Monday, 5 October 2015

Dr Emily Porter has been awarded the prestigious postdoctoral fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to join a large European Research Council project at NUI Galway. This two-year fellowship is awarded to one of Canada’s most promising researchers with leading edge scientific and research skills. Dr Porter is a recent PhD in Electrical Engineering graduate of McGill University, Montreal, Canada, where she studied microwave radar for breast health monitoring. She will join the ERC research group in the new Translation Research Facility at University Hospital Galway, a custom-build facility to enable state-of-the-art medical research. She will be supervised by Dr Martin O’Halloran, a Science Foundation Ireland Investigator, who recently secured over €1.8 million from the European Research Council to examine the dielectric properties of human tissue, as a platform for the development of new medical devices. Working alongside NUI Galway’s Dr Róisín Dwyer and Professor Michael Kerin in the Lambe Institute for Translational Research, Dr Porter will develop improved methods for measuring the dielectric properties of biological tissue. These properties are of fundamental importance to understanding the interaction of electromagnetic fields with the human body. In particular, these quantities determine the absorption of electromagnetic fields in human tissues. Dielectric property research is extremely relevant to the advancement of electromagnetic medical devices for the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancers and other diseases, and will provide a basis for her colleagues at the Translational Research Facility to investigate and apply such techniques. -Ends-

Monday, 5 October 2015

Secondary school students interested in studying at NUI Galway are invited to an information evening in Tralee on Thursday, 15 October. Parents and guardians are also particularly welcome to the event which runs from 7 to 9pm in the Brandon Hotel, Tralee, Co. Kerry. The evening will begin with short talks about NUI Galway and some of the 60 courses it offers. Afterwards, current students and NUI Galway staff will be on hand at information stands to answer any individual questions in relation to courses offered by the University and about practical issues like accommodation, fees and scholarships, and the wide range of support services available to our students. The ever-increasing popularity of NUI Galway is in-part due to a suite of innovative programmes, developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market. Unique programmes include a suite of Arts degree programmes including Drama, Creative Writing and Human Rights, an Energy Systems Engineering degree which is taught in the University’s new Engineering Building, Ireland’s largest School of Engineering, a Maths and Education degree aimed at training Maths teachers, and a Marine Science degree. Visitors to the information evening will also get information on NUI Galway’s newest degree programmes, a Bachelor of Commerce (Global Experience), Bachelor in Children’s Studies and the new Bachelor of Arts (Joint Honours). Celine O’Donovan, Senior Marketing Officer at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway has a great deal to offer. Our own students tell us our lecturers are inspirational and challenge them to achieve their full potential. The student experience in Galway is second to none, and we want to bring a taste of that to County Kerry, while also providing all the practical information on accommodation, CAO points, fees, scholarships and courses. With so many courses on offer, this event in Tralee is a perfect opportunity for prospective students to meet current students and lecturers to see what degree might be the right fit for them.” To find out more about the information evening in Tralee, contact NUI Galway's Schools Liaison Officer, Johanna Walsh on 086 7851730 or johanna.walsh@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Monday, 5 October 2015

NUI Galway applied mathematician collaborates with Chinese researchers to find brain matter is softer than a gelatine gel, and may have promising results for neurosurgery A team of Chinese researchers from Tsinghua University in Beijing has collaborated with an applied mathematician at NUI Galway to measure how soft brain matter really is. The researchers were able to determine that brain matter is extremely soft, even softer than common gelatine. The study appears in the October issue of Biomechanics and Modelling in Mechanobiology. The research was carried out by generating ‘acoustic beams’ on the surface of the brain, and focusing the beams to interact at a location inside the brain. The interaction amplified the magnitude of the beams and eventually a sound wave was launched in the bulk of a brain. The sound wave was then observed in an ultrafast image through an ultrasound scanner, similar to those used in obstetrics. The speed of the wave was measured, and then related to stiffness of the brain matter through mathematical equations, like the pitch of a plucked string can be related to its tension. The connection between wave speed and stiffness was made through advanced modelling and simulations, which were mainly carried out at NUI Galway. Professor Michel Destrade, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway and affiliated with the International Brain Mechanics and Trauma Lab at Oxford University said: “Previously I had compared the brain to glue by testing cubic samples of the brain. During this study the brain was fully intact and compared to a very, very soft gelatine gel, basically a wobbly liquid.” Results from the research showed that brain matter is at least three times softer than a gelatine gel. This extreme softness helps explain why brain matter is so susceptible to impacts and rapid accelerations of the head, such as those occurring in sporting accidents, car accidents or following a bomb blast. The research has promising results for neurosurgery, if it can be used to measure the stiffness of healthy tissue compared to that of brain tumours. At the moment neurosurgeons have to rely on crude estimates to determine the extent of a brain tumour, as it is visually undistinguishable from the surrounding healthy tissue. First they remove a part of the skull to access the brain, and then use finger palpation to estimate how soft or hard a region is, before deciding which part to remove, a procedure which has barely improved in the last 100 years. For more information contact Professor Michel Destrade, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics, NUI Galway on michel.destrade@nuigalway.ie or 091 492344. To view the paper visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10237-015-0658-0  -Ends-

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Two NUI Galway PhD students were awarded first place medals at the Irish Pain Society Annual Scientific Meeting which took place in Dublin recently. The medals were awarded to Marie Fitzgibbon from Oola, Co. Limerick and Hannah Durand from Galway City. The research poster presentations were judged by a panel of international experts who commended the high quality of the research. Researchers from the Centre for Pain Research and Galway Neuroscience Centre at NUI Galway have had an outstanding record of success in this competition over the years, being among the prize winners on every occasion. Marie Fitzgibbon, a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Discipline of Physiology, won the Pre-Clinical Pain Research Medal for her presentation ‘Peripheral inhibition of FAAH attenuates formalin-evoked nociceptive responding in a mouse model of IFN-α-induced analgesia.’ Marie’s research, supervised by Dr Michelle Roche and Professor David Finn, involves the investigation of mechanisms underlying co-existent mood and pain disorders as well as the identification of future therapeutic targets. Marie’s research is funded by Molecular Medicine Ireland Clinical and Translational Research Scholars Programme and Science Foundation Ireland Research Frontiers Project. Hannah Durand, a first-year PhD candidate in the School of Psychology, won the Clinical Pain Research Medal for her presentation ‘Persistent and recurrent pain in childhood: Patterns of childhood chronic pain over two years (PRIME-C).’ Hannah’s research, supervised by Dr Siobhan O'Higgins and Dr Brian McGuire, examined the characteristics of children who reported chronic pain at more than one time point in the PRIME-C survey, which evaluates the prevalence, impact, and cost of chronic pain for 5–12 year old children living in Ireland. PRIME-C is funded by the Health Research Board Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement Award. Leader of the Galway Neuroscience Centre and Co-Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research, said: “We are delighted to see NUI Galway researchers win these prestigious prizes for their work. Our pain research aims to advance the understanding and treatment of chronic pain, a major unmet clinical need affecting at least 20% of the population.”   The meeting also witnessed the launch of the new Irish Pain Research Network (IPRN), a new initiative that will run as a special interest group of the Irish Pain Society. Professor Rolf-Detlef Treede, President of the International Association for the Study of Pain, launched the new research network, together with Professor David Finn, incoming President of the Irish Pain Society. The aim of IPRN is to bring together all active pain researchers on the island of Ireland for the purposes of sharing research results and ideas and facilitating cross-institutional collaboration in the area of pain research. -Ends-

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Volunteers recorded 628 species on campus in 24 hours  For the second year running,NUI Galway has won the top award for most biodiverse campus at Ireland’s Intervarsity BioBlitz competition, beating off stiff competition from UL, UCC, and Maynooth University. Over a 24 hour period, volunteers combed the University’s campus and recorded a total of 628 species. Last year the University recorded 581 species. With extensive semi-natural habitats across the NUI Galway estate, the BioBlitz teams logged 324 plants and tree species, 91 mosses, 34 bird species, 31 terrestrial and freshwater slugs and snails, 29 flies, 15 mammals,14 butterflies and moths, 14 diatoms, 13 beetles, 12 terrestrial and freshwater bugs, 11 fungi, 10 caddisflies and 10 ants/bees and wasps, 3 millipedes and 3 spiders, 2 lichens, 2 leeches, and 2 worms and a fish, earwig, mayfly, grasshopper, woodlouse, water hoglouse, mite and a flatworm. Along with NUI Galway staff, students and graduates, volunteers included staff and students from GMIT, and members of the public. Ireland’s BioBlitz is designed to increase public awareness of the variety of life in Ireland, and to highlight some of the ecological services that biodiversity provides to enhance our quality of life at a global and local level. The Bioblitz demonstrates the high level of skill and expertise necessary to study many aspects of Ireland’s biological diversity. It also demonstrates the importance of being able to survey and identify plants and animals as these are important aspects of Ireland’s biodiversity and skills that are taught at NUI Galway. Dr Caitriona Carlin of the Applied Ecology Unit at NUI Galway, said: “The win reflects the wonderful variety of life on campus and the effort of the recorders in being able to identify so much wildlife - and it was great fun!” This initiative was supported by NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences, the Buildings Office and the Green Campus team. NUI Galway’s statistics from the BioBlitz competition can be viewed at http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/intervarsity-bioblitz-2015-final-result/. -Ends-

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

As part of the worldwide celebration of the Italian language, NUI Galway will mark Settimana della lingua italiana nel mondo (Week of the Italian Language in the World) with a talk focusing on Italian music. ‘The Culture of Italian Music: Opera and Colonialism’ will take place on Thursday, 29 October from 6-8pm in the Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway. The theme of this year’s events is “L’italiano della musica, la musica dell’italiano” (The Italian of music, the music of Italian), with special emphasis on the educational role of music. Professor Paolo Bartoloni, Head of Italian at NUI Galway, said: “This year’s theme is particularly significant and engaging. Italian music, and the Italian operatic tradition is recognised throughout the world for its tremendous contribution to music, outstanding quality, and inclusion of universal themes. By focusing on the language of music, and the ways in which the Italian language adapts to it, the uniqueness of Italian musical theatre is brought into relief.” ‘The Culture of Italian Music: Opera and Colonialism’ will be opened with an introduction by Professor Bartoloni, and followed by two talks by Mario Inglese, a Research Scholar at the University and Alessandro Luchetti, an NUI Galway PhD student. Mario’s talk, ‘The Italian Language and Opera: Verdi and Puccini’ will focus on showing that although the careers of these two giants of operatic music coincided for a short span of time, the language of the libretti of the operas composed over the same period does differ considerably. The second talk by Alessandro Luchetti is ‘The Music of Italian Colonization in Africa: Racism and Sexism’. The talk will center on the impact of colonial propaganda songs on fascist society. A selection of songs from the late 1930’s will be analysed in order to observe how racist and sexist stereotypes helped build a consensus around the colonial enterprise. Professor Bartoloni explained: “The combination of two different genres, the classical opera and popular song will provide original perspectives for the understanding and appreciation of contrasting styles, and the history of Italian music. Further, the focus on the music of colonisation provides innovative insights into one of the most tragic and damaging periods of Italian history, fascism, and its use of popular music for propaganda purposes.” The Week of the Italian Language in the World takes place annually and is promoted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its cultural offices within Embassies and Consulates throughout the world, under the auspices of the Presidency of the Italian Republic and in collaboration with the Accademia della Crusca, the preeminent institution for the study and the promotion of Italian as a language of classical and contemporary culture. -Ends-

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

A major new collection on 1916 has been co-edited by Dr Seán Crosson, Lecturer with NUI Galway’s Huston School of Film and Digital Media. Towards 2016: 1916 in Irish Literature, Culture & Society reflects the mul­tiple perspectives and events that are associated with 1916 in Ireland and their con­tinuing relevance to Irish literature, culture and society. Towards 2016: 1916 in Irish Literature, Culture & Society, also co-edited by Professor Werner Huber of the University of Vienna, considers a broad range of cultural forms and soci­etal issues, including politics, theatre, traditional music, poetry, James Joyce, greyhound sports, graph­ic novels, contemporary fiction, documentary, the media, language, political represen­ta­tion, and the Irish economy with contributions from both emerging academics and established scholars. Among the contributors is acclaimed film director and novelist Neil Jordan (in an interview conducted by novelist Patrick McCabe), who provides insight to his life and work, including his biopic Michael Collins (1996), a production which includes one of the most memorable renderings of the Rising and its aftermath. NUI Galway’s Professor Alan Ahearne also contributed to the collection and examines if Irish economic sovereignty (a principle concern of the Rising’s leaders) is a thing of the past: “The sentiments underlining the 1916 proclamation con­tinue to resonate in post-Celtic Tiger Ireland today, and the notion of economic sove­reignty has again been prominent in the national dialogue over recent years as politicians and commentators regularly refer to the loss of sovereignty asso­ci­ated with the country’s EU/IMF programme that began in December 2010 and ended in December 2013. However, the idea that Irish policy­makers can have full control of our economy is delusional. For Ireland, the lar­gest chunks of economic sovereignty were willingly ceded when the country joined the EU and especially when it adopted the single currency.” Among the questions considered in the collection are: What were the formative influences on one of leaders of the Rising, James Connolly? What effect had the Rising on Ire­land’s fledgling labour movement? What impact did the Rising have on the Abbey and Irish theatre? What connects 1916, James Joyce, and the Cuban Revolution? What is the relevance of 1916 to Irish traditional music? What place has 1916 in contemporary Irish fiction and poetry? What are the relations between the Rising, sequential art, popular culture, and memory? A century after the 1916 Proclamation spoke of equality between women and men, could Ireland be finally about to realise equal gender distribution in politics? Does ‘Irish sovereignty’, a central concern of the Rising leaders, have any relevance for Ireland in the contemporary globalised and European Union context? Dr Seán Crosson, co-editor and NUI Galway Lecturer, said: “1916 marked an important moment in the development of modern Ireland. The continuing reso­nance of the Rising to contemporary Ireland was evident in the now much quoted edi­torial of The Irish Times in November 2010, the day after it was announced Ireland was to receive a financial bailout from the EU and IMF. ‘Was it for this?’ the editorial asked, ‘the men of 1916 died’, thus also highlighting the gendering of the com­memo­ration of that event.” “However, the Rising was but one of a range of significant events in 1916. Beyond the political sphere, 1916 marked the publication of James Joyce’s first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and also saw the foundation of Ire­land’s first indigenous film production company, The Film Company of Ireland, whose co-founder James Mark Sullivan was arrested after the Rising and charged with complicity. Our collection is cognisant of the variety of perspectives and areas in which 1916 continues to resonate,” continued Dr Crosson. Towards 2016: 1916 in Irish Literature, Culture & Society is published as part of the prestigious peer-reviewed Irish Studies in Europe publication series, produced under the aegis of the European Federations of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies (EFACIS). Previous volumes in the series have featured prominent writers and academics including (the late poet and Nobel Laurette Seamus Heaney, former Ireland Professor of Poetry Harry Clifton, acclaimed poet Rita Ann Higgins and academics Declan Kiberd, Anne Saddlemeyer, and Ruth Barton. -Ends-

Monday, 12 October 2015

Scholarships available in five key research areas Applications are being accepted for fully-funded PhD scholarships at NUI Galway. The Hardiman and Dr Tony Ryan Research Scholarships will support students to undertake four-year Structured PhD programmes, by providing a stipend of €16,000 per annum. The deadline for applications is 20 November, 2015. The scholarships are focused on five key areas of research in which NUI Galway offers world-leading expertise: Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy Biomedical Science and Engineering Environment, Marine and Energy Humanities in Context, including Digital Humanities Informatics, Data Analytics, Physical and Computational Sciences Scholarships will be awarded only to those who will engage full-time in research during the period of the award in NUI Galway. NUI Galway Dean of Graduate Studies, Dr Lucy Byrnes, said: “These scholarships provide opportunities for excellent students to complete a doctoral degree at NUI Galway in our priority research areas. Our structured PhD programmes support the development of innovative individuals who will advance our understanding through their research and make valuable contributions to society.” Applications forms and further information are available at http://www.nuigalway.ie/hardiman-scholarships/ with closing date for applications at 5pm on 20 November. -Ends-

Monday, 12 October 2015

NUI Galway held a range of events to mark Mental Health Week, which took place nationally last week. The initiative is to encourage and facilitate students and staff to develop and maintain positive mental health.  The events that took place on campus captured a glimpse of the activities and programmes in NUI Galway which support the development of positive mental health. They included information workshops, resources, practical suggestions and proactive ways to cultivate health and wellbeing which have proven beneficial to others. Throughout the week there was a specific focus on the ‘Little Things Campaign’ which is an initiative of the Health Service Executive to promote mental health. The #littlethings campaign focuses on how simple little things can make a big difference on how we feel, such as keeping active, talking about problems, looking out for others, doing things with others, eating healthily, staying in touch, drinking less alcohol and sleeping well. The events for Mental Health Week were organised by NUI Galway’s Student Services and the Students Union in partnership with a number of external agencies. -Ends-

Monday, 12 October 2015

Beidh dhá rogha úra ag mic léinn céim trí Ghaeilge i Léann na Cumarsáide a bhaint in Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh ó Mheán Fómhair 2016. Cuirfear céim ainmnithe BA (Cumarsáid & Gaeilge) ar fáil, céim a bhféadfaí a bhaint in imeacht ceithre bliana; nó staidéar a dhéanamh ar Léann na Cumarsáide mar ábhar roghnach sa chéim ghinearálta sna Dána (GY101) in imeacht trí bliana. Céim dhá ábhar a bheidh sa BA (Cumarsáid & Gaeilge) feasta, a chuirfidh le deiseanna fostaíochta chéimithe OÉ Gaillimh i dtionscail na meán agus in earnáil na Gaeilge. Beidh blianta 1, 2, agus 4 den chéim seo ar siúl ar champas na hOllscoile i nGaillimh, agus beidh an tríú bliain (seimeastar Gaeltachta agus taithí oibre sna meáin) lonnaithe in Ionad na hOllscoile ar an gCeathrú Rua i nGaeltacht Chonamara. Beidh an clár á thairiscint ag Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge i gcomhpháirt le Roinn na Gaeilge san Ollscoil. An dara rogha a bheidh ag mic léinn ná Léann na Cumarsáide a roghnú mar ghnáthábhar sa BA (Dhá Onóracha) san Ollscoil (GY101), agus beidh teacht acu ar chuimse ábhar eile. Ina measc siúd tá Gaeilge, Béarla, Fraincis, Stair, Léann an Aistriúcháin, Iodáilis, Spáinnis, Teicneolaíocht na Faisnéise, Síceolaíocht agus Léann na Socheolaíochta agus na Polaitíochta. Ag brath ar a gcuid torthaí sa chéad bhliain, beidh deis ag na mic léinn a roghnaíonn Léann na Cumarsáide aistriú sa dara bliain go dtí an chéim ainmnithe BA (Cumarsáid & Gaeilge), más maith leo. Den chéad uair beidh cáilíocht aitheanta sa Ghaeilge ag céimithe an chúrsa ainmnithe nua a chuirfidh ar a gcumas dul le múinteoireacht freisin. Cuirfear tús le Seimeastar Gaeltachta a thairiscint do mhic léinn OÉ Gaillimh i Meán Fómhair 2016. Beidh mic léinn an BComm le Gaeilge ag gabháil de chúrsa iomlán lánaimseartha seimeastair ar an gCeathrú Rua agus beidh socrúchán oibre teangabhunaithe acu ina dhiaidh sin in Earrach 2017. Tá sé i gceist go mbeidh suas le 150 mac léinn páirteach sa Seimeastar Gaeltachta in aghaidh na bliana in Ionaid na hOllscoile sa Ghaeltacht faoi 2020. “Forbairt thráthúil é seo ar Léann na Cumarsáide in OÉ Gaillimh, agus cuideoidh meascán den iniúchadh acadúil agus den oiliúint phraiticiúil san iriseoireacht, sa léiriú teilifíse agus raidió, sa chraoltóireacht, sna hilmheáin agus i réimse ábhar eile lenár gcuid mac léinn barrthaitneamh a thabhairt don chúrsa úr," a deir Riarthóir Léann na Cumarsáide, Uinsionn Mac Dubhghaill. Dúirt Dónall Ó Braonáin, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge: "Clár acadúil téagartha é seo a chuirfidh sároiliúint ar mhic léinn i Léann na Cumarsáide agus sa Ghaeilge. Beidh scoth na ndeiseanna fostaíochta acu dá bharr agus cuirfidh muid fáilte roimh mhic léinn a bhfuil spéis acu sa chruthaitheacht agus in ardscileanna teanga.”  CRÍOCH New Choices for Media Studies through Irish at NUI Galway NUI Galway has announced two new choices for students wishing to study media through Irish at the University from September 2016. The BA (Cumarsáid & Gaeilge) is a dual-honours programme taught over four years, including work experience in media organisations and a Gaeltacht semester in third year, while students will also have the option of taking Léann na Cumarsáide (Communications Studies) as a choice on the general three-year arts degree. The BA (Cumarsáid & Gaeilge) will enhance graduates’ employment opportunities in the growing media and Irish-language sector. Years 1, 2 and 4 will take place on the main campus in Galway, while third year (work experience in the media and Gaeltacht semester) is based at NUI Galway’s Gaeltacht campus in An Cheathrú Rua, Co. Galway. It is being offered by Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge in conjunction with the University’s Irish Department. Students who opt to take Léann na Cumarsáide as a subject in the dual-honours general arts programme (GY101), will be able to pair this choice with a broad range of other subjects. These include Irish, English, French, History, Léann an Aistriúcháin (translation studies through Irish), Italian, Spanish, Information Technology, Psychology and Sociological & Political Studies. Depending on their first year results, students who take Léann na Cumarsáide as part of the general arts degree will also have the option of switching to the specialised BA (Cumarsáid & Gaeilge) after first year, should they wish. For the first time graduates of this programme will have a recognised qualification in Irish which will enable them to become Irish teachers following postgraduate study. Students at NUI Galway will also have enhanced opportunities to study in the Gaeltacht as part of expanded choices from September 2016. Students on the BComm with Irish will undertake a full-time semester-long course in An Cheathrú Rua, and they will also be given work placements in Irish-language organisations during the following spring. Up to 150 students will be enrolled in various semester programmes at the University’s Gaeltacht campuses by the year 2020. “This is a timely development of media studies through Irish at NUI Galway, and students will enjoy the broad mix of academic study and practical training in journalism, television and radio production, broadcasting, multimedia and other subjects,” according to the course director, Uinsionn Mac Dubhghaill. “This is a robust academic programme that will give students a top-class education in media and Irish. It will give them excellent job opportunities, and we welcome students who want to develop their creativity and achieve a high standard of fluency in Irish,” said Head of the Acadamh, Dónall Ó Braonáin. -ENDS-

Monday, 12 October 2015

SFI-funded study provides new insights to the understanding of hybrid vigour and opens up new approaches for boosting crop yields through harnessing epigenetic effects that are driven by genome dosage increases  Hybrid vigour is an elusive property that has contributed to major yield gains in agriculture for crops and livestock. Offspring of some combinations of parents display hybrid vigour when their characteristics (e.g. height, weight, yield) exceed those of their parents. The Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research team at NUI Galway led by Professor Charles Spillane screened the growth patterns of hundreds of different plant offspring, in collaboration with colleagues in Wageningen University, recently published in plant research journal New Phytologist. Hybrid vigour is also known as heterosis. Both terms were coined in the early 1900s by George Schull (1914) and Donald Jones (1918). Over the past century, multiple theories have been proposed to explain the genetic basis of heterosis. Most such theories are based on an assumption that offspring displaying heterosis have to be genetic hybrids generated from genetically different parents. Professor Spillane’s SFI research team in the Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) at NUI Galway have demonstrated that genetically identical parents can generate genetically identical offspring that display hybrid vigour. This was achieved by generating offspring ‘triploid’ plants that contained three sets of chromosomes by crossing together parents that either had two sets or four sets of chromosomes.  Remarkably, the team discovered that a triploid plant that contained two sets of chromosomes from the father and one from the mother displayed a major boost in plant yields. The lead lab researcher on the SFI project Dr Antoine Fort indicated that, “Our research opens up exciting new variety combinations possibilities, a potential often overlooked in plant breeding, by simply crossing plants of different ploidies (number of copies of the genome) to potentially increase yield and/or biomass.” Professor Spillane said: “Our SFI-funded study provides new insights to the understanding of hybrid vigour and opens up new approaches for boosting crop yields through harnessing epigenetic effects that are driven by genome (chromosome) dosage increases. Our next steps are to work with partners in Ireland and internationally to determine whether our approach can be translated to increase yields in the world’s major crops to help meet the rapidly growing planetary demand for crop biomass derived products (food, feed, fibre, fuel and chemicals).” View New Phytologist on http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nph.13650/full For further information contact Professor Charles Spillane, Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC), NUI Galway at charles.spillane@nuigalway.ie or visit www.plantagbiosciences.org -Ends-  

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Professor Afshin Samali, Director of the Apoptosis Research Centre (ARC) and Investigator with CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has secured €3.7million to lead a consortium of researchers called the TRAIN-ERS network, on a new project to research endoplasmic reticulum stress (ER stress). ER stress is an emerging feature in the pathology of numerous diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, metabolic syndromes and inflammatory diseases that affect millions of people worldwide each year and pose an enormous cost to the health sector. The funding award has been made through the Horizon 2020 grant programme, under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Networks action. ER stress represents a potential therapeutic intervention point that can be exploited to develop novel new therapies for a wide range of diseases. To date, the development of such therapies has been hampered by the shortage of scientists with interdisciplinary training, who can navigate between academic, industrial and clinical sectors with skills to convert research findings into commercial and clinical applications. The TRAIN-ERS Network will address this by providing 14 early stage researchers (ESRs) with the knowledge and the cutting edge scientific and technical skills that will drive our understanding and exploitation of the ER stress response for therapeutic purposes. The programme will utilize the unique skill sets, infrastructure and expertise of consortium partners to gain a global, mechanistic and quantitative understanding of the ER stress response, establish the contribution of the ER stress response to disease development and progression, and exploit the potential of targeting the ER stress response as a therapeutic strategy for diseases including cancer, neurodegeneration and inflammation. “Our project will bring young researchers together with world-leading academics, clinicians and industry personnel who are united in their goal of forming a network of excellence aimed at understanding the ER stress response, and applying this understanding to identify and validate the most suitable intervention points for the treatment of ER stress-associated diseases”, explains Professor Afshin Samali. This will provide the ESRs with a unique training experience and equip them with a toolbox of transferable skills that will significantly benefit them in their future careers and which will facilitate Europe’s 2020 ‘Innovation Union’ flagship initiative by producing researchers with the skills to convert knowledge and ideas into products and services. Speaking about the award, Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of CÚRAM said: “This is one of a number of current projects funded under this programme that are being carried out by CÚRAM researchers. CÚRAMs key strength lies in our ability to create unique, synergistic networks across academic, industry and clinical institutions. Because of this, our research and output capabilities in the medical device sector span a much wider spectrum than ever before. The TRAIN-ERs Network consortium will further expand the possibilities for conceptualization, discovery, development and clinical translation of novel, ‘smart’ solutions to bring about a better future for sufferers of chronic illnesses.” ARC, a well-established research centre focusing research on aspects of cellular stress and cell death and its relevance to human disease, works closely with CÚRAM, the National Centre for Research in Medical Devices which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and Industry partners. Its goal is to radically improve health outcomes for patients with chronic and degenerative disease through the development of ‘smart’ implantable medical devices. The TRAIN-ERS network research consortium, led by Professor Samali includes academic groups from Austria, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, France and the UK. Industry partners of the programme include Randox Teoranta and Optimata. -Ends-

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Nine Irish environmental communicators recently met former U.S. Vice President Al Gore as part of his global movement to increase climate change awareness and action. The Irish delegation joined more than 1,200 other Climate Leaders from 85 countries in Miami, Florida to receive training on how to communicate the climate crisis and solutions to the public. Mr. Gore agreed to a brief private meeting with the Irish delegation where they discussed the challenges of climate communication in Ireland. Among the group was Elizabeth O’Reilly, a Research Assistant for the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) at NUI Galway: “It was a privilege to meet the former Vice President and I hope I can do his message justice. It is one I believe in and hope I can highlight to an Irish and Galway audience.”   Irish film maker, Raja Nundlall, participated in the Climate Leader training and documented the trip as part of a film project. Raja explained; “It was an honour to come to Miami to participate in the Climate Reality initiative and meet the former Vice President, Academy award winner, and Nobel Peace prize recipient. His film, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, was the first movie that explained climate change in a way I could relate to.”   The delegation was joined by Ireland’s first Climate Leader, Dr Cara Augustenborg, who participated as a mentor with the Climate Reality team. Cara became a Climate Leader in 2013 and has since given over 25 public climate talks to more than 1,500 people in Ireland.   Upon reflecting on meeting Al Gore, Cara explained: “I was amazed at Mr. Gore’s generosity in agreeing to meet the Irish delegation in the midst of his busy schedule. With the United Nation’s climate negotiations only nine weeks away, now is a critical time to improve public understanding of climate impacts and solutions. That urgency for climate action was reflected in the amount of attention Mr. Gore gave these new Climate Leaders. It was a thrill to watch the Irish delegation develop into effective climate communicators over the course of the training.” To date, Al Gore has trained more than 9,000 people to become Climate Leaders and over 19,000 climate presentations have been delivered as a result. In return for receiving the Climate Reality training, Climate Leaders agree to give at least ten climate talks in their local communities based on Al Gore’s own climate presentation, which featured in his Oscar-winning documentary, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’.   The new Climate Leaders are now available to give presentations based on Al Gore’s own climate presentation. The talks are expected to be particularly well received in the lead up to the United Nation’s climate negotiations in Paris this December. Irish Climate Leaders can be contacted through their new website, www.ClimateTalkIreland.com.   The Irish delegation was sponsored in part by the Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency and through their own personal fundraising efforts. -Ends-

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Silicon Valley Startup Compact Imaging and NUI Galway’s TOMI Lab Successfully Co-Developing Miniature, Low-Cost Optical Sensor Technology Compact Imaging, Inc. and NUI Galway today (14 October, 2015) jointly announced the second extension of their innovative research collaboration in MRO™ (Multiple Reference OCT), Compact Imaging’s miniature low-cost optical sensor technology. Multiple Reference OCT brings the powerful non-invasive imaging and biometry capabilities of optical coherence tomography (OCT) to high volume non-clinical applications, such as mobile health monitoring, identity verification and non-destructive testing (NDT). The original collaboration agreement was signed in 2012 and first extended in 2014. The new extension between both organisations runs through to 2017. “Compact Imaging’s MRO technology is highly disruptive, offering greater than 100 times reduction in size and cost compared to conventional OCT systems,” said Don Bogue, CEO of Compact Imaging. “Ultimately, MRO photonic modules will be consistent in size, cost and operating power with integration into mobile monitoring devices.” Compact Imaging’s multiple reference OCT, or MRO, technology addresses the size, cost, complexity and operating power limitations of conventional clinic-scale OCT systems. Conventional OCT was first commercialised in the early 2000’s and its noninvasive, non-ionizing imaging capabilities have revolutionized diagnostic imaging in clinical and research settings. MRO, by contrast, is designed for use in high volume mobile monitoring applications. The Company’s IP centres on its MRO system. Professor Martin Leahy, Chair of Applied Physics at NUI Galway and Director of the Tissue Optics and Microcirculation Imaging (TOMI) Laboratory, will continue to direct the collaboration’s research efforts in Galway. Professor Leahy said: “This further substantial cash investment is a very welcome endorsement of our work by the board of Compact Imaging and its investors. The collaboration has been very successful because both sides understand the need to align our interests. Our interest in providing substantial research topics for our PhD students and publishing our results has always been wholeheartedly supported by Compact Imaging, not least through their rapid assessment and protection of generated intellectual property. In turn, together we have been able to deliver substantial advances of the technology and its applications which are clearly valued by Compact Imaging.” The research collaboration combines NUI Galway’s globally-recognised expertise in OCT and other advanced biological imaging techniques with Compact Imaging’s engineering development and intellectual property in OCT and MRO. Compact Imaging and NUI Galway researchers have been working together since 2012, leading to the successful demonstration of several new MRO applications, creation of significant IP and publication of numerous research papers. The original two-year research collaboration successfully demonstrated the application of MRO technology in areas such as creating subdermal fingerprint images and production testing of industrial materials. -Ends-

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Irish and Italian scientists reveal new link between oceanic plankton, viruses, clouds and climate, published today in Scientific Reports An international team of researchers led by Professor Colin O’Dowd from NUI Galway’s School of Physics and Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies have found that the release of plankton-produced organic matter, which leads to a global-cooling effect that could partially off-set the warming caused by greenhouse gases, is triggered by marine virus attack. The results were published today (14 October, 2015) in leading journal Scientific Reports. Plankton plays an important role in the global carbon budget and biogeochemical cycling of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), the dominant greenhouse gas. The ocean contains 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere, and at least half of the oxygen we breathe comes from the photosynthesis of marine plants such as plankton. Currently, 48% of the carbon emitted to the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning is sequestered into the ocean. However, the future fate of this important carbon sink is quite uncertain because of potential climate change impacts on ocean circulation, biogeochemical cycling, and ecosystem dynamics, the latter often determined by marine viruses. Recent research has suggested a trophic predator-prey dance between phytoplankton, viruses and climate change as the growth of plankton blooms not only responds to temperature change but also acts as a Carbon Dioxide sink, ultimately leading to a reduction in global warming. This new study, led by NUI Galway, finds that the demise of the plankton blooms, or the bloom’s death disco, also has the potential to counteract global warming through the release of organic matter which becomes concentrated at the ocean surface and enters into sea-spray produced by bursting bubbles. This spray forms haze and cloud layers that block out some of the sun’s heat, leading to a cooling effect. This cooling effect partially off-sets the warming caused by greenhouse gases. The organic matter enriched in the sea-spray effectively increases the cooling effect of the spray’s haze and cloud layers, but, to date, it has proven elusive to find the underlying reasons for the production of organic matter from the blooming plankton. The team of Irish and Italian scientists found that the release of the organic matter is triggered by an attack from marine viruses, the most abundant biological particles in the world, leading to the demise of the bloom. And in doing so, releasing massive amounts of organic matter much more so than if the bloom was to die more naturally, leading to more abundant haze and cloud layers. The team was led by Professor Colin O’Dowd from NUI Galway’s School of Physics and Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies, and included Dr Dagmar Stengel from Botany and Plant Science at the School of Natural Sciences, NUI Galway. The Italian contributions were led by Dr Maria Cristina Facchini, Institute for Studies of Atmosphere and Climate and Professor Roberto Danovaro, University of Marche. Professor O’Dowd said: “This represents a major breakthrough in our understanding of the coupling between the climate system and the marine biosphere. The breakthrough could only have been achieved through the collaboration within a multi-disciplinary team comprising world-leaders in atmospheric physics, atmospheric chemistry, ocean chemistry and ocean biology, utilising state-of-the-art technology to quantify aerosol particles and viruses on the nano-scale, to Earth Observation satellites on the global scale.” To view Scientific Reports paper visit: www.nature.com/articles/srep14883  -Ends-

Friday, 16 October 2015

NUI Galway recently celebrated the success of a select group of first-year students with a special ceremony on Thursday, 15 October, in recognition of the high points they achieved in the recent Leaving Certificate Examination. As part of the University's annual Excellence Scholarships, 61 students received €1,500 each. Each year the Excellence Scholarships are given to new entrants at NUI Galway who reached a minimum of 560 points in their Leaving Certificate examination, except in Medicine. For Medical students 10 Scholarships were awarded certificates, based on the combined results in the Leaving Certificate and the new Admissions Test (H-PAT Ireland). The Excellence Scholarships are designed to recognise and reward Leaving Cert success for the highest-achieving students, and encourage their ongoing commitment to academic excellence during their time at NUI Galway. The awards may be held with any other scholarships or grants, including the University's Postgraduate Scholarships, Mature Student Scholarships, Sports Scholarship Scheme and schemes specific to individual colleges for those who excel in their University exams. Speaking in advance of the Awards presentation, NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne, said: “I am delighted to present the scholarships to these 60 outstanding individuals in recognition of their academic talent. NUI Galway constantly strives to support and promote academic excellence across all disciplines. The purpose of these Awards is to encourage each student to develop his/her academic potential to the fullest, by setting a realistic threshold of excellence and rewarding every student who attains that level. It is also a chance to give due credit to their parents and teachers for their important contribution to such success.” This year Excellence Scholarships were awarded to students from 40 individual schools throughout Ireland. The winners represented 13 counties including Clare, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick, Longford, Mayo, Offaly, Roscommon, Tipperary, and Wicklow. -Ends- Ceiliúradh in OÉ Gaillimh ar Scothmhic Léinn a rinne Éacht san Ardteistiméireacht Rinneadh ceiliúradh in OÉ Gaillimh le gairid ar ghrúpa ar leith mac léinn chéad bhliana ag searmanas speisialta Déardaoin, an 15 Deireadh Fómhair, mar aitheantas ar na pointí arda a ghnóthaigh siad i Scrúdú na hArdteistiméireachta. Mar chuid de shearmanas bliantúil na hOllscoile le Scoláireachtaí Sárchaighdeáin a bhronnadh, bronnadh scoláireachtaí ar fiú €1,500 an ceann iad mar aon le scrolla speisialta ar 61 mac léinn. Bronntar na Scoláireachtaí Sárchaighdeáin gach bliain ar mhic léinn atá díreach tosaithe ag freastal ar OÉ Gaillimh agus a fuair 560 pointe, ar a laghad, i Scrúdú na hArdteistiméireachta, seachas mic léinn leighis. Sa Leigheas, bronntar deich Scoláireacht bunaithe ar thorthaí na hArdteistiméireachta agus na Tástála Iontrála nua (H-PAT Ireland) araon. Tá na Scoláireachtaí Sárchaighdeáin ann chun luach saothair a thabhairt do na daltaí is fearr a n-éiríonn leo san Ardteistiméireacht, agus chun a dtiomantas leanúnach i sárchaighdeán acadúil a spreagadh le linn a dtréimhse in OÉ Gaillimh. D’fhéadfaí go mbeadh scoláireachtaí nó deontais eile ag an té a fhaigheann na scoláireachtaí seo, Scoláireachtaí Iarchéime na hOllscoile, Scoláireachtaí do Mhic Léinn Lánfhásta, Scéim Scoláireachtaí Spóirt na hOllscoile agus scéimeanna a bhaineann go sonrach le coláistí agus iad siúd a n-éiríonn thar barr leo sna scrúduithe Ollscoile san áireamh. Ag labhairt dó roimh bhronnadh na ngradam, bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne: “Is cúis áthais dom na scoláireachtaí seo a bhronnadh ar an 60 duine den scoth seo mar aitheantas ar a gcumas acadúil. Déanann OÉ Gaillimh iarracht i gcónaí tacú le sárchaighdeán acadúil i ngach uile dhisciplín agus é a spreagadh. Tá na Gradaim seo ann le gach mac léinn a spreagadh le lántairbhe a bhaint as a gcumas mar mhic léinn, trí thairseach réalaíoch sárchaighdeáin a leagan amach agus luach saothair a thabhairt do gach mac léinn a bhaineann an leibhéal sin amach. Deis atá ann freisin le haitheantas a thabhairt don tsárobair atá déanta ag a dtuismitheoirí agus ag a múinteoirí.” I mbliana bronnadh na Scoláireachtaí Sárchaighdeáin ar scoláirí ó 40 scoil ar fud na hÉireann. Bronnadh scoláireachtaí ar mhic léinn as na 13 chontae seo a leanas – an Clár, Dún  na nGall, Gaillimh, Ciarraí, Cill Dara, Cill Chainnigh, Maigh Eo, Luimneach, Tiobraid Árann, Ros Comáin, Longfort, Uíbh Fhailí, agus Cill Mhantáin. -Críoch-

Friday, 16 October 2015

NUI Galway is now taking bookings for a full day of science-related activities for children aged 7 to 13 years old. Organised by three science outreach initiatives based at NUI Galway, Cell EXPLORERS, Eco EXPLORERS and Kitchen Chemistry, the Science Camp will take place on Wednesday, 28 October, and includes activities such as discovering microscopes, colourful chemical reactions and working with live exotic animals. With Cell EXPLORERS, children will learn about the fascinating world of cells which are the basic building blocks of all living things. They will take a close look at living things under the microscope in a fun discovery trail. Kitchen Chemistry will teach children how to make their own glow sticks and grow crystals at home, and Eco EXPLORERS will complete the day with an exciting display of live exotic animals, ranging from tarantulas to snakes and stick insects. Dr Muriel Grenon, member of the organising team and Director of Cell EXPLORERS said: “It is a unique opportunity for young people to practice discovery science in a university laboratory and meet students and staff passionate for science and education. This one day on campus stimulates children’s natural curiosity to explore and discover nature in a hands-on and fun way.” All three workshops will be delivered by NUI Galway students and staff who want to share their enthusiasm for science. The cost for the full day (10am – 3pm) is €10 per child, with discounts available for multiple bookings (€18 for 2 children, €25 for 3 children, €30 for 4 children). To register email cellexplorers@nuigalway.ie and include the names and ages of the children who would like to participate (maximum 4 children per booking). Places are limited so early booking is advised. -Ends-

Monday, 19 October 2015

The Chimera Art and Science Programme Presents: The Future is Here; a collection of work resulting from the artists in residence programme at CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway. An exhibition of work by the Artists in Residence, Joanna Hopkins and Siobhan McGibbon, will open at Galway City Museum on 30 October at 5pm and continues until 23 December. The Chimera Art and Science Programme has seen both artists work alongside CÚRAM researchers, with full access to its laboratory facilities for the past six months, with the aim of investigating the meeting point of art and science. The Programme was founded by Andrea Fitzpatrick who acts as its director and curator. Andrea Fitzpatrick said: “The focus of the Chimera Art and Science Programme is to develop a visual arts research project within CÚRAM’s laboratories, exploring experimental practice and investigating the resulting composite space of enquiry.” Investigating the theme of empathy, Joanna Hopkins will present a series of multimedia works. Exploring the areas of the brain believed to be responsible for empathy in human beings, one of which is the Supramarginal Gyrus, Hopkins has developed installations based on her investigation into neurons in the research labs at CÚRAM. Through a series of drawings, video and interactive installations, Hopkins also explores our evolving world of multiple 'Touch-screen' video devices. Artist Siobhan McGibbon will present a complex and hypothetical narrative around the creation of a future human species that merges the superior biological elements of tadpoles and zebra fish. The works are created collaboratively with the scientists in CÚRAM utilising the scientific processes and materials used in the development of medical devices, and function as a collection of interconnected ideas explored during the artist’s engagement with the research groups in CÚRAM. The programme also incorporates a student-led project, comprising of eleven students from the Centre for Creative Arts and Media at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology. Work by Blaithin Hughes, Connor Robertson, Elizabeth Lartey, Ewa Zdybel, Helena Grady, Katie Higgins, Lisa Conroy, Mark White, Nicole Roan, Therese Murphy and Tom McLean will be exhibited at NUI Galway’s Gallery during Science Week in early November. Speaking about the programme, Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of CÚRAM, said: “We are very excited about the upcoming exhibitions and our scientists have been very engaged in the process. Residency programmes are a key part of our public engagement programme here at CÚRAM and we will be expanding these programmes in the future.” The programme is funded by the Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme which aims to support and develop Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) education and the public engagement sector in Ireland. The Exhibition will run from 30 October to 23 December at Galway City Museum, Spanish Arch, Galway with opening hours from 10am-5pm Tuesday to Saturday. Admission is free. -Ends-

Monday, 19 October 2015

Actor Stephen Rea to Receive Honorary Degree  Over 2,500 students will graduate from NUI Galway during the Autumn Conferring Ceremonies which take place from 19-23 October.  The University will also confer an Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree on Tuesday on Irish actor, Stephen Rea. Stephen Rea – Doctor of Arts honoris causa: Stephen Rea was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and attended Belfast High School and Queen’s University, where he studied English. He later trained at the Abbey Theatre School in Dublin and acted with the Focus Theatre Company in Dublin, along with actors such as Gabriel Byrne and Colm Meaney. In 1980, he co-founded the Field Day theatre company with Irish playwright, Brian Friel. After several stage, television and film appearances, Rea came to international success for his performance in Neil Jordan’s film, The Crying Game (1992), for which he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor. Notable films followed, including Interview with the Vampire, Michael Collins, The Butcher Boy, This Is My Father and The End of the Affair. Stephen is also a highly-regarded stage actor, most recently for his role in Ballyturk, directed and written by Enda Walsh. In 2015, Stephen Rea was awarded a Bafta TV Award for The Honourable Woman and was the recipient of the Special Tribute Award at The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards in recognition of his continued commitment to theatre, for his work with the Field Day theatre company, and for his recent stage roles. Celebrating Stephen Rea’s honorary conferring, NUI Galway’s Huston School of Film and Digital Media will hold a two events on Wednesday, 21 October. The first, ‘Stephen Rea: Politics and the Artist’ will take place at 1pm where Stephen will discuss the role of political engagement in arts and culture in Ireland. ‘Stephen Rea: a Life in Film and Theatre’ will take place at 2.30pm and will focus on Stephen’s significant contribution to cinema and drama, in Ireland and internationally, and will include extract screenings from his film and television work. Both events will take place in the Main Room in Huston School of Film and Digital Media and are free to attend and open to the public. Advance registration is necessary as the number of places is limited. To register please email hustonfilmschool@nuigalway.ie. In advance of the conferring ceremonies, Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway is fortunate to be associated with many outstanding honorary graduates throughout its history. This week we are very proud to honour Stephen Rea for his outstanding and distinctive contribution to the world of culture, theatre and film in Ireland and far beyond. NUI Galway is very pleased to be in a position to recognise his exceptional talent and achievement. On behalf of the University I congratulate Stephen and each of the 2,500 students who will be conferred with degrees this week from NUI Galway. ” A series of short interviews with Stephen Rea are available to view at  https://vimeo.com/143070571, https://vimeo.com/143067094 and https://vimeo.com/143125238. -Ends- Bronnadh an Fhómhair in OÉ Gaillimh Céim Oinigh le bronnadh ar an Aisteoir Stephen Rea  Bainfidh os cionn 2,500 mac léinn céim amach in OÉ Gaillimh sna Searmanais Bronnta Céime a bheidh ar bun idir 19-23 Deireadh Fómhair.  Bronnfaidh an Ollscoil Céim Oinigh Dhochtúireachta sna Dána Dé Máirt ar aisteoir na tíre seo, Stephen Rea. Stephen Rea – Céim Dhochtúireachta sna Dána honoris causa: Rugadh Stephen Rea i mBéal Feirste, Tuaisceart Éireann agus d'fhreastail sé ar Ardscoil Bhéal Feirste agus ar Ollscoil na Banríona áit a ndearna sé staidéar ar an mBéarla. Fuair sé a chuid oiliúna i Scoil Amharclann na Mainistreach i mBaile Átha Cliath agus thosaigh sé a cheird leis an gCompántas Focus i mBaile Átha Cliath, in éineacht le haisteoirí eile cosúil le Gabriel Byrne agus Colm Meaney. I 1980, bhunaigh sé féin agus an drámadóir Brian Friel an compántas Field Day. Chaith Rea seal ar stáitse, ar an teilifís agus i scannáin sular bhain sé cáil idirnáisiúnta amach as a pháirt i scannán Neil Jordan, The Crying Game (1992). Ainmníodh é do ghradam Oscar don Aisteoir is Fearr ina dhiaidh sin. Bhí páirt aige i scannáin mhóra le rá eile ina dhiaidh sin, cosúil le Interview with the Vampire, Michael Collins, The Butcher Boy, This Is My Father agus The End of the Affair. Tá ardmheas ar Stephen mar aisteoir stáitse chomh maith, go mór mór as a ról in Ballyturkle gairid, stiúrtha agus scríofa ag Enda Walsh. In 2015, bronnadh gradam teilifíse BAFTA ar Stephen Rea as The Honourable Woman agus bronnadh gradam ómóis speisialta air ag Gradaim Amharclannaíochta na hÉireann The Irish Times mar aitheantas as a dhúthracht don amharclannaíocht, as a shaothar leis an gcompántas Field Day, agus as a róil ar stáitse le scaitheamh anuas. Mar cheiliúradh ar chéim oinigh Stephen Rea, beidh Scoil Scannán agus Meán Digiteach Huston in OÉ Gaillimh ag reáchtáil dhá ócáid Dé Céadaoin, an 21 Deireadh Fómhair. Beidh an chéad cheann, ‘Stephen Rea: Politics and the Artist’ ar siúl ag 1pm áit a labhróidh Stephen faoi ról na polaitíochta sna healaíona agus sa chultúr in Éirinn. Beidh ‘Stephen Rea: a Life in Film and Theatre’ ar siúl ag 2.30pm agus an bhéim ag an ócáid seo ar shaothar Stephen sa phictiúrlann agus sa drámaíocht, in Éirinn agus thar lear, agus taispeánfar giotaí dá shaothar scannánaíochta agus teilifíse. Beidh an dá ócáid ar siúl sa Seomra Mór i Scoil Scannán agus Meán Digiteach Huston agus tá siad saor in aisce agus oscailte do chách. Ní mór clárú roimh ré áfach mar go bhfuil teorainn ar líon na n-áiteanna atá ar fáil. Chun clárú seol ríomhphost chuig hustonfilmschool@nuigalway.ie. Ag labhairt dó roimh na searmanais bhronnta, dúirt an Dr Jim Browne, Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh: “Tá an t-ádh ar OÉ Gaillimh a bheith bainteach leis an oiread sin céimithe oinigh den scoth ó bunaíodh an Ollscoil. An tseachtain seo, táimid bródúil céim oinigh a bhronnadh ar Stephen Rea as an obair atá déanta aige i saol an chultúir, na hamharclannaíochta agus na scannán in Éirinn agus thar lear. Is cúis áthais dúinn anseo in OÉ Gaillimh an deis a bheith againn aitheantas a thabhairt don tallann agus don tsárobair atá déanta aige. Thar ceann na hOllscoile, tréaslaím le Stephen agus leis an 2,500 mac léinn a mbronfnar céimeanna orthu an tseachtain seo in OÉ Gaillimh.” -Críoch-

Monday, 19 October 2015

NUI Galway’s Cell EXPLORERS science outreach programme has announced the launch of their new partnership with the University of Limerick (UL) and Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT). Funded by a two-year Science Foundation Ireland Discover Award, the partnership will see teams visit primary schools in their localities sharing the wonder of science, allowing children to act like real scientists in their own classrooms. Cell EXPLORERS has been running ‘Fantastic DNA!’ school science roadshows in Galway for the past four years. Teams of scientists from NUI Galway have visited schools throughout County Galway and taught 3,000 children about cells and DNA using hands-on activities and experiments. The partnership aims to generate a network of Cell EXPLORERS teams passionate about science and able to sustainably deliver science outreach activities within their communities. The Cell EXPLORERS programme, created in NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences, is based on a volunteering model where science students and staff give their time to spread their love of science with children. The programme aims to inform, inspire and involve the children in modern biology and biomedical sciences. Cell EXPLORERS uses small group teaching and hands-on activities to engage the children and, by bringing undergraduate, postgraduate and researchers into classrooms, provides role models of real people involved in science. As a dual benefit it also trains the next generation of scientists in the skills needed to communicate with the public. NUI Galway Cell EXPLORERS Director, Dr Muriel Grenon, said: “I am thrilled about the national expansion of the programme and am looking forward to spreading the Cell EXPLORERS model even wider in the coming year. Creating new Cell EXPLORERS teams in UL and AIT is an exciting new step for us. It is sensational to see the enthusiasm of our partner teams and the schools they have already visited. We want to build on this expansion to extend our reach to those schools that rarely get STEM visits.” Dr Audrey O’Grady, who leads the UL team in the School of Science, said: “It is a great opportunity for our students to be part of the programme. Its organisation is very robust and it is allowing us to bring STEM to schools in a way that we have never explored before.” Dr Erin Jo Tiedeken and Dr Alessia Stocca are leading the AIT team which is coordinated by Professor Neil Rowan of the Biosciences Research Institute at AIT. Professor Rowan said: “The programme will benefit both our scientists and schools in the midlands. We are already very enthusiastic about the new communication skills it will bring to our researchers.” Schools can request a ‘Fantastic DNA’ visit by contacting the team closest to their location. To contact UL email cellexplorersul@gmail.com, AIT at cellexplorersait@gmail.com or NUI Galway at cellexplorers@nuigalway.ie.   To find out more about the ‘Fantastic DNA’ roadshow and Cell EXPLORERS activities visit www.cellexplorers.com or by following Cell EXPLORERS on Facebook or Twitter. Cell EXPLORERS activities, and the expansion of the programme to other institutions, is funded by SFI Discover, the NUI Galway School of Natural Sciences and by the NUI Galway Foundation. -Ends-

Monday, 19 October 2015

Students from across Connacht who received an ‘A’ in Junior Certificate Honours Business Studies, were presented with Certificates of Achievement from the College of Business, Public Policy and Law, NUI Galway recently. The presentations, in association with the Business Studies Teachers Association of Ireland (BSTAI), were made at a special ceremony at the University which included teachers and parents. This is the sixth year NUI Galway has presented these awards and 300 students received recognition for their achievement at the ceremony. The certificates were awarded to students from over 65 individual schools throughout the counties of Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo. Dr Kieran Conboy, Dean of the College of Business Public Policy and Law, NUI Galway, who presented the certificates to each individual winner, said: “NUI Galway believes these awards are important to recognise the achievements of our potential future business leaders. I congratulate all the students on their success and also the work of teachers in helping students achieve their potential. I’m sure I will have the pleasure of meeting many of these students again in NUI Galway in the future on one of our business or commerce programmes.” Seamus Robinson, former President, BSTAI, said: “The BSTAI are delighted to continue its partnership with NUI Galway in hosting this ceremony which celebrates and recognises academic excellence in Business Studies at a young age. I’m confident many of today’s award recipients will build successful careers in the business world.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Ever wondered how research at NUI Galway and St. Angela’s College in Sligo impacts upon our daily lives, those of our family and our broader community? To learn more about it the public are invited to a competition which might just answer that question on Thursday, 29 October at 6pm in An Taibhdhearc Theatre, Galway. The THREESIS competition is an academic challenge that will see students and staff from NUI Galway and St. Angela’s College in Sligo present their research to the audience and a panel of judges in an accessible language that a non-expert can understand. Presenter of Newstalk’s Futureproof and award winning broadcaster, Jonathan McCrea will act as MC. Each of the 13 finalists, who have already come through a series of heats held at NUI Galway and St. Angela’s College in Sligo will present three slides, in three minutes, communicating their research area and relevancy. Competitors are judged on how well they convey their subject and their ability to communicate to a general audience. NUI Galway’s five priority research areas in Biomedical Science and Engineering; Informatics, Physical and Computational Sciences; Environment, Marine and Energy; Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy; and Humanities in Context, will be represented. Topics will range from breast cancer, English-Irish machine translation, Parkinson’s disease, blue ecosystem services, Galway energy efficient cars and colourful coral reefs in Ireland. The winners in first, second and third place will receive a prize and award, based on the decision of the judges who include Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway and Mr Declan Courell, Registrar of St. Angela's College in Sligo. Professor Lokesh Joshi said: “This event will provide a snapshot of the diversity of research being carried out at NUI Galway. The talks will be sharp and to-the-point, with plenty of time while the judges deliberate for NUI Galway researchers and members of the community to share ideas over refreshments.” “The audience will also be treated to a short talk from last year’s THREESIS competition winner, Edel Browne, a second year biotechnology student. Her talk ‘Free Feet’ is based on her innovative use of laser technology that has revolutionised potential treatment methods for Freezing of Gait in people with Parkinson’s disease (PD)”, Professor Joshi added. The event is free and refreshments will be served on the night. To book your tickets visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/threesis/ -Ends-

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Dr Bryan McMahon, retired Judge of the High Court and former part-time Professor of Law at NUI Galway, recently launched a new report, Clinical Legal Education in Ireland: Progress and Potential. The report was written by Larry Donnelly, Lecturer and Director of Clinical Legal Education in NUI Galway’s School of Law, and was commissioned by the Dublin-based Free Legal Advice Centres Ltd (FLAC) and Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA). Clinical legal education, which has at its core “learning by doing” and the furtherance of the public interest, exposes law students to how the law works in practice. In Irish clinical legal education programmes, law students work with law firms, barristers, non-governmental organisations, government bodies and in related fields. They are awarded academic credit for and assessed upon their performance in these “real world” placements. NUI Galway’s School of Law has been nationally and internationally recognised for its clinical legal education programme, which was founded by Mr Donnelly in academic year 2005-2006. The report includes statistics on the existing clinical legal education programmes in Ireland; interviews with directors of clinical programmes, supervisors and law students; examinations of two clinical programmes in the UK; and a series of reflections and recommendations for the future development of clinical legal education in Ireland. Speaking at the launch, Larry Donnelly said: “This report is the first attempt to critically analyse recent advances in clinical legal education in Ireland and I hope that it will spur a discussion about the future among all of the relevant stakeholders. Clinical legal education has the unique capacity to create disorienting moments for students – in which law students are forced to confront circumstances that are directly at odds with their life and educational experiences to date. The disorienting moment should be at the heart of legal education.” Professor Donncha O’Connell, Head of NUI Galway’s School of Law, congratulated Larry Donnelly on the publication of the report: “The report cements our already strong reputation as a national leader in providing an optimal legal education combining both theory and practice. This is the best means of preparing graduates for working in a rapidly changing, increasingly globalised environment.” The report can be accessed online at http://bit.ly/1LRWnqz. A hard copy can be obtained by contacting Mr Donnelly at larry.donnelly@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Thursday, 22 October 2015

‘Youth as Researchers – Invoking Empathy and Activating Young People' is the title of a public conversation which NUI Galway’s UNESCO Chair, Professor Pat Dolan will conduct at the biennial UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris this month, from 26 - 28 October. The Chair will host the session which features youth researchers, trained by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre (UCFRC) in conversation with Irish actor Cillian Murphy, who is patron of the Centre on the theme of activating youth voice through film and youth-led research. The session will also include the launch by Cillian Murphy of two videos documenting the findings of youth researcher projects – one on mental health awareness and the other on the challenges facing LGBT youth on projects undertaken by representatives of Foróige, Ireland’s leading youth work organisation in association with the actor earlier in the year. According to the actor “Ensuring the voice of young people is present in matters directly affecting them is an issue close to my heart. Research driven by youth can build on their capacity and enable them to add their voice and influence change on issues that matter to them." The event will highlight the Youth as Researchers element of the UNESCO Chair’s work at NUI Galway. The Youth Researchers Programme is focused on training young people to undertake research across a number of areas on issues affecting their lives. The projects featured build on the work undertaken by the Foróige youth organisation research teams that emerged from youth researcher trainings conducted by the Child and Family Research Centre in early 2015. These are accompanied by the development of a Youth Researcher Training Manual and Workbook that have been used widely in youth organisation and clubs. The short films are part of a broader initiative within the UCFRC to develop a programme to promote empathy in youth. Centre Director and UNESCO Chair Professor Pat Dolan believes that empathy education should begin in school: “There is a role for taught, value-based empathy education in the school curriculum and in helping to understand diversity and difference.” Also at the Forum, the UCFRC will showcase its research partnership with the Lumos Foundation in the UK, founded by author JK Rowling in an effort to increase global momentum to reduce the number of children living in institutions. An interactive session presented by young people with disabilities from Eastern Europe hosted by CEO of Lumos Georgette Mulheir, Professor Pat Dolan, and UNESCO Chair Professor Mark Brennan will demonstrate the importance of self-advocacy and new styles of participation which will bring about real inclusion. ENDS

Friday, 23 October 2015

Commercialisation of research outputs supports further development of novel yeast-based feed supplements for improved pig nutrition at NUI Galway Postdoctoral research scientist, Dr Sandesh Swamidatta from the Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) at NUI Galway, was one of the eight finalists that made it through to the SFI TIDA Pitch Off Final as part of Startup Gathering 2015. The Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Technology Innovation Development Award (TIDA) Programme, competitively selected eight researchers to compete against each other as finalists in the SFI TIDA Pitch Off competition. The process involved pitching their technology and commercialisation ideas for further development support from SFI. Dr Swamidatta’s pitch related to the development of ‘Yeast-based feed supplements for Pig Nutrition’, which he has been developing in the SFI-funded research lab of Professor Charles Spillane at NUI Galway. Funded by the SFI TIDA Programme, Dr Swamidatta and Professor Spillane are developing novel yeast-based feed supplements for improved pig nutrition. Pig production is big business in Ireland and globally. Feed and nutrition costs are critical for profits in the pig industry with Irish pig production ranking third after beef and dairy in terms of economic value. Ireland’s pig meat export in 2014 was worth an estimated €570 million. The cost of production of pig meat at the moment is estimated at €1.60/kg of meat. The major cost of production in producing pig meat relates to feed, which accounts for approximately two third of the total production cost. Improving feed efficiency, improved mineral absorption and mineral nutrient supplementation are key areas of livestock nutrition research. Dr Swamidatta said: “The SFI TIDA Programme was an exhilarating experience which provided an insight into the commercialisation aspect of research outputs. The SFI TIDA Pitch Off event gave an excellent platform to showcase our lab’s research and to get first-hand experience of how investors evaluate the commercial potential of a research idea.” Professor Spillane added: “The SFI TIDA Programme is invaluable for providing the necessary support to determine whether commercially promising research findings can be further built upon to be translated into commercial products or services.” Science Foundation Ireland provides funding for research that has the potential to improve the competitiveness of industry and enterprise in Ireland. Amongst its funding programmes, the SFI TIDA Programme provides funding for research groups to focus on an applied research project with commercial potential and provides entrepreneurship training for the researchers. Speaking at the event, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “For over a decade Science Foundation Ireland has been investing in world-leading research. This investment is yielding results, not only in our rising global scientific rankings, but also in terms of commercialisation outputs; patents, licencing, start-ups and spin-outs. Our involvement in the Startup Gathering is allowing us to bring together researchers we have funded over the last 10 years along with some of the great national and international entrepreneurial minds. It is a great platform to foster and encourage collaborative thinking and networking.” For further information visit: http://www.sfi.ie/news-resources/press-releases/tida-pitch-off.html -Ends-

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

New programme is first of its kind to be offered in Europe NUI Galway has announced details of a new Bachelor of Arts in Children’s Studies degree. This new and unique programme puts NUI Galway in the forefront of the emerging field of Children's Studies, offering a course that currently is not available elsewhere in Europe. The programme, hosted at the University’s School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, is an inter-disciplinary programme delivered by the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies and the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. This unique collaboration ensures that the programme addresses every element of children’s lives, from culture to health. The new degree programme which will study the development and well-being of children across the globe as well as the ways in which childhood and adolescence have been constructed over time, is child-centred and rights based, and it is underpinned by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child The aim of the new degree programme is to prepare graduates for the labour market, and particularly to work with, or for, children; through the development of an inter-disciplinary undergraduate degree, informed by research, and immersed in civic engagement. Dr Lindsay Myers, Director of the BA Connect with Children Studies said: “We are delighted to see the programme shaping into a full degree. Since the Connect programme was introduced seven years ago Children’s Studies has been one of the most popular subjects in the University, and it is great that Irish students can now finally register for a full degree in Children’s Studies, a specialism that was previously only available in the United States and Canada.” Dr Michal Molcho, Co-director of the programme, added: “We are particularly excited to see the commitments from both the College of Arts and the College of Medicine, a collaboration which allows us to offer a truly unique programme.” This newly-established degree programme which is already attracting considerable interest both nationally and internationally will have its first intake of students in the academic year 2016/17.  For further information: http://www.nuigalway.ie/courses/undergraduate-courses/childrens-studies.html  -Ends-

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Secondary school students interested in studying at NUI Galway are invited to an information evening in Ennis on Thursday, 5 November. Parents and guardians are also particularly welcome to the event which runs from 7 to 9pm in the Auburn Lodge Hotel, Ennis, Co. Clare. The evening will begin with short talks about NUI Galway and some of the 60 courses it offers. Afterwards, current students and NUI Galway staff will be on hand at information stands to answer any individual questions in relation to courses offered by the University and about practical issues like accommodation, fees and scholarships, and the wide range of support services available to our students. The ever-increasing popularity of NUI Galway is in-part due to a suite of innovative programmes, developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market. Unique programmes include a suite of Arts degree programmes including Drama, Creative Writing and Human Rights, an Energy Systems Engineering degree which is taught in the University’s new Engineering Building, Ireland’s largest School of Engineering, a Maths and Education degree aimed at training Maths teachers, and a Marine Science degree. Visitors to the information evening will also get information on NUI Galway’s newest degree programmes, a Bachelor of Commerce (Global Experience), Bachelor in Children’s Studies and the new Bachelor of Arts (Joint Honours). Shannon College, who is now a college of NUI Galway, will also be attending the event exhibiting the range of courses they offer. Shannon College holds a 100% employment record since it was founded in 1951. Celine O’Donovan, Senior Marketing Officer at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway has a great deal to offer. Our own students tell us our lecturers are inspirational and challenge them to achieve their full potential. The student experience in Galway is second to none, and we want to bring a taste of that to County Clare, while also providing all the practical information on accommodation, CAO points, fees, scholarships and courses. With so many courses on offer, this event in Ennis is a perfect opportunity for prospective students to meet current students and lecturers to see what degree might be the right fit for them.” To find out more about the information evening in Ennis, contact NUI Galway's Schools Liaison Officer, Johanna Walsh on 086 7851730 or johanna.walsh@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

NUI Galway hosted the first Frontiers in Healthcare Conference in 2014, which was attended by over 140 delegates. The second conference in this series, which is jointly organised by the Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group at NUI Galway and Novartis Ireland, will be held at NUI Galway on Tuesday, 3 November. The theme of this year’s conference is Adherence. The issue of adherence is a critical one in a large number of healthcare situations. A relatively simple example is how to ensure that patients adhere to the medication that is prescribed to them. Another example is how medical professionals can be persuaded to adhere to care guidelines. Related to that is the question of how healthcare institutions such as the new hospital groups will adhere to more binding budget constraints in the face of ever increasing demand for healthcare. On a broader public health level, a critical policy issue is how people in general can adhere to good practice as regards diet, exercise, and the consumption of tobacco and alcohol. These topics will be addressed by experts from Ireland, the UK and the US from a variety of disciplines including economics, psychology, medicine, and pharmaceutical science. And will feature a variety of perspectives including academic, health service providers, and private industry. Particular attention will be given to whether new technologies can be used to improve adherence and the ethical considerations that arise from the use of these technologies. The conference is organised by the Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group at NUI Galway. The group, which includes over twenty academics, researchers and PhD students, conducts a wide range of research and has particular expertise in disease areas such as dementia, cancer, diabetes, stroke and mental health. The group works closely with clinical staff in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway and elsewhere, and with leading health economists around the world. The Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group is merely one example of a strategic targeted approach to biomedical research at NUI Galway, which has succeeded in the University establishing itself as a leading player in health related research. Mr Brendan Kennelly from the Health Economics and Policy Analysis Group at NUI Galway said: “The conference will address adherence from many perspectives so that we can all understand better what factors influence this critical issue. No single discipline has all the answers but by combining our expertise we hope we can contribute to healthier outcomes particularly in chronic diseases where adherence to medication and lifestyle change are often less than optimal.” The conference will take place in the Institute for Lifecourse and Society (ILAS) Building on the North Campus at NUI Galway. A limited number of places are still available. To register please visit: www.conference.ie. Registration is free and is required for logistical purposes. -Ends-   

Thursday, 29 October 2015

It is with sadness that NUI Galway noted the passing of actor, Maureen O’Hara last Saturday (24 October 2015) at the age of 95. Maureen O’Hara starred in over 50 films during her film career and was hailed as Ireland’s first Hollywood star. In 1988 NUI Galway conferred Maureen O’Hara with an honorary degree, a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. The University’s James Hardiman Library, Archives Collection also holds records from O’Hara’s most famous film, The Quiet Man in the Arthur Shields collection. During her conferral ceremony then President of NUI Galway, Dr Colm Ó hEocha, made the following remarks as part of his citation to honour Maureen O’Hara: “Maureen was born Maureen Fitzsimons in Dublin, and for a stage name another West of Ireland surname was chosen for her. The O’Hara’s are a dual sept – O’Hara Buí and O’Hara Riabhach – and no doubt she rightly belongs to the former. After training at the Abbey Theatre’s acting school, Maureen went to London at the invitation of Charles Laughton and made her film debut with him in Jamaica Inn in 1939, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. After its release, she headed west to California, and shortly afterwards, Hollywood columnist Jimmy Fidler presented as his 1939 ‘Best bets’ for stardom – Robert Stack and Maureen O’Hara. And what a good bet the young Maureen turned out to be. Starting with The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Charles Laughton again, she went on to star in over 50 films directed by such as Lewis Milestone, Jean Renoir, Andrew McLaglen and Sam Peckinpah. But the director with whom she is most closely associated with is John Ford, whose father, named Feeney, emigrated to the US from An Spidéal in 1872. Their work together started with How Green Was My Valley (1941), and then Rio Grande (1950) with John Wayne. There followed, after many years’ preparation by director and actors, her first film to be shot, in part, back in Ireland. It was The Quiet Man (1951), based on a story by Maurice Walsh in Green Rushes. Reviewers of The Quiet Man placed particular emphasis on Maureen’s ravishing beauty and glorious red hair. The film also featured much magnificent scenery in the West of Ireland and is still attracting viewers and, consequently, thousands of tourists to the hinterland of this College. John Ford, John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara went on to make other successful films such as The Long Grey Line (1954) and The Wings of Eagles (1956).” President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne paid the following tribute: “We in NUI Galway are honored by our association with the late Maureen O’Hara. Her work as an actor in Hollywood during the 1940’s and 50’s helped to establish Ireland as an important location for film. That legacy lives on, especially here on campus, where the history of the Irish film industry is well-represented in our Archives and Special Collections and where the Huston School of Film and Digital Media and the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance continue to encourage actors, directors and filmmakers of the future.” Patrick Lonergan, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway added: “We at NUI Galway were saddened to learn of the passing of Maureen O'Hara. During her long career, she acted as a tireless champion for Irish theatre, Irish film, and indeed for the country itself. From her early days at the Abbey Theatre to international fame in The Quiet Man and beyond, she gained our affection and admiration in equal measure, as an actress of outstanding talent and intelligence. We are proud to have been able to give her an honorary degree in 1988, and to be able to number her amongst our alumni: she will undoubtedly continue to inspire generations of our students of theatre and film during the years ahead.” The 1988 NUI Galway conferring citation concluded: Looking back on her films, Francis Truffaut described Maureen O’Hara as a “splendid actress” who played “some of the best female roles in American cinema between 1941 and 1957”. John Ford corroborated in a letter to Maureen: “Don’t let anybody bother you, you’re the best actress in Hollywood”. -Ends-

Friday, 30 October 2015

An international team of scientists including researchers from NUI Galway have found that the substance BanLec, originally found in bananas, through careful modification could fight off a wide range of viruses in the near future. The results from the study were recently published in the international journal Cell. The research focuses on a particular carbohydrate binding protein called banana lectin, or BanLec, that “reads” the sugars on the outside of both viruses and cells by sticking to cell structures, or glycans, containing the simple sugar mannose. When BanLec is modified slightly by scientists, it shows promise as an anti-viral drug. While the natural BanLec fights viruses it also causes inflammation. However the newly engineered BanLec can fight viruses without causing inflammation. A number of Chemistry groups, those of Professor Paul Murphy at the School of Chemistry in NUI Galway, Professor Stefan Oscarson at University College Dublin and Professor René Roy at Université du Québec à Montréal, designed and synthesised mimics of glycans called glycoclusters, which were evaluated by other team members as blockers of both the natural and the newly engineered BanLec. Professor Paul Murphy of NUI Galway said: “The research shows the contribution that chemists make in the design and synthesis of blockers of lectins. The materials prepared helped provide insight into the mechanism of action of the BanLecs, which was part of the wider study.” The natural version of BanLec has one less tiny spot on its surface for sugars to attach. This made it impossible for sugars on the surface of immune system cells called T cells, to attach and trigger inflammation. While the new version of BanLec can still grab on to sugars on the surface of viruses and block them from getting into cells. Professor David Markovitz, co-senior author of the new paper, and Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School said: “What we’ve done is exciting because there is potential for BanLec to develop into a broad spectrum antiviral agent, something that is not clinically available to physicians and patients right now.’’ Professor Hans-Joachim Gabius, of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, an acknowledged expert on lectins and their interactions with sugars (the sugar code), and a major contributor to this research said: “One major advantage of designer lectins lies in the fact that the risk of resistance is lower, because glycans that interact with the BanLecs cannot be altered easily.” The 26 international scientists involved in the study were from Ireland, Germany, Canada, Belgium and the United States. The research was funded by the US and European governments, and by foundations, including Science Foundation Ireland. To view the paper in Cell visit: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2015.09.056  -Ends-