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 or contact Dr Cornelia Connolly, NUI Galway’s School of Education, at -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 or -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: and follow updates on Twitter: @GalwayClimathon ‏ For more information on Climate-KIC, visit: -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:    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: For more information about the Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre and the Genetics and Biotechnology Research Lab at NUI Galway, visit: and -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: To participate in the programme, please email your name, phone number and details of your MS to 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: Video of the Biodiversity Trail, here: -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: or email -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 For further enquiries contact   -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  or visit -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:  -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: -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: -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 or 091 492720 and Dr Martin Glavin at 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: -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,, 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 — RTÉ News (@rtenews) February 19, 2018 Our trash is harming the deepest fish in the ocean via @usatoday — NUI Galway (@nuigalway) February 22, 2018 Microplastics found in deep-water fish — The Sea-MAT Project (@SeaMATproject) February 22, 2018 Not strictly fish: 73% of deep water fish contain microplastics via @RTEBrainstorm — RTÉ (@rte) February 20, 2018 Fish In The Northwest Atlantic Found To Have High Levels Of #Microplastics #CleanSeas — 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. @MaREIcentre @MarineInst — The Ryan Institute (@RyanInstitute) February 19, 2018 High Levels of Microplastics in Atlantic Fish — ScienceDaily (@ScienceDaily) February 20, 2018 Interview: Alina Wieczorek and Gary Kendellen — 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: For more information about the event please contact Conor Deane, Chairperson of Galway Energy Summit, NUI Galway at 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  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 or Magdalena Hajdukiewicz -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 or 091 492765. Visit SEAFUEL at: -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 Updates are also available on the Facebook page at All queries on the event can be sent to -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 or contact Dr Christine Domegan, Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway at 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: -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: -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 -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 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 a national platform to match students to non-profits. For further information contact Lorraine Tansey, ALIVE Student Volunteer Coordinator at 091 495346, or email -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: or phone Dr Frances Fahy at 091 492315. For further information about the project visit: -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 For further information contact the CCAFS Society at, or follow on Facebook at or Twitter at -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: For further information, contact Dr Veronica McCauley, School of Education, NUI Galway on Other marine related resources are available on the project website at -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 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 , 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 or -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, 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 ‘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 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 -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  -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 -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, 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 -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, 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: 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 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, 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 -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: 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 website. 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. 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: “ 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 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 or email  -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 Updates are also available on the Facebook page at For further queries email -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: 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: 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 or call 01 8962315 For more information visit 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 or contact 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: 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:    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 -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 -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.   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 -Ends-