Thursday, 26 November 2020

Scientists Call for Decade of Concerted Effort to Enhance Understanding of the Deep Seasry name

NUI Galway scientist among international team proposing the ‘Challenger 150’ programme to understand how changes in the deep sea impact the wider ocean and life on the planet Professor Louise Allcock, Head of Zoology and Director of the Ryan Institute’s Centre for Ocean Research and Exploration at NUI Galway, is part of an international team of scientists who have called for a dedicated decade-long programme of research to greatly advance discovery in the remote regions of the deep seas and learn how they impact the wider ocean and life on the planet. The deep seas – vast expanses of water and seabed hidden more than 200 metres below the ocean surface to depths up to 11,000 metres – are recognised globally as an important frontier of science and discovery. But despite the fact they account for around 60% of Earth’s surface area, large areas remain completely unexplored, yet the habitats they support impact on the health of the entire planet. The international team spanning 45 institutions in 17 countries, presented the rationale behind the call for action in a comment article in Nature Ecology and Evolution, simultaneously publishing a detailed blueprint of how the actions can be best achieved in Frontiers in Marine Science. The programme, which scientists have named ‘Challenger 150’ will coincide with the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which runs from 2021-2030. Challenger 150 will generate new geological, physical, biogeochemical, and biological data through a global cooperative of science and innovation, including the application of new technology. These data will be used to understand how changes in the deep sea impact the wider ocean and life on the planet. Among its key areas of focus are to build greater capacity and diversity in the scientific community, acknowledging the fact that existing deep-sea research is conducted primarily by developed nations with access to resources and infrastructure. The programme will use this new knowledge of the deep to support regional, national, and international decision-making on deep-sea issues such as mining, hydrocarbon extraction, fishing, climate mitigation, laying of fibre optic cables and conservation. Professor Louise Allcock, one of the authors of the detailed blueprint paper, said: “The next ten years are going to be critical for our oceans - we MUST ensure that our oceans are used sustainably. This field-programme blueprint maps out how nations can share knowledge, equipment, and expertise, and develop capacity in deep-sea science across the world. By working to joint protocols, we can produce global datasets that answer broad questions about ocean diversity and resilience that cannot be answered by any one nation alone. Such knowledge can inform policy development and ensure our oceans are protected such that they also sustain future generations.”  Recent expeditions led by NUI Galway, aboard the national research vessel RV Celtic Explorer, and deploying the deep-water remotely operated vehicle ROV Holland I, have shown the Irish deep sea to be richly diverse. The proposed international programme will help scientists understand connectivity within and among oceans, and how best to conserve this rich biodiversity. These deep-sea ecosystems play a very important role in carbon storage, so maintaining their quality is paramount in the face of rising carbon dioxide levels and global climate change. Led by members of the Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI) and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), the authorship reflects both the gender and geographical diversity such a programme demands, with authors from the six inhabited continents of the World. They note that the UN Decade provides an unrivalled opportunity to unite the international science community to deliver a giant leap in our knowledge of the deep seas. Kerry Howell, Professor of Deep-Sea Ecology at the University of Plymouth (UK) and lead author of the research publications, said: “The deep seas and seabed are increasingly being used by society, and they are seen as a potential future asset for the resources they possess. But managing these resources sustainably requires that we first understand deep-sea ecosystems and their role in our planet, its people and its atmosphere. Our vision is for a 10 year programme of science and discovery that is global in scale and targeted towards proving the science to inform decisions around deep-ocean use. We believe the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science provides the perfect opportunity to achieve that.” Dr Ana Hilario, Researcher at the University of Aveiro (Portugal) and co-lead of the DOSI and SCOR Decade working groups, added: “The Decade also provides the opportunity to build a long-term programme for training and capacity building in ocean sciences. With Challenger 150, we aim to train the next generation of deep-sea biologists and focus on training scientists from developing countries, but also early stage scientists from all nations. Such training will create a network of enhanced capacity that will allow countries to exercise their full role in international discussions on the use of ocean resources within and outside of their national boundaries.” For more information about Challenger 150, see: and Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative, visit: To read the paper in Frontiers in Marine Science, visit: -Ends-

News Archive

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

NUI Galway has announced the appointment of Professor Rebecca Braun as new Executive Dean of the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, and Professor Geraint Howells as Executive Dean of the College of Business, Public Policy and Law. Professors Braun and Howells will begin their new roles in January 2021. NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “I am delighted to welcome Professors Braun and Howells to NUI Galway. Both bring a great breadth of experience and I look forward to working with Rebecca and Geraint to strengthen and build on the strong, collegial foundations in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies and the College of Business, Public Policy and Law, to living our values of respect, excellence, openness and sustainability for the public good, and to further developing new programmes of research and teaching.”  Professor Rebecca Braun will join NUI Galway from Lancaster University where she is currently Professor of Modern Languages and Creative Futures, and where she co-directs the multi-disciplinary Institute for Social Futures. Rebecca grew up in Cork and Tipperary before studying French and German at St. Edmund Hall, the University of Oxford. Having been awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellowship (Early Career), a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Liverpool, a Scatcherd European Scholarship from the University of Oxford and an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship to work in Berlin, she has published widely in the area of German literature/world literature in leading international venues, is one of the lead editors of German Life & Letters, and routinely works with partners in government and the creative sector. Professor Braun said: “I am honoured to be joining NUI Galway as the Executive Dean of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies. The College has a fantastic wealth of ideas and expertise across an enviable range of disciplines. I am really looking forward to working with all College members to amplify this work, bring in new voices, and grow our audiences across the university, region and wider world.” Professor Geraint Howells is currently Professor of Commercial Law and Associate Dean in Humanities for Internationalisation at Manchester University. He has extensive leadership experience having served very successfully as Dean of Law at the City University of Hong Kong and Head of the Law School in Manchester, and, previously, in Lancaster. He was called to the bar in 2002 through a special route for distinguished academics and was awarded an LLD in 2014. He has published extensively on consumer law, product liability and European private law and was a member of the Acquis group developing common principles of European contract law and tort law. A former President of the International Association of Consumer Law, he edited the Consumer Law Journal for many years, is on the editorial board of the Journal of Consumer Policy and is Series Editor for Routledge’s Markets and Law series. He has undertaken extensive consultancy for government, the EU and NGOs. Commenting on the new appointment, Professor Howells said: “I have been heartened by the warmth of the welcome extended to me by the NUI Galway community. I was attracted by our strengths in Business, Public Policy and Law that make us well placed to promote inter-disciplinary research into the great challenges facing our society alongside other leading international research institutions. This research base feeds into innovative and topical teaching programmes that attract a diverse student population. I hope we can continue to serve our local community, whilst ensuring our excellence is available to the global community.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

On the evening of 24 November 1920, Michael Moran was shot near the ball alley at University College Galway, allegedly while ‘trying to escape’ from the custody of Auxiliaries. A prominent republican in the Tuam area, Moran was being escorted from the police barracks in Eglinton Street to the temporary barracks of the 17th Lancers (now the O’Donoghue Centre and College Bar area), when the shooting took place.   To mark the centenary of the tragedy on its campus, NUI Galway is holding a webinar under the auspices of the Moore Institute, which will discuss the life and death of Michael Moran, and also consider the broader political context in which it occurred, in particular the escalation of the conflict in Ireland during the closing months of 1920.    The panellists are Síobhra Aiken (Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway), Prof. Linda Connolly (NUI Maynooth), Dr Jarlath Deignan, author of Troubled Times: War and Rebellion in North Galway, 1913-23, and military historian Damian Quinn. The discussion will be moderated by Dr John Cunningham (Dept of History, NUI Galway).   Free registration for the event here: -Ends-

Monday, 23 November 2020

ReelLIFE SCIENCE video competition prizes awarded to Cork, Galway, Dublin, Tyrone and Roscommon schools and youth groups From Canny Canines to Coronavirus and Melting Ice to Mitosis, short science videos made by young filmmakers from all over Ireland were honoured at the ReelLIFE SCIENCE Video Competition Awards during Sunday’s Galway Science and Technology Virtual Festival Show. More than 450 short science films were entered into the competition by over 2,500 science enthusiasts from 130 schools and youth groups around Ireland. Winning videos were selected by a panel of guest judges including ‘Múinteoir Ray’ Cuddihy from RTÉ’s After School Hub; BBC Wildlife and Children’s presenter, Ferne Corrigan; and the 2020 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition winners, Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan, from Coláiste Choilm in Cork. A group of 17 fourth class students from Gaelscoil Riabhach in Loughrea, Co. Galway, along with their teacher Brian Ó Meacháin, won the €1000 first prize at Primary School level for their Irish language video ’An Croí (The Heart)’. Primary school runners-up were Scoil na nAingeal Naofa from Boyle, Co. Roscommon, while Kilcoe National School from Skibbereen in Cork, finished third. Transition year students Isabelle Xiao and Cindy Xu, along with teacher Patrick Cushen from Alexandra College in Milltown, Co. Dublin, claimed the Secondary School €1000 award, for their distinctive animated short ‘What is Mitosis?’ A group of 21 first year students from St Patrick’s College, Co. Tyrone were runners-up, while Le Chéile Secondary School students John Madeja and Gerard Nipales were awarded third place. The Ripple Effect Youth Hub, which runs activities for young people with Aspergers, ADHD and Dyspraxia in south County Dublin, won the €1000 Youth Group first prize for their video ‘Canny Canines: Are dogs smarter than we give them credit for?’ The Easy Treesie group, which encourages young people to plant trees to combat climate change came second, while third place went to members of the Foróige Gort Youth Service in Galway. Speaking about ReelLIFE SCIENCE, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society at Science Foundation Ireland, said: “We are delighted to support this initiative, which cleverly utilises digital technology to develop science literacy and creativity, at a time when these skills are most needed. ReelLIFE SCIENCE encourages young people to connect with science and technology in their everyday lives, and to bring that knowledge to a wider audience, while promoting current Irish scientific research and development.” The ReelLIFE SCIENCE programme challenges young people in schools and youth groups around Ireland to engage with science and technology by producing short educational videos, while developing their communication and digital skills. Since being launched in 2013 by Dr Enda O’Connell, College of Science and Engineering in NUI Galway, and a team of volunteer scientists, this challenge has been met by more than 16,000 participants in over 500 schools and groups around Ireland. Congratulating all of the participants, Dr O’Connell said: “We were hugely impressed with the standard of this year’s videos, particularly the ingenuity and creativity shown by the young filmmakers, often in challenging circumstances. Their hours of effort and passion for science was clear to see and made it a very difficult task for the judges. Well done to everyone who took part!” The winning videos can be viewed at and more information about the programme can be found at -Ends-

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