Monday, 24 July 2017

Society medallion awardees to include Gabriel Byrne and Jessica Lange Co-chaired by Professor Nelson O’Ceallaigh Ritschel and Dr Audrey McNamara, the tenth international conference on Eugene O’Neill ‘Ireland: A Constant Presence’ at NUI Galway will conclude tonight (Friday, 21 July) with an address by President Michael D. Higgins on how O’Neill’s Irish psyche influenced his dramatic works. While never setting foot on Irish soil, Ireland’s presence was an integral force in Eugene Gladstone O’Neill’s life and dramatic canon. O’Neill himself remarked: “The one thing that explains more than anything about me is the fact that I’m Irish. And, strangely enough, it is something that all the writers who have attempted to explain me and my work have overlooked.” Following the Presidential address, the Eugene O’Neill Society will present the Medallion Award to Robert Dowling, William Davies King, Steven Bloom, Jessica Lange and Gabriel Byrne. During the conference, delegates had the opportunity to engage with a special exhibition on O’Neill and Ireland which is drawn from NUI Galway’s extensive theatre archives. There was also a reading of a play by Ronan Noone, an NUI Galway graduate who has gone on to have a successful career as a playwright in the United States, and whose work The Second Girl will be performed in Ireland for the first time as a staged reading. The Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance at NUI Galway provides courses in drama and theatre studies for undergraduate and postgraduate students, working with Irish arts partners that all have strong connections with Eugene O’Neill, including the Abbey Theatre, Druid Theatre and others. NUI Galway Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies Patrick Lonergan stated that the event was an essential part of the Centre for Drama’s work in making new international connections. “NUI Galway is delighted to host the Eugene O’Neill Society for its first conference outside the United States. Our Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance has extensive links in the US, just as O’Neill was an American playwright with strong links with Ireland. These connections enrich our scholarship but also provide exciting new opportunities for our students and teachers to encounter exciting new work.”  Chris Westgate, the Eugene O’Neill Society President, commented: “The society greatly appreciates the organisation and work everyone at NUI Galway has done to make this conference such a success, the co-chairs and most especially the presence and contribution of the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins and Sabina Higgins.”  Ends

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A modern play about motherhood and magic Dún na mBan Trí Thine by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, is a modern Irish play which is currently running in An Taibhdhearc and the O’Donoghue Centre, at NUI Galway as part of the 2017 Galway International Arts Festival.  The play is directed by Anne McCabe and NUI Galway’s Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Perfoming Arts Manager at the university and will run from the 17-30 July. The contemporary play is based on a character named Léiní who is struggling as a wife, a mother with young children, and the desire to be an artist. On top of that, witches from Dún na mBan haunt her and threaten to invade her house. Léiní begins to crack up. Is she losing her mind? Or will she give in to the witches and go over to Dún na mBan? Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Performing Arts Manager at NUI Galway and co-director of the play said: “It's of the utmost importance that contemporary Irish language plays are shown on the international stage and the Galway International Arts Festival provides that opportunity. This play, 'Dún na mBan Trí Thine' is central to Ireland’s canon of feminine literature and this production shows how essential it is to produce Irish language drama for the stage.” Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, has been nominated for The Irish Times Orange Prize for Fiction, “A compelling voice in anyone’s language”. Éilís has worked closely with the directors to create a revised version of the play which was first staged in the Peacock in 1995. Patrick Lonergan, Professor of Drama at NUI Galway said: “This production is a sign of our commitment to Irish language drama and to contemporary drama written by women.” Starring Linda Bhreathnach, award-winning actress and filmmaker. Máire Ní Mháille, Tara Breathnach, Yvonne Laife, and Catherine Denning. Set design is by Tríona Lillis with costumes by Chérie White who designs for Macnas. The stage manager is Rae Penelope Visser from Fíbín. The play is as Gaeilge with English-language surtitles. For tickets see www.giaf.ie and the festival box office on Forster Street. #GIAF17 -Ends- __________________ DÚN na mBan Trí Thine - The Fairy Fort Is On Fire Dráma comhaimseartha faoi mháithreachas agus draíocht Is dráma Gaeilge comhaimseartha é Dún na mBan Trí Thine le hÉilís Ní Dhuibhne atá á léiriú in Amharclann na Taibhdheirce agus in Ionad Uí Dhonnchadha in OÉ Gaillimh faoi láthair mar chuid d'Fhéile Idirnáisiúnta Ealaíon na Gaillimhe 2017.  Is iad Anne McCabe agus Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Bainisteoir na dTaibh-Ealaíon in OÉ Gaillimh, stiúrthóirí an dráma, agus beidh an dráma le feiceáil ar stáitse idir 17-30 Iúil. Léiriú comhaimseartha ar shaol an charachtair Léiní a fheictear sa dráma seo, carachtar atá ag streachailt mar bhean chéile, mar mháthair a bhfuil clann óg uirthi, agus lena mian slí bheatha mar ealaíontóir a bhaint amach. Ina theannta sin, tá cailleacha ó Dhún na mBan á ciapadh agus ag bagairt go dtiocfaidh siad isteach ina teach. Tá Léiní ag dul ar mire. An bhfuil sí ag cailleadh na meabhrach? Nó an ngéillfidh sí do na cailleacha agus a haghaidh a thabhairt ar Dhún na mBan? Deir Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Bainisteoir na dTaibh-Ealaíon in OÉ Gaillimh agus duine de chomhstiúrthóirí an dráma: “Tá sé ríthábhachtach go bhfeicfí drámaí Gaeilge comhaimseartha ar stáitsí idirnáisiúnta agus tugann Féile Idirnáisiúnta Ealaíon na Gaillimhe an deis sin dúinn. Tá an dráma seo 'Dún na mBan Trí Thine' lárnach i gcanóin litríochta feimineachais na tíre seo, agus léiríonn sé go soiléir cé chomh riachtanach agus atá sé drámaíocht Ghaeilge a chur ar stáitse.” Ainmníodh Éilís Ní Dhuibhne don Orange Prize for Fiction as “glór a bhfuil meas air beag beann ar an teanga ina bhfuil sé” The Irish Times. D'oibrigh Éilís go dlúth leis na stiúrthóirí chun leagan leasaithe den dráma seo a chur ar fáil, dráma a cuireadh ar stáitse den chéad uair riamh sa Phéacóg, Amharclann na Mainistreach in 1995. Deir Patrick Lonergan, Ollamh le Drámaíocht in OÉ Gaillimh: “Is comhartha atá sa léiriú seo ar cé chomh tiomanta agus atá muid do dhrámaíocht na Gaeilge agus do dhrámaíocht chomhaimseartha atá scríofa ag mná.” Ar na haisteoirí a bheidh le feiceáil ar stáitse, beidh Linda Bhreathnach, aisteoir a bhfuil duaiseanna go leor bainte amach aici agus déantóir an scannáin Adulting, Máire Ní Mháille, Tara Breathnach, Yvonne Laife agus Catherine Denning. Is í Tríona Lillis an dearthóir seit agus is í Chérie White, a dhearann cultacha do Mhacnas, an dearthóir cultacha. Is í Rae Penelope Visser ón gcomhlacht drámaíochta Fíbín an bainisteoir stáitse. Tá an dráma á léiriú i nGaeilge le fortheidil Bhéarla. Féach www.giaf.ie agus oifig na Féile ar Shráid Forster chun ticéad a chur in áirithe. #GIAF17 -Críoch-

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Philosophy for Children (P4C) is a new programme running at NUI Galway. The programme has been delivered to students in Scoil Iognáid in Galway city in conjunction with NUI Galway’s Alive Volunteering Programme and Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI). The Programme in Scoil Iognáid was delivered by seven facilitators from the School of Philosophy at NUI Galway and 80 pupils took part. This is the first phase in a new initiative by Philosophy. Philosophy for Children is a pupil-led process that encourages thinking through democratic dialogue, helping to foster critical, creative, collaborative and caring thinking amongst all types of learners. Through this internationally practised pedagogy, pupil groups become communities of enquiry tackling philosophical questions they formulate themselves and identify themselves. Recent research in the UK found that pupils involved in Philosophy for Children showed improvements in literacy, numeracy and various social skills following its implementation in the classroom. The project got off to a flying start with Ireland’s future philosophers themselves. Pupils said: “Thank you so much for coming to our class. I really enjoyed Philosophy for Children and it made me think about a lot more things. I have had such fun. This experience has been amazing.We stretched our minds and became more open minded and worked together.” Principal of Scoil Iognáid, Laoise Breathnach said: “Philosophy with children acknowledges them as capable thinkers and accords them an active role in the construction of knowledge. This NUI Galway philosophy initiative has, in line with Scoil Iognáid ethos, created a learning space for enquiry and dialogue where talking and thinking about thinking is highly valued. The philosophy sessions have actively fostered the skills of questioning, predicting, contradicting and doubting and have enriched the quality of the children’s discussion and argumentative abilities so much so that the main question in Scoil Iognáid at the moment is when are the philosophers coming back?” Philosophy at NUI Galway hopes to expand its Philosophy for Children programme in the coming year by working with more schools across the city. This expansion will also include an exciting collaboration with the Tulca Festival of Visual Arts this November. The School of Philosophy at NUI Galway in partnership with EXPLORE will welcome young philosophers aged 9-12 years on campus for two week-long ‘What’s the Big Idea?’ summer camps. These camps will run between the 31 July - 4 August and 14-18 August. Through this programme children will obtain ‘big ideas’ through activities using music, sport, art, science and film. NUI Galway facilitators will be joined by experienced P4C trainer Marelle Rice from Philosophy Ireland. In the coming academic years, P4C will be embedded as a Peer Assisted Learning tool within NUI Galway’s School of Philosophy thanks to an ambitious plan drafted by Head of the School, Dr Heike Felzmann who received funding from NUI Galway’s Student Project Fund.For more inforamtion see: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/whats-the-big-idea-summer-camp-tickets-35045010570  -Ends-

Friday, 21 July 2017

Newly-published research from NUI Galway shows encouraging early signs for a potential treatment for Huntington’s disease. Huntington’s disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disease that causes serious cognitive and movement defects. Sometimes called Huntington’s chorea, it is debilitating, untreatable and relentlessly fatal. Huntington’s disease is particularly cruel because children are sometimes affected more severely than their parents. Professor Robert Lahue and his team at the Centre for Chromosome Biology and the Galway Neuroscience Centre at NUI Galway, collaborated with scientists at the University of Barcelona. The researchers targeted an enzyme called histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3), which is thought to alter important biochemical mechanisms in the brain of Huntington’s disease patients and thereby accelerate disease progression. The new study published in the journal Scientific Reports shows that blocking HDAC3 with an experimental compound in a pre-clinical model of Huntington’s disease slows cognitive decline and delays the onset of molecular signs of neurodegeneration. NUI Galway’s Professor Lahue said: “While these results are preliminary, the data shows that the onset of Huntington’s disease is delayed when HDAC3 is blocked in this pre-clinical setting. This is an encouraging first step because currently there are no effective treatments that target the root cause of the disease.” Professor Lahue also noted the key role of the Spanish collaborators and co-authors, Dr Silvia Ginés and Nuria Suelves from the University of Barcelona: “Silvia and Nuria are Huntington’s disease experts, and the collaborative nature of this joint project allowed the research to progress into new areas.” Professor Lahue and Dr Ginés have applied for additional funding to develop the treatment further and to assess additional safety aspects. Science Foundation Ireland and the European Huntington’s Disease Network supported the research in Ireland. To read the full study in Scientific Reports visit: www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-05125-  NUI Galway Huntington’s disease video for social media: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sn2Y38ydxy8&feature=youtu.be -Ends-

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

A mini-conference in conjunction with Path Breaking Women of NUI Galway: 1912-1922 and beyond Some of NUI Galway’s most remarkable - but little known - women over the last century will be celebrated and remembered this Friday, 21 July as a fascinating programme of talks and performances will take place entitled ‘Women in history, politics and culture’. The mini-conference takes place in conjunction with the exhibition Path Breaking Women of NUI Galway: 1912-1922 and beyond, which was officially opened by former EU Commissioner Máire Geoghegan Quinn earlier this year, and on display at the Hardiman Library exhibition space through to September 2017.  Dr Claire McGing from Maynooth University will explore the careers of two erstwhile UCG students in the 1930s, who went on to be pioneering women parliamentarians in 1950s Ireland – Maureen O’Carroll (1913-1984), mother of actors and writers, Brendan and Eilish O’Carroll, who became the Labour Party’s first female TD, and Celia Lynch (1908-1989) born in Duras House, Kinvara, Co. Galway, who became the first woman Fianna Fáil whip, and was the longest-serving female TD when she retired in 1977. Traversing politics and culture, the poems of the inspirational sean nós singer, writer, poet and actor Caitlin Maude (1941-1982), a graduate of UCG, will be performed by the talented writer and actor, Caitríona Ní Chonaola, with an overview of Maude’s life presented by poet and director of the Irish Studies Centre at NUI Galway, Dr Louis de Paor.  Looking back to early decades, the opening session, chaired by historian, NUI Galway’s Dr Sarah Anne Buckley, will feature a keynote presentation by Dr Nadia Smith from Boston College. Smith will discuss the life and times of the impressive Galway woman and outspoken champion of diverse political, social and cultural causes, Mary Donovan O’Sullivan (1887-1966), who became UCG’s first Professor of History in 1914. Dr Smith will also talk about Síle Ní Chinnéide (1900-1980) who was born into a Catholic nationalist family in Waterford and active in the Irish language revival and was appointed Lecturer in History (through Irish) at UCG in 1927. A striking figure on campus, known for smoking cigarillos in a holder, Nadia Smith notes, Ní Chinnéide advised students “it would do them no harm to read certain works on the Vatican Index of Forbidden Books.”  The event runs from 11.00am to 3.30pm in the NUI Galway Hardiman Research Library. It is free and open to the public, but spaces are limited and anyone who would like to attend should rsvp to: lydia.kelly@nuigalway.ie. The Path Breaking Women project, is led by Niamh Reilly, Established Professor of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway. It was supported by Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme 2016 and is co-sponsored by the School of Political Science and Sociology, the Centre for Global Women’s Studies, Gender ARC and the Moore Institute at NUI Galway. The Exhibition runs until September 2017 in the library exhibition space at NUI Galway. For more information see: www.nuigalway.ie/pathbreakingwomen -Ends-

Friday, 14 July 2017

NUI Galway will test leading international concepts for the next generation of tidal and hydrokinetic turbine blades to power the world The MaRINET2 project has awarded €1.3 million to 34 technology development teams through a competitive call for proposals. This support will accelerate the next generation of offshore renewable energy technologies towards the marketplace by providing technology testing at MaRINET2’s network of world-leading testing facilities. Coordinated by MaREI (Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland), MaRINET2 is a €10.5 million project, funded by the European Commissions’ Horizon 2020 programme. The project provides support to technology developers of offshore wind, wave and tidal technologies to test their devices in research facilities and in real sea conditions. It is a continuation of the highly successful MaRINET project which ran from 2011-2015. MaRINET2 project gives free access to testing facilities to companies and researchers all over the world with NUI Galway offering its state-of-the-art ‘Large Structures Test Cell’ at the large structures laboratory, located at the University’s Alice Perry Engineering Building, to test full scale tidal blades (up to 9 metres). As a result of the first call for proposals in MaRINET2, two technology development teams have been awarded funding to facilitate 50 days of testing in the state-of-the-art tidal turbine blade testing facility at NUI Galway. These teams are led by Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd in Scotland, a world leader in the development of floating tidal stream and run-of-river turbines, and Verdant Power based in the US, a world leader in developing marine and hydrokinetic technologies and projects, generating clean renewable energy from tidal and river currents. Dr Jamie Goggins, lead Principal Investigator of the Structures and Materials research area in the MaREI Centre, and who is responsible for the large structures test facility located at the Alice Perry Engineering Building at NUI Galway, said: “It is great that there was such great interest from tidal stream and river turbine developers to access our large structures test cell for free through the MaRINET2 programme. We look forward to working with Verdant Power and Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd to assist them in de-risking their technologies through rigorous testing in our laboratory.” Dr Jimmy Murphy, co-ordinator of MaRINET2 said the announcement would be a significant boost to the development of offshore renewable energy technology in Europe: “In order to bring their product to market, it is essential for technology developers to de-risk their technologies through rigorous and staged testing programmes. With today’s announcement, the MaRINET2 project is supporting 34 technology developers to do just that. “What’s more, by helping technology developers test at facilities across the EU, and encouraging knowledge sharing and collaboration, MaRINET2 is strengthening Europe’s position as a centre of excellence for offshore renewable energy research.” -Ends- 

Friday, 14 July 2017

NUI Galway has announced an innovative collaboration with KPMG on a new Analytics Summer School at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics. The Summer School will use KPMG tools which were developed to harness the power of technology and bring greater vigour, precision and meaningful insights to the increasing age of data. The first of its kind in Ireland, the KPMG-led Analytics Summer School will be available to students who are undertaking either NUI Galway’s Master of Accounting or MSc (International Accounting & Analytics) and will focus on auditing and accounting analytics and cognitive technologies using KPMG software and tools.  Laurence May, Director at KPMG and Adjunct Professor at NUI Galway, said: “We are in an age where more data is being created faster than ever before, with less than 1% of data ever being used or analysed. Therefore, the ability to analyse and use this data is a key challenge for all professions, including audit and accounting. NUI Galway has recognised the importance of this challenge and KPMG is delighted to partner with them on the new Analytics Summer School.” Professor Breda Sweeney, Head of the Accounting & Finance Discipline, NUI Galway said: “We are delighted to partner with KPMG in adding this innovative summer school to our suite of existing postgraduate summer schools which are delivered in conjunction with international academic/business experts in areas of key importance to accountants in public and private sectors.”  More information can be found at  www.nuigalway.ie/business-public-policy-law/ or Email accounting@nuigalway.ie -Ends-

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Filmmakers from Northern Europe connect with local industry players in NUI Galway as part of ‘a creative momentum project’  The Whitaker Institute and School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway hosted an event this week as part of a creative exchange seminar titled ‘Screen Industries on the Periphery: Policy and Practice’, at the Huston School of Film & Digital Media as part of Galway Film Fleadh. International practitioners from Northern Ireland, Finland, Iceland and Sweden talked about their experiences of working in film, TV and digital media. These practitioners are in Galway to attend this year’s Galway Film Fleadh and have been funded by NUI Galway’s a creative momentum project. Speakers at the event included, Dr Conn Holohan from the Huston School of Film & Digital Media at NUI Galway who spoke about the influence of film funding in Irish cinema. Declan Gibbons from Galway Film Centre shared insights into running the UNESCO City of Film designation for Galway and their involvement in the Screen Talent Europe Network. Paddy Hayes, from the IFTA winning Galway-based production company Magamedia, gave a talk titled ‘Who lifts the mirror?’ Dr Patrick Collins, lead researcher on the project from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “Creative pursuits are often lonely ones, in more peripheral regions this isolation can be heightened. On this occasion, a creative momentum focuses on film makers, bringing them together to hear about each other's experiences and provide valuable insights into making sustainable creative careers in Europe's more remote areas.” a creative momentum project supports the development of the creative sector in five regions across Europe’s northern edge. One aim of the project is to support creative entrepreneurs through opportunities to network and collaborate across the five partner regions. Participating in creative industry events in the regions helps creatives to connect with potential markets and audiences, as well as provide networking opportunities. The cost of participating in such events can however be high and this project has selected five established events as ‘creative hotspots’ across the partner regions and funds relevant creative enterprises from the other partner regions to participate. Galway Film Fleadh was selected as the West of Ireland creative hotspot. This six-day international film event welcomes a diversity of filmmaking from around the world. The Galway Film Fair, the industry arm of the annual Galway Film Fleadh, provides these international practitioners with an opportunity to meet with financiers and build new partnerships. a creative momentum project is co-funded by the EU Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) Programme 2014-2020. The project operates the My Creative Edge website, which is a three-year, €2 million transnational project being implemented by six organisations across five regions. The website showcases the work of businesses and freelancers working in the creative industries sector in Mid-Sweden, North East Iceland, Northern Finland, South East of Northern Ireland and the West of Ireland. For further information about the seminare, visit:  https://mycreativeedge.eu/event/screen-industries-periphery-policy-practice/ Visit My Creative Edge at: https://mycreativeedge.eu/ -Ends- 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Scholarship to Advance Female Leadership in Business Organisations Galway businesswoman Sandra Divilly fought off tough competition to win a scholarship worth in excess of €13,000 for the NUI Galway Exective MBA (Master of Business Administration) programme announced today by NUI Galway in conjunction with the 30% Club. The 30% Club Ireland was officially launched in January 2015, with a goal to achieve better gender balance at all levels of business in Ireland. The 30% Club believes that gender balance on boards and executive leadership not only encourages better leadership and governance, but further contributes to better all-round board performance, and ultimately increased corporate performance for both companies and their shareholders.  Application numbers for the 30% Club Scholarship exceeded expectation with a very high calibre of strong female applicants. The judging panel noted that while most 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.” The Executive MBA at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics, NUI Galway joined the 30% Club in promoting gender balance in business by awarding a scholarship toward half of the cost of an Executive MBA.  Bríd Horan, Steering Committee member, congratulated Sandra on behalf of the 30% Club: “We greatly appreciate NUI Galway’s generous support for this valuable scholarship which encourages women to invest in their career development through executive education.  We are particularly pleased that this opportunity is being made available to women in Galway in 2017.” The NUI Galway Executive MBA has attained AMBA accreditation which is the global mark of excellence for MBA education. An MBA is one of the world’s most recognised and respected business and management qualifications. Pursuing an MBA is about positioning yourself for further success. Critical to this is choosing an MBA programme with a proven track record that meets the highest international standards for MBA education. NUI Galway looks forward to collaborating with the 30% Club in the future and welcomes Sandra Divilly to its new cycle of Executive MBA students. Professor Breda Sweeney, J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics, NUI Galway, said: “We were delighted with the level of interest and very impressed with the calibre of applicants for this scholarship. We look forward to welcoming Sandra and all of our Executive MBA participants to the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics in September.  The Executive MBA can transform career opportunities as it equips graduates with important leadership skills, business acumen and a network of talented executives from diverse professional backgrounds.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

John Halligan T.D., Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development with Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland has presented two outstanding achievement awards to NUI Galway for reaching the pinnacle of European research. The ‘Ireland’s Champions of EU Research’ event took place in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin recently. In the category ‘Recognising the career development of our next generation researchers’, NUI Galway’s Dr Conor O’ Byrne, received an award for his leadership of the project *PATHSENSE (Understanding and Exploiting Mechanisms of Sensory Perception in Bacteria). This €3.4 million project will recruit 13 PhD fellows in a collaboration involving eight universities and four companies, located in seven different countries around Europe. The overall goal of the project is to identify vulnerabilities in pathogenic bacteria that can be targeted with next generation antimicrobial treatments. In the category ‘Collaborative Research’, Dr Michael Madden at NUI Galway, received an award for his leadership of the *ROCSAFE project, a €4.7 million 13 partner project with Irish partners Reamda Limited, Scorpion Networks Ltd, UCC, Department of Defence and the Health Service Executive. The overall goal of ROCSAFE is to fundamentally change how CBRNe events are assessed, in order to ensure the safety of crime scene investigators by reducing the need for them to enter high-risk scenes. For this, ROCSAFE will make use of cost-effective remotely-controlled robotic air and ground vehicles that are designed for use in rain, wind, and challenging ground surfaces. Sixteen individuals received Horizon 2020 achievement awards for their projects which exhibited outstanding leadership in their respective programme areas, ten of whom were from higher education institutes. The aim of the event is to recognise the immense contribution of the award winners and all project leaders from Ireland to our national success in the €75 billion Horizon 2020 EU Framework Programme for research and innovation. Enterprise Ireland hosted the event on behalf of Ireland’s National Support Network for Horizon 2020. Speaking at the awards Minister John Halligan, T.D., said: “I am delighted to be here today among this impressive and diverse representation of the Irish research community. The breadth of projects nominated for awards today inspires confidence in the continued excellence and dedication to research and innovation in Irish society. I was particularly impressed to note the variety of universities, Higher Education institutes, agencies and companies that are competing at the highest levels of European research.” Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, added: “Today’s event celebrates the achievements of collaboration between academic research and industry. Horizon 2020 is an important source of funding for research and innovation and provides a mechanism for researchers and Irish enterprise to network and collaborate with the best researchers and leading companies across Europe. These benefits are particularly important for a small, open economy like ours. The award winners here today are a source of inspiration for others and I’d like to wish them every success with their current projects and in their future endeavours.” Dr Imelda Lambkin, National Director for Horizon 2020 reiterated: “Today is about recognising what has worked well for Ireland’s researchers to date and applying that knowledge to position Ireland to make best use of the available funding from Horizon 2020 and FP9. We call on our EU Champions to lead this initiative as role models and mentors.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics and the Huston School of Film & Digital Media at NUI Galway, along with Galway Film Fleadh, will host a public event to discuss the influence of gender stereotyping on female participation and leadership in the audio-visual, business and technology industries. The event will take place as part of Galway Film Fleadh on Saturday 15 July. The panel discussion aims to inform an NUI Galway research agenda following a recent survey carried out by technology consultants Accenture. As part of the report, 1,000 females comprising of secondary school students, young women (ages 18-23), secondary school teachers, and parents with daughters in post-primary education were surveyed on why they thought girls constituted a minority in STEM courses? As many as 44% of the survey respondents indicated that STEM subjects are more suited to males than females. Teachers cited that the promotion of ‘traditional’ female career paths (nursing, teaching) only served to exacerbate the stereotype that STEM careers are more suitable for boys than girls. The event invites participants to discuss how the representation of women in movies and popular culture may impact on the involvement of women in creative leadership positions in these three particular industries. However, research is emerging which suggests that the way in which women are presented in movies and popular culture tell women, and their teachers and mentors that these industries are not for women. Dr Seán Crosson, Acting Director of the Huston School of Film & Digital Media at NUI Galway, said: “A recent American study of women in film and television found that women made up just 7% of all directors in the top 250 films, a 2% decline from 2015. In Ireland, one study from the 20-year period, 1993-2013, found only 13% of Irish-produced screenplays were penned by female writers with the percentage of women in directing roles in single figures. The ongoing and increasing under-representation of women in this area is a serious issue that requires radical and imaginative responses from the film and audio-visual industry. We hope that this event can help foreground this important topic and contribute to a better understanding of the issues involved and potential solutions to address it in the future, through more progressive depictions of women in film and popular culture.” Miriam Allen, Managing Director of Galway Film Fleadh, said: “As the Irish film industry finds itself at something of a crossroads in terms of female participation in the audio-visual sector, events such as these are invaluable, not only in terms of raising awareness and discussing policy but, more importantly in informing policy and discourse going forward. All of us at the Fleadh are delighted to be involved in this event.” The panel will include representatives from the audio visual industries: Dr Susana Liddy (Lecturer in Media Studies, Producer, Writer); Marian Quinn (Irish Film Board member, Janey Pictures); Ciara Nic Chormaic (Producer, Magamedia) and representatives from the business and technology industries; Lorna Martyn (Senior Vice President and Head of Technology, Fidelity Investments Ireland), Vicky Godolphin (Digital Lead, Accenture Ireland) and Saima Clohessy (Senior Data Engineer, Fidelity Investments Ireland). Event organisers, Dr Trevor Clohessy and Dr Murray Scott from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, remarked: “The report conducted by Accenture Ireland entitled ‘Powering economic growth: Attracting more young women into science and technology’, highlights how career stereotypes and negative perceptions pertaining to STEM subjects is worrying. We hope that this event can identify barriers which are ultimately contributing to the shortage of women taking up roles in the Business and the IT industry. The major issues and insights arising from the panel discussion will be useful to inform the development of government policy in this area, and signpost a future research agenda.” The panel discussion will take place on Saturday 15 July from 9am-12pm in Room MRA201 Lecture Theatre, in the Ryan Institute Annex, NUI Galway as part of Galway Film Fleadh. For bookings to attend the event, visit: http://www.galwayfilmfleadh.com/index.php/project/exploring-influence-gender/. To read the Accenture report, visit: https://accntu.re/2v1ZLIM. -Ends-

Monday, 10 July 2017

NUI Galway nanoscience physicist, Dr Jessamyn Fairfield from the School of Physics at NUI Galway has been honoured with the Mary Somerville Medal from the Institute of Physics in what they have deemed her, “stellar work as a public speaker and writer on physics for a popular audience, and for having organised and hosted many innovative events bringing physics to the Irish public.” Since February 2015, Dr Fairfield has been the director of Bright Club in Ireland encouraging academics to discuss their work through stand-up comedy. She has run 23 Bright Club events, teaching academics how to use comedy to discuss their work Dr Fairfield recently held a Bright Club training ’78 Degrees North’ while attending a science/art expedition to the Arctic. She also talked about physics in her own solo stand-up comedy shows in Galway and Dublin, and trains the Bright Club participants thanks to funding supporting the project from Science Foundation Ireland. Dr Fairfield has just returned this week (26 June) from a two-week Arctic Circle residency program on board a ship bringing together scientists and artists to explore how the Arctic and its exploration intersect with art, science, architecture, education and activism. Commenting on the research trip, Dr Jessamyn Fairfield at NUI Galway, said: “The raw and beautiful environment of the Arctic Circle is the perfect place to bring together scientists, artists, and innovators. I was delighted to be selected for the Summer Solstice 2017 expedition, where I worked on a Cerenkov detector made from Arctic ice to detect cosmic rays. I also ran a Bright Club training on how everyone, including artists and creators, can use humour to talk about the work they are passionate about. I am excited about the projects which are coming together as a result of this residency, and absolutely loved sharing the ship Antigua with so many amazing individuals during the midnight sun.” Jessamyn Fairfield is a regular science news contributor to Newstalk radio show Futureproof, and will be creating written and radio pieces about her recent Arctic expedition. She has written and narrated a short film about nanoscience, called Small World. She has spoken at Pint of Science, Festival of Curiosity, Maker Faire Dublin, the Science Gallery, Inspirefest, Women in Physics Belfast, and many other events, and has also given two public lectures for the Institute of Physics in London. She also writes her own longstanding blog, Let’s Talk About Science, which is a top Google result for information about electronics. Dr Fairfield is also co-organising a Soapbox Science event in Galway this July, bringing together female scientists into public spaces to talk about their work at the Spanish Arch on 15 July. She will be working with the Mawazo Institute to develop public engagement events for science and policy in Nairobi this autumn. Other science communication engagements include being the blogmaster and lead writer for Dart of Physics in 2013 campaign that used adverts on public transport in Dublin and a strong online presence to spark a citywide conversation about physics. And two years later in 2015, Fairfield produced live events in addition to running the blog and contributing writing to the City of Physics campaign. To read Dr Jessamyn Fairfield’s blog about her Arctic exploration trip, visit: https://letstalkaboutscience.wordpress.com/2017/06/26/art-and-science-in-the-arctic/. To watch Dr Fairfield’s video link from on board the Arctic expedition, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Mv_E85Mk5I and to read about the Arctic Circle http://www.thearcticcircle.org/. To view the film Small World, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K36twB9zD0. -Ends-

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The north and west of Ireland is to benefit from an investment of over €3 million in research initiatives. The support has been granted to NUI Galway by an EU programme which supports innovative projects addressing regional challenges. NUI Galway will coordinate four projects and partner in an additional six as part of the Atlantic Area InterReg Programme. The national representative body for the Programme, the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, was at the University today (6 July) for the announcement. The NUI Galway-led projects are in the areas of sustainable fishing, biomedical devices, sustainable fuels and the marine economy. Speaking at the announcement today, NUI Galway’s President, Dr Jim Browne said: “Our University’s stated aim in research is to anticipate and serve the needs of society and economy. This becomes even more pertinent when we consider the needs of the region here in the west of Ireland, and our commitment to supporting those who live and work along the Atlantic seaboard. What these projects have in common, is that they seek to drive innovation to support the long term sustainability of our region - in a range of ways from the fishing industry to the biomedical industry, seeking to safeguard our environment by developing new energy sources and to support the marine economy as a whole.” The Atlantic Area InterReg Programme’s objective is to implement solutions to answer the regional challenges in the fields of innovation, resource efficiency, environment and cultural assets, supporting regional development and sustainable growth. Countries who are part of the programme include France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. David Minton, Director of the representative body for the Programme, the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, said: “The Northern Western Regional Assembly is striving to connect the strengths of our region and drive convergence to regional collaboration. NUI Galway is a world leader in the application of innovation and research to regional and national challenges. The University itself is an established cultural and learning asset. This funding will deliver a four-fold return on investment.” The four NUI Galway-led projects are: Cephalopods, Sustainable Fisheries and Chefs – ‘CephsandChefs’ Dr Anne Marie Power, Lecturer in Zoology and a member of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, is leading a project called CephsandChefs. The project will analyse ‘from sea to table’, the fishing and consumption of squid, octopus and cuttlefish (cephalopods). CephsandChefs will collect biological and socioeconomic data from different Atlantic area cephalopod fisheries to improve knowledge of the value chain and the factors affecting sustainability in the short and long term. Researchers will also investigate consumer eating habits in North and South Europe, and look at people’s willingness to adopt new products from this seafood class. This information will pave the way for the development and promotion of new products and new markets for the fishing and production sector, while ensuring the sustainability of fishing activity. Establishing a transnational advanced pilot manufacturing ecosystem for future biomedical products - ATLANTIC-KET-MED Dr Ger O’Connor, Senior Lecturer in Physics, and funded investigator in CÚRAM at NUI Galway, is leading a project called ATLANTIC-KET-MED, which aims to create new innovation capacity by establishing an inter-regional pilot manufacturing ecosystem by developing both human and infrastructural resources. The project will apply key enabling technologies such as photonics, nanotechnology, printed electronics, bioprinting, additive manufacturing and advanced materials to make a new generation of medical devices. In the longer term, the project will help establish regional productive systems for extracting greater value from the marine based biomaterials along the Atlantic area. Sustainable integration of renewable fuels in local transportation – SEAFUEL Dr Pau Farras, Lecturer in Chemistry at NUI Galway, will lead a project called SEAFUEL. SEAFUEL aims to demonstrate the feasibility to power local transportation networks using fuels produced by renewable energies and seawater, with no net carbon footprint. It will cover technical innovation by a demonstration plant in the Canary Islands. The project will then develop a framework for policy implementation and a sustainability analysis of production, distribution and usage of hydrogen as an alternative fuel in remote Atlantic regions including the Aran Islands. Maritime, Ocean Sector and Ecosystem Sustainability: fostering blue growth in Atlantic industries – MOSES Dr Stephen Hynes, Director of the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) at NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute, will examine the size and growth of key strategic marine industries across the Atlantic Arc and will propose the ‘blue’ growth path for the sustainable development of the major sectors operating in the Atlantic space as envisaged in the Atlantic Action Plan and the EU Blue Growth Strategy. To achieve these aims, the project participants will build on the expertise gained in the EU INTERREG Atlantic IV project, Marine Atlantic Regions Network (MARNET). For more information about the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, visit: www.nwra.ie. -Ends-

Thursday, 6 July 2017

NUI Galway SMART Consent researchers to disseminate findings from research studies carried out this year on sexual consent among 2,000 third level students  A research seminar took place in NUI Galway on Wednesday (5 July) that reports on research carried out during 2016-2017 by the University’s SMART Consent research team on sexual consent among third level students. Today (6 July) the team launched a major research report at Trinity College Dublin hosted by the RESPECT all-island research network.  The NUI Galway seminar, ‘SMART Consent – Our Experience of Implementing Sexual Consent Workshops in Third Level Institutions and Recommendations for Future Action’, has been organised by the School of Psychology at NUI Galway and is supported by the University’s Student Project Fund. The surveys carried out as part of this research programme provide important insights on the following consent-related issues: 96% of 446 students surveyed agreed that sex education should take place in schools, but 76% say that their sexual health education at school was inadequate. 86% of 320 college students surveyed agreed that alcohol impacts on the ability to give consent, yet 37% agreed that a woman can still give consent after drinking heavily. 89% of 632 college students surveyed agreed it is important to obtain sexual consent in all relationships regardless of whether they have had sex before, but only 53% agreed that ‘most other students’ believed this to be the case. 31% of 240 single college students surveyed would have difficulty saying to a partner that a certain sexual activity makes them feel uncomfortable, 32% of single students would have difficulty telling a partner that they like a specific sexual activity. The report found that students had significantly more positive attitudes and behavioural intentions after participating in the workshops, students acknowledged that sexual consent is an important issue (agreement went from 54% pre-workshop to 80% post-workshop held during first year orientation). Students also felt well informed about sexual consent (agreement went from 69% pre-workshop to 98% post-workshop during first year orientation). The NUI Galway SMART Consent research team, led by Dr Pádraig MacNeela, a lecturer at the School of Psychology, will present the following findings from the report: A randomised control trial of the effectiveness of the SMART Consent workshop; A study of implementing the workshop in third level institutions; Survey data on consent-related attitudes and behaviours; and in addition, Elaine Byrnes, a PhD student at NUI Galway, will present findings from a qualitative study of students’ experiences of sexual consent. Speaking about the launch of the report, Dr Pádraig MacNeela at NUI Galway, said: “Since the publication of our first report on sexual consent research in 2014, we have developed the SMART Consent workshop, evaluated its effectiveness and assessed the feasibility of including it as part of the student experience. Over 2,000 third level students have taken part in surveys and workshops in the past year, placing our model at the forefront of positive sexual health promotion efforts in the sector. We found that students had significantly more positive attitudes and behavioural intentions after participating in the workshops.” One of the co-authors of the report, Dr Siobhán O’Higgins, said: “Students rated the workshop as a useful and enjoyable learning experience.” Dr O’Higgins stressed the importance of providing for this kind of experience: “There are few open and honest opportunities for students to discuss how sexuality can be explored safely, for all the right reasons and in ways that are mutually satisfying. Creating an environment to discuss issues around sexuality and relationships before they choose to become, or not become, intimate with another person, is one of the duties of care for our young people.” The researchers will describe recommendations on establishing a network of institutions to support the rollout of consent workshops, the implementation of a peer facilitator training initiative, the need for a shared methodology for data collection on sexual health among third level students, and the use of partnership approaches to promote a sustainable approach to positive sexual health. Two international experts in the area of sexual consent, Kristen Jozkowski (Assistant Professor of Public Health, director of the Sexuality Research Lab at the University of Arkansas, Fellow at the Kinsey Institute), and Terry Humphreys (Professor, Department of Psychology at Trent University, Ontario, and President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality), will address the event in Galway and the report launch in Dublin. During 2016-2017 the researchers were supported by grants from: the Irish Research Council / HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (to examine the effectiveness of the two-hour SMART Consent workshop in changing attitudes); the NUI Galway Student Project Fund (to implement consent workshops and survey students from 2016-2019); and the Confederation of Student Services in Ireland (to work with TCD Students Union on piloting a ‘train the trainer’ programme for first year student orientation, and to conduct a service learning project in 2017 with psychology students at NUI Galway on peer facilitator training). This work is a further illustration of the commitment NUI Galway has to support sexual health. In May 2017, the University’s Drama, Theatre and Performance students premiered the short film Lucy’s House Party, directed by Dr Charlotte McIvor. The film is part of an EU-funded sexual violence prevention initiative, The Manuela Programme (in memory of the 17-year old Swiss student who was raped and murdered in Galway in October 2007). Aimed at transition-year students, Lucy’s House Party has been piloted in schools in Kerry, Wexford and Galway and will be rolled out to over 120 secondary schools across Ireland. To read the full report on SMART Consent, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/smartconsent/. -Ends-

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Research scientists will take to their soap boxes, and bring science to the streets of Galway from 11am-2pm at the Spanish Arch on Saturday 15 July, to share their passion for all things science with the public as part of the international event ‘Soapbox Science’. This is the first time that Soapbox Science, founded in the UK seven years ago, has come to Galway and 2017 locations include Canada, Germany, Australia, Belfast and across the UK. The event has two aims: to bring science to unexpected locations to give a broader sector of society the opportunity to meet and interact with scientists, and to promote the visibility of women in science.  This year’s talks will cover diverse subjects such as how to make stars, building your own body parts and sustainable fisheries. Each speaker will be showcased numerous times on their soapbox throughout the event as Soapbox Science challenges perceptions of what a scientist is by celebrating the diversity of women in science in Ireland. Speaking about the event, Dr Dara Stanley, event organiser and Lecturer in Plant Ecology, in the Botany and Plant Science Department at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway is home to a diverse range of talent and we’re delighted to be bringing our expertise to the streets of Galway on subjects that range from osteoporosis, clean air in houses and carbohydrates chemistry. NUI Galway has joined forces with colleagues in GMIT, the Marine Institute and IT Sligo to showcase research talent across the western seaboard. Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, Soapbox Science organiser and a physicist in the School of Physics at NUI Galway, said: “When many people think of a scientist, they think of a man in a white coat. Soapbox Science aims to challenge this perception by showcasing the work of female scientists in a fun and friendly way. In order to keep up with the need for a skilled STEM workforce, the scientific community must continue to attract the best talent, and be open and inclusive. We hope that this event can inspire people to look at science in a different way.” Soapbox Science Speakers and their topics include: Professor Laoise McNamara, NUI Galway - “Close to the Bone: Engineering research into the Biology of Osteoporosis and Implants” Dr Rachel Cave, NUI Galway - “Help, help, I think my house is dissolving! (How ocean acidification works and why it matters)” Dr Rachel Quinlan, NUI Galway - “How to make stars (in two and three dimensions)” Dr Marie Coggins, NUI Galway - “Are you breathing clean air indoors?” Dr Sharon Glynn, NUI Galway - “A new dimension to ancient enemies: What are these hidden viruses in our DNA and how do they contribute to cancer development” Dr Heather Teresa Lally, GMIT - “How do creepy crawlies adapt to living in a watery underworld” Dr Debbi Pedreschi, Marine Institute - “The story of sustainable fisheries: solving ‘wicked problems’ and other tales….” Ms Juhi Samal, NUI Galway - “Biomaterial pills for Parkinson’s: saving cells to stop shaking?” Ms Kirsten N. Fossum, NUI Galway - “Clouds; where do they come from, where do they go?” Ms Adele Gabba, NUI Galway - “The sweet universe of carbohydrates chemistry!” Ms Fiona Malone, GMIT - “Biomedical Engineering: Build your own body parts” Dr Caroline Sullivan - IT Sligo - “The Wild Atlantic Way; why it’s so beautiful and how farmers helped create it” Over 350 women have taken part in Soapbox Science since 2011, with a further 220 participating in the 19 events taking place during 2017. Over 55,000 people attended Soapbox Science events in 2016, with 85 per cent rating them as enjoyable or extremely enjoyable, and over a third stating it had an effect on their awareness of women in science. Those figures quoted come from the EU report She Figures 2012 – Gender in Research and Innovation, European Commission. The event is free and open to the public. Soapbox Science is supported by the office for Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway. View the Soapbox Science Galway video: https://youtu.be/kpGwdObV1-Q. For more information about Soapbox Science visit: www.soapboxscience.org and follow on Twitter at @soapboxscigal. -Ends- 

Friday, 30 June 2017

NUI Galway publishes report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy that shows in 2016 the direct economic value of the ocean economy was €1.8 billion representing a 20% increase on 2014 NUI Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) has published its fourth report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy as part of their ongoing process of collection and analysis of marine socio-economic data in Ireland. Results from the report show that in 2016, the direct economic value of Ireland’s ocean economy was €1.8 billion or approximately 0.9% of gross domestic product (GDP), which represents a 20% increase on 2014 levels. Latest figures suggest that our ‘blue economy’ is performing better than the general economy. “This report shows Ireland’s ocean economy is experiencing sustained levels of economic growth both across established and emerging marine industries”, reports Dr Amaya Vega of SEMRU, based at the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change at NUI Galway. Summary The ocean economy had a turnover of €5.7 billion in 2016. The indirect economic value in 2016 amounted to €1.57 billion, with a total direct and indirect value of €3.37 billion, which represents 1.7% of GDP. The ocean economy provided employment to over 30,000 individuals, full-time equivalents (FTEs) in 2016. Established Marine Industries had a turnover of €5.3 billion and provided employment to 28,231 FTEs in 2016, representing 93% of the total turnover and 94% of total employment in Ireland’s ocean economy in 2016. Oil and gas exploration and production, marine aquaculture and tourism and leisure in marine and coastal areas, all experienced a significant increase in activity, with turnover, GVA and employment increasing across the sector in the 2014-2016 period. The shipping and maritime transport sector also exhibited increases, albeit of a smaller scale, across all three variables. Emerging Marine Industries had a turnover of €383 million and provided employment to close to 2,000 FTEs representing 7% of the turnover and 6% of employment in Ireland’s ocean economy in 2016. Advanced marine technology products and services and marine renewable energy experienced the largest increases in turnover and gross value add (GVA), while employment rose in all emerging sectors in the 2014-2016 period. Dr Stephen Hynes, co-author of the report and director of SEMRU at NUI Galway, points out: “Our latest ocean economy figures demonstrate that Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth is moving steadily towards its 2030 targets. The latest data demonstrates the growing influence of ocean related economic activity in our economy but it should also be kept in mind that the influence of the ocean on Irish society is even more pervasive than indicated by these figures. The ocean also provides key ecosystem services that underpin many of the identified marine industries and is integral not just to the economy, but also to our culture. SEMRU is currently also examining the value of some of these non-market benefits of the ocean.” The Marine Institute also welcomed publication of the report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy with Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO commenting: “The very latest figures on Ireland’s Ocean Economy from SEMRU at NUI Galway show that Ireland’s ‘blue economy’ continues to outperform the general economy. These very timely marine economic statistics are a key action of the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth Strategy and are essential for evidence-based policy making and decision making. It’s really encouraging to see that established sectors are performing so well, and that emerging sectors such as advanced marine technology products and services and renewable energy are experiencing rapid growth in Ireland’s ocean economy.” ‘Harnessing our Ocean Wealth’ Targets: Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth (HOOW) – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland, published in July 2012, outlines a number of specific targets which seek to expand Ireland’s ocean economy. One of those targets aims to double its value to 2.4% of GDP by 2030. This 2.4% figure was based on a total estimate (both direct and indirect Gross Value Added) in 2007 for the Irish Ocean economy that amounted to 1.2% of GDP at that time. The total direct and indirect value of the Irish ocean economy is estimated in the new report to be €3.37 billion which represents 1.7% of total GDP in 2016. Based in the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change at NUI Galway, SEMRU conducts research on a variety of marine related issues. The main research focus of the unit is on the economic importance of coastal and off-shore marine environments. This involves examining the economic utility of the marine environment (transportation, recreation) and ecological value (fisheries, aquaculture) derived from the productivity of associated ecosystems. The coastal and contiguous marine environment surrounding Ireland and the EU in general provides the geographical focus for the research carried out in the unit. Consideration of the human dimension in the management of marine ecosystems is also a critical component of all research projects undertaken. Since its establishment in 2009, SEMRU has been successful in attracting research funding to support the expansion of its marine socio-economic research programme. The unit is now a partner in a number of European-funded projects in the area of the socio-economics of the marine environment. Ireland’s Ocean Economy Report Series is carried out with the support of the Marine Institute and is funded by the Irish Government’s Marine Research Programme (Grant-Aid Agreement No. PBA/SE/16/01). The full report is available to download online at: www.nuigalway.ie/semru/publications.html. For more information on SEMRU, please visit www.nuigalway.ie/semru/. -Ends-

Friday, 30 June 2017

As current ransomware attack spreads, it is reported that cybercrime is estimated to have cost Irish companies €600 million in 2015, and this is projected to reach €1 billion by 2020 The growth of different cyberattacks internationally is providing a growing impetus for developing a national research initiative in cybersecurity in Ireland, which is being led by Dr Michael Madden of NUI Galway. This initiative, called S4 (Scientific Solutions for Secure Society), involves the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, the LERO Software Engineering Research Centre, and the Connect Centre for future research on networks and communications. By harnessing the synergies between academics, industry, state agencies, and international collaborators, Dr Madden and his colleagues aim to improve the country’s resilience to threats and contribute to the growth of this new employment sector. In recent weeks, a workshop held in Dublin that was attended by 70 industry and academic decision makers and influencers. Its goal was to understand industry research needs related to digital security and privacy research, and to connect industry participants with academics who can work with them towards identifying targeted projects of direct value to all. A Data Summit was also held in the Convention Centre Dublin, organised by the Department of the Taoiseach along with the Government Data Forum, where a panel discussion on ‘Cybersecurity in the 21st Century’ took place with people involved in the Cybersecurity research initiative. The following research pillars have been identified from the recent workshop and summit: (1) Artificial Intelligence for Security; (2) Web-Scale Security Analytics; (3) Edge-to-Cloud Security; and (4) Trust and Privacy Management. Dr Michael Madden from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “Like all countries, Ireland faces significant digital security threats. More than half of Irish companies have reported a data breach in 2016. Cybercrime is estimated to have cost Irish companies €600 million in 2015, and this is projected to reach €1 billion by 2020, according to a PwC 216 Irish Economic Crime report in 2016. In addition, we have seen large scale data breaches experienced by multinational organisations internationally, such as Yahoo and JP Morgan, even before the recent disruption caused by this new ransomware.” A new ransomware attack, which is being referred to as Petya, is currently spreading internationally. Like the program WannaCry that caused very substantial disruption a month ago, Petya is one of the new breed of ransomware programs that attempts to spread itself across networks, whereas ransomware before WannaCry did not. Petya appears to be more sophisticated in attempting to use multiple mechanisms to spread itself. Like all ransomware, it scrambles all files on an infected computer and charges a ransom of $300 to provide keys to unscramble them. Dr Madden continued: “It is clear from the feedback received at the industry workshop on 12 June and the Cybersecurity panel discussion on 16 June that there is great capacity for closer academic and industry collaboration on security research, and many opportunities for growing this important area of research and the overall security ecosystem in Ireland.” Dr Madden advises not to pay the ransom if your computer is affected; initial reports on Petya have indicated that it may fail to decrypt files even after paying. “As always with ransomware, the best way to protect your computer is to keep software updates up-to-date and to ensure you have everything backed up, so that in the worst case, you can re-install Windows and other programs, and restore your important data (documents, photos) from backups. The leading anti-virus software vendors have also announced that they are able to detect and protect against Petya.” The S4 initiative involves academic researchers from NUI Galway, DCU, Athlone IT, Waterford IT, UCD, and UL. -Ends-

Friday, 30 June 2017

Some questions for local school children as NUI Galway marks World Asteroid Day Scientists from the Centre of Astronomy at NUI Galway marked World Asteroid Day today (30 June) with almost 100 students from 4th, 5th and 6th class at Educate Together National School, Newcastle in Galway. NUI Galway’s Centre for Astronomy is the chosen designated centre in Ireland by global organisation Asteroid Day to celebrate the annual international event, which is a global awareness campaign to learn about asteroids, the impact hazard they may pose, and what we can do to protect our planet, families, communities, and future generations from future asteroid impacts. Asteroid Day was co-founded in 2014, by Dr Brian May, astrophysicist and lead guitarist for the rock band Queen, Danica Remy, B612 President, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart and German filmmaker Grig Richters. Asteroid Day is held on 30 June each year to mark Earth’s largest asteroid impact in recorded history, the Siberia Tunguska event, which devastated over 2,000 km2 of forest, an area the size of any major metropolitan city today. In 2016, Asteroid Day was declared by the United Nations to be a global day of education to raise awareness about asteroids, their role in our solar system and the need to use science and technology to increase our knowledge and ability to protect humanity from dangerous impacts and facilitate future exploration. More than 700 events in 190 countries around the world are taking place for Asteroid Day, with NUI Galway being the only designated centre in Ireland to host events. To celebrate the day, the NUI Galway scientists setup a day of themed workshops and activities with the 10-12 year-old students at Educate Together National School. The students also heard about two asteroids that are named after two NUI Galway astronomers, Professor Andrew Shearer and Dr Aaron Golden. Both asteroids are known as main-belt asteroids which are located between Mars and Jupiter, which orbit about 300-400 million kilometres from the sun. Both were discovered by the Swedish astronomer C.-I. Lagerkvist in 1979. Astronomers, Professor Shearer and Dr Golden work in the field of high-time-resolution astrophysics and image processing, and were responsible for the measurements of optical pulsations from two pulsars. Speaking about the event in Galway, Professor Andrew Shearer from the School of Physics and Centre for Astronomy at NUI Galway, said: “Asteroid Day is a wonderful opportunity to engage schools and community in an international scientific event. Asteroids, relics from the birth of the solar system give us a fascinating insight into what we are made of. Famous asteroids include the one which killed the dinosaurs. The question remains: are we still at risk from asteroids crashing into the earth?” School workshop and engagement activities include: The Size of the Sun – Arranging imagery of earth, sun and space objects in order of their size, their distance from earth and their temperature. By manipulating these images the students confronted their own mental models of space and time. Create a Rocket – The students constructed and designed rockets that were successfully launched! Using plastic soft drink bottles, cardboard, tape, and glue. Pasta Rover - Using only pasta and glue, the students designed planetary pasta rovers to travel down a ramp and then travel an additional one meter on a smooth, flat surface. The students used the same engineering design process that NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers use to improve their designs. Asteroid modelling clay and paper – The students shaped their own asteroid models out of clay and paper as part of a hands-on lesson to learn how asteroids form, what they are made of, and where they can be found in our Solar System. Snakes & Ladders Game - The classic snakes and ladders game was replaced by rockets and comets in this astronomy themed version. A challenging and interactive way to learn various astronomical objects while moving your way to the winning square as space travellers. Talk with an NUI Galway Physicist – A talk with an astrophysicist, Ray Butler from the Centre of Astronomy at NUI Galway to learn about the nature and threat of asteroids followed by a question and answer session. A public talk by Dr Ray Butler from the Centre for Astronomy at NUI Galway entitled ‘Asteroids: Earth in the firing line’ will take place at the University’s Kirwan Theatre in the Arts Science Building from 7pm–8pm today Friday 30 June, to celebrate World Asteroid Day. Events for Asteroid Day 2017 are planned around the world and include participation this year from major space agencies: European Space Agency (ESA); Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) and NASA, America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where every day is asteroid day. Events will take place for all ages at science centres, planetariums, observatories, museums, schools, theatres, libraries, civic, government halls and town squares. Tune in to NASA Facebook live videos with 2017 Astronauts from Johnson Space Centre in Houston on 30 June, using the hashtag #NewAstronauts at: https://www.facebook.com/NASA/videos/10155270254981772/. To join NUI Galway’s celebrations of World Asteroid Day online, Follow @nuigalway and NUI Galway on Facebook. To view World Asteroid Day events on the global map visit: https://asteroidday.org/. -Ends- 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

As part of SeaFest 2017, which opens this weekend in Galway, NUI Galway will host several events to celebrate and highlight the importance of business development and research in the marine industry. A two-day Marine Trade Show will take place this week 29-30 June, in a purpose-built marquee on the grounds of NUI Galway, to coincide with the Digital Ocean Conference and Our Ocean Wealth Summit as part of SeaFest 2017. The Marine Trade Show will showcase some of the highly innovative products and services emerging from companies across all sectors of the marine economy. Over 60 organisations will display their products and services in the Trade Show marquee on the College Lawn and in the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway where exhibitors will showcase their cutting-edge research and products that contribute to the marine industry. Participating industry exhibitors include; Microsoft Ireland, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Circular Ocean, The Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway, Planet Ocean, Marine Institute – Ireland’s Digital Ocean, Diatec, InnaLabs, JFC Marine, RealSim Marine, Éire Composites Teoranta, Wood Group Kenny, Planet Ocean, Marine Institute – Ireland’s Digital Ocean and many more. On Friday, 30 June the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway will host ‘Our Ocean Wealth Summit’. Now in its fourth year, the Summit forms a key part of the Government’s integrated plan for Ireland’s marine sector, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, and will bring together world renowned speakers, industry experts, business development agencies and the Irish business and marine research community for focused discussions on this year’s theme of ‘Rethinking Boundaries and Innovation for a Sustainable Marine Economy’. The Summit is sponsored by PwC Ireland. Speakers include Tom Kelley of award-winning global design and development firm, IDEO, who will inspire business leaders to engage in creative thinking and challenge perspectives to encourage new ideas and approaches on how Ireland can continue to transform its marine industry. Tom Kelley will be joined by a host of national and international thought leaders and industry experts including Dan O’Brien, Chief Economist of the Institute of International and European Affairs; Miguel Marques, Partner and Economist of the Sea, PwC Portugal; Terry Garcia, former VP National Geographic and CEO of Exploration Ventures; Andrew McDowell, VP, European Investment Bank; Wendy-Watson Wright, CEO of Ocean Frontier Institute Canada, and many more. The Digital Ocean – Ireland’s Marine Engineering and Technology Conference, will also be held as part of SeaFest 2017 and will take place on Thursday, 29 June. This event will build on the success of the inaugural Digital Ocean Conference in 2016 and will highlight how technology companies are driving new forms of innovation in Ireland’s blue economy. Ireland is internationally recognised as a leading hub for marine technology innovation due to its significant marine resource, its leading technology expertise and its world-class test-bed infrastructures. The conference will feature a selection of international marine technology companies; innovative Irish Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs); and Ireland's world-class technology and research centres. The programme will focus on specific opportunities for technology innovations to drive the global blue economy. A unique exhibition on Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole, Cold Recall – Roald Amundsen’s Reflections from the South Pole will continue to run in the main foyer of the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance. The exhibition is based on images from the original lantern slides that Norwegian Polar Explorer Roald Amundsen used in public lectures about his expeditions through the Northwest Passage and to the South Pole. Amundsen was the first in the world to navigate the Northwest Passage and the first to reach the South Pole on 14 December 1911. Norwegian Polar history is closely connected to defining Norway as an independent state in 1905, and to Norway’s position as a state closely connected to the oceans and to polar regions. The exhibition runs until 8 July 2017. University President, Dr Jim Browne said: “NUI is delighted to partner with the Marine Institute in bringing SeaFest to Galway. We’re particularly pleased to be able to host the important marine conferences - Our Ocean Wealth Summit and Digital Ocean - here on our campus. These events, along with the Trade Show, bring together leading policy-makers, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and academics to discuss the opportunities which Ireland’s marine economy offers.” President Browne, added: “NUI Galway is an international research leader in this field through the work of the Ryan Institute for Environment Energy and Marine research and the Whitaker Institute, where researchers at the Institute’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) analyse the economic importance of the marine environment for a range of national and international bodies. In addition to the two conferences, we’re especially pleased to host the Framm Museum’s month-long exhibition Cold Recall – Roald Amundsen’s Reflections from the South Pole in partnership with the Norwegian Embassy and the Marine Institute. I look forward to welcoming visitors to NUI Galway to enjoy the range of wonderful events on campus associated with SeaFest and I congratulate the Marine Institute on their efforts in bringing such a wonderful event to Galway this year.” SeaFest will take place from 30 June to 2 July with events for all the family throughout Galway Harbour. For full details about Our Ocean Wealth Summit, visit: https://www.ouroceanwealth.ie/ and Digital Ocean Conference, visit: https://www.smartocean.ie/digital-ocean . For full event details visit www.seafest.ie, follow @Seafest_ie, SeaFest 2017 on Facebook or download the SeaFest App for free. -Ends-

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Wildflowers Encounter (Casadh)’, by internationally acclaimed choreographer and dance artist Maureen Fleming, will be presented at 8pm on 30 June 2017 in the O’Donoghue Centre, NUI Galway. Featuring original music by composer and musician Colm Mac Con Iomaire, this presentation is the first ‘encounter’ between these ground-breaking artists and is the culmination of Fleming’s Fulbright Scholarship in Ireland. The first 'Encounter (Casadh)' in Ireland will be presented at the O’Donoghue Centre at NUI Galway by producer Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Perfoming Arts Manager at NUI Galway with direction, choreography and performance by Maureen Fleming, music composition and performance by Colm Mac Con Iomaire, videography by Colm Hogan, light and visual design by Christopher Odo. Louis de Paor, Director of the Centre for Irish Studies, will conduct an interview with the artists following the ‘Encounter (Casadh) presentation.  In lyrical, sculptural transcendence, Maureen Fleming invents surreal movement poetry that changes how we think of the human body. Fleming’s new monomyth: ‘Wildflowers’ is a series of vision poems inspired by the mythology surrounding the eternal, otherworld feminine of Ireland. The completed work will premiere at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre in New York City in autumn of 2018 and the O’ Shaughnessy in the Twin Cities in spring 2019. Fleming has spent a semester at the Centre for Irish Studies and at Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway on her Fulbright Scholar’s Award, where she taught her original dance form and studied sean-nós traditions of song and dance, developing new work incorporating aspects of Irish mythology and folklore. Fleming's ‘Wildflowers’ is a three-stage international collaborative project between choreographer and dance artist Maureen Fleming and composer and musician Colm Mac Con Iomaire. Research and development will begin with support from the Irish Arts Council Traditional Music Commission and the Fulbright Commission this summer and will develop through an ‘Encounter (Casadh)’ process where elements of set, light, music and choreography are staged and open to the public at various times and venues. Encounter (Casadh) is made possible with support from the Irish Arts Council Traditional Music Commission; Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs through the Fulbright Commission; Centre for Irish Studies and Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway; Arts in Action; and Galway City Council. -Ends-

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

NUI Galway partner, Compact Imaging, teams with SRI International for development of improved detection of attempts to evade or deceive biometric security systems, such as fingerprint identification scanners NUI Galway and its partner Compact Imaging, Inc. (CI) announced this week that SRI International (SRI) has selected its technology as a critical component in the development of ‘dynamic biometrics’ for improved detection of attempts to evade or deceive biometric security systems, such as fingerprint scanners. The development is being performed under a multi-year contract awarded to SRI as part of the US Government’s IARPA’s (Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, National Intelligence Directorate) Odin Program.  The goal of the Odin Program is to develop advanced technologies to detect ‘presentation attacks’, as attempts to deceive biometric security systems are often called. Conventional biometrics, such as fingerprint, iris and face, rely on static surface images of human tissue. The case for improved presentation attack detection is clear. According to the Department of Homeland Security, in 2015 the US Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) processed nearly 400 million people entering the US, almost 40 million of whom required a “secondary inspection” because of suspicious behaviour or adverse information in the primary screening process. Compact Imaging's breakthrough MRO™ (Multiple Reference OCT) brings well-established, non-invasive, OCT (optical coherence tomography) imaging to high volume field applications that require small size and low cost, such as biometric security systems for identity authentication. MRO directly detects fake fingerprints, determines liveness and images tissue in depth to reveal sub-dermal fingerprints. These sub-dermal fingerprints, which can be collected from wet, worn or dry fingers, lie securely below the surface fingerprints that make up today’s biometric databases. Under the Odin Program, SRI is researching innovative dynamic biometrics systems and techniques to dramatically improve the presentation attack detection capabilities of biometric systems by imaging, measuring and analyzing real-time physiological responses of living tissue to external and internal stimuli. By analyzing such factors as changes in heart rate, perspiration and blood flow, the system will reliably detect whether these tissues are real or being faked. Compact Imaging’s MRO™ technology, which uses optical means to rapidly and non-invasively create depth images of human tissue, will play a key role in the suite of dynamic biometrics techniques SRI is developing. This project will capitalise on rapid advances in Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), the world’s fastest growing medical imaging technology. The work is supported by the Tissue Optics and Microcirculation Imaging (TOMI) group at NUI Galway. The correlation mapping OCT algorithm provides the most secure approach to fingerprint biometrics, by imaging the pattern of tiny blood vessels which supply the fingerprint. Initial demonstrations of MRO’s sub-dermal fingerprint imaging capabilities were conducted in part in Ireland at Compact Imaging’s research collaboration with NUI Galway, a globally-recognised leader in OCT imaging of the micro-vasculature. The collaboration was initiated in 2012 and has successfully demonstrated MRO in a variety of applications from biometric security to non-destructive testing. Professor Martin Leahy, Chair of Applied Optics and Director of the Tissue Optics and Microcirculation Imaging (TOMI) Laboratory at NUI Galway, directs the collaboration’s research efforts in Galway. Professor Leahy said: “We are delighted that Compact Imaging has been chosen by SRI for dynamic biometric authentication applications. Our collaboration with Compact Imaging to advance OCT and MRO has been an ideal partnership in which our team has provided substantial research for applications critical to society worldwide.” Professor Leahy added: “The security of personal data is a pressing global concern, as we are using fingerprints for everything from phone unlocking to security checks. Technology developed at NUI Galway is supporting businesses and governments to verify identities more rigorously to make our personal data more secure.”   “The NUI Galway team has made important contributions to the advancement of MRO. The miniaturization of MRO opens new high-volume markets to OCT’s powerful non-invasive imaging capabilities,” said Don Bogue, CEO of Compact Imaging. -Ends-

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The Discipline of Geography at NUI Galway is hosting a half-day symposium on ‘Extreme Weather Events: Physical and Social Impacts’ on Wednesday, 28 June. Leading international and national scholars will participate in the event, which aims to improve the international scope of Irish climate change research to discuss research ideas and future projects. The symposium is keen to encourage cross disciplinary dialogues to ignite new ideas for future research collaborations across NUI Galway and beyond, looking at research opportunities into the science and impacts of climate change to understand merging Atmospheric Sciences, Oceanography, Climate modelling, Engineering, and Coastal Geomorphology with Social Scientific research. The event will provide postgraduate student research and networking opportunities for the next generation of climate scientists to exchange ideas and be exposed to state-of-the-art research. Commenting on the event, Dr Eugene Farrell, Lecturer in Physical Geography at NUI Galway, said: “Ireland’s identity is intertwined with the coastal and marine environment and we need to engage in an interdisciplinary discourse to address the physical and social impacts of a changing climate. Truly innovative interdisciplinary research requires formal and informal discussions to assess the potential for future collaborative work. It is invaluable for post-graduate students to be included in these discussions providing them with the opportunity to participate in a scientific meeting.” Dr Audrey Morley, Lecturer in the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, added: “Ireland needs skilled personnel, who can advise on, organise and regulate an informed development of coastal, marine and climate resources and activities in Ireland, the European Union and worldwide. This conference will be part of the process of preparing and upskilling postgraduate students for that role. The workshop will provide a forum within which students can interact directly with a range of national and international professional and expert practitioners and gain exposure to key experts, networks and important contacts in academia and beyond. This will enhance the reputation and profile of our students, their employability and future scholarly success, as well as their ability to contribute to creating change in a challenging contemporary society.” Keynote speakers and their topics will include: Professor Alan Haywood, University of Leeds - Palaeoclimate Modelling of Extreme Events. Dr Conor Murphy, NUI Maynooth - Hydro-climatic extremes from the year 1700 to present: data rescue, reanalysis and documentary sources. Dr Christy Swann, US Naval Research Laboratory - Coastal Storm Events: Field observations of fluid flow, sediment transport and morphodynamics in the nearshore. Professor Michael Hartnett, NUI Galway - Modelling storm surges and coastal urban flooding. Dr David Serrano Giné, Rovira i Virgili University, Spain - Assessing social carrying capacity of vulnerable coastlines. A panel discussion on research opportunities and research directions. For further information about the event, visit: http://bit.ly/2svXPbl -Ends-

Monday, 26 June 2017

NUI Galway will host the 10th World Sponge Conference for five days this week, 26-30 June. This is the biggest event on sponges in the world and the first time it is being held in Ireland. It will bring together the youngest and brightest minds and international scientists from all over the globe to present their latest research findings on sponges, a group of common animals in our seas that have the possibility of yielding the next wonder drug for treating serious medical conditions. Sea sponges are an ancient group of animals that appeared more than 600 million years ago that have many of the same genes as humans. Scientists are taking advantage of sponges to isolate marine natural compounds from these organisms to develop medicines useful in the treatment of human diseases such as cancer. Scientists at NUI Galway and around the world have been carrying out research on marine sponges that have been discovered to produce toxins that can target a range of different cancers and other diseases and will share and discuss this research at the conference. These ancient sea sponges could hold the key to a breakthrough in a range of diseases and infections like MRSA. Very little is known about sponges despite them being important members of the marine environment stretching from the coast to the deep sea and from the Polar regions to the tropics. The conference will reflect on the main areas in which sponge biology is developing at present, as well as traditional research categories. It will also provide a platform to bring together industry and sponge science and explore how to further develop sponge natural products. There will also be discussion fora to address topics of particular interest or which are developing at speed, such as systematics, natural products and genomics. It will be an important venue for early stage researchers to communicate their work and meet with established international researchers. Professor Grace McCormack, Conference Chair and a Zoologist in the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “The conference is the biggest gathering of this research community in its 40 year history. Galway has been a very attractive destination for scientists from all over the world. We have a jam packed programme with cutting-edge science being presented and it will form the basis of a book to be published later in the year. Sponges have developed an extensive array of chemicals to protect themselves against bacteria, viruses and attack by other organisms. One such compound formed the basis for the anti-HIV drug AZ used by millions of humans. Sponges may also provide sources of nanoparticles of silica for the biotech industry as well as other biomolecules such as collagens.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “We can learn so much from the natural world. Over 8000 species of sponge are currently described by science, and although these are simple organisms, they have outstanding attributes - such as the ability to regenerate. Our University, here on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, has a range of marine research underway, including the exploration of marine sponges in the treatment of human disease. This conference is an ideal opportunity to collaborate, exchange knowledge, and advance research in this field.” Keynote speakers include Professor Sally Leys, Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta in Canada, whose group as marine biologists takes them on yearly research cruises to study deep-water glass sponge reefs in coastal British Columbia, and to study sponges in Norway, Panama and the Canadian Arctic. Associate Professor James Bell, a marine biologist in the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. And several other leading international marine academics and researchers. The World Sponge Conference is supported by Science Foundation Ireland, the Marine Institute, NUI Galway and Fáilte Ireland. The conference will take place from Monday 26-30 June in the Arts Science Concourse at NUI Galway. For more conference details, visit: http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=489. -Ends-

Friday, 23 June 2017

The new O’Donoghue Centre for Theatre, Drama and Performance at NUI Galway, designed by Taylor Architects with Richard Murphy Architects, and built by local contractor Purcell Construction, has been voted Ireland’s favourite new building: it was the Public Choice in this year’s RIAI Irish Architecture Awards 2017, which are announced later today at the RIAI annual awards ceremony. Now in their 28th year, the RIAI Irish Architecture Awards are the premier architectural awards in Ireland. The Awards recognise excellence in design and the contribution made by architecture to society for everyone’s benefit. The public choice award was a particularly large category with a shortlist of 60 houses, offices, schools and colleges, heritage locations and public spaces to choose from. The O’Donoghue Centre building is a protected structure adjacent to the Bank of Ireland Theatre and the Bailey Allen Hall on the NUI Galway campus. Originally a bonded warehouse it had served as a munitions factory.  Its most recent use by the University was as engineering laboratories prior to the construction of the new engineering building.  The project involved the complete renovation and refurbishment of the building and provides a home for Drama, Theatre and Performance studies.    This pioneering Centre is a 120-seat theatre space with retractable tiered seating allowing for multifunctional use and accessibility. It comprises of studio spaces, a classroom, and a workshop and rehearsal room that will have a transformative effect not only on the University’s students but on the vibrant cultural hinterland that surrounds the campus. Speaking about the award, NUI Galway’s VP for Capital Project Keith Warnock, said: “We are delighted to receive the news that the O’Donoghue Centre is Ireland’s favourite new building. The design for the conversion of this nineteenth century industrial structure by Taylor Architects (Castlebar) and Richard Murphy Architects (Edinburgh), was crucial. The incorporation of the latest technology in the theatre space and elsewhere contrasts attractively with the solid stone walls which remind us of the building’s origins. This new state-of-the-art facility will act as a central hub for cultural innovation and creativity in the University and Galway City. The ‘Public Vote’ award adds to the growing appreciation of the physical infrastructure at NUI Galway and reaffirms our confidence in the programme of campus development we have undertaken over the last decade.” Just recently opened by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, the building on Earl’s Island began life as a bleach and flax mill in the 1850s. It was then converted into a jute factory, became a bonded warehouse, a factory for making cannon shells during World War I and was occupied by the 6th Dragoon Guards and the 17th Lancers during the War of Independence. In 1935 it became Irish Metal Industries and was officially opened by Seán Lemass, then Minister for Industry and Commerce, on July 22 1935. The Centre recognises the generous philanthropic support of Galway businessman, Dr Donagh O’Donoghue who began his association with the University after he completed both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce degrees in the 1960s. Professor Patrick Lonergan, Director of the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway, said: “As a resident of this fine structure we are thrilled to hear this news about the award and thrilled for incoming drama students who will get to study and perform in Ireland’s favourite building! This Centre has opened at a time when governments are beginning to understand the essential role of creativity in the wellbeing of their nations – and not only in the cultural sphere. There is growing evidence that creative arts contribute to our communities’ wellbeing, including our mental and physical health. And we’re also seeing evidence that business leaders recognise the importance of creativity as a key skill.” The award also adds to the accolades of the University in this particular public choice award having also taken the plaudits in 2012 for new Engineering Building. For further course information at the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/creativearts/  -ENDS-

Thursday, 22 June 2017

More and more research is pointing to the role the immune system plays in causing neurological disorders. Finding out how it fits with psychosis will be the focus of the annual Immune Function in Psychosis (iPsychosis) Meeting at NUI Galway on 29-30 June. The aim of this year’s conference is to link up researchers in the field, and establish a European network in the area. Topics covered will range from the genetics of immune function in psychosis to pharmacological approaches to treating inflammation in psychosis. Speaking in advance of the event Professor Gary Donohoe from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, said: “The iPsychosis meeting will bring together international leaders in the field of psychosis research to discuss the role of immune function in the development of schizophrenia and related disorders. Generously funded by Science Foundation Ireland, this two day meeting will be an opportunity to review current knowledge, identify gaps and plan future research in this important area.” World leaders in the field who will speak at the conference include: Professor Oliver Howes, King’s College London Dr Tina Notter, University of Zurich Professor Norbert Muller-Ludwig, Maximilians Univeristy Munich Professor Hemmo Drexhage, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam Dr Golam Khander, University of Cambridge Professor Brian Leonard, NUI Galway Dr Golum Khandaker, Clinical Lecturer in Cambridge Neuroscience at University of Cambridge, said: “Research on the immunological basis of schizophrenia is at the cutting edge of research into the causes of this highly disabling disorder. A better understanding of the immunological basis of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders may lead to new treatments.” The conference will take place on Thursday 29 June from 8:30am-5pm and Friday 30 June, from 9am-5pm in room G065 of the Arts Millennium Building at NUI Galway. For more conference details, visit: http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=499 -Ends-

Thursday, 22 June 2017

NUI Galway has won out over Oxford University to host a major international conference in 2021. The conference is the 11th European Solid Mechanics Conference 2021 – ESMC2021 – that will attract 1000 delegates to the University campus in July 2021, from across Europe and beyond. This will be the largest engineering or science conference that has ever been held at NUI Galway. The NUI Galway bid to host the conference won out over stiff competition in a bid from Oxford University at a ballot of the ESMC Committee, with the University coming out with 100% of the votes cast, and the decision was confirmed by the overarching Euromech Council at their recent meeting in St Petersburg. Solid mechanics is an area of study where mathematics and the principles of physics are applied to gain fundamental understanding on how different materials respond to forces applied to them: supporting the forces, deforming under the action of the forces, and ultimately fracturing. Solid mechanics is the bedrock of engineering design in areas such as mechanical engineering, civil and structural engineering, and biomedical engineering. It is a critically important element in the design and development of almost all products in these areas, such as aircraft, automobiles, buildings, bridges, and medical implants and devices. NUI Galway has a proud history of achievement in solid mechanics, and it is a topic in which the University currently has significant world class strength, spanning engineering and applied mathematics in particular. Professor Peter McHugh, Dean of the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, and the ESMC2021 Conference Chair, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for NUI Galway, and it provides clear confirmation of our world class standing and reputation for excellence in engineering and physical sciences. The conference provides us with a wonderful opportunity to showcase the educational and research impact of the University, and of course our beautiful campus, to the world. In addition to a attracting a large international attendance, the conference will involve direct participation by local and national industry, particularly in the MedTech and manufacturing sectors.” The conference will have major positive implications for the international visibility of NUI Galway and Galway city itself. An event of this size will have strong benefits for the local economy with Fáilte Ireland statistics citing an average spend of €1,600 per overseas delegate attending a conference, three times that of a leisure tourist. Business Tourism is Irelands most lucrative and highest yielding tourism sector, it is worth €700 million to the Irish economy and sustains 20,000 jobs.  NUI Galway plays a major role in business tourism in the west of Ireland, hosting over 20,000 conference delegates in 2016 with an estimated revenue of €3.2 million to the local economy. 16 international conferences will be held in NUI Galway during the month of June alone. The University has a very high success rate in winning bids for international conferences and works closely with Fáilte Ireland and Meet in Galway to promote Galway and Ireland as a destination to host international events with events booked up to 2022.   -Ends-

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Humanitarianism is in crisis. From Syria to South Sudan, Somalia to Yemen, war, insecurity, and the spectre of famine threaten the lives of millions of people. But how can history help with the response? A group of historians and aid workers will meet at the Moore Institute in NUI Galway from the 22-23 June for an Irish Research Council-funded workshop on humanitarian intervention in Somalia since the 1990s. The event is entitled ‘Humanitarian History: Reflections on Somalia’ and the groups aim is to re-insert history into discussions about the on-going humanitarian crisis in that region. What can we learn from the past? What did and didn’t work in the field? What factors shaped the practice of humanitarian aid? Such an approach is urgently needed. The Somalian crisis helped to re-define humanitarian intervention in the post-Cold War era. It altered understandings of humanitarian aid as a tool of international security, raised questions about NGO engagement with local politics, and offered massive logistical challenges in the delivery of aid. Its legacy still resonates, linking UNHCR involvement in the return of refugees from Dadaab in southern Kenya (home to more than 250,000 people) with the chaos and uncertainty facing arrivals in Greece. Dr Kevin O’Sullivan, Director of the MA History in the School of Humanities at NUI Galway, said: “I am delighted to collaborate with Trócaire on this project, and to welcome such a diverse group of participants to Galway. This workshop is an exciting opportunity to reflect on the contexts in which aid agencies operate, at home and in the field, the processes that have helped shape their activities, and the deep-rooted, and complex, power relationships that underpin them. More than that, however, it is also a chance to look forward. As we stand waist-deep in a worsening global humanitarian emergency in 2017, reflecting on Somalia's history, we hope, it will offer important insights into the future of aid.” The workshop’s keynote address will be delivered by Geoffrey Loane of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who was the Red Cross’s regional relief co-ordinator in Somalia in the early 1990s and later managed the International Red Cross response to the Rwanda genocide. Other participants include representatives from Trócaire, Concern, Médecins sans Frontières, Somalia NGO Consortium, the University of Manchester, Tufts University, and the Overseas Development Institute. Eamonn Meehan, Executive Director of Trócaire, said: “Somalia is one of the most difficult situations in which Trócaire has ever worked. Since 1992 Ireland has been at the forefront of humanitarian support in Somalia. The support and aid that people in Ireland have committed to Somalia for over thirty years has saved generations of families. But children have grown into adults knowing nothing but war. It is difficult to watch how Somalia has been abused and neglected at a political and international level. This conference is a chance for humanitarians, global academic experts and Somali diaspora to reflect and learn from the past and look to the future of Somalia.” The workshop is being organised by the School of Humanities at NUI Galway, in collaboration with Trócaire and funded by the Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme. For more information, visit: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/humanitarian-history-reflections-on-somalia-tickets-34726296287 -Ends- 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

A study led by scientists from the Regenerative, Modular and Developmental Engineering Laboratory (REMODEL) and the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, CÚRAM, based at NUI Galway, has developed a new type of implantable device to provide localised drug treatment and prevent infection. It has already proven effective against two types of major device infection bacteria. Publishing their results this week in the journal Biomedical Materials, the NUI Galway research team show that stabilised collagen scaffolds loaded with a particular antibiotic were able to prevent two infection causing bacteria, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis from forming. Lead author of the paper, Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis from NUI Galway’s REMODEL and CÚRAM said: “Implant infections remain a major healthcare problem. They can require long hospitalisation periods to disturb and treat bacterial biofilm formation. There can also be a need for additional surgeries to remove or replace the infected implant, which if not done in time may lead to sepsis. Although localised drug treatment, via an implanted scaffold has shown promise, the ideal scaffold cross-linking (to initially withstand the aggressive infection environment) and drug (to fight against infection) have not, until now, been found.” The NUI Galway research team, including Dr Gerard Wall of Microbiology and CÚRAM, first ventured to identify the optimal hexamethylene diisocyanate (HMDI) concentration that would offer suitable biomechanical, biochemical and biological properties. HMDI was chosen as it is a Food and Drug Administration approved cross-linking agent for collagen-based medical devices. They then loaded the optimally cross-linked collagen scaffolds with variable concentrations of the antibiotics Cefaclor and Ranalexin to identify the minimum effective concentration required to inhibit the growth of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis, two of the most frequently encountered bacteria in medical device infection. Dr Zeugolis added: “The development of our drug-loaded collagen device marks an important step forward. First, the sustained and localised delivery system that we developed avoids issues associated with systemic drug administration, such as antibiotic resistance. Further, we contributed towards finding a solution against a severe economic burden to healthcare systems internationally.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM commented, “CÚRAM’s goal is to develop affordable transformative solutions to improve quality of life for people suffering from chronic illnesses. Dr Zeugolis’ work continues to push towards this goal and will have real impact for patients and for the future medical device development.” To read the full paper in Biomedical Materials, visit: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-605X/aa6de0. -Ends-

Thursday, 22 June 2017

NUI Galway to host conversation with Wall Street veteran on ‘Prospects for Growth in an Uncertain World: The United States, Ireland, and the Global Economy’ The J.E Cairnes School of Business and Economics and The Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway will host a public event on the outlook for the global economy and financial markets entitled, ‘Prospects for Growth in an Uncertain World: The United States, Ireland, and the Global Economy’. President Trump has called for an overhaul of economic policies in the United States to boost growth. Nearer to home, Brexit negotiations have opened, but a bumpy road lies ahead. Meanwhile, the European economy is at last showing signs of recovery and European businesses are optimistic. In an intimate conversation, the Whitaker Institute’s Alan Ahearne will speak with Wall Street veteran and Fulbright Specialist Dr Michael Driscoll and NUI Galway’s Professor John McHale about the outlook for the global economy, exploring opportunities for Ireland in the current climate. Will President Trump's economic plan succeed in “making America great again”? Is Trump’s honeymoon with the stock market coming to an end? Is the election of Emmanuel Macron a turning point for Europe? The panelists will provide various perspectives - political, economic and more. This will be followed by an interactive audience question and answer session. Dr Michael J Driscoll is a Clinical Professor of Finance at Willumstad School of Business, Adelphi University in New York, a Fulbright US Scholar to NUI Galway, and former Wall Street executive. Professor John McHale is Dean of the College of Business, Public Policy, and Law at NUI Galway, and former Chairman of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council. Professor Alan Ahearne is Director of the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, and former special adviser to the Minister for Finance. Dr Driscoll has been a frequent contributor to global media outlets such as Bloomberg, CNN and Voice of America.  Commenting ahead of the event, Dr Driscoll said: “Rarely have we seen a period in recent economic history where geo-political factors have the potential to have such a profound impact on markets. A discussion of Ireland and the EU and the political situation in the US is timely and relevant. Events over the last few years could have significant beneficial opportunities for Ireland and the Irish people in the context of the global economy and specifically between the relationships between the EU and the US.” Professor John McHale at NUI Galway, said: “For as long as I can remember it has been said that we are living though unusually uncertain times. But with Brexit, Trump and worries about the post-crisis future of growth, today’s economic environment does seem truly uncertain. With his deep knowledge as practitioner and analyst of the global economic and financial system, Michael Driscoll is perfectly positioned to interpret the major forces affecting the world economy and to give us a better sense of what lies ahead.” The event will take place on Monday, 26 June in the Aula Maxima at NUI Galway from 6pm-7pm. A reception with light refreshments will precede the event and begin at 5.30pm. The event is free and open to the public, and those who wish to attend must pre-register at: http://bit.ly/2sVEK4W -Ends-

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

An international team of US, Canadian, Italian, Finnish, French and Irish-based researchers, led by Professor Colin O’Dowd from NUI Galway’s School of Physics and Ryan Institute’s Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies, have conclusively shown that surfactants can significantly enhance cloud formation, ultimately increasing the cooling effect of clouds.  It is the first time a team of researchers have confirmed this hypothesis under natural environmental conditions, and encapsulated it in a robust theoretical framework. The study was published this week in the globally prestigious scientific journal Nature. Clouds and greenhouse gases act in tandem to balance the Earth’s energy budget thereby controlling climate. While greenhouse gases keep the heat within the earth system, whereby leading to warming, clouds reduce the amount of incoming energy into the system leading to cooling. An increase in availability of cloud nuclei (typically in the form of airborne haze particles) leads to more droplets in the cloud, making it more reflective and longer-lived, thus increasing its cooling effect.   Such enhancement in cloud nuclei abundance can occur through an increase in either their absolute profusion, or, their efficiency at forming droplets at lower water vapour humidities in the air. The most common and generally most efficient form of cloud nuclei found are water soluble inorganic salts (such as sea salt and sulphates)  however, if those were mixed or entirely made of organic compounds they would possess low water solubility and suppress the nuclei activity. The game changes, however, if surfactants are present in the organic mix. Surfactants are 'wetting agents' that lower the surface tension of water. They are also called surface-active agents, a substance such as a detergent that, when added to a liquid, reduces its surface tension. Although the role of surfactants in promoting cloud droplet formation was proposed two decades ago, it has been disputed for almost as long, with one camp promoting a significant effect and the other camp claiming that the surface tension effect is cancelled by the simultaneous reduction in the solute, or Raoult, effect which is driven by the dissolution of the salt ions in the solution. Current theories simply find that these two effects counteract each other so suppression of droplet formation by less-soluble organics dominates.   The international team pushed the experimental and theoretical boundaries of atmospheric science research to elucidate this phenomenon using state-of-the-art aerosol mass spectrometer in conjunction with the most advanced thermodynamic droplet model. In  simulating the cloud droplet activation process using mixed organic-inorganic nuclei, they revealed that surface tension can be lowered without triggering changes in the Raoult (solute) effect through a process known as liquid-liquid phase separation (essentially an organic-rich layer on the drop’s surface keeps the surfactants separated from the internal aqueous solution occupying the core of the droplet). The model was able to explain the tenfold increases in cloud droplet number concentration observed. They concluded that this phenomenon could be detected in many diverse environments throughout the world, reinforcing its role in cloud brightening and global climate cooling. Dr Jurgita Ovadnevaite, scientist at the School of Physics at NUI Galway and lead author of the paper, said: “This study represents a major breakthrough in our understanding of cloud droplet formation from both an experimental and theoretical perspective. The next challenge is to scale up this nanometer scale finding to the global level through the incorporation of the surface tension effect into global climate models.” Dr Darius Ceburnis, Mace Head Operations Manager at NUI Galway, added: “These advanced breakthroughs are only achievable through investment in continuous, realtime, and state-of-the-art measurements of Essential Climate Variables and Air Pollution at stations such as Mace Head, which is endorsed by the World Meteorological Organisation’s Global Atmosphere Watch programme, and is one of the most advanced stations of its kind in the world. Mace Head is strategically located in a remote area to monitor how dirty the cleanest air has become. The publication in the most prestigious journal globally, Nature, is a reward for such an investment and is the second one in as many years.” The study was funded by the European Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency and the research was hosted at NUI Galway’s Climate and Air Pollution Research Facility at Mace Head in Carna, Co Galway, on the Galway-Atlantic coastline. To read the full study in Nature visit http://www.nature.com/nature.  For more information on Mace Head, visit: www.macehead.org. -Ends-