s a very exciting time for DASH. We are in talks with some big organisations to release features that have never been seen before to really take student safety to the next level. The support we have received from third-level institutions and Student Union’s here in Galway and across the country has just been phenomenal, it’s really helping us connect with students nationwide.” The project is now rolling out nationwide over the coming weeks with the aim of seeing a decline in the amount of tragic incidents that may occur while students commute on foot late at night as a result of not having the means to avail of a taxi journey home. Daniel Khan, NUI Galway Student’s Union Welfare Officer, said: “This is a brilliant program that will help to increase the safety and well being of our students. Losing purses and wallets on nights out can be a common occurrence but thanks to this initiative students will still be able to get home safely.” An Garda Síochána will be supporting the initiative through their Campus Watch programme. Sergeant Pat Flanagan, Officer for Crime Prevention, said: “The taxis that have integrated with DASH have really shown they care about students, and hopefully, all taxis will soon be branded with the safety DASH brings.” For further information on the initiative visit www.projectdash.ie/ or https://www.facebook.com/projectdash.ie/. -Ends-

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Minister of Natural Resources, Seán Kyne T.D., will participate in a high-profile panel discussion at NUI Galway that will explore Ireland’s response to the Paris Climate Accord. The discussion is part of NUI Galway’s Energy Night, the seventh instalment of Ireland’s first and largest student-run energy event, which will take place on Wednesday, 8 March in the Engineering Building at NUI Galway. Energy Night 2017, which is organised by the University’s student-run Energy Society, will begin at 5pm with a ‘Careers in Energy’ seminar for students. Speakers from Accenture, ESB, Medtronic, and the Coffey Group will deliver presentations on their current projects and employment opportunities in Galway, Ireland and beyond. At 6pm, a poster display will showcase the wide array of cutting edge energy research currently underway at NUI Galway. This year for the first time, the showcase will include winners of an energy poster competition for Galway secondary schools. A panel discussion will take place at 7pm with the theme Achieving the Paris Agreement; the framework agreed upon by the international community to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting the global temperature rise to below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels. The public are invited to attend and participate through an audience Q&A session. In addition to Minister Kyne, panellists include Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc and Denis O’Sullivan, Head of Commercial at Gas Networks Ireland. The moderator for the event is Dr Diarmuid Torney, Lecturer in International Relations, Dublin City University, and author of European Climate Leadership in Question: Policies toward China and India. The discussion will attempt to reconcile emissions reductions targets with projections for growth in the Irish economy in general, and in agriculture specifically. Lee-Ann Coughlan, NUI Galway Engineering student and Events Officer with the Energy Society, said: “This year’s Energy Night promises to build on the success of the past six years events and maintain its legacy as Ireland’s largest student-run energy event. We would like to thank our sponsors Accenture Ireland, Bank of Ireland, the Ryan Institute for Marine, Environmental and Energy Research at NUI Galway, and the Science Foundation Ireland-backed Marine and Renewable Energy Research Centre (MaREI).” Dr Rory Monaghan, Lecturer of Energy Systems Engineering at NUI Galway, said: “Climate Change and the decarbonisation of energy are the defining challenges of our age. Our actions in the next five years will determine how successful we are likely to be in addressing them over the following 100.” The event is free of charge and all are welcome. For more information including a detailed schedule of events follow @EnergySocNUIG on Twitter or on Facebook at Energy Night 2017. For more information contact Laura Dennehy at energy@socs.nuigalway.ie, 0877559539. -Ends-

Monday, 27 February 2017

Four NUI Galway based programmes will engage over 40,000 members of the Irish public with science in 2017 Four NUI Galway public engagement and education initiatives have been awarded funding of more than €250,000 through the Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme, as announced by the Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan T.D. The initiatives, which will improve public understanding of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) in the West of Ireland and across the country, will engage over 40,000 members of the public in 2017. ‘Cell EXPLORERS’ is a science education and public engagement programme delivering STEM activities regionally and nationally, led by Dr Muriel Grenon. It uses a unique model, originally developed in NUI Galway, for sustainable science public engagement in ten Universities and Institutes of Technology around Ireland. The programme uses hands-on activities and local scientists to engage the public in the importance of science in society with a diverse set of activities, including school visits and science festival workshops. More information can be found at www.cellexplorers.com. ‘Genetic Testing: Engaging the West of Ireland’ aims to engage students and members of the public in the West of Ireland in reflection and conversation about genetics and genetic testing. It combines an exhibition on genetics, ethics and society with activities on genetic testing with secondary school students, women and other interested groups. The project will run throughout 2017, led by Dr Heike Felzmann in the Centre of Bioethical Research and Analysis at NUI Galway. ‘Bright Club’ is a variety show with a twist. Academic researchers become comedians for one night, using humour to talk about their research. The researchers from science, engineering, social science, and the humanities get training in humour as communication, before joining actual comedians on stage in front of the public. The night has been running across Ireland for two years, spearheaded by Dr Jessamyn Fairfield in the School of Physics at NUI Galway. ‘ReelLIFE SCIENCE’ is a nationwide video competition for primary schools, secondary schools and community groups which, since being launched in 2013 by NUI Galway’s Dr Enda O’Connell, has enabled thousands of students across Ireland to engage with STEM by communicating a topic (e.g. ‘Science and Me’, ‘How Things Work’ and ‘Science in Space’) via a three-minute video. The videos are screened at the Galway Science and Technology Festival each year and are available online at www.reellifescience.com. Nationally, a total of 120 applications were received by Science Foundation Ireland for Discover Programme funding, and 44 initiatives were selected through rigorous international peer-review for a combined investment of €2.8 million. Speaking at the announcement event in Kilmainham Hospital, Director of Strategy and Communications for Science Foundation Ireland, Dr Ruth Freeman, said: “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support these important education and public engagement programmes, which will engage and inspire people in the West of Ireland with the endless possibilities of science, technology, engineering and maths. Activities like these can ignite a passion for discovery and, for some, can also be a first-step in exploring a future career in these exciting subject areas.” -Ends-

Monday, 30 January 2017

NUI Galway’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy has welcomed the publication of the Disabilities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016. The Bill has been identified by Government as one of the final steps towards Ireland’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Ireland signed the Convention in 2008 and has committed to ratify once reforms to bring our laws into conformity with the Convention have been introduced. Eilionoir Flynn, Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway, said: “The Bill will introduce long-overdue reform in the areas of access to goods and services, jury service, electoral laws, and will establish national implementation and monitoring mechanisms for the Convention in Ireland. While the majority of the proposed provisions are to be welcomed, some serious human rights concerns remain.” The Explanatory Memorandum of the Bill states that several key amendments, including those on deprivation of liberty of persons with disabilities will be introduced at Committee stage. These are key human rights issue for people with disabilities, mental health service users and older people; yet to date there has been no public consultation with these communities about the proposed legal changes. Jim Walsh of the Irish Advocacy Network said: “The fact that amendments are only being brought at Committee stage means that there will be less opportunity to debate the provisions. We call on the Department of Health and the Department of Justice to immediately publish their proposals for legal reform in this area and to engage in a meaningful consultation with those who will be directly affected by this part of the law.” The Bill makes important efforts to change jury service laws to eliminate disability-based discrimination which has led to many people (including members of the deaf community and people with learning disabilities) being deemed ineligible for jury service. However, the proposed wording would disqualify ‘a person who does not, in the opinion of the court, have sufficient mental or intellectual capacity to serve as a juror.’ Fiona Walsh, Recovery Experts by Experience, said: “A more human rights-compliant approach would be to disqualify a person who does not, in the opinion of the court, have the ability to perform the functions required of a juror, following the provision of reasonable accommodation.” The Bill designates the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to monitor the implementation of the Convention in Ireland and provides for the creation of an advisory committee, of which half would be members with disabilities, to guide the Commission in this work. Sarah Lennon, Inclusion Ireland, said: “We are concerned that the Bill does not provide any additional funding to the Commission to carry out this work.  Further, in light of the principle of ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ which guided the negotiation of the Convention, we urge the Department of Justice to reconsider making lived experience of disability or mental health services a requirement for all members of this advisory committee and not just half.” It is critical that Ireland fulfils its commitment to ratify the Convention as soon as possible. Given Ireland’s length process to prepare for ratification, it should be possible to ratify without entering significant reservations and declarations. Maria Walls, a PhD Scholar at NUI Galway said: “We are gravely concerned that the Department of Justice propose to enter reservations or declarations on Articles 12 and 14 relating to equal recognition before the law and liberty. These articles are core to the spirit and purpose of the Convention and we urge the government to commit to their full implementation in line with the guidance provided by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Dr Rónán Kennedy, a lecturer in NUI Galway’s School of Law and a researcher in the Ryan Institute, has been appointed to the Advisory Committee of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a three year term. The role involves making recommendations to the Agency on a wide range of topics, including staffing, service provision, standards and guidelines, and research and work programmes. The Committee can also make recommendations to the Minister for Community, Climate Action, and Environment on the functions, financing, and activities of the Agency. Dr Kennedy’s research focuses on the relationship between information and communications technology and environmental regulation, and is currently leading a project to implement a blockchain-based currency for the Cloughjordan ecovillage. A graduate of NUI Galway, the King’s Inns, New York University and University College London, he has extensive practical experience in the information technology field, but was also Executive Legal Officer to the Chief Justice of Ireland, Mr Justice Ronan Keane, from 2000 to 2004. During this time, he was Editor of The Supreme Court of Ireland: A History, first editor of the Judicial Studies Institute Journal, and was involved in a number of initiatives to expand the use of information technology in the courts. Before joining the Law School at NUI Galway, he taught environmental law and public international law in the University of Limerick. Welcoming the appointment, Professor Donncha O’Connell, Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway, said: “The appointment of Dr Kennedy to this critically important Committee of the EPA speaks highly of his established expertise as an environmental lawyer and is a very well-deserved recognition of the contribution that he makes as an academic of the highest probity. It is extremely gratifying to see another member of the School of Law associated with a public body building upon the connections already established by others with state bodies such as the Law Reform Commission and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Researchers at NUI Galway have completed the first national statistical assessment of arsenic contamination in groundwater in the EU. The research points to elevated levels of naturally occurring arsenic in private wells, particularly in the northeast and the southwest of Ireland. “Arsenic is not persistently elevated in groundwater throughout Ireland, but the presence of regional hotspots of contamination warrant further detailed investigations”, explains Dr Liam Morrison who led the study which has been published in journal Science of the Total Environment. The article was co-authored by NUI Galway’s Ellen McGrory in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Environmental Protection Agency. The study drew on available datasets for arsenic, which can occur naturally in certain rock types and thereby affect groundwater. While there are studies focusing on arsenic within the EU, this study presents a statistical approach in determining the spatial distribution of arsenic at a national scale. “This methodology may be applied in other countries to help understand arsenic contamination of groundwater. The identification of potentially at-risk regions is beneficial prior to the commencement of groundwater source development programmes. If there is a potential high concentration of arsenic, then arsenic removal technologies could be used as remediation.” There are an estimated 200,000 private domestic and farm boreholes in Ireland. Recent studies have provided evidence to suggest that long-term low-dose arsenic exposure can induce varying chronic health effects. “These can vary from stomach upsets to more chronic ailments”, says Dr Morrison. In Ireland 25% of public drinking water is derived from groundwater sources rising to 100% in certain localities. Within Europe this figure rises to 75% and 51% in the United States. Funding for the study was based on research grant-aided by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources under the National Geoscience Programme 2007–2013. The full article can be read at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969716326377. -Ends-

Monday, 5 December 2016

 ‘I Like Beaches’ project to help tackle threat to Galway’s coast Galway’s identity is intertwined with the coast but how many actually understand how the coast works? The coast provides the city with so much including dramatic and beautiful scenery, food and employment, a place to play and exercise, rare and valuable natural habitats but the coastal and marine environments are increasingly coming under threat. To help tackle the threat and to promote awareness, students from NUI Galway’s Discipline of Geography teamed up with Galway City Council’s Recreation and Amenity Department and local residents and formed the ‘I Like Beaches’ project. ‘I Like Beaches’ aims to provide visitors and users of Galway City beaches access to scientific information about the coast, how it works, and what poses a threat to it. After a public workshop to discuss how best to promote the project, the team created new educational boards which provide information on beaches, dunes, waves and climate change. The first four signs were installed beside Grattan Beach recently and it is planned to install more signs near Ladies Beach and other Galway City beaches. The ‘I Like Beaches’ project was developed through NUI Galway’s EXPLORE programme, which links staff with students to support innovative and creative ideas to benefit the local community. The team, in partnership with Galway City Council, included two staff members, Dr Eugene Farrell and Dr Kevin Lynch, and five final-year undergraduate students Shaun Byrne, Jennifer Corbett, Jennifer Logan, Aisling Miller, and Michael Murphy from the Discipline of Geography. In NUI Galway the immediate impacts on the students who developed project management experience included: how to promote and market research activities; work alongside their lecturers; and work in different roles within a small team.   Dr Eugene Farrell, Lecturer in Geography at NUI Galway, said: “With the privilege to pursue knowledge in NUI Galway comes a civic responsibility to share or use this knowledge in the community and we hope that public education and outreach projects such as ‘I Like Beaches’ are a positive step in this direction. We are especially grateful that Eamon Daveron and Eithne Murphy from Galway City Council’s Recreation and Amenity Department have been involved in every step of the project and hope that programmes like EXPLORE continue to be supported by NUI Galway.” Dr Kevin Lynch, Lecturer in Geography at NUI Galway, said: “Our coasts are valuable yet fragile places. It is our responsibility to make informed decisions when it comes to managing them. Short-term gains like the seawall proposed by President Trump for Doonbeg in Co. Clare should not be valued greater than looking after our coasts over the longer-term.” The ‘I Like Beaches’ team and Galway City Council are also looking for feedback from the public. To leave feedback visit the ‘I Like Beaches’ Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ILikeBeachesGalway/.  -Ends-

Thursday, 1 December 2016

A team from NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute has secured funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to gather new empirical research on the quality of Irish environmental policy integration. The research project will identify how to achieve a more cohesive environmental policy governance. Dr Brendan Flynn of the School of Political Science & Sociology and Pádraic Ó hUiginn from the BioÉire project were awarded funding under the EPA’s Research Sustainability Pillar. EPIIC (Environmental Policy Integration – Innovation and Change) is a one-year desk-study which will identify urgent pressures on integrated environmental policy across Ireland’s public administration system. Key cross-sectoral areas included are energy, emissions and climate change, waste, transport, agriculture, marine resources, public expenditure and the project will examine the possibilities for environmental policy integration to assist in addressing these challenges. The study will engage with national departments of state, the local and regional governance levels, and also specialist states agencies with an interest in sustainability. One of the more potentially interesting angles of the research will be to uncover lessons drawn from Northern Ireland and Scottish institutions, especially in the post-Brexit situation. Dr Flynn highlighted that: “We are very keen to hear from public officials who are interested in participating in this study, naturally in the key government departments, but also local authority directors of services for environment, waste, transport and serving and current or retired city and county managers.” Dr Brendan Flynn added: “Environmental policy integration can be defined as the systematic inclusion of environmental concerns into traditional environmental and planning laws or policies. It is about achieving a cohesive, greener governance, or conversely, about uncovering how environmental policies can be undermined through a lack of good co-ordination. This study will focus on a few key policy areas where there are cross-cutting issues and demands.” Research Fellow Pádraic Ó hUiginn outlined how: “EPIIC will take a focused look at reviewing the possibilities for EPI to provide mechanisms for low-cost practical application to overcome barriers to environmental policy implementation. We are also looking at how it could position Ireland to avail of opportunities in areas such as the EU’s Circular Economy Package, for example. The challenges are multi-dimensional such as climate action and energy de-carbonisation and require a number of government departments and state agencies to work together with a common purpose. An integrated approach to sustainability, through applying EPI could possibly generate more positive outcomes, much greater than the sum of the individual parts.” “EPIIC aims to give voice to those directly engaged in implementing environmental policies in key government departments, state agencies and local authorities. By making use of interview-based research with the policy experts dealing with these complex global challenges we aim to identify urgent pressures and also examples of best practice of policy implementation in Ireland,” added Mr Ó hUiginn. For more information visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/ryaninstitute/research/specialinterestgroups/epiicenvironmentalpolicyintegration-innovationandchange/ -ends-

Monday, 14 November 2016

Final year NUI Galway student invents service to see students get home safely A new service, Dash, will allow students to get taxis even when they have no cash, bank card or phone while ensuring the drivers get paid. Dash (Driving All Students Home) was created by NUI Galway final year Business Information Systems student Richie Commins and is currently available in Galway City and will be launched nationwide in January 2017. Richie, from Claregalway, Co. Galway, came up with the idea after being left in situations many times without the physical means to get taxis. Research carried out with the NUI Galway Students’Union verified that students often do not have the means to get a taxi at the end of the night leading to the safety of students being put in jeopardy. Students simply need to sign up for free at the website, www.dashcabz.ie/ and upload a photo of themselves and a bank card to pay for emergency taxis. Richie has designed a simple app for taxi drivers so even if a student gets into a taxi with nothing, all they have to do is tell the driver their name and four digit pin for the driver to view the student on the app. The driver verifies the student by their photo, sees their method of payment and takes them home at no extra cost. Richie said: “This is the very basic version. There are many more features coming early next year such as top-up, parent back up and the beacon button to let others know you’re safe even when you’ve no phone. Dash is planning a movement of safety across all campuses that won’t cost students anything extra and ensures taxi drivers get paid.” Richie did his third year student placement on campus with the Blackstone Launchpad where he developed the idea further. The University supported Richie to sign up hundreds of students to test the prototype with three local taxi companies Big O Taxis, Pro Cabs and Galway Taxis. After successfully proving the concept, he spent the summer months meeting student unions and taxi companies across the country. The app will be implemented in the coming months in all university cities. Luke Fitzpatrick, UCD Student Union said: “I genuinely think it is fantastic that taxis, unions and students are recognising the need for getting students home safe. It is something I personally stand behind and hope all Dublin taxis jump on board with Lynk, Xpert and so on.” Colin O’Mara,Cork Chamber of Commerce and Cork Taxi Co-op, said: “Cork Taxi Coop are delighted to be involved in ensuring the Students of today and tomorrow have the peace of mind to get home safely.”     An Garda Síochána will be supporting the initiative through their Campus Watch programme. Sergeant Pat Flanagan, Officer for Crime Prevention,said: “The taxis that have integrated with Dash have really shown they care about students, and hopefully, all taxis will soon be branded with the safety Dash brings.” For further information on the initiative visit www.dashcabz.ie/. -Ends-

Monday, 7 November 2016

The first community-based social inclusion café to exist on a higher education campus in Ireland Saol Café at NUI Galway has been named the Friendliest Business in Ireland by the JCI Ireland Friendly Business Awards. Based in the Institute for Lifecourse and Society (ILAS) in NUI Galway, Saol Café is a not-for-profit community project. No ordinary café, Saol Café brings together local community partners, SCCUL Enterprises and leading academics from within the Life Course and Society Institute, and has set the foundations for the first community-based social inclusion café to exist on a higher education campus in Ireland.  Saol Café focuses on employment for people within the community who would be traditionally marginalized. The aim to provide a strong foundation for those individuals by teaching them the skills and providing paid employment so they engage with the community in a working environment and have the confidence to make a difference to their lives through resourceful living, green issues, sourcing, cooking and sharing wholesome food. The JCI Ireland Friendly Business Awards, supported by Bank of Ireland, is a flagship business programme where JCI recognise the pivotal role small businesses play in the local community. The aim of the Friendly Business Awards is to celebrate the value these businesses bring to our local communities every day. Each summer sees JCI branches across Ireland run the JCI Friendly Business Awards. These awards were set up to recognise businesses that excel in serving the needs of the local community and play a vital role in its development. In August Saol Café were announced as the Friendliest Business in Galway in the Regional Awards. This propelled them onto the National finals where 50% of the final marks were decided by a public vote. 500 businesses took part in the awards and Saol Café emerged as the Overall Friendliest Business in Ireland. Annette Hassett, Operations Manager with SCCUL Enterprises, said: “The team in Saol Café are delighted with the Award it’s a tremendous accolade for a business that is just one year in operation. We promote inclusive employment and hopefully this Award will encourage other employers to consider hiring staff through supported employment models.” Menus are designed around produce available from local farms and artisan producers. Saol Café works with the local businesses such as Kinvara Smoked Salmon, Lizzy Jams and Chutneys, Galway Goats Cheese, Foods of Athenry, Sheridan’s Cheese, Juicy Lucy and Galway Food Company to name a few. Their food provenance is paramount, so time is taken to ensure the ingredients are from sustainable and ethical sources. Open to the public Saol Café, just off the Upper Newcastle Road in Dangan, brings a magical taste of the community into the heart of the ILAS and its welcoming atmosphere. Operating from Monday to Thursday 8.30am – 4.30pm and Fridays until 3.30pm, the café seats 40 and serves up healthy nutritious food catering for all tastes including Coeliac and Vegans. 80% of Saol’s produce is either organic, local or fair trade.  For further information, please see www.saolcafe.ie, Facebook/Twitter/Instagram @saolcafe. -ENDS-

Friday, 28 October 2016

 International conference is opening event of ROSEnet, a four-year innovative collaboration between researchers and policy stakeholders across Europe Social exclusion of older people is a direct barrier to Europe’s social and economic development. That was the message from an international conference on ‘Old-Age Social Exclusion’ hosted today by the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society in NUI Galway. With consequences for individuals, families, and welfare and care systems in Europe, old-age exclusion involves multifaceted forms of disadvantage. It can, as a result impact on economic, social relations, services, civic rights and community areas of life. Presenting new research from different European and international locations, speakers at the conference identified key mechanisms of exclusion across these different life domains. Panel discussion members from European policy stakeholder organisations highlighted critical challenges and opportunities for social and public policy arising from social exclusion patterns and demographic ageing across Europe. The international conference was the opening event of a four-year innovative collaboration between researchers and policy stakeholders across Europe, entitled Reducing Old-Age Exclusion in Europe: Collaborations in Research and Policy, or ROSEnet. “Old-age exclusion undermines EU goals on Healthy and Active Ageing. But more than this, and because there will be an additional 17 million older people by 2020, it may mean that the European Commission’s target of reducing the number of people in exclusion by 20 million, by 2020, is unachievable”, said Dr Kieran Walsh, Acting Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, and Chair of ROSEnet.        “Currently, existing policy in this area can lack relevance for older people’s lives and is often not prioritised politically. It also rarely recognises how ageing and social exclusion patterns intersect to produce significant consequences for states and societies.” ROSEnet is funded by the European COST Association and aims to overcome critical knowledge gaps and fragmentation in research and policy to tackle social exclusion amongst older people in Europe and beyond.ROSEnet involves over 100 researchers and policy stakeholders from across 37 countries. Marking the first cross-national initiative of its kind, ROSEnet will produce shared cross-sector understandings of disadvantage in later life in order to direct the development of new policy and practice interventions for reducing exclusion in diverse European ageing societies. “It is only by sharing existing research knowledge and developing new collaborative partnerships between researchers and policy makers, that we can really begin to think about the best way to combat exclusion for older people, nationally and internationally”, added Dr Kieran Walsh. Over its four-year duration, ROSEnet will host a series of research and policy events across Europe and produce a series of related outputs and publications, including position papers, policy briefing notes and academic publications. The conference involved European and international researchers and key European-level policy stakeholders. It presented critical debate and analysis of state-of-the-art research and knowledge and explored new directions in policy development on exclusion in later life. Speakers focused on social, economic, service, civic rights, and community/spatial forms of exclusion, and in doing so will provide insight into the intersection of demographic ageing, recognised as a significant European issue, and social exclusion, a Europe 2020 priority. -ends-

Friday, 14 October 2016

Harnessing the knowledge of the Irish agriculture sector can significantly contribute to ending hunger and poverty for millions of people in the Developing World. Joe McHugh T.D, Minister of State for the Disapora and Overseas Development Aid launches the Irish Forum for International Agricultural Development (IFIAD)   Such is the belief of the founders of an innovative new consortium that has brought the Irish agriculture and research sectors together with some of the country’s leading development charities, in a bid to leverage Irish know-how to increase agriculture productivity and combat hunger in the Developing World.         Founding members of the new Irish Forum for International Agricultural Development (IFIAD) are the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Irish Aid, Teagasc, Agri-Science departments at NUI Galway, UCC and UCD, along with leading international development charities Gorta-Self Help Africa, Vita, Concern Worldwide, Trocaire and Misean Cara, private companies such as Sustainable Food Systems Ireland and Greenfield International and leading farmer associations ICMSA, ICSA, IFA and Macra na Feirme. Dr Una Murray, Nua Consulting (left) and Dr Peter McKeown, Coordinator of MScCCAFS program at NUI Galway (right) at IFIAD Launch The successful trialing in Eritrea, one of Africa’s poorest countries, of a potato variety shipped from Ireland offered a tangible example of what the new forum could achieve, the official launch of IFIAD heard, at the RDS in Dublin yesterday. Consortium members, including Teagasc, the Irish Potato Industry, Gorta-Self Help Africa and Vita had introduced the Electra variety, and provided their Eritrean counterparts with technical support and assistance. Early results showed that potato yields had tripled for Eritrean farmers as a result. Last year, Eritrea became the seventh member of the Irish Potato Forum. Representatives from national and international agriculture, agri-business and development aid sectors attended the launch, which was addressed by Minister Joe McHugh TD, and by guest speakers including Dr Ousmane Badiane, Africa Director for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Paul Winters, Director of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development of the United Nations (IFAD). Derrie Dillon, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Manager, Macra na Feirme (left) and Kevin Kilcline, Coordinator of MScAgriBiosciences program at NUI Galway (right) at IFIAD Launch At the launch, Minister Joe McHugh TD said: “Bringing together Irish agricultural and development expertise in this way is a great opportunity for all of us. IFIAD will help us to collectively strengthen our partnerships and continue our work to eradicate hunger and poverty.” The Forum’s Chair, Dr Lance O’Brien, Head of Strategy and International Relations at Teagasc said: “this new initiative will create a platform to allow the knowledge, expertise and commitment of the Irish farming sector to be harnessed to deliver a more focused impact on addressing the challenge of food security in developing countries.”   Professor Charles Spillane, from the Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre at NUI Galway said that “IFIAD is a much needed and timely initiative that has the potential to bring a more coordinated, coherent and impact-oriented approach to Irish agricultural policies, programmes, research and training focused on reducing poverty in developing countries” NUI Galway MScCCAFS students attending IFIAD launch; Kekae Kelebogile (South Africa); Rachael Murphy (Ireland); Lorna Born (South Africa) and Sarina Motsuki (South Africa) (from left to right).   Chief Executive of Gorta-Self Help Africa Ray Jordan said that upwards of 70% of people in the Developing World directly relied on farming for their survival. If even a fraction of the learning and successes of Irish agriculture would be transposed to Africa and other poorer regions, it would lift many millions of people out of extreme poverty.” Visit: www.ifiad.org for more information.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

- Call Open for Online Public Vote - NUI Galway has been shortlisted for two major national awards in the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards. The recently completed Mayo Medical Academy Building is shortlisted in the ‘Heritage & Conservation Award’ while the Clinical and Translational Research Facility has been shortlisted for the prestigious award of ‘Engineering Project of the Year’, which will be decided by public vote. NUI Galway’s HRB Clinical Research and Lambe Institute for Translational Research Facility by Barrett Mahony Consulting Engineers, is based on the grounds of University Hospital Galway. The co-location of these two facilities in one building means basic laboratory research conducted in the translational research facility can be evaluated in clinical trials in the clinical research facility and ultimately benefit patients faster. Some examples of the types of studies undertaken in the two facilities include: Predicting risk of breast cancer Stem cell trials Clinical trials in blood cancer patients How implantable medical devices can provide new solutions for patients To vote for NUI Galway’s Clinical and Translational Research Facility in the ‘Public Choice’ category you can visit http://bit.ly/votenuigalway Under the ‘Public Choice Award’ section tick the NUI Galway HRB Clinical Research & Lambe Institute for Translational Research Facility, and click ‘vote’. Opened in 2015 by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, NUI Galway’s HRB Clinical Research and Lambe Institute for Translational Research Facility is a world-class clinical research facility. At the opening An Taoiseach remarked that the facility “represents the point where research and healthcare meet – where “bench” meets “bedside”. The advances made by researchers and clinicians in this facility will undoubtedly lead to better frontline health outcomes and will ultimately improve patients’ lives.” The proximity of the University to University Hospital Galway enables direct patient access and collaborative trial input from the hospital Oncology/Haematology Clinical Trials Unit. The Clinical Research Facility will ensure that patients in the West and North West of Ireland have access to a number of new cancer therapies that would otherwise not have been available to them. This shortlisting adds to the accolades of the many new buildings across the NUI Galway campus including the new Engineering Building which won the accolade of ‘Best Public Choice’ Award in 2012. -ENDS-

Friday, 30 September 2016

#ShareASmile Building upon the success of last year’s Mental Health Week, NUI Galway’s Psych Society has been working with a large number of societies, local businesses and NUI Galway’s Societies Office to create an even more eventful and inclusive Mental Health week running from 3-7 October on campus. According to Soraya Matthews the Auditor of Psych Soc: “We were overwhelmed with the response to last year’s events and are looking forward to an even more positive, inclusive and eventful Mental Health Week, making the campus a friendly place to be.” This year Psych Soc are incorporating the initiative ‘What are the #LittleThings that we can each do for each other on a personal level as well as what societies can do to increase happiness’. The hashtag and campaign that will support initiative will be #ShareASmile According to the Psych Soc, "It is simple, but effective. Smiling at someone can boost their confidence, change their outlook of their day and encourage a conversation.” The message will be brought to students by placing #ShareASmile stickers on tea/coffee cups. Customers who receive these cups will be given their beverage for free from participating campus restaurants, giving them a boost for their day ahead and hopefully making it a happier one. The Psychological Society will also be distributing goodie bags containing treats and information about support services, which will include #ShareASmile & #SmileYouGotAGoodieBag stickers and creating a #LittleThings video to find out from students what the their #LittleThings are and what helps them to #ShareASmile. For further details on NUI Galway’s Mental Health Week see the website www.nuigstudents.ie, check out NUI Galway Psychological Society Facebook or call the Socs Box on 091 492852.  -ends- 

Friday, 30 September 2016

Minister Katherine Zappone to launch reports at NUI Galway today. Voices of children and youth, older people and people with disabilities central to the research. Revealing insights into six neighbourhoods in Dublin, Limerick and Galway are published today by NUI Galway.  With huge community participation, the research is the result of a three-year programme of work, the 3-Cities Project, by the Institute for Lifecourse and Society at NUI Galway. Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone T.D. will formally launch the research later today at the University. While the research included city-wide data-collection, the primary focus centred on six very different kinds of communities across the three cities. These included: the Liberties and East Wall (Dublin); Doughiska and Claddagh (Galway); and Garryowen and South Circular Road (Limerick). Dr Kieran Walsh of the Institute for Lifecourse and Society at NUI Galway, said: “In the first study of its kind, our research looked at shared challenges and opportunities with respect to participation for three groups. We wanted to hear the voice of children and youth, older people and people with disabilities. They were central to the research process and we have learned so much from their experiences of living in these areas and how things like services and sense of community effect their day to day lives.” The research focused on these groups as, while they possess a diverse set of abilities and backgrounds, they can in some cases be susceptible to limitations in choice and mobility. “This is why local neighbourhoods are so important for such residents. Children, older people, and those living with disabilities spend so much time within the neighbourhood. One recurring theme is that as life goes on, people may have to regularly leave where they live to access services, whether that’s disability services or sports activities for older teenagers.” “We met some really engaging people who pointed out the good and bad of where they live. Neighbourhood change, major life events, local service adequacy, feelings of belonging and social cohesion. These all influence the capacity of the three groups to participate in a full and meaningful way”, continued Dr Walsh. The reports found that structural forms of disadvantage, as a result of political prioritisation, gentrification and development processes, and macro-economic shifts, can intensify the potential for poor participation in different areas of life. This included social relations, economic roles, cultural activities and civic participation.  The 3-Cities Project points to the need for future interventions and polices around development of voice-led multi-stakeholder partnerships, fostering collective ownership, integrative collision spaces, and neighbourhood asset planning for enablement across the life course. Suggested solutions are prominent in the reports. With regard to the development of ‘integrative collision spaces’ or spaces where people could meet and interact, Dr Walsh said: “We heard about the importance of the annual fair in Garryowen. We had the suggestion of a pop-up café in Lidl in the Liberties, or ‘retrofitting’ somewhere like Merlin Woods in Doughiska to offer social spaces for people. What is very clear is the enabling power of local neighbourhoods for potentially marginalised groups, and that participants in this research really emphasised how these settings can facilitate participation and, potentially, serve as a very important mechanism for societal integration.” Full copies of the reports are available at http://www.nuigalway.ie/ilas/project-lifecourse/thethreecitiesproject/outputs/ -ends- 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

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-

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

With one in three women worldwide experiencing abuse, violence against women is a global epidemic. The economic cost of this violence will be discussed by current and former women Heads of State and Government at the UN Headquarters in New York today. Dr Nata Duvvury, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Centre for Global Women’s Studies at the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway, will be acting as an expert advisor at the High Level Discussion on Economic Costs of Violence against Women (VAW). Dr Duvvury’s groundbreaking work on the costs of violence against women has gained international recognition, cited by Hilary Clinton, Mary Robinson, World Bank economist Caren Grown, by UN Women, and international donor agencies and cited in numerous journal articles. Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Duvvury said: “Violence against women is a fundamental human rights violation, a priority public health issue and a development issue with significant implications for economic growth. In studies in Australia, UK, or Vietnam where women’s labour force participation rates are high, the costs of violence are reflected in absenteeism and productivity loss. In Vietnam the productivity loss was equivalent to 1.79% of GDP. A study in the Peru on the costs to businesses estimated that overall 70 million workdays were lost in a year due to the impacts of violence on women’s and men’s absenteeism and presenteeism (being late, leaving early, not concentrating, etc.). Both the Vietnam and Peru studies found that intimate partner violence also had an impact on men, which is an important insight to highlight. Policymakers must recognise the ripple effects of violence against women across various sections of society and businesses, to understand that the effects/impacts of VAW do not stop at the factory door but seep into every nook and cranny of the production system. We need commitment from world leaders to invest to prevent and respond to VAW.” The panel was called by The President of the Republic of Lithuania, H.E. Dalia Grybauskaitė, as Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, to discuss the economic impact of VAW during the High Level Week of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly in September 2016. In addition to Dr Duvvury, Ms Jurgita Pečiūrienė, Gender Expert at the European Institute for Gender equality, will be presenting expert evidence. The panel includes Heads of State and Government and International Organisations including: the Presidents of the Republic of Chile, Lithuania, Malta, Croatia and the Prime Minister of Namibia; H.E. Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization; Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General, The Commonwealth; Ms Sivana Koch-Mehrin, Founder of the Women in Parliaments Global Form; and Ms Laura Liswood, Secretary-General, Council of Women World Leaders. Building on more than 20 years of international engagement and gender-focussed research at the cutting edge of HIV, women’s asset ownership, nutrition and gender based violence, Dr Duvvury has made seminal contributions to the policy discourse on gender, equality, health and empowerment. At the High Level Discussion, Dr Duvvury will be making the argument that violence against women and girls has cumulative impacts over the life-time of individuals undermining individual capability resulting in overall economic loss over time.  -ends- 

Monday, 19 September 2016

NUI Galway, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, has begun a new research study, which is funded by the EPA, to measure the levels of a certain class of pollutants in Irish homes, schools, offices and cars. The research team is now seeking to recruit participants in Galway, Dublin and Limerick. The ‘ELEVATE’ study will measure levels of specific ‘persistent organic pollutants’ in samples of drinking water, indoor air and floor dust. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) represent a group of chemicals that are not easily degraded and so can accumulate and persist for long periods of time in the environment. The specific POPs of interest in the current study are brominated flame retardants and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). The study will be led by Professor Stuart Harrad at the University of Birmingham, with NUI Galway as partners in the study. Research in Ireland will be conducted by PhD researcher, Nina Wemken under the supervision of Dr Marie Coggins in the School of Physics at NUI Galway.   Dr Coggins explains: “Brominated flame retardants have been used widely to flame-proof electronic goods, furniture, and other textiles. PFOS and related chemicals have been used to impart stain and dirt repellence in carpets, paper and packaging, to provide water repellence in garments and clothing and are used in firefighting foams. Currently, the health effects of many of these chemicals are not fully understood, however evidence suggests that, at certain levels, they may be harmful to human health. We will not study the health effects of these chemicals in ELEVATE, but as a first step our study will measure how much of these chemicals are present in different environment to assess the importance of different pathways to the overall exposure of the Irish population. These exposures will be compared to existing estimates of dietary exposure for Ireland to identify the relative importance of different exposure pathways to the Irish population. This is quite a comprehensive study and one of the first of its kind internationally.” Public Participation in the Study NUI Galway PhD student, Nina Wemken added: “For this study we are seeking participants from 30 primary schools, 30 offices, 30 homes and cars in Dublin, Limerick and Galway. We hope people will take part in the research study and help us find out more about POPs in the environments. For those who wish to participate, a member of the ELEVATE study team will visit the home/office or school and perform the measurements. The trained researcher will place a small device in one room for 60 days which will measure POPs in the air. They will use small, discreet, specialist equipment which should not interfere with the day to day activities. The researcher will also collect a sample of floor dust using a standard vacuum cleaner. Participants will also be asked to complete a short questionnaire, to provide brief details of the number of electrical appliances and the type of textiles etc. in your room. All samples collected will be analysed for their concentrations of brominated flame retardants and PFOS at a specialist laboratory at the University of Birmingham. For further information on ELEVATE visit: www.nuigalway.ie/elevate ENDS

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

NUI Galway’s Rover Society has collected over 900 sleeping bags at Electric Picnic in Stradbally to donate to homeless services around Ireland. Based off a successful scheme run by the Society last year which saw 1,200 sleeping bags being donated to the homeless service COPE Galway, the society hoped to collect a similar amount of bags this year. Hannah Jansen, Auditor of the Rover Society at NUI Galway, said: “One of the most challenging aspects of this project is the logistics of transporting so many sleeping bags across Ireland. This year, we received sponsorship from Windsor Motor Group Galway and RescuU who provided us with a transit van and box trailer respectively. We also received support from the boutique camping company, Pink Moon, who have kindly offered us sleeping bags from the festival for two consecutive years. Without the support of these local businesses, this project would never have been possible.”  This year the sleeping bags were donated to Darkness into Light in Dublin, and NOVA, a Limerick-based charity that provides emergency accommodation to families, children and single adults who are homeless. The remaining bags were donated to local scout and youth groups across Galway City. Riona Hughes, NUI Galway’s Societies Officer, said: “This good work by the Rovers Society exemplifies all that is positive and socially aware about the students in NUI Galway. A big congratulations is due to Rover Society for this large undertaking and to all of the society members who in the last 12 years have raised over €2 million for charity and who have volunteered and worked with communities throughout the world.” The NUI Galway Rover Society is the Scout society at the University who aim to promote the outdoors but is also working towards a better community outreach. -Ends- 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

NUI Galway’s fifteenth annual Volunteering Fair will take place on Tuesday, 13 September in the Bailey Allen Hall, from 11-4pm. During the fair NUI Galway will launch the new national StudentVolunteer.ie website. Studentvolunteer.ie is a network of Irish Higher Education institutions that have come together to create an online resource to connect students and community groups, charities, schools, hospitals, public bodies and NGOs across Ireland. Studentvolunteer.ie is funded by each Higher Education member institution and Campus Engage Over 80 campus, local, national, and international NGOs, school and hospital programmes, charities and community and voluntary groups will be showcasing their work at the Volunteering Fair. Lorraine Tansey, Student Volunteer Coordinator at NUI Galway, said: “StudentVolunteer.ie is an exciting new portal for young people to sign up to volunteer, manage all their community engagement and reflect on their learning for a campus recognition certificate. We created this together across higher education because students want to volunteer where they are from and now study. It is an exciting opportunity to promote community activity and we are delighted to see student volunteering grow through this easy online interface. NGOs are also welcome to add their volunteering roles addressing a wide range of issues from environmental, social justice, or children and youth to StudentVolunteer.ie for students across Ireland to see.” Volunteering Fair exhibitors include: Habitat for Humanity Ireland; Baboró International Arts Festival for Children; SERVE; The Hope Foundation; Music for Galway; Helplink Support Services; Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland; GOAL; Clean Coasts; Conservation Volunteers Galway; JCI Galway; the Kiltartan Gregory Cultural Society; and Yeats Thoor Ballylee Development group, amongst others. ALIVE - A Learning Initiative and the Volunteering Experience – was established at NUI Galway to build links between community groups and students. This has been achieved through community partnerships, events like the Fair, and an online website of volunteer opportunities. At the end of the academic year students can apply for an ALIVE Certificate in acknowledgment of their voluntary commitment which is awarded by NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne. To date over 12,000 students have been recognised for their volunteering commitment to the Galway city community, the NUI Galway campus community and with international communities.  To book a stand or for further information visit www.nuigalway.ie/alive or email alive@nuigalway.ie.  -Ends-

Monday, 5 September 2016

NUI Galway, in association with the Kingfisher Club and Aerogen, will host its fourth annual charity 8K Run/Walk on Saturday, 24 September at 10am. The popular event consists of a traffic-free, mixed terrain route around the University’s campus and along the banks of the river Corrib. The event is open to everyone, with runners and walkers of all fitness levels catered for. Entry to the event is €25, with all proceeds going to Jigsaw Galway, the official charity partner. A special early bird rate of €20 is available before Friday, 16 September, with further discounts for group entries. Jigsaw Galway is a free and confidential support service that promotes the mental health and well-being of young people, aged 15-25, living in Galway city and county. Jigsaw also provides advice and guidance to parents, family members, friends and other professionals who are worried about a young person. NUI Galway Vice-President for the Student Experience, Dr Pat Morgan, said: “We have been building on the success of our 8K event on campus each year, with over 700 participants in 2015. We are holding the race earlier this year, and we look forward to welcoming staff, students, alumni, friends and neighbours to the University campus on 24 September for another great event. Little things make a difference and 'The more you move the better your mood' is a key message in support of better mental health. Take this opportunity to enjoy our wonderful campus and show your support for Jigsaw.” To help participants prepare for the event, Aerogen will host a Sign-Up Day for anyone interested on Friday, 9 September from 12pm-2pm in the Insight Building at the front of the IDA Business Park, Dangan. Representatives from Kingfisher Club and Jigsaw will also be present to assist with sign-ups and answer any questions. Kingfisher Club is also organising meet-and-train sessions on Mondays and Wednesday from 1pm-2pm and 5.30pm-6.30pm departing from the Sports Centre on the NUI Galway campus. The sessions are free-of-charge and open to all. To register for the NUI Galway 8K please log on to the Run Ireland Website www.runireland.com/events/nui-galway-8k-0. Updates are also available on the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NUIGalway.8kRun. For further queries email nuigalway8k@kingfisherclub.com. -Ends-

Friday, 2 September 2016

Exercise4Health is back this October, helping the people of Galway take control of their heart health. This programme, designed specifically for those who due to a number of health issues are reluctant to engage in exercise, those who are new to exercise and those who see exercise as their medicine to engage in a meaningful, evidence based fitness programme.  “The programme has been very successful over the past year with many participants improving their cardiovascular fitness, decreasing their risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and overall participants are living healthier lives” said Croí’s Specialist Cardiac Physiotherapist, Denise Dunne. Being physically active prevents and helps control a multitude of health problems, especially, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Exercise4Health provides a locally accessible fitness solution and opportunity for those with diabetes, heart disease, pulmonary disease; those recovering from stroke or cancer or those with breathing difficulties or other long-term health conditions, to commence a safe and beneficial exercise programme. The programme is ideally suited to anyone trying to reduce weight or indeed improve their overall health and wellbeing. The six-week rolling exercise programme is specially designed to suit all levels of current fitness. Prior to enrolling in the class all individuals will be assessed to ascertain current fitness levels. “The social interaction and group inclusion is also a vital part of the benefits of the programme, over the last year it has been a pleasure to see the many friendships develop between members of the group, with everyone enjoying a cup of  tea/coffee at the end of each exercise session” continued Denise Dunne. Croí, Kingfisher and NUI Galway jointly collaborate to bring Exercise4Health and are supporting World Heart Day on the 29 September. The Exercise4Health programme is starting back on Thursday, 6 October, and takes place in the Kingfisher Fitness Club at NUI Galway from 1-2pm every Thursday. For further information or to book a place call Croí now on 091 544310 -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

NUI Galway has launched a new sustainability initiative which aims to make the campus one of the greenest, smartest, healthiest and community-focused in the world.   The initiative is based on a Learn Live Lead approach where NUI Galway focuses on its core strength in teaching and research to learn about sustainability, analyses building performance and campus operations to live more sustainability, and connects to broader society to lead in translating sustainability to the wider community.  As part of the initiative, NUI Galway becomes the first university in Ireland to join the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) Sustainable Energy Communities Network. This ambitious initiative also includes a ‘Battle of the Buildings’ energy-efficiency competition and a new website to showcase sustainability teaching and research and to engage the campus community. Commenting at the launch, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Registrar and Deputy President of NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to be the first university in Ireland to sign up for this initiative. After my appointment in early 2014 as Registrar and Deputy President, I initiated a university-wide discussion on the future of NUI Galway among senior academics and senior administrators. One of the key themes identified in this process was to move the University towards the greenest, smartest, healthiest and community-focused third-level campus in Ireland with an ambition to be internationally recognised by 2025 for its culture and practice of sustainability. ” Professor Ó Dochartaigh continued: “The SEAI Sustainable Energy Communities Network is timely and fits very well with strategic developments in NUI Galway. For example, the NUI Galway Strategic Plan 2015-2020, Vision 2020 embraces the ideas of ‘creating a sustainable campus where all resources are used efficiently and where facilities are managed and services consolidated as efficiently as possible’ and recognises the need for ‘external engagement with an openness to partnership and a spirit of collaboration to define the NUI Galway approach’.” The Sustainable Energy Communities Network embraces an inclusive and community approach, across all sectors, to develop a sustainable energy system. To achieve this goal, SECs aim to be energy efficient, to use renewable energy where feasible and to develop decentralised energy supplies. By joining the SEC Network, NUI Galway commits to knowledge sharing with SEC members and to developing and implementing energy-saving initiatives. Membership of the SEC network offers many benefits to the University and its community partners, including the potential for energy and financial savings, community building through a partnership approach, and developing renewable energy technologies. Battle of the Buildings The first major project of the University’s sustainability initiative is the ‘Battle of the Buildings’, inspired by a similar competition run by the US Environmental Protection Agency. It aims to make students, academics and staff more aware of the energy use of campus buildings and to encourage energy-efficient behaviour through collegial competition. The first departments to battle off are engineering, nursing and business, all located in the north of the Newcastle campus. Details of daily energy use of buildings will be available online as well as on dashboards throughout campus. An energy training and awareness campaign will encourage students, academics and staff to make informed decisions about energy use that will reduce energy costs. Professor Colin Brown, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “We have made great progress over the last 10 years in introducing clean and green systems into our buildings and thanks to the leadership of the Buildings Office we are becoming much more efficient in how we use energy and what types of energies we use. This launch recognises that to progress a sustainable energy system, a collaborative and concerted campus and community-wide commitment to energy efficiency and sustainable energy use is needed.” Professor Brown continued: “NUI Galway recognises the role of a sustainable third-level campus in the transition towards a sustainable community encompassing environment health, economy, community and culture. Sustainable energy use is a central pillar of campus energy policy and is the foundation for NUI Galway to become recognised internationally as one of the greenest, smartest and healthiest campuses.” Phelim Kelly, President of the Students’ Union, added: “This is a fantastic initiative where we can see a real partnership between students, staff and indeed the external community. I would like to thank everyone involved in their efforts to make people more consciously aware of the environment. It is brilliant to see staff and students collaborate with an aim to see a healthier, green campus and in doing so giving the University and wider communities an insight into the value of sustainable technologies.” NUI Galway has also launched a new website to collect all existing research, teaching, outreach and management relating to sustainability. This website includes dedicated pages for each sustainability project, a feedback mechanism for ideas for campus improvements, and links to teaching and research centres. New data platforms will be integrated in the website demonstrate key performance indicators relating to campus performance, such as energy use in each building. For more details on sustainability at NUI Galway, visit: www.nuigalway.ie/sustainability ENDS

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Tibetan Buddhist Monk to deliver public mindfulness classes at NUI Galway as part of the University’s ongoing initiative towards integrating a mindful culture As part of its ongoing initiative towards integrating mindfulness into the University’s culture, NUI Galway will host a day of Mindfulness classes with Tibetan Buddhist Monk, Gelong Thubten. The classes are free and will take place in NUI Galway’s Aula Maxima Lower on Friday, 24 June, throughout the day from 8.15am to 5pm.   This month’s classes will focus on Transforming Emotional Reactions through Mindfulness. This will be followed by a reflection practice that looks at methods for gaining more freedom from limiting emotional patterns, as well as how to develop greater tolerance and mental resilience. Training in compassion will also be emphasised. Classes are open to all university staff and students, the general public, researchers, student counsellors and advisors, healthcare professionals, mindfulness practitioners, and anyone with an interest in mindfulness. The June class is the fifth in a series of monthly classes, which will continue over the coming months at the University. The purpose of the classes is to provide a thorough training in mindfulness, teaching new themes and reflection practices each month, which should be practiced in between modules. For those attending for the first time, there is an opportunity to cover the previous three sessions at the 12pm class. Tibetan Buddhist Monk, Gelong Thubten is based at the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery in Dumfriesshire in Scotland and works with businesses, hospitals, schools, prisons and addiction centres, and counts among his clients such organisations as the NHS, Google, Morrisons, Clifford Chance and Linklaters. He has lectured on Buddhism and meditation at the universities of Oxford, Helsinki and Cardiff.  Commenting on what people can expect from the Mindfulness classes Gelong Thubten said: “The mindfulness training has been very well supported at NUI Galway and people are finding real benefit in their lives. It is great to see so many people gaining such a lot from these classes.” Class Schedule for Friday, 24 June, 2016: 8.15am – 9:00am 10.45am – 11.30am 12:00pm – 12.45pm (Beginners) 13.15pm – 14:00pm 17: 00pm – 17:45pm For more about NUI Galway’s Mindful Way visit: www.nuigalway.ie/mindfulway ENDS

Thursday, 16 June 2016

NUI Galway is involved with Ireland’s first ever Autism Registry, which was recently launched by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone. The Registry will help identify the exact service needs for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by gathering vital information on a child’s diagnosis, development, medical and educational history. NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin and Autism Speaks are leading the initiative in response to a call for a registry from affected families. The pilot phase of the Registry will begin in Kildare/West Wicklow with hopes to extend it nationally later this year.  The data gathered will not only map out gaps in occupational health, speech & language and educational services but will also offer an important insight into the day-to-day realities for families living with autism. The Registry will also inform future academic research into the causes of autism and improved interventions. Dr Geraldine Leader, Director of the Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research at NUI Galway said: “The benefits of this Registry are far reaching, and it will allow us not only to demonstrate how widespread the condition is but to identify where extra medical and educational resources should be targeted. The Irish Autism Registry will serve as a national resource, targeted at the social, health, educational and long term needs of the Irish autism community.” Professor Louise Gallagher, School of Medicine at Trinity College Dublin said:“I work with parents every day and know the immense challenges they face when it comes to access to the services they need for their child. The information gathered will allow us to identify the services that are lacking and to pinpoint exactly where they are needed. This will be the first step in helping children reach their full potential and in turn improve their quality of life.” An estimated one in 68 people worldwide has ASD, which makes it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and paediatric AIDs combined. Parents and guardians across Kildare/West Wicklow are encouraged to support the project by registering their child on the Autism Registry. To sign up, please email Sarah-Marie Feighan on feighans@tcd.ie or call 01 8962315 For more information visit www.iarb.ie ENDS

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Minister of State for Health Promotion, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy to deliver opening conference address NUI Galway will hold the 20th annual Health Promotion Research Centre Summer Conference on Wednesday, 15 June in Áras Moyola. The conference will explore the use of research evidence in developing and implementing inter-sectoral policy and innovative practice for health promotion.  Minister Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Minister of State for Health Promotion at the Department of Health will deliver the opening address. Minister Corcoran Kennedy said: “The Healthy Ireland Framework is the blueprint for how we will promote, protect and improve the health and wellbeing of our people. Health promotion research and practice will play a key role in empowering individuals, families and communities to look after their own health and wellbeing and make positive choices. They are also a key part of the cross-sectoral partnerships we need to build to address the determinants of health.” The conference will bring together policy, research and practice perspectives on the use of more effective methods of translating evidence into effective health promotion action. Bridging the gap between ‘what works’ and ‘what happens in practice’ will be a key focus of the conference. This meeting also marks 30 years since the publication of the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (WHO, 1986) and celebrates 20 years of NUI Galway hosting the annual Health Promotion conference. Professor Don Nutbeam, Professor of Public Health, Sydney School of Public Health in the University of Sydney, will deliver the a keynote lecture on optimising the transfer of research evidence into healthy public policy and health promotion practice. Professor Nutbeam said: “We need to work with policy makers to understand more clearly the type of questions that need answering, and to continue to develop the research methods that deliver the best possible answers to questions of greatest public health importance.” Dr Gauden Galea, Director of the Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Promoting Health through the Life-course, WHO Regional Office for Europe will present on strengthening the evidence base for action on health promotion in Europe. Other speakers will include Professor Corey Keyes, Department of Sociology, Emory University, Atlanta, United States, who will deliver a lecture on the need for the promotion and protection of positive mental health throughout the lifespan, with a particular focus on youth and students. Professor Jan de Maeseneer, Head of Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, Ghent University will discuss community oriented primary care and provide examples of the integration of health promotion into public health and primary health care. Professor de Maeseneer said: “Community Oriented Primary Care blends daily activities in primary health care with the aspirations of health promotion in the context of public health.” Workshops on using research in policy and practice will also feature and include topics such as alcohol, mental wellbeing, child and adolescent health, partnerships for health, behavior change and health inequalities. Oral and poster presentations related to the conference theme will also be delivered, and together with the workshops provide every delegate a chance to network and meet with speakers and colleagues. A riverside walk or spin on a ‘Pedal Power’ bike is also on offer to enable delegates easy and accessible active opportunities. Professor Margaret Barry, Chair of the 2016 Conference and Established Professor at NUI Galway, said: “This conference brings together key players in health promotion policy, research and practice and together we will reflect on the impact of health promotion since the publication of the Ottawa Charter, consider successes and current challenges, and envision how we can shape the future of health promotion and strengthen evidence-based action for improved population health.” Since NUI Galway’s postgraduate Health Promotion programme had its first entry in 1993, there have been over 600 graduates from the Master’s and Postgraduate Diploma programme and a recent survey of past graduates indicated that the vast majority are working in Health Promotion posts or in related work. NUI Galway has also seen a significant increase in the number of PhD students in Health Promotion in recent years, including overseas students, with 21 currently registered on a full or part-time basis.  -Ends-

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

NUI Galway Students prepare for Shell Eco-marathon 2016 NUI Galway’s ultra-energy-efficient car team, the Geec (Galway energy-efficient car), has teamed up with Mondello Park International Race Circuit, the home of motor racing in Ireland, to push the bounds of automotive energy efficiency. The Geec, which has been designed, built, driven and tested entirely by NUI Galway undergraduate students, will spend a day on the track at Mondello this Thursday (16 June). The car’s electrical, electronic and mechanical systems, as well as its drivers, will be put through their paces before travelling to London for Shell Eco-marathon (SEM) Europe 2016, the premier competition for student-built energy efficient vehicles. In 2015, the Geec became the first ever Irish team to participate at the Europe-wide event, finishing 23rd out of 51 teams in the battery electric prototype category, with an efficiency score of 287 kilometres per kilowatt-hour, equivalent to 8,000 miles per gallon. Driving the 2015 Geec from Galway to Dublin would use just 13 cents worth of electricity. The Geec 2.0 aims to improve on this performance through an aggressive campaign of vehicle weight reduction, aerodynamic improvements, electric drive optimisation and driver training. Testing at Mondello Park provides a truly unique opportunity for the NUI Galway students to put engineering theory to the test under realistic driving conditions not available anywhere else in Ireland. For Mondello Park International Race Circuit, the day of testing is a chance to play a key role in the shift towards a more sustainable future for mobility in Ireland. Nearly 40% of energy use in Ireland is for transportation, with 97% of this figure delivered by imported oil products. The widespread use of fossil fuels in transportation is responsible for the release of about one quarter of Ireland’s climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions from transportation are second only to those of agriculture. The NUI Galway students of the Geec team are pushing the boundaries of energy-efficient transport technology. Shane Queenan, a final-year student of mechanical engineering and one of the car’s design team leaders, said: “Testing at Mondello Park is an ideal opportunity for us to fine-tune the performance of the car before we race in London. It will be truly rewarding to see the Geec running around Ireland's renowned motorsport circuit.” Dr Nathan Quinlan, Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering and one of the team’s academic mentors, added: “The team has made huge strides this year. The Mondello Park testing is the final preparation for SEM Europe, and will give the team invaluable knowledge about the car and experience of race conditions.” ENDS

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

US Disability Visionaries will reflect on Ireland's programme for government in the area of disability at International Summer School The world’s biggest Disability Law Summer School focusing on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will take place in NUI Galway from 20-24 June. Hosted by the University’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy, this the eighth such Summer School to take place at the University, and this year’s theme is ‘Civil Society Impacting Change’. The aim of the five-day Summer School is to equip participants with the insights and skills necessary to help them translate the generalities of the UN Convention into tangible reform for persons with disabilities. This School will look at some of the strategies that civil society has used to protect the rights and improve the lives of people with disabilities around the world. Over 140 delegates from nearly 40 countries are expected to attend this year’s event, including persons with disabilities and their families, civil society groups, as well as advocates for disability law reform, lawyers, policy makers and policy analysts. The faculty will include senior academics, practitioners, advocates and policy makers from around the world. Many of the speakers have been directly and actively engaged in drafting and implementing the UN Convention. Others are advocates for change and reform. This year it will be opened by Senator Tom Harkin and Judith Heumann of the US State Department. Senator Harkin was the lead sponsor of the famous Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) which triggered the disability rights movement around the world. Judith Heumann now acts as Assistant Secretary of State in the US State Department helping other countries develop their disability rights programmes.   Also speaking will be John Wodatch, Former Director of the Disability Section of the Civil Rights Division in the US Department of Justice; and Catalina Devandas, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Though designed to be pan-national in its scope, this year will afford a unique learning opportunity on how disability-related innovations in the new Irish programme for government can be mapped onto innovations already taken place in the US. The Summer School is in part supported by the Open Society Foundations. Registration for the Summer School remains open until Friday, 17 June and will cost €330. Further information is available at http://www.nuigalway.ie/cdlp/summer_school/about.html or contact jb.terrins@nuigalway.ie or 086 8252612. Participant accessibility (physical or communicational) requests and enquiries are welcomed. -Ends-

Thursday, 9 June 2016

The 2nd Annual mHealth Behavioural Science and Mobile Technology Conference will be hosted by the mHealth Research Group and the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, on the Thursday, 16 June in the Arts Millennium Building.  Building on the success of its inaugural event last year, the mHealth Behavioural Science and Mobile Technology Conference will bring together an impressive network of healthcare researchers, practitioners and industry leaders to address key issues in behavioural science, mobile health (mHealth) research and healthcare delivery.  The mHealth Research Group was founded in 2014 by a diverse group of researchers and clinicians at NUI Galway. The main aim of the mHealth Research Group is to promote approaches to mHealth research, intervention development and implementation in practice that are appropriate, patient-centric, evidence-based and scalable. The conference will feature leading and innovative experts and guest speakers in the area of mobile health, including: Professor Susan Michie, University College London; Professor David French, University of Manchester; Professor Sean Mackey, Stanford University; Dr Beth Darnall, Stanford University, Dr Leanne Morrisson, University of Southampton; Dr Conor Linehan, University College Cork; Dr Felix Naughton, University of Cambridge and Avril Copeland, Founder of TickerFit.  For students, post-graduates, established and early career researchers, this dynamic and interdisciplinary event will provide an ideal platform to showcase existing and emerging mobile, telehealth and connected health technology research and practices focusing on patient care, population health management and clinical outcomes.  The overall theme of the conference will be on the use of effective methods of knowledge translation and specific efforts to bridge the gap between the scientific and commercial aspects of mobile and connected health.  Conference topics of interest include: improved access to healthcare related knowledge and information; diagnostic, communication and treatment support for patients and providers; timely and actionable delivery of public health information; remote monitoring of health conditions; personal health management including chronic conditions and greater access to education and training for healthcare professionals. The conference will feature interactive panel discussions, poster presentations and awards for best poster presentation including best student poster presentation. Dr Jane Walsh, Chair of the mHealth research group at NUI Galway, said: “We are particularly delighted to have such a fantastic line up of speakers joining us to continue the discussion on the role of behavioural science and mobile health technology in healthcare, and the future of mHealth in health-related practice, policy and research. This event will aim to promote the development of high quality multidisciplinary research networks through which NUI Galway can achieve the highest quality of scientific excellence working with international research leaders and all the various stakeholders in healthcare and industry.” The mHealth Behavioural Science and Mobile Technology Conference is supported in part by the Irish Research Council, the Whitaker Institute and the Health Research Board. Registration for the conference is free and places are limited.  For more information, submission guidelines and to submit a presentation, please visit: http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=470 Attendees at the mHealth Behavioural Science and Mobile Technology Conference on June 16 are also invited to enjoy a second day of discussion, exploration and networking at the 20th Anniversary Health Promotion Conference also hosted at NUI Galway.  For further information, please visit the website: www.hprcconference.ie    ENDS

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

NUI Galway will host the 25th International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) Annual Conference, ‘Transitions and Transformations in Gender Equality’, from 24-26 June. Bringing together leading practitioners from the fields of academia, economics and social justice, the conference presents an opportunity to interact with preeminent feminist and heterodox economics scholars and advocates whose work covers a wide range of issues such as gender equality, gender and development, macroeconomic policy, capabilities and well-being. The IAFFE is a renowned international association that focuses on advancing feminist inquiry into economic issues. The conference comes at a time of growing economic and environmental instability across the world. In responding to these issues, the IAFFE members are engaged in critical policy discussions on gender equality at both national and international forums, providing a strong voice in critiques of neo-liberal paradigms, and advocating for an alternative vision of economics focused on equality, capabilities and well-being. Speakers will include: Bina Agarwal, a prize-winning development economist and Professor of Development Economics and Environment at the University of Manchester, UK Naila Kabeer, Professor of Gender and Development at the Gender Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science Diane Elson, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Sociology at University of Essex, UK Gita Sen, Professor of Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India, and Adjunct Professor of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health Alicia Girón, past President of IAFFE is a member of the UN High-Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment Speaking ahead of the event, chief organiser Dr Nata Duvvury, senior lecturer and Co-Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Global Women’s Studies, said: “This conference comes at a very critical juncture as the world is grappling with fragile economic recovery, a refugee crisis of unprecendented proportions, growing income inequality and deepening environmental crisis. Scholars, policymakers and activists will explore the ramifications of these challenges for gender equality and social justice as well as consider alternative sustainable solutions through gender aware macroecnomic policies, innovative social arrangements transforming the gendered nature of care work/social reproduction, and consistent application of human rights to design of programs and policies.” The Conference will open with a plenary on “Gender Equality in ‘Post-Recession’ Ireland” with contributions by Professor Sesma Ozar, President of IAFFE; Dr Anne Byrne, NUI Galway; Professor Kathleen Lynch, UCD; Dr Helen Russell, ESRI; and Orla O’Connor, National Women's Council of Ireland. A consultation roundtable for input to the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment will also be held. Alicia Giron, former President of IAFFE and member of the High Level Panel will provide an overview of the work of panel thus far. Another important high-level roundtable of special interest to policy makers, advocates and activists is on ‘Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals: are they transformative agenda?’. The roundtable discussants include Professor Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, New School for Social Research and Member of UN Development Policy Committee; Naila Kabeer, Professor of Gender and Development at LSE Gender Institute; Professor Gita Sen, Indian Institute of Management; and Shahra Razavi, Chief of Research and Data at the UN. On Thursday, 23 June, a pre-conference workshop will be held by the IAFFE, designed for scholars and activists new to feminist economics. Topics will include feminist economics methodologies, caring labour, diversity in economics, and global perspectives on gender and economics. The workshop will also provide career-building presentations and discussions, such as publishing feminist economics research and developing a media presence. This year’s conference is being organised by NUI Galway’s Centre for Global Women’s Studies with support from Fáilte Ireland, and NUI Galway’s Institute for Lifecourse and Society, Moore and Whitaker Institutes, Research Office, International Office as well as Galway University Foundation. For more information on the IAFFE Conference and a full list of the speakers visit http://www.iaffe.org/2016-annual-conference/ -Ends-

Thursday, 2 June 2016

NUI Galway’s CÉIM programme recently won the ‘Student Engagement Activity of the Year Award’ at the National Student Achievement Awards 2016. CÉIM is an academic peer-led support scheme for first year NUI Galway students studying the BA in Geography, the BA in Law, and Engineering. The National Student Achievement Awards recognise the contribution of individuals and groups from third-level education institutions across the island of Ireland. Presenting the Award to NUI Galway was Tom Boland, CEO of the Higher Education Authority, who said: “CÉIM is innovative and invigorating and shows a depth of work and understanding worthy of any project in higher education.” CÉIM was initiated by NUI Galway Students' Union in collaboration with the University’s College of Engineering and Informatics in 2013. Professor Gerry Lyons, Dean of NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics, said: “CÉIM aims to support first year students to transition successfully to university, succeed academically, develop networks, and complete their studies. We are delighted that CÉIM has been acknowledged at a national level and we look forward to further developing the programme in collaboration with our students in the coming years.” CÉIM is based on the well-evidenced Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) model used in over 30 countries. Sessions, which are about collaborative learning, are student-led and about working in small groups to gain a greater understanding of coursework, prepare for exams and develop new skills. Amber Walsh Olesen, CÉIM Co-ordinator, NUI Galway Students’ Union, said: “First year students can sometimes be apprehensive about asking questions in lectures and don’t always know what is expected of them as independent learners. CÉIM is a structured programme where student leaders from higher years facilitate weekly study sessions for small groups of first year students, creating peer-led learning communities where it’s easy to ask questions.” According to Dr Eoghan Clifford, Academic Coordinator of CÉIM at NUI Galway College of Engineering and Informatics: “The impact to date of CÉIM is very encouraging with 80% of first years surveyed in 2014/15 saying it helped them settle into university and make friends. Regular CÉIM attendees achieved 9% higher grades in 2014/15 than irregular or non-attendees and were much more likely to pass the year. We can clearly see that interest among students in CÉIM has grown year on year, with 20% of first year Engineering students recently applying to be student leaders.” Due to the success of CÉIM, the programme was piloted in NUI Galway School of Law in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies in 2015 and will be further rolled out in 2016/17. NUI Galway Students’ Union President, Phelim Kelly, added: “Peer learning is not an activity that is traditionally associated with Students’ Unions and we’re delighted to be leading the way in this regard in Ireland. CÉIM is proof that there is a lot to be gained by students’ unions, university staff and higher year students partnering to support first years as they transition to university.” For more information on the CÉIM initiative visit www.su.nuigalway.ie/ceim. -Ends-

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Biomedical researchers from the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) and CÚRAM at NUI Galway, in collaboration with clinicians from Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin (OLCHC) have developed the first in Ireland synchronised beating heart cells from human pluripotent stem (iPS) cells made from skin biopsy. The research funded in partnership by REMEDI and the National Children's Research Centre (NCRC) aims to investigate the causes of unexpected sudden death from inherited cardiac conditions in young people, and to help test therapies that may reduce the risk of sudden death in survivors and relatives. The discovery of the genetic basis of inherited cardiac conditions, specifically the inherited rhythm disease known as Long QT Syndrome, has advanced our understanding of disease mechanisms and provided an insight into how we ultimately might ‘repair’ the genetic defect. The stem cell scientists at REMEDI in NUI Galway are now in a position to generate patient-specific heart tissue in a dish to test new therapies and treatments. To continue the next phase of this study NUI Galway is now seeking families affected by Long QT Syndrome to come forward for a skin biopsy on consultation with their doctor. The aim is to recruit both affected and unaffected family members to better understand what places one family member at risk and not another, preferably with the identified causative gene mutation in the family. Stem cell-derived heart cells have revolutionised our understanding of heart mechanical and electrical communication, coordination and function. Mature human heart cells cannot be grown outside the body under normal conditions, and do not lend themselves easily to scientific interrogation without placing the patient at potential risk. By utilising a skin biopsy sample from a particular patient, the scientists can engineer those same skin cells into heart cells through what is termed ‘re-programming’ and can then create an exact replica of that patients’ heart tissue in a laboratory dish. This allows researchers to understand in detail the particular patient’s disease and to test or develop therapies without placing the individual patient at any medical risk. New medicines can be tested on these cells for their effectiveness in preventing arrhythmias. Similarly, the genetic defect in the heart cell can be repaired through genome editing and this repaired heart cell can be then directly compared to the diseased heart cell in the lab. The stem cell study was initiated by Professor Timothy O’Brien, Director of REMEDI and Co-Principal Investigator at CÚRAM in NUI Galway and Dr Terence Prendiville, NCRC Principal Investigator and the Department of Paediatric Cardiology in OLCHC. The research was carried out by Professor Sanbing Shen, Professor of Fundamental Stem Cell Biology and Post-doctoral researcher Dr Min Liu in the Biomedical Sciences Building at NUI Galway.  The researchers in NUI Galway have developed a highly skilled and technically specialised expertise in ‘re-programming’ skin cells into stem cells, and then, in turn, making heart cells out of those same patient’s stem cells. The beating heart tissue can be electrically and mechanically measured and recorded. The ultimate goal is to repair the genetic defect in the affected heart cells using new CRIPSR/Cas9 technology and return the heart cells to normal function. In collaboration with adult and paediatric cardiologists, the scientists at REMEDI will help define the burden of Long QT syndrome in the affected families and develop technologies to measure the effectiveness of therapies and genetic repairs in the dish prior to any human trial. Affected families with Long QT syndrome will be identified through the National Inherited Cardiac Conditions service delivered across the three campuses of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Cardiovascular Risk in the Young at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, and the Family Heart Screening Clinic at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin. The families that are being selected at this early stage of research are patients with clearly abnormal electrocardiograms which are associated with a risk of sudden death, and a known causative gene mutation. Skin biopsy samples will be taken using punch biopsies at the research facility at NUI Galway with local anaesthetic, then subsequently grown in a dish and stored locally for further research. Skin cells are relatively simple to grow in a lab and lend themselves well to being ‘re-programmed’ to pluripotent stem cells by Nobel prize-winning technology applied at REMEDI. Once a patient-derived stem cell population has been generated in the lab, the next step is to produce beating heart cells using timed application of selective growth factors in a particular sequence using established research protocols. Beating heart cells in the dish can then be electrically measured using tiny electrodes akin to an electrocardiogram in a human patient. Skin samples are also being obtained from closely related but unaffected family members to allow a comparison between normal and diseased heart cells. Once the pipeline for generating patient-derived heart tissue has been robustly tested for Long QT syndrome, the same scientific technology will be used to explore other inherited arrhythmia conditions and cardiomyopathies. Professor Timothy O’Brien from NUI Galway, said: “We are excited about the potential to develop new therapies for children at risk of sudden death using this technology. The complete translational infrastructure for this work is now present in Galway and will be extended nationally with our collaborators in Dublin and throughout Ireland.”  Dr Terry Prendiville from Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin said: “I meet families every week in the hospital from all over Ireland who have been affected by the sudden unexpected death of a loved one. Their first question to me is: “Could this affect my child?” Their next question is: “How do I keep them safe?” “Research such as this allows us to continue to push the envelope on developing medical therapies that safeguard against risk of sudden death.” Dr Jacinta Kelly, CEO of the NCRC said: “I would like to welcome this research which has arisen from an exciting partnership between the NCRC and REMEDI. We, at the NCRC, are looking forward to continuing to work with our colleagues at REMEDI to find therapies to address the issue of congenital heart defects in children.” If you would like to participate in this study and you have a diagnosis of Long QT syndrome with a known gene mutation, please contact Dr Terence Prendiville at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin for further information and eligibility criteria. Terence.prendiville@olchc.ie   ENDS

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

NUI Galway will hold the 14th Galway Symposium on Higher Education on Friday, 17 June in Áras Moyola. The Symposium, entitled ‘Theory and Practice: Researching Teaching and Learning in Higher Education’, will provide an opportunity to showcase research and scholarship in the area of higher education teaching and student learning. The one-day event will focus on three main themes: how to begin researching teaching and learning practice; recognising the scholarship dimensions of teaching and supporting student learning; and raising awareness of contemporary research into higher education at practice and policy levels. The format of the event will be a mixture of plenary and parallel sessions using a diverse set of presentation and workshop formats. Given the increasing interest in research-informed teaching and curriculum design, alongside the emerging national framework for continuing professional development, and changes to promotional routes in many institutions in the higher education sector, the event will be an opportunity for sharing ideas, debating issues and learning more about the sector. The keynote speaker for the symposium is Dr Saranne Weller, newly appointed Director of the Centre for Research Informed Teaching at London South Bank University. Speakers by videoconference will include: Professor Tina Overton, Monash, Australia, who has encouraged the growth of pedagogic research in higher education, and the Nobel Prize winner, Professor Carl Wieman of Stanford University, a key figure in science education and active learning. There will also be participation by colleagues from the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning who will provide an overview of that organisation’s growing body of higher education research and its support of developing scholarship in this field. Professor Iain Mac Labhrainn, Director of the Centre for Excellence and Teaching (CELT) at NUI Galway, said: “I am delighted to be hosting such an event and to be able to exploit our technological infrastructure to bring in speakers from around the world, giving us all a chance to participate in discussion and debate. Taking a research-oriented and scholarly approach to teaching and supporting student learning is a key to developing a professional approach and in highlighting how research and teaching work well together.” To register for the symposium visit http://celt16.eventbrite.com. -Ends-