Wednesday, 8 July 2015

An international conference will take place at NUI Galway to discuss theatre and performance archives. 'Performing the Archive' is a collaboration between the University’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance and its James Hardiman Library, and will run from 22-24 July. The event capitalises on the renowned theatre collections of the James Hardiman Library and the academic expertise of NUI Galway's Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance. The three-day conference is bringing together both national and international scholars, practitioners and artists including: Professor Tracy C. Davis, Northwestern University, Chicago; Professor Catherine Cole, University of California, Berkeley; Dr Doug Reside, New York Public Library; Professor Patrick Lonergan and Professor Lionel Pilkington, NUI Galway; Dr Emilie Pine, University College Dublin; and Dr Hugh Denard of Trinity College Dublin. Artist speakers will also feature including Louise Lowe, Anu Productions, and playwright and journalist Colin Murphy. Conference delegates will address issues such as developing new performance work and research projects based on archival materials including scripts, costume designs, prompt books, as well as digitised audio and video of performances. John Cox, NUI Galway Librarian, said: “Archives are vital to the academic mission. The James Hardiman Library has a particular strength in theatre archives, while a major project at the University, the largest of its kind internationally, to digitise the archive of the Abbey Theatre is nearing conclusion. Digital archives and in collaboration with academic colleagues on campus are opening up new opportunities for teaching and research, while also presenting a range of challenges, so this conference is very timely in promoting engagement with and among experts in the field.” Within the conference will be a staged reading of a historic text from the archives of the Hardiman Library. Pilgrims is a play staged at the Abbey Theatre in 1938, written by Mary Rynne and has never received a revival in over 70 years and is an example of a forgotten female Irish and Abbey playwright. Curated by Ciara O’Dowd, this reading is directed by the Druid Director in Residence at NUI Galway, Thomas Conway. The conference is supported by the Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme, the American Society for Theatre Research and NUI Galway. -Ends-

Thursday, 9 July 2015

An NUI Galway Ryan Institute project will see 20 children’s books, written and illustrated by this year’s sixth class students of Galway Educate Together National School, reach global audiences through the EcoScience Writers in Schools project. The goal of this unique project was to create a set of fun and informative teaching resources by supporting the students to write a story for their younger peers on an environmental subject of their choosing. The class chose to write about creatures of the North Atlantic Ocean, incorporating facts into their fictional prose, in a way that is both entertaining and educational. Dr Sarah Knight, who led this project, said: “When I applied for the funding for this project I had a good idea of its potential, but really it has far surpassed my expectations. The students, and teacher Barry McGuire, of Galway Educate Together completely committed themselves to this project and the proof of that is in the products! These books are all available as flipbooks and downloadable PDFs through the project website, so young people across Galway, and around the world, can learn from them and be inspired too!” The book Dolphin’s First Day opens with a beautiful scene of a mother dolphin nudging her newborn to the surface to take his first breath. In The Seamount, all sorts of creatures emerge from the habitat to help Gobby the goblin shark scare off the nearly invisible cranchiid squid that is threatening some of the creatures with her greedy appetite. The Gannet and the Smart Fish is an around the world tale of one hungry seabird’s quest to fill her tummy. With twenty books and one graphic poster the end result, there is sure to be something to entertain every young reader. Professor Colin Brown, Director of NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research, said: “This is a fantastic project led by a fantastic person. Having produced a resource like this that anyone in the world can read is where we see the future of our outreach education going. The fact that we can produce such a high quality product for teachers in classrooms all over the world is very rewarding indeed. It’s projects like this that put the Ryan Institute on the international stage. We expect a lot of people to use these materials, and, by doing so it will increase visitor traffic to our main website to learn of the high quality research that is going on here in the West of Ireland”. Working alongside Dr Knight were Gesture Media, who produced the beautiful flipbooks and website, and iSupply printing, who printed hardback copies for each of the students and a full-set for the school itself. Soft copies of any of the books will be available to order directly from iSupply, through the project website. EcoScience Writers was funded by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government under the Local Agenda 21 Environmental Partnership Fund administered through Galway City Council. For more information visit the EcoScience Writers website at www.ecosciencewriters.com. -Ends-

Thursday, 9 July 2015

A new discovery which reveals how bacteria cling to the surfaces of medical devices, could have potential to significantly reduce infections from devices like catheters and other lines inserted into the body. The HRB-funded research, published today in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, was conducted by Professor James O'Gara in NUI Galway and Dr Eoghan O'Neill in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. According to Professor O'Gara, from the Department of Microbiology at NUI Galway: "We've discovered a new way that bacteria can attach themselves to the walls of a medical device and create a protective coating that stops our immune system and antibiotics from attacking them. MRSA can secrete an enzyme, called coagulase, that converts a component of our blood, fibrinogen, into fibrin. Fibrin is the protein that helps our blood to clot. This then acts as a scaffold onto which the bacteria attach themselves to the walls of the device, usually a plastic tube or catheter, and they also create a protective barrier with the fibrin that keep out antibiotics and our own immune system." Dr O'Neill takes up the story: "We've tested some drugs that are known to break up blood clots and have found that they can break up the biofilms protecting these dangerous bacteria. This opens the possibility of us getting in early and disrupting the bacteria in the initial stages of an infection. When we break up the biofilm, we expose the bacteria to the patient's own immune system response as well as allow us to try antibiotics against it." "This discovery could make a significant global contribution to reducing device-related infections in hospitals", according to Dr Graham Love, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board. "This is the second major discovery by Professor O'Gara and Dr O'Neill and their teams at NUI Galawy and the Royal College of Surgeons about how bacteria form biofilms. They are world leaders in their fields and the HRB is determined to keep them, and researchers like them, in Ireland. We are committed to creating the right environment in which people can both conduct top quality health research, and quickly convert those findings into new advances in patient care and patient outcomes." A video recording of Professor O'Gara explaining his discovery is available here.  The results are published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, and available at their website.  -Ends-

Friday, 10 July 2015

The Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, will launch the latest report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy at the 2nd Annual Ocean Wealth Conference, taking place in Ringaskiddy, Cork, today as part of Ireland’s national maritime festival ‘SeaFest’. The report, compiled by NUI Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) and Teagasc, estimates that the sector contributed an estimated €1.4bn to GDP last year. Ireland’s ‘Blue Economy’ is performing on average better than the general economy with up to 9% growth over the last five years. With an estimated turnover of €4.5bn, the sector employs approximately 18,500 Full-Time Equivalents and new data from shows that in addition to the direct impacts of Ireland’s ocean economy, a further 13,000 are employed across the wider economy providing an additional €3.3bn in turnover. This is the third report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy from NUI Galway’s SEMRU as part of its ongoing process of collection and analysis of marine socio-economic data in Ireland funded by the Marine Institute. Results from the report show trends in Ireland’s Ocean Economy over the period 2010-2012 and provides an estimate of the direct value in 2014. Minister Coveney, speaking ahead of the conference said, “Over the past few years we’ve seen a dramatic and in some cases radical transformation in Ireland’s attitude towards the marine sector generally, with the marine now being viewed as a significant contributor to our economic recovery.  This new data from SEMRU and Teagasc shows that Ireland’s blue economy is performing well in established industries such as seafood, shipping and marine tourism, and is excelling in emerging industries such as high-tech marine products and services, marine biotechnology and maritime commerce.”    Summary of Direct Economic Impacts: The ocean economy had a turnover of €4.2 billion in 2012, rising to an estimated €4.5bn in 2014. The ocean economy provided employment for 17,425 individuals Full Time Equivalents, (FTEs) in 2012, with an estimated increase to 18,480 in 2014. Over the period 2010-2012 a 33% increase in turnover is reported, a further increase of 7% is estimated for the period up to 2014. Employment has also steadily risen, with increase of 5-6%. Top three marine sectors in terms of employment (FTEs): Marine Tourism & Leisure: Employment approx. 6,000 FTEs Seafood & Bioresources (Fisheries, Aquaculture, Seafood Processing, Biotech/Seaweed): Employment over 5,600 FTEs Shipping & Maritime Transport (including international shipping services): Employment over 4,100 FTEs Top three marine sectors in terms of Turnover and Gross Value Added (GVA): Shipping & Maritime Transport (including international shipping services): €2.2bn turnover, €0.5bn GVA Seafood: €1bn turnover, €0.4bn GVA Marine Tourism & Leisure:€0.7bn turnover, €0.3bn GVA Established Marine Industries represent 95% of the total turnover and 93% of total employment in Ireland’s ocean economy. Marine retail services, sea fisheries and seafood processing, all experienced a significant increase in activity, with turnover, GVA and employment increasing across the sector in the period. The aquaculture sector also exhibited increases, albeit of a smaller scale, across all three variables. Emerging Marine Industries representing 5% of the turnover and 7% of employment in Ireland’s ocean economy. In comparison to the established industries, the emerging industries are excelling in terms of growth. High tech marine products and services, marine biotechnology and bio-products and marine commerce experienced large increases in turnover, GVA and employment. Marine renewable energy experienced a more moderate increase in turnover but a large increase in GVA. In terms of employment, however, the marine renewables sector experienced a slight decrease with respect to 2010 levels. The previous Ocean Economy Report published in 2013 referred to the lowest point of the economic contraction (2007-2010), while this report represents a period of slow economic recovery (2010-2012), with a moderate increase in activity, particularly in the shipping and maritime transport sector and in sea fisheries, seafood processing and marine manufacturing, construction and engineering. Estimates based on recent economic indicators suggest a further increase in activity across established and emerging marine industries in the 2012-2014 period. Combined with the confident national economic forecasts recently released by the Department of Finance, the trends shown in this third SEMRU report suggest a positive outlook for Ireland’s ocean economy in 2015. SEMRU also produced estimates of Ireland’s Ocean Economy for the year 2014. It is estimated to be worth €1.4bn, 0.8% GDP. With an estimated direct turnover of approx. €4.5bn, Ireland’s ocean economy employs in excess of 18,400 Full-Time Equivalents. Latest figures also suggest that our ‘blue economy’ is performing on average better than the general economy   “Results are encouraging”, reports Dr Stephen Hynes of SEMRU at NUI Galway “they reflect the economic recovery that Ireland has experienced in the last few years. With the recognition of the potential impact of ‘Blue Growth’ on employment and output, at both a national and EU level, there has never been a greater need for reliable statistics on marine sector activity. Also, it is only by examining the ocean-dependent economy separately from the national economy that we will be able to understand the magnitude of what might be affected by future changes in the oceans and along our coasts.”   Indirect impact of Ireland’s Ocean Economy SEMRU, in conjunction with the Teagasc Rural Economy Development Programme, have also developed the Bio-Economy Input-Output (IO) Model. The Bio-Economy IO model studies the relationship between Ireland’s Marine based and Agriculture sectors and the rest of the economy and can be used to estimate both the direct and indirect effects on output and employment arising from increases or decreases in the output of individual marine sectors. New data arising from the model shows that in addition to the people directly employed in Ireland’s marine industries, a further 13,000 are employed indirectly across the wider economy providing an additional €3.3bn in turnover to the Irish economy. The results of the model suggest that for every €100 in turnover from Ireland’s Ocean Economy, a further €78 is generated indirectly in other sectors of the economy and for every 100 marine jobs created, a further 75 jobs are created in other parts of the economy.   Economic impacts of achieving ‘Harnessing our Ocean Wealth’ Targets The ocean economy report series and associated Input-Output model allows SEMRU to observe and monitor progress on meeting the targets set out in the Government’s Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland - Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth (2012). Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth Strategy outlines a number of specific targets which seek to expand the Irish Marine Sector to a total of €6.4bn in 2020 representing an increase of €3.2bn on 2010. It is estimated that the achievement of these targets will also have additional “knock-on” economic impacts with additional growth of €2.7bn anticipated in the wider economy. Based on the results of running this scenario through the Bio-Economy IO model, it is estimated that 29,300 new jobs could be created if the Ocean Wealth targets are achieved with 16,100 of these coming directly from within the Marine sector itself.  An additional 13,200 jobs are estimated to be created indirectly through increases in demand for products and services required by the marine sector. Prof Cathal O Donoghue of Teagasc added that with the collection of marine socio-economic data, “We are finally able to assess the direct and indirect impacts of national strategies such as Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth and Food Wise 2025 and their impact on employment and output in both the wider economy and in upstream and downstream industries. The impact of Ireland’s ocean economy is particularly notable in Ireland’s rural economy, as highlighted in the report of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA)”.   Ireland’s Ocean Economy Report Series is funded as part of the Marine Institute’s Beaufort Marine Research Award. The Marine Institute provided funding over a 7-year period to establish marine socio-economic expertise in Ireland and develop a methodology of valuing Ireland’s well established and emerging ocean industries.   The full report is available to download online at www.nuigalway.ie/semru/publications.html and www.ouroceanwealth.ie ENDS

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

NUI Galway today conferred an Honorary Degree on President of the Federal Republic of Germany, His Excellency Joachim Gauck at the University. NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, said: “It is a great pleasure to announce the visit of Joachim Gauck, President of the Federal Republic of Germany to NUI Galway, where he will be conferred with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. This is the highest honour the University can bestow. By honouring him in this way we pay tribute to his great achievements in promoting European democracy and human rights. President Gauck honours us with this visit and we look forward to welcoming him and Daniela Schadt, to the campus where they will participate in a Roundtable Symposium on Human Rights and Development at the Irish Centre for Human Rights before the conferral of the honorary degree.” President Gauck joins the ranks of previous honorary alumni which include, among many others, Nelson Mandela, Hilary Clinton, Enya, Anjelica Huston, and Margaret Atwood. The Honorary Conferring and visit to the University included a Roundtable Discussion with key speakers on Development and Human Rights at the Irish Centre of Human Rights at NUI Galway. Among the Participants were representatives of the development sector in Ireland (Concern, Trócaire), members of the German delegation, academics and human rights experts, Irish and German diplomats and policy makers, moderated by Professor Michael O’Flaherty, Director of The Irish Centre of Human Rights at NUI Galway. Speaking on the Round Table Discussion, Professor Michael O'Flaherty, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, said: "It is a very important initiative of President Michael D. Higgins and President Joachim Gauck to convene a conversation on Human Rights and Development. Enormously significant decisions will be taken by the international community in September when it adopts the Sustainable Development Goals.  It is imperative that Human Rights are strongly presented in these goals and our discussion will contribute to strengthening the policy of European states on this critical issue." About President Gauck In 2012, Joachim Gauck became the 11th President of the Federal Republic of Germany. Since then he has been tireless in propounding public ethics and a civic space that is grounded in a belief in inviolable human dignity – a society that, above all else that values freedom. Joachim Gauck was born in Rostock in 1940. After gaining his Abitur, the higher education entrance qualification, he studied theology. From 1965 to 1990 he was in the service of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mecklenburg, working as a pastor for many years. Joachim Gauck became involved in the opposition in the GDR at an early age. In 1989 he was one of the founders of the New Forum and became its spokesperson in Rostock. He was among the initiators of the church and popular resistance to the communist regime in the GDR and led the weekly prayers for peace which gave rise to the protest demonstrations. In March 1990, Joachim Gauck entered the first freely elected GDR parliament as a member of the Alliance 90 – an amalgamation of several grassroots movements – and was elected chairman of the special committee overseeing the dissolution of the Ministry of State Security. On 3 October 1990, he was appointed Special Commissioner of the Federal Government for the files of the State Security Service relating to individuals by the Federal President on the recommendation of the Federal Government. From 1991 to 2000 he was the Federal Commissioner for the Files of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic. From 2001 to 2004, Joachim Gauck was the German member of the Management Board of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia in Vienna. In 2003, he became the Chairman of the Association “Gegen Vergessen – Für Demokratie” (Against Oblivion – For Democracy). He has been awarded numerous honours and prizes for his work, including the Theodor Heuss Medal, the Geschwister Scholl Prize, the European Human Rights Prize and the Ludwig Börne Prize. He has honorary doctorates from the Universities of Rostock, Jena and Augsburg. At the honorary conferring University President Dr Jim Browne in his remarks referred to President Gauck’s call on all moderate forces around the continent to speak up in the current European debate ahead of this State Visit. “Here we are today in Galway - a University city on the edge of Europe a city of creativity and of welcome, home to artists and academics. Our city and our University have been immeasurably enriched by our place in Europe and the vision which has shaped Ireland’s development over the past 5 decades or so.   We cannot let the discourse on Europe’s future be dominated by extremism.     We must remember the Monnet vision of the middle of the last century: a vision which helped to bind up the wounds of the most bloodstained continent in modern history and transform Europe into a place of peace, prosperity and democracy governed by common policies and shared structures.” Dr Browne paid tribute to President Gauck by saying his own personal journey served as an example to many Europeans. Throughout your lifetime you have stood as a champion of democracy and human rights and you remain a voice which can shape the conscience of Europe. The conferring ceremony will be streamed live online from 11.30am at http://www.nuigalway.ie/germanstatevisit/ ENDS

Monday, 20 July 2015

NUI Galway has issued a final call for applications to its Elite Athlete Sports Scholarships Scheme for 2015/16. The University has a long tradition of excellence in sport and this has been enhanced by the recent success in Rowing, Hurling, Basketball, Soccer, Rugby and Archery as well as numerous individual achievements. The deadline for application for current and prospective students is Friday, 31 July at 5pm. The scholarship programme is aimed at student-athletes of outstanding calibre who register as students of the University. Kathy Hynes, Acting Head of Sport at NUI Galway, said “The University is proud to support the next generation of sporting stars. We recognise the huge commitment made by our young athletes in balancing their academic studies and their elite training schedules. NUI Galway through the Elite Scholarship programme provides supports to those athletes who have podium dreams and thus the best possible chance of fulfilling their potential in the sporting and academic context.”  NUI Galway has had an outstanding record in supporting young athletes in developing their sporting and academic careers with in recent years, scholarship athletes winning senior All-Ireland GAA titles, winning and competing at World Championship level in their chosen sport and dozens of NUI Galway students representing their country and a number who have gone on to professional careers in a number of sports. These scholarship students include: Ryan Dervan, Intermediate All-Ireland Boxing Champion 2014; Lisa Casserly and Jenny Byrne, Republic of Ireland Women’s Soccer Squad; Darren Wallace, Irish National Archery Squad 2015 World Cup and European Grand Prix Qualifier. NUI Galway Gaelic Games students are also represented across the counties senior panels, including Cathal Mannion and John Hansbury.   Applicants for Elite sports scholarships must satisfy the academic criteria for entry to NUI Galway and must have applied to the CAO in the usual manner or be a currently enrolled student at NUI Galway. For the scholarships, students who meet the University’s entry requirements will be selected on merit by an independent panel. In addition to the scholarship, students will receive specialist support including Strength and Conditioning, Performance Nutrition, Performance planning and mentoring and Medical and Physiotherapy support. More details on the Sports Scholarship Scheme at http://www.nuigalway.ie/sports/scholarships_info.html. All applications must be submitted online at http://www.sports.nuigalway.ie/scholarshipform.html. -Ends-

Monday, 20 July 2015

NUI Galway graduates Dr Shane Browne and Dr Michael Monaghan have both been awarded the European Society for Biomaterials-European Doctoral Award for their research in biomaterials. The award is given annually by the European Society for Biomaterials (ESB) and confers added value to the doctoral degrees of the recipients. The award serves to recognise a European or international dimension of the researchers’ work. Both Dr Browne and Dr Monaghan qualified for the award by fulfilling a number of requirements, including studying abroad during their doctoral research, publishing in high-impact scientific journals and presenting at international conferences. The awards also acknowledge Professor Abhay Pandit, supervisor to both researchers during their PhDs and Director of CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices, proving the integration of this group’s research at an international level. “I would like to congratulate Shane and Michael on their success and achievements”, said NUI Galway’s Professor Pandit. “They are the third and fourth researchers from the team to receive this award, which speaks to the high calibre of professionals we have developed in the biomaterials sector.” CÚRAM’s core research competencies include cell manufacture, drug delivery and biomaterials. Dr Browne’s research involved the tempering of inflammation and the formation of new blood vessels using a collagen-based biomaterial system. Dr Monaghan’s research focused on the development of microRNA-mediated gene silencing delivery methods, for application in modulating extracellular matrix remodeling, which can help protect and repair internal organs after injury. Both research projects were funded through Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. Dr Browne is now working as an Irish Research Council postdoctoral researcher in Professor Kevin Healy’s laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, on the development of strategies to deliver pro-angiogenic progenitor cells to ischemic tissue using hyaluronic acid-based hydrogels. Dr Monaghan is currently a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow in Professor Katja Schenke-Layland’s laboratory at the Department of Cell and Tissue Engineering, in the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB. His current research involves studying the formation of cardiomyocytes from fibroblasts using small molecules and exogenous microRNAs. CÚRAM is a national research centre advancing R&D in the medical device sector. Supported by Science Foundation Ireland and industry partners, CÚRAM enhances Ireland’s standing as a major hub for the global medical devices industry. -Ends-

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Applications are currently being accepted for NUI Galway’s Taught Masters Scholarship Scheme. The scholarships are valued at €1,500 per student and are awarded to all students undertaking a full-time Taught Masters Programme who have a first-class honours degree. The closing date for receipt of applications is Friday, 7 August at 5pm. Valerie Leahy, Postgraduate Officer at NUI Galway, said: “At NUI Galway we are committed to supporting students who want to enhance their skills and employment prospects, and these scholarships are designed to reward and encourage the most committed and brightest students to progress to postgraduate study.” NUI Galway offer over 150 taught postgraduate programmes across all disciplines. The University has a global reputation in the fields of Biomedical Science and Engineering; Human Rights, Applied Social Science and Public Policy; Energy, Environment and Marine Research; Data Analytics, Physical and Computational Sciences; and Digital Humanities, and offer specific postgraduate programmes in these areas. Over 10% of NUI Galway postgraduate courses are taught fully online or via blended learning, so especially suit those who are working full or part-time and want to up-skill and enhance their career prospects. The University also continues to lead the way in terms of graduate employment with 92% of postgraduates employed or in further study after graduating, versus the national average of 87%. Information on the Taught Masters Scholarship Scheme is available at www.nuigalway.ie/postgraduate/scholarships. For more information on postgraduate opportunities at NUI Galway visit www.nuigalway.ie/whynuigalwaypostgrad/ , or contact the Postgraduate Recruitment Office at 091 495184 or postgrad@nuigalway.ie. -Ends- 

Friday, 31 July 2015

International team led by Irish astronomer says that brown dwarfs behave more like planets than stars Brown dwarfs are the mysterious middle children of celestial objects. These relatively cool, dim bodies are difficult to detect, and have remained hard to classify. They are too massive to be planets, yet possess some planet-like characteristics; they are too small to sustain hydrogen fusion reactions at their cores, a defining characteristic of stars, yet they have star-like attributes. Now, by observing a brown dwarf 20 light-years away using both radio and optical telescopes, a team led by Dr Gregg Hallinan, NUI Galway astronomy PhD graduate and now assistant professor of astronomy at Caltech, has found another feature that makes these so-called failed stars more like supersized planets - they host powerful auroras near their magnetic poles. The findings were co-authored by scientists around the world, including many Irish-trained astronomers and Dr Ray Butler a lecturer in the School of Physics at NUI Galway, and appear in the July 30 issue of the journal Nature. “We're finding that brown dwarfs are not like small stars in terms of their magnetic activity; they're like giant planets with hugely powerful auroras,” says Hallinan. “If you were able to stand on the surface of the brown dwarf we observed - something you could never do because of its extremely hot temperatures and crushing surface gravity - you would sometimes be treated to a fantastic light show courtesy of auroras hundreds of thousands of times more powerful than any detected in our solar system.” In the early 2000s, astronomers began finding that brown dwarfs emit radio waves. At first, everyone assumed that the brown dwarfs were creating the radio waves in basically the same way that stars do - through the action of an extremely hot atmosphere, or corona, heated by magnetic activity near the object’s surface. But brown dwarfs do not generate large flares and charged-particle emissions in the way that our sun and other stars do, so the radio emissions were surprising. While studying for his PhD at NUI Galway, in 2006, Hallinan discovered that brown dwarfs can actually pulse at radio frequencies. “We see a similar pulsing phenomenon from planets in our solar system,” says Hallinan, “and that radio emission is actually due to auroras”. Since then he has wondered if the radio emissions seen on brown dwarfs might be caused by auroras. Auroral displays result when charged particles, carried by the stellar wind for example, manage to enter a planet’s magnetosphere, the region where such charged particles are influenced by the planet’s magnetic field. Once within the magnetosphere, those particles get accelerated along the planet's magnetic field lines to the planet’s poles, where they collide with gas atoms in the atmosphere and produce the bright emissions associated with auroras. Following his hunch, Hallinan and his colleagues recently conducted an extensive observation campaign of a brown dwarf called LSRJ 1835+3259, using the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, the most powerful radio telescope in the world, as well as giant optical instruments that included Palomar’s Hale Telescope in California and the W. M. Keck Observatory's telescopes in Hawaii. Using the VLA, they detected a bright pulse of radio waves that appeared as the brown dwarf rotated around. The object rotates every 2.84 hours, so the researchers were able to watch nearly three full rotations over the course of a single night. Next, the astronomers used the Hale Telescope to observe that the brown dwarf varied optically on the same period as the radio pulses. Focusing on one of the spectral lines associated with excited hydrogen - the H-alpha emission line - they found that the object's brightness varied periodically. Finally, Hallinan and his colleagues used the Keck telescopes to precisely measure the brightness of the brown dwarf over time—no simple feat given that these objects are intrinsically extremely faint, many thousands of times less luminous than our own sun. Hallinan and his team were able to establish that this hydrogen emission is a signature of auroras near the surface of the brown dwarf. “As the electrons spiral down toward the atmosphere, they produce radio emissions, and then when they hit the atmosphere, they excite hydrogen in a process that occurs at Earth and other planets, albeit tens of thousands of times more intense”, explains Hallinan. “We now know that this kind of auroral behavior is extending all the way from planets up to brown dwarfs.” In the case of brown dwarfs, charged particles cannot be driven into their magnetosphere by a stellar wind, as there is no stellar wind to do so. Hallinan says that some other source, such as an orbiting planet moving through the brown dwarf’s magnetosphere, may be generating a current and producing the auroras. “But until we map the aurora accurately, we won't be able to say where it's coming from”, he says. He notes that brown dwarfs offer a convenient stepping stone to studying exoplanets, planets orbiting stars other than our own sun. “For the coolest brown dwarfs we've discovered, their atmosphere is pretty similar to what we would expect for many exoplanets, and you can actually look at a brown dwarf and study its atmosphere without having a star nearby that's a factor of a million times brighter obscuring your observations,” says Hallinan. The work, ‘Magnetospherically driven optical and radio aurorae at the end of the main sequence’, was supported by funding from the National Science Foundation in the US. In all, five of the authors are connected with NUI Galway. Ray Butler is a lecturer in the School of Physics; Aaron Golden is on extended leave from his lecturer position in the School of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics; Leon Harding did his PhD under the joint supervision of Drs Butler and Golden; and Stephen Bourke and the lead author Gregg Hallinan both did their PhDs under Dr Golden. NUI Galway’s Ray Butler adds: “The key roles played by so many Irish-trained astronomers, in making the discoveries to produce this Nature publication, demonstrate that we have the skills and ideas to compete with the world’s best in this field. For example, I worked on planning the spectroscopy observations, and developing the methods to analyse them in order to extract the subtle signature of the brown dwarf’s rotation. The selection of this particular brown dwarf followed work by our co-author Leon Harding during his time as my PhD student, when he used GUFI (the Galway Ultra Fast Imager), an instrument that we built ourselves, to observe its optical variability with unprecedented accuracy. Today’s major breakthrough and the successes of Irish astronomers abroad underline the compelling arguments for the government to reintroduce policies to fund this kind of basic research here in Ireland.” -ends-

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Áine Brazil, Billy Lawless, Svante Pääbo and Phillip Smyth to be conferred with Honorary Doctorates To view a video of the Honorary Conferring proceedings click here NUI Galway has announced the recipients of the 2015 Honorary Degrees. The four individuals to be conferred on Friday, 12 June are Áine Brazil, Vice Chairman of Thornton Tomasetti, New York, USA; Billy Lawless, Chicago-based Galway-born Businessman and Vice-President of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Svante Pääbo, Swedish biologist and Director at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany; and Phillip Smyth, Director of the Shannon College of Hotel Management. NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, speaking in advance of the conferring ceremony, said:  “NUI Galway is fortunate to be associated with many outstanding honorary graduates throughout its history and those being honoured this year form a particularly distinguished group. Each one has made an outstanding and distinctive contribution to the diverse fields of engineering, public life, genetic science and the international hospitality industry. NUI Galway is very pleased to be in a position to recognise these exceptional individuals.” Áine Brazil will be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Engineering (honoris causa). In a career of over 30 years with Thornton Tomasetti, Áine has been responsible for the design and construction of high-rise buildings, air-rights projects with long-span transfer systems, and a mix of educational, institutional, healthcare and hospitality projects. She has received many awards from business and real estate organisations and held leadership roles in structural and resiliency code development in New York City. She was the first president of the Structural Engineers Association of New York. A native of Galway City, Áine obtained her Bachelor of Engineering from NUI Galway, and a Masters degree in structural engineering from Imperial College in London. Billy Lawless will be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa). Born in Galway city, where he began his career in the hospitality business, in 1998 he emigrated to Chicago and opened a number of businesses and formed the Chicago Irish Pub/Restaurant Association in 2001. Billy has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of the Illinois Restaurant Association since 2010. He founded the Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform, is Vice-President of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, a founding member of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, a member of the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council and Co-Chair of the Immigration Committee. Billy has always been committed to developing strong links between Chicago and Galway and he has served as Co-Chairman of the Galway Chicago Sister Cities Committee since 1998. In May 2015 he became a Freeman of the City of Galway. Svante Pääbo will be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa). Born in Stockholm, Svante is regarded as one of the founders of the field of paleogenetics. He has worked extensively on the Neanderthal genome and has developed techniques that allow DNA sequences from extinct creatures such as mammoths, ground sloths and Neanderthals to be determined. He was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards including: the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, which is the highest honour awarded in German research; the Kistler Prize for his work isolating and sequencing ancient DNA; the Theodor Bücher Medal for outstanding achievements in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; and the Gruber Prize in Genetics for ground breaking research in evolutionary genetics. Phillip Smyth will be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa). A graduate of NUI Galway, Phillip served as an officer in the Irish Army for 17 years reaching the rank of Commandant and serving with the United Nations in Lebanon. He worked as a lecturer in the Military College and was involved in the training of non-commissioned officers. Since taking over the directorship of Shannon College in 1989 Phillip has developed the college from a small private hotel school to a world renowned Recognised College of the National University of Ireland. Under Phillip’s direction the next milestone in the College’s future is the imminent incorporation of Shannon College of Hotel Management into NUI Galway, whilst remaining in its historical location at Shannon Airport. Phillip is a fellow of the Irish Hospitality Institute and was recently appointed to the Council. The four graduands join the ranks of previous honorary alumni which include, among many others, Nelson Mandela, Hilary Clinton, Christy O’Connor Snr and Jnr, Enya, Anjelica Huston, Fionnuala Flanagan and Margaret Atwood. -Ends- Céimithe Oinigh 2015 Fógartha ag OÉ Gaillimh Dochtúireachtaí Oinigh le bronnadh ar Áine Brazil, Billy Lawless, Svante Pääbo agus Phillip Smyth D’fhógair OÉ Gaillimh inniu na daoine a mbronnfar Céimeanna Oinigh 2015 orthu. Is iad an ceathrar a bhfuil céimeanna le bronnadh orthu Dé hAoine, an 12 Meitheamh Áine Brazil, Leas-Chathaoirleach Thornton Tomasetti, Nua-Eabhrac, SAM; Billy Lawless, fear gnó a rugadh i nGaillimh ach atá ag cur faoi in Chicago agus atá ina Leas-Uachtarán ar an Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Svante Pääbo, bitheolaí as an tSualainn agus Stiúrthóir ar Institiúid Max-Planck don Antraipeolaíocht Éabhlóideach in Leipzig sa Ghearmáin; agus Phillip Smyth, Stiúrthóir Choláiste Bainistíochta Óstáin Shionainne. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne, agus é ag labhairt roimh an searmanas bronnta:  “Tá an t-ádh le OÉ Gaillimh céimithe oinigh den scoth a bheith aici in imeacht na mblianta ach is eisceacht céimithe oinigh na bliana seo. Tá a chion féin déanta ag gach céimí oinigh daoibh i réimsí éagsúla na hinnealtóireachta, an tsaoil phoiblí, na heolaíochta géinití agus thionscal idirnáisiúnta an fháilteachais. Tá an-áthas ar OÉ Gaillimh a bheith in ann aitheantas a thabhairt do na daoine eisceachtúla seo.” Bronnfar Céim Dhochtúireachta le hInnealtóireacht (honoris causa) ar Áine Brazil. Tá os cionn 30 bliain caite ag Áine le Thornton Tomasetti agus í freagrach as foirgnimh ollmhóra a dhearadh agus a thógáil, tionscadail chearta aeir le córais aistrithe fhadtréimhseacha, agus tionscadail oideachais, institiúideacha, chúraim sláinte agus fáilteachais. Is iomaí gradam atá bronnta uirthi ag eagraíochtaí gnó agus eastáit réadaí agus bhí róil cheannaireachta aici i bhforbairt cóid struchtúrtha agus athléimhnigh i gCathair Nua-Eabhrac. Ba í an chéad uachtarán í ar Structural Engineers Association Nua-Eabhrac. Is as Gaillimh ó dhúchas d'Áine. Bhain sí Baitsiléir Innealtóireachta amach ó OÉ Gaillimh agus céim Mháistreachta in innealtóireacht struchtúr ón Imperial College i Londain. Bronnfar Céim Dhochtúireachta le Dlíthe (honoris causa) ar Billy Lawless. Rugadh é i gCathair na Gaillimhe áit ar chuir sé tús lena ghairm i ngnó an fháilteachais. I 1998, chuaigh sé ar imirce go Chicago agus d'oscail sé slám gnóthaí. Bhunaigh sé an Chicago Irish Pub/Restaurant Association in 2001. Tá Billy ar Choiste Feidhmiúcháin an Illinois Restaurant Association ó 2010. Bhunaigh sé an Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform, tá sé ina Leas-Uachtarán ar an Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, tá sé ar dhuine de bhunaitheoirí an Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, ina chomhalta den National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council agus ina Chomh-Chathaoirleach den Immigration Committee. Bíonn Billy i gcónaí ar a mhíle dícheall ag iarraidh nasc láidir a chothú idir Chicago agus Galway agus tá sé ina Chomh-Chathaoirleach ar Choiste Comhchathracha na Gaillimhe-Chicago ó 1998. I mí na Bealtaine 2015, rinneadh saor de chuid Chathair na Gaillimhe de. Bronnfar Céim Dhochtúireachta le hEolaíocht (honoris causa) ar Svante Pääbo. Rugadh Svante i Stocólm agus meastar go bhfuil sé ar dhuine de bhunaitheoirí réimse na pailéighéineolaíochta. Tá lear mór oibre déanta aige ar an ngéanóm Néandartálach agus tá teicnící forbartha aige chun seichimh DNA as ainmhithe díofa cosúil le mamait, spadán talún agus Néandartálaigh a aithint. Toghadh é ar Acadamh Ríoga Eolaíochtaí na Sualainne agus is iomaí gradam atá bainte aige cosúil le: Gradam Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz ón Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, an gradam is airde a bhronntar ar thaighde sa Ghearmáin; Gradam Kistler as a shaothar ag aonrú agus ag seicheamhú an DNA ársa; Bonn Theodor Bücher as éachtaí móra sa Bhithcheimic agus sa Bhitheolaíocht Mhóilíneach; agus Gradam Gruber sa Ghéineolaíocht as taighde ceannródaíoch i ngéineolaíocht éabhlóideach. Bronnfar Céim Dhochtúireachta le Dlíthe (honoris causa) ar Phillip Smyth. Céimí de chuid OÉ Gaillimh é Phillip agus rinne sé a chion mar oifigeach in Arm na hÉireann le 17 mbliana. Bhí sé ina Cheannfort faoi dheireadh agus rinne sé seal leis na Náisiúin Aontaithe sa Liobáin. Bhí sé ina léachtóir sa Choláiste Míleata agus bhíodh sé ag traenáil na n-oifigeach neamhchoimisiúnaithe. Ó ghlac sé stiúir ar Choláiste Shionainne i 1989 tá an coláiste athraithe ag Phillip ó scoil bheag phríobháideach go Coláiste Aitheanta de chuid Ollscoil na hÉireann. Faoi stiúir Phillip is é an chéad chéim eile Coláiste Bainistíochta Óstáin Shionainne a bheith mar chuid de OÉ Gaillimh ach fanacht ag Aerfort na Sionna ag an am céanna. Tá Phillip ina chomhalta d'Institiúid Aíochta na hÉireann agus ceapadh é ar an gComhairle le gairid. Beidh an ceathrar seo anois i measc céimithe oinigh mór le rá a tháinig rompu cosúil le Nelson Mandela, Hilary Clinton, Christy O’Connor Sinsear agus Sóisear, Enya, Anjelica Huston, Fionnuala Flanagan agus Margaret Atwood. -Críoch-

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

NUI Galway’s Professor Henry Curran has been admitted as a new member of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) at a special ceremony in Dublin recently. This year Professor Curran was one of only 19 academics to receive Ireland’s highest academic distinction. Engineers, historians and a criminologist were among the nineteen new Members of the Royal Irish Academy who were announced on Friday last. The new members who signed the Academy roll book at 4pm on 29 May, in a centuries old tradition, included Steve Myers, who was the Director of Accelerators at CERN when the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012; Martin Naughton,who is one of Ireland’s leading innovators and philanthropists; Orla Feely, who was the first Irish woman elected a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; and Bernadette Whelan, a leading scholar in the history of Irish–American relations. Congratulating the awardees, NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, said: “Research and academic excellence are the cornerstones of all that we do here at NUI Galway. I am very proud to see the work of Professor Curran recognised by the Royal Irish Academy. Admission to the Academy is the highest academic honour in Ireland.  It is a testament to the calibre of our staff and research to see the work one of our finest science scholars honoured in this way.” Professor Mary E. Daly, President of the Royal Irish Academy, said that all those elected ‘have made world renowned contributions to research in the sciences or humanities...Irish scholars are highly sought after and are increasingly being head-hunted for top positions in leading universities and research centres throughout the world’. She warned that Ireland needed to retain this talent so that we can produce the high-level graduates that are critical for Ireland’s economic recovery.    ‘Funding does not of itself guarantee a strong higher education system, but without adequate funding and long-term assurance about the continuation of research funds, the sector is, and will increasingly be, faced with a brain drain.’    2015 is the 230th anniversary of the Royal Irish Academy—Ireland’s leading body of experts in the sciences and humanities. Since its foundation in 1785, membership of the RIA has been keenly competed for, as it is the highest academic honour in Ireland. Those elected use the designation ‘MRIA’ after their name.   There are now 493 members of the Academy and 76 honorary members, in disciplines from the sciences, humanities and social sciences. Members of the Academy include President Michael D. Higgins; Baroness Nuala O’Loan; Patrick Honohan, Governor of the Central Bank; Roy Foster, historian; and the writer and cartographer Tim Robinson.   At the enrolment ceremony today was the British Ambassador Mr Dominick Chilcott and former Minister for Education and Skills Mr Ruairí Quinn. Also in attendance was Professor Philip Nolan (President of Maynooth University), Professor Andrew Deeks (President of UCD) and Professor Brian MacCraith (President of DCU).   ENDS  

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

CÚRAM Initiates Another Multi-Year Grant-Funded Research and Development Collaboration Arch Prepares for First Human Trial with R&D Support CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, a new center of excellence for research, and Arch Therapeutics, Inc. (OTCQB: ARTH) ("Arch" or the "Company"), developer of the AC5 Surgical Hemostatic Device™ (“AC5TM”), have executed a definitive collaboration agreement that provides Arch grant funding for highly skilled personnel and infrastructure support. Through this collaboration, CÚRAM will work with Arch to advance AC5 through the first clinical trial, leading up to potential commercialization as well as develop pipeline applications for new indications and products. CÚRAM, a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded research centre, aims to radically improve health outcomes for patients by developing and collaborating on the development of “smart” medical devices. Strong collaborations with industry partners and hospital groups will enable their rapid translation into clinical settings. The Centre brings together researchers from NUI Galway, UCD, DCU, UL, UCC and RCSI. The Centre will include almost 40 industry partners and support product development and the creation of new spin-out companies. Partners will include indigenous Irish companies and multi-nationals. Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of CÚRAM, said: “CÚRAM has come along at a pivotal point in the medical device industry in Ireland and Europe, as there are large markets with unmet clinical needs. CÚRAM plans to enhance technology that exists and introducing technology that does not yet exist. Our significant collaboration with Arch Therapeutics and other industry partners is very exciting. Leaders within CÚRAM have a successful history working with Arch, and we are delighted to support their drive to commercialization for what should be very important products for the healthcare industry.” Arch Therapeutics’ Chief Executive Officer, Terrence W. Norchi, MD, noted: “Signing of the collaboration agreement marks the beginning of this new partnership, which aims to develop affordable transformative solutions for disease. This collaboration represents a direct, forward-looking approach to the changing global dynamics of both industry and academic R&D, presenting a unique opportunity for Arch Therapeutics and CÚRAM. The planned research and development support to Arch, as well as the partnership with a seasoned and renowned team, represents a unique, collaborative approach to developing innovative solutions in healthcare.” Terrence Norchi further noted: “Arch intends to launch a first product in Europe next year provided clinical data are supportive. We believe that building a larger R&D footprint in Ireland will enhance our strategy while reallocating resources to the Irish economy.” -ends-

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

An Italian feast will take place later this month at NUI Galway as part of the ITALIAN ART & MEDICINE seminar where guest lecturer Professor Alessandro Riva from the University of Cagliari, Italy and founder director of the Museum of Susini’s Anatomical Waxes*, in Cagliari, will discuss the artistic and scientific value of Anatomical wax modelling in Italy in the 18th-19th centuries. The seminar and free gastronomy reception will take place on Wednesday, 24 June, 2015. This open symposium will focus on interlinking aspects between art and medicine in Italy between the 18th and 20th Centuries. The event is not necessarily for specialists and it will be of interest to a wide audience. The organisers include the NUI Galway staff Dr Fabio Quondamatteo and Prof Paolo Bartoloni, along with the Galway Clinic Consultants Dr Antonio Terranova and Dr Fabio Bartolozzi, who are all also part of a Cultural Group called Italiani a Galway (www.italianiagalway.com). The symposium will feature expert presentations including current Professor of Italian Studies at NUI Galway, Professor Paolo Bartoloni, who will present on relations between Literature and Medicine and the former Professor of Italian Studies at NUI Galway, Professor Catherine O’Brien, will talk on aspects of illness in the life and work of Amedeo Modigliani. Speaking on behalf of the organisers, Dr Fabio Quondamatteo said: “The organisers are tremendously proud to announce that an exhibition of high definition images of the Susini’s Anatomical Waxes will be associated with this event and that this will be the first time all the images of the Cagliari Collection are exhibited outside Italy. The Organisers are also extremely grateful to the University of Cagliari and in particular to its President Prof Maria Del Zompo, for facilitating this and for their enthusiastic support for this event.” An Italian gastronomy reception will begin after the presentations, which is generously sponsored by local eateries and businesses including Mona Lisa, Il Folletto, Il Vicolo, Pizza Pasta Napoli, Da Roberta’s, Poppyseed, and Moycullen McCann’s Supervalu. Starting at 3pm on 24 June, admission to the event is free however registration is a must before 15 June. Please visit www.conference.ie for online registration. ENDS

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

A research seminar takes place in NUI Galway today focussing on sexual health research with university students, and in particular the issue of sexual consent. The seminar, ‘Sexual Health and Alcohol Use: The Need for Evidence-Based, Theory-Led Strategies to Address Sexual Assault and Promote Active Consent Among Young Adults’ is organised by the School of Psychology at NUI Galway in conjunction with Galway Alcohol Forum and Healthy Cities Initiative. The results of multidisciplinary research carried out across several institutions in social marketing, theatre and drama studies, and psychology will be presented at the event. This includes survey data from approximately 1,500 students across two institutions on sexual assault, on how consent is typically expressed, frequency and comfort of engaging in different sexual activities, associations between alcohol use and sexual behaviour, and other topics in the sexual health field. “We wish to promote the idea of consent being active, on-going, and clearly expressed, as our research suggests that it is currently a grey area for many students”, explains Dr Pádraig McNeela, Lecturer at the School of Psychology, NUI Galway. “It is important to consider how this lack of clarity might contribute to the problem of sexual assault, and a culture that might perpetuate gender-based harassment and violence. It is also essential that we promote a positive approach to sexual relationships where people feel confident to express their preferences and make informed decisions.” In addition, it will show how these quantitative findings, when combined with qualitative exploration of attitudes and expectations for consent, have the potential to be employed in new strategies that promote active consent. Specifically, the seminar will report on a community theatre project that inspired students to create a dramatic representation of the ‘grey areas’ associated with consent; and the ‘Smart Consent’ workshop that brings students into contact with theory and evidence using innovative techniques. In addition to funding from the Galway Alcohol Forum, the researchers have the support of the Irish Research Council New Foundations scheme, NUI Galway Students’ Union, NUI Galway Student Services, and the Confederation of Student Services in Ireland. “We also hope to discuss these initiatives in light of social marketing survey findings demonstrating that, for students, sexual health is a key priority that requires action,” added Dr McNeela. -ends-

Thursday, 4 June 2015

NUI Galway students’ car excels in international energy-efficiency competition A team of NUI Galway engineering students have achieved the equivalent of 8,000 miles per gallon in the Galway energy-efficient car (the Geec), which they designed and built. The team returned last week from Rotterdam, where they raced the car in the European round of Shell Eco-marathon, a global competition to find the world’s most fuel-efficient and energy-efficient cars. Team NUI Galway was the first Irish entry ever to participate in the event. At Shell Eco-marathon Europe, a future generation of engineers and scientists aged 16-25 from 26 countries in Europe and beyond competed against each other. With Rotterdam as the host city, Shell brought the competition closer to the public with a fit-for-purpose street circuit. The Geec, a three-wheeled battery-electric car, completed four 16km competition runs of 10 laps each on the urban track. The winners were the teams that could drive the furthest on the equivalent of 1 litre of fuel or (in the Geec’s class) 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity. The Galway energy-efficient car’s final energy consumption score was equivalent to almost 8,000 miles per gallon – over 100 times more efficient than most cars on the road. “We aimed to break the barrier of €1 for a Galway-Dublin drive, but the finished Geec would use just 13 cent,” said Dr Rory Monaghan, NUI Galway, one of the team’s mentors. “We have learned an awful lot about how to design, build and drive an ultra-efficient vehicle. This is just the beginning.” The car has been in development for two years, and the final success wasn’t without incident. “Early on in Rotterdam, the car’s power electronics failed during testing,” said Geec team member, student Barry Flannery, from Oranmore, Co. Galway. “It was scary, but we managed to work through the problems step by step and achieve an incredible score.” After three runs the Geec’s best score had risen to 202 kilometres per kilowatt-hour. The NUI Galway team decided to go all-out on their final run, made overnight modifications to the drivetrain, and planned a new driving strategy. The risky approach paid off – the Geec’s score jumped to 287 on the final day of competition, to finish 23rd out of 51 in its class. “Using the brake negatively affects the efficiency of the car,” explained student Maryrose McLoone, from Glenties, Co. Donegal, who drove the Geec on the final run, “so it was important I was able to manoeuvre between other cars while also driving efficiently and safely. I had to stay aware of my lap time, my motor speed and other cars around me.” Professor Gerry Lyons, Dean of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, was hugely proud of his students: “To finish on the top half of the leader board is a truly great achievement by NUI Galway students in this our first outing in this event. I’m delighted for all who have been directly involved in this tremendous project.” Shell Ireland’s Managing Director, Ronan Deasy, said the Geec team had made a big impression with the organisers and other competitors at the Rotterdam event. “Their energy, enthusiasm and professional approach, meant that Ireland’s first entry in the Eco-marathon was really noticed and positively commented upon. The Geec team’s result was fantastic and sets them up well for next year’s competition in London,” he said. The Geec team was generously supported by Shell E&P Ireland, Wood Group Kenny, Belcross Enterprises, Central Bearing Supplies, Smurfit Kappa, Sinbad Marine, Maxon Motor, QuickTec Computers, and Enform Plastics. For more information on NUI Galway’s eco-car, please visit the team website, www.theGeec.ie, find theGeec.ie on facebook, or follow @theGeec on twitter. ENDS

Friday, 5 June 2015

Two engineering students from NUI Galway have been selected as delegates to represent Ireland at the International Student Energy Summit (ISES) from 10-13 June. The event is a global forum focusing on sustainable resource management and the role that students will play in defining the future of energy development. ISES targets international, multidisciplinary undergraduate and graduate students interested in energy. ISES takes place every two years at academic institutions around the world. Billy Delaney from Newbridge, Co. Kildare and Kate Kerrane from Thurles, Co. Tipperary will travel to Bali to attend the event. Both are undertaking a Bachelor of Energy Systems Engineering at NUI Galway and are active members of the Energy Society on campus, which organises Ireland’s only student run energy event, the annual Energy Night. NUI Galway’s Dr Rory Monaghan is Director of Energy Systems Engineering Bachelors and Masters Degrees: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our student energy leaders to plug into the global sustainable energy community. It puts NUI Galway, which is already at the forefront of student involvement in Irish energy issues, on the map globally, and will no doubt be of great benefit to Billy and Kate in the future.” ISES 2015, “Connecting the Unconnected”, is being hosted in Bali, Indonesia, by the Bandung Institute of Technology, which is the oldest technology-oriented university in Indonesia. The conference itself will consist of keynotes from leading experts and thought leaders, panel sessions designed to encourage debate, specialised breakout sessions and interactive program elements to give students hands on experience. The students, who will start their final year of the four-year degree in September, are currently on placement as a part of their course. Billy is completing his placement in Arup and Kate is in ESB Networks. “We are very grateful for the sponsorship and support they have received from our placement companies and also from the College of Engineering and Informatics and the Societies Office at NUI Galway, to avail of this opportunity”, explained Kate Kerrane. “We would not have been able to take this opportunity if it wasn’t for such support.” You can follow the journey to Bali on twitter, @delaney_billy and @k8kerrane. -Ends-

Friday, 5 June 2015

It is with sadness that NUI Galway noted the passing of noted folk-singer and collector Jean Ritchie earlier this week. Jean Ritchie, who brought hundreds of traditional songs from her native Appalachia to a global audience, died at the age of 92. In 1996 the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, under the auspices of Professor Dáibhí Ó Cróinín of the University’s History Department, acquired the Ritchie-Pickow Photographic Archive, along with tapes of sound recordings. These included many of the singers and musicians that Jean recorded as part of a project to trace the roots of many of the songs and tunes she would have grown up with in the Southern Appalachians. The photographs were taken and the recordings made by the US husband and wife team, George Pickow and Jean Ritchie on visits to Ireland in 1952 and 1953. Jean Ritchie, singer, folklorist and dulcimer player was born on 8 December 1922 in Viper, Kentucky. She was the youngest of a family of 14 children, known as 'The Singing Ritchies'. Jean graduated from the University of Kentucky and in 1952 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to enable her to research the origins of her family's songs in Great Britain and Ireland. Ritchie's late husband George Pickow, a photographer, accompanied her and they spent approximately eighteen months recording folk songs and traditional musicians and taking photographs. The photographs include images of many well-known uilleann pipe players, such as Seamus Ennis, the McPeake trio, Leo Rowsome; vocalists, including Elizabeth (Bess) Cronin from West Cork, Sarah Makem and story tellers, such as Paitsín Faherty from the Aran Islands. President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne: “We in NUI Galway are deeply honored by our association with the late Jean Ritchie and George Pickow. Their names will forever be associated with NUI Galway, through the deposit in 1996 of the very significant collection of George's photographs and Jean’s sound recordings made during Jean’s Fulbright year in Ireland and Britain in 1952-53. This is a unique folk collection, linking the Irish song tradition and that of Appalachia. The Ritchie-Pickow collection is of considerable interest to scholars and researchers, and forms an integral part of the James Hardiman Library's Archives and Special Collections.” Building on the Ritchie/Pickow archive housed in NUI Galway's library, The ‘Jean Ritchie Scholarship’ was launched last February during a visit to Berea College, Kentucky, by Mary McPartlan, Traditional Artist in Residence and University teacher and Anna Cunningham, Director of International Affairs, NUI Galway. The Scholarship offers a full tuition waiver to one outstanding Berea College graduate pursuing a one year MA programme in NUI Galway. Permission was granted by Jean Ritchie and her family to name this scholarship in her honour during the visit. Ar dheis dé go raibh a h-anam uasal ENDS Tugann OÉ Gaillimh ómós do Jean Ritchie Is oth linn a chloisteáil anseo in OÉ Gaillimh gur bhásaigh an t-amhránaí tíre agus an bailitheoir amhrán Jean Ritchie níos túisce an tseachtain seo. Bhásaigh Jean Ritchie in aois a 92; roinn sí na céadta amhrán traidisiúnta óna Appalachia dúchasach le lucht éisteachta domhanda. Sa bhliain 1996, faoi choimirce an Ollaimh Dáibhí Ó Cróinín ó Roinn Staire na hOllscoile, ghlac Leabharlann Shéamais Uí Argadáin seilbh ar Chartlann Ghrianghraf Ritchie-Pickow, mar aon le téipeanna de thaifid fuaime. Chuimsigh siad seo go leor de na hamhránaithe agus na ceoltóirí a bhí taifeadta ag Jean mar chuid de thionscadal a bhí sí ina bhun le déanamh amach cé as a dtáinig go leor de na hamhráin agus na tiúineanna ar fhás sí aníos leo sna Sléibhte Apaláiseacha Theas. Ar chuairteanna go hÉirinn i 1952 agus 1953 a thóg an lánúin phósta as Meiriceá, George Pickow agus Jean Ritchie na grianghraif agus na taifid. Rugadh Jean Ritchie, amhránaí, béaloideasóir agus seinnteoir dulcaiméara ar an 8 Nollaig 1922 in Viper, Kentucky. Ba í ab óige de cheithre pháiste dhéag ar a dtugtaí na ‘Singing Ritchies’. Bhain Jean céim amach in Ollscoil Kentucky agus sa bhliain 1952 bronnadh Scoláireacht Fulbright uirthi le cur ar a cumas taighde a dhéanamh ar bhunús amhráin a muintire sa Bhreatain Mhór agus in Éirinn. Bhí fear Ritchie, George Pickow, grianghrafadóir, atá é féin anois ar shlí na fírinne, ina cuideachta. Chaith siad thart ar ocht mí dhéag ag taifead amhráin tíre agus ceoltóirí traidisiúnta agus ag glacadh grianghraf. Cuimsíonn na grianghraif íomhánna de phíobairí iomráiteacha cosúil le Seamus Ennis, an McPeake trio, Leo Rowsome; amhránaithe cosúil le Elizabeth (Bess) Cronin as Iarthar Chorcaí, Sarah Makem agus scéalaithe cosúil le Paitsín Faherty as Árainn. Dúirt Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne: “Is mór an onóir dúinn anseo in OÉ Gaillimh go raibh ceangal againn le Jean Ritchie agus le George Pickow, atá beirt ar shlí na fírinne anois.  Beidh ceangal idir iad féin agus OÉ Gaillimh go deo, mar gheall ar an mbailiúchán an-suntasach a cuireadh ar fáil i 1996 de ghrianghraif George agus de thaifid fuaime Jean a rinneadh an bhliain a raibh scoláireacht Fulbright ag Jean go hÉirinn agus go dtí an Bhreatain Mhór in 1952-53.  Bailiúchán tíre uathúil is ea é seo, a dhéanann nasc idir traidisiún amhránaíochta na hÉireann agus traidisiún Appalachia.  Bíonn an-spéis ag scoláirí agus ag taighdeoirí i mbailiúchán Ritchie-Pickow, agus tá sé mar lárchuid de Chartlanna agus Bailiúcháin Speisialta Leabharlann Shéamais Uí Argadáin.” D’fhonn forbairt a dhéanamh ar chartlann Ritchie/Pickow atá i leabharlann OÉ Gaillimh, seoladh ‘Scoláireacht Jean Ritchie’ i mí Feabhra seo caite le linn do Mary McPartlan, an tEalaíontóir Traidisiúnta Cónaitheach agus teagascóir Ollscoile agus Anna Cunningham, an Stiúrthóir Gnóthaí Idirnáisiúnta, OÉ Gaillimh a bheith ar cuairt ar Berea College, Kentucky.  Clúdaíonn an Scoláireacht costas iomlán an teagaisc do chéimí amháin den scoth in Berea College atá ag tabhairt faoi chlár bliana MA in OÉ Gaillimh. Le linn na cuairte thug Jean Ritchie agus a teaghlach cead dúinn an scoláireacht a ainmniú in ómós di.  Ar dheis dé go raibh a h-anam uasal CRÍOCH

Monday, 8 June 2015

· Project is 4th clinical trial funded by EU testing next-generation stem cell therapy discovered by NUI Galway spin-out, Orbsen Therapeutics A new €6 million research project (NEPHSTROM) has been funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 programme to evaluate the clinical safety and efficacy of a next-generation cell therapy discovered by Galway-based Orbsen Therapeutics, to combat diabetic kidney disease. The project will be led by Professor Timothy O’Brien, Director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at the National University of Ireland Galway. The four-year project will test the next-generation stromal (stem) cell therapy, called Cyndacel-M, in a four-site clinical trial treating patients in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England and Italy The ‘stromal’ cells will be purified from healthy donor bone marrow using Orbsen Therapeutics’ patented technology, and expanded into multiple ‘off-the-shelf’ doses for clinical use. By 2016, first-in-man trials will see the stromal cells injected into patients with diabetic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease is marked by the gradual destruction of kidney tissue over time and is a major cause of sickness and death in the EU. Inflammation (the body’s immune response where blood flow increases to tissue causing swelling) plays a large part in the majority of kidney disease and this can lead to kidney damage, scar tissue formation (fibrosis) and loss of kidney function. Diabetic kidney disease is a common complication of diabetes mellitus, and it is estimated that by 2040 it may affect in the region of 200 million people. In most cases of diabetic kidney damage there is no effective medical treatment. The mainstay treatments are drugs, dialysis and kidney transplants, all of which have significant costs and only provide limited protection against adverse outcomes. The ambitious new research project called NEPHSTROM (Novel Stromal Cell Therapy for Diabetic Kidney Disease) is a collaboration of 11 European partners (www.nephstrom.eu) and builds on pre-clinical research carried out in an existing EU-funded project known as REDDSTAR (www.reddstar.eu). REDDSTAR is also coordinated by Professor Timothy O’Brien and funded by the EU Framework 7 programme. NUI Galway’s Professor O’Brien comments: “If predictions prove correct, then our healthcare systems are facing a huge task in managing the complications caused by ever-increasing numbers of patients with diabetes mellitus. Chief among such complications will be kidney disease, which has a huge financial cost in terms of current treatments, and takes a massive personal toll on patients. Diabetes is currently the most common cause of end stage kidney disease resulting in the need for dialysis or transplantation. We are confident that by harnessing the most modern approaches in stromal cell therapeutics there may well be a way to halt the progression of diabetic kidney disease using this therapy.” Spin-out company pioneering next-generation stromal cell therapy NEPHSTROM will assess next-generation stromal cells that are purified using a patented method developed by Orbsen Theraputics, a spin-out from NUI Galway. Orbsen Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Stephen Elliman - who discovered the Cyndacel technology - explains: “NEPHSTROM is Orbsen’s forth clinical trial funded by the European Commission in the last three years. The data that led to the NEPHSTROM approval was developed via independant testing of Orbsen’s Cyndacel-M in the laboratory of Professor Hans-Joachim Anders at the Ludwigs-Maximillian University in Munich within the REDDSTAR EU network – highlighting the success of that first project. Cyndacel-M represents a significant advance in terms of stromal cell purification and safety. Whereas competitor technologies are based on a 50-year-old isolation technique, which produces a mixed group of cells for therapeutic use, Orbsen’s Cyndacel technology permits best-in-class purification, which we predict will lead to better safety and efficacy outcomes for patients.” NEPHSTROM will also develop and validate a new combined manufacturing platform that improves the consistency and reduces the cost of the Cyndacel-M therapeutic to a level that enables its routine clinical use. The project will develop the first “closed-automated” GMP method of stromal cell isolation and expansion that will expand the Cyndacel-M therapy to clinically and commercially relevant numbers. The project will establish an EU network of four GMP cell-production centres, using these technologies, to produce large amounts of therapeutic agent in a consistent manner, following shared protocols. This will be critical to upscaling, delivering the multi-centre trial in NEPHSTROM and meeting the demand for cells in more advanced clinical trials. Cyndacel-M will be manufactured in GMP production centres in Galway, Leiden, Birmingham and Bergamo. First-in-man clinical trial In the second year of the project, a clinical trial will take place in Galway, Belfast, Birmingham and Bergamo, among 48 patients. The placebo-controlled trial will see Cyndacel-M injected into the patients’ bloodstream. Results will be measured in terms of improvements in kidney performance as measured by urine and blood samples. If successful, the researchers will see the disease significantly slowed or halted altogether. One of the world’s most renowned experts in kidney disease, Professor Giuseppe Remuzzi, from the Istituto Di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri (IRFMN, Bergamo, Italy), will lead the clinical trial across the four centres, set to commence in May 2016. According to Professor Remuzzi: “The core of the NEPHSTROM project is the first-in-man clinical trial with innovative stromal cell therapy in patients with diabetic kidney disease. The clinical experience with stromal cells is still in its infancy, mainly focused on developing novel therapeutic solutions for patients with bone marrow or organ transplantation as well as for those with a small number of autoimmune diseases. Nobody so far has attempted to provide evidence that this cell-based therapy is capable to halt progression of diabetic kidney disease in humans. The NEPHSTROM clinical trial has adopted an approach similar to that pursued to explore the pathophysiology of rare conditions. It is a small but intensively studied clinical trial which will allow determination of the effective dose of Cyndacel-M cells, and how they might function to protect the diabetic kidney. The complementary skill, expertise and human resources of the four European participating centres contribute to create a strong and critical network to document the clinical feasibility of this innovative therapy, eventually providing the background insights to design future larger clinical trials in diabetic patients with kidney disease.” NUI Galway’s Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland (CCMI) - which is the only licensed cell manufacturing facility in Ireland - the Galway Blood and Tissue Establishment at UHG which is licensed to procure stem cells, and the HRB Galway Clinical Research Facility which has specialised facilities for stem cell clinical trials will play crucial roles in the Galway arm of this multicenter clinical trial. -ends-  

Monday, 8 June 2015

A team of 47 students from NUI Galway were recently awarded the runner-up prize at the prestigious 2015 Enactus Ireland National Competition for Social Entrepreneurship. Enactus is an international, not-for-profit organisation which provides a platform for third-level students to create community development projects, while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders of the future. The national competition is an annual event where students come together to present their projects to show how they are transforming lives through entrepreneurial action. NUI Galway was one of the founding university teams of Enactus Ireland and this year marks its fourth year of involvement. Teams from Ireland’s seven universities and Dublin Institute of Technology gathered in Dublin to compete to represent Ireland at the Enactus World Cup, which will be held this year in October in Johannesburg, South Africa. Michael Campion, Faculty Advisor to the NUI Galway team said: “It’s been a privilege to support the Enactus team as they worked on a set of projects which have made a significant impact in empowering some members of the community. From working with young people with mental health issues in developing a vertical garden, to creating a training programme for catering staff to become aware of how to better respond to people with basic day-to-day communication challenges. These students channelled their creativity and passion to develop fabulous, sustainable solutions. To make it all happen, they partnered with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), the HSE, Croí, Café Togo and Aramark. Taking the runner-up prize in the competition is a great recognition of all the hard work that the students have put in over the past year, something that is not easy while balancing with their academic studies. They are a credit to themselves, their families and to NUI Galway.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Professor Svante Pääbo, the first person to sequence the DNA of Neanderthal people NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences will hold two special Neanderthal-related events organised on the eve of NUI Galway awarding an Honorary Degree to Professor Svante Pääbo, Director at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany and the first person to sequence the DNA of Neanderthal people. The first event by Professor Pääbo is a lecture on Archaic Genomics, which will take place on Thursday, 11 June at 4pm in the McMunn Theatre, Arts/Science Building at NUI Galway. Swedish biologist Svante Pääbo is a founder in the field of palaeogenomics, the study of ancient DNA preserved in fossils. He first began this work studying ancient Egyptian mummies, before progressing to much older extinct mammals. In 2010 his research team made scientific history when they published the first draft genome sequence for Neanderthals. This was followed up with the discovery of a completely new, and hitherto unknown group of humans (Denisovans) based on DNA extracted from a c.41,000 year old fossil finger bone found in a cave in Siberia. Professor Pääbo has received numerous prizes and awards for his work and his research has captured the wider public imagination. In 2007, Time magazine included him in their list of the 100 most influential people in the world. On Thursday, 11 June at 6pm, NUI Galway will launch a new museum display, William King and the Naming of Neanderthal People. The display will commemorate former NUI Galway Professor of Geology William King’s achievement and also tell the story of our closest evolutionary relatives, the Neanderthals. The study of human evolution began in earnest in 1863 when William King, Professor of Geology at Queens College Galway, proposed the name Homo neanderthalensis for fossil human remains discovered in the Neander Valley of Germany. His suggestion was both extraordinary and revolutionary for its time. To his lasting credit, King remains the first scientist to name a new and extinct species of human. The launch will take place in the James Mitchell Geology Museum in the Quadrangle on campus. To coincide with these events in NUI Galway, the Irish Journal of Earth Sciences, through the Royal Irish Academy, has published a paper by event organiser Dr John Murray and his colleagues highlighting William King's contribution to the early study of human evolution. It has been made freely available online at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3318/IJES.2015.33.1. Dr Murray said: “William King's suggestion that Neanderthal people represented a separate species from ourselves sparked one of the longest standing debates in human evolutionary studies: how precisely are Neanderthals related to modern humans? Professor Pääbo has done more than any other scientist in the modern era to tackle that question head-on.” Professor Svante Pääbo will be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa) on Friday, 12 June. -Ends-

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Protecting children and early interventions that can keep children out of state care will be the focus of a two-day conference which opens tomorrow. The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway will host its 7th Biennial Family Support Conference on Thursday 11 and Friday 12 June. The conference is called ‘Building Family Support Systems’ and will touch on topics from concealed pregnancies to child-to-parent violence, with a special talk by Garry Hynes, the multi-award winning theatre Director. The focus of the event is a new programme of prevention and family support from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. Known as ‘Meitheal’, the programme aims to put in place a system for protecting children, preventing problems in their lives and supporting their parents and families the system will involve local networks of services working together to help families before problems require their entry to the Child Protection system and acting as a ‘step-down’ support for families exiting that system. The new programme also emphasises supporting parents, and encouraging active participation by children, young people and parents in decisions affecting them. The conference will stimulate debate on a number of opportunities and challenges concerning the nature of family support including the interface between child protection and strengthening children’s rights and participation, both learning from and informing the experience of other jurisdictions. Keynote speakers from the US, UK and Ireland and from UNICEF’s prestigious Office of Research-Innocenti will lead the discussions, while Irish and international practitioners and researchers will provide 30 workshops on key conference themes. Following the tradition of introducing a perspective from a leading figure in wider society, Garry Hynes, the multi-award winning Artistic Director of Druid Theatre and NUI Galway Alumnus, is the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre’s special guest this year. Gary will offer some unique insights on life, family and civic society in drama and in Ireland. Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair at the Child and Family Research Centre NUI Galway, commented: “We have for the first time, since the foundation of the State, a commitment to embed support structures for families in local communities, so that when children and parents need help they know where to get it and more importantly they get what they need, when they need it and where and how they need it. If Tusla get this right, it will transform the Child Welfare system, so that the right of children to be protected and to a family life can be fully realised. At the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre we are delighted to be Tusla’s research partner in this exciting new venture.” The conference is hosted as part of the ‘Five Nations Family Support Initiative’ in conjunction with representatives from across the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and UNESCO Headquarters, Paris. The aim of this new initiative is to collectively discuss and advance Family Support policy and practice issues which will be progressed and developed on an international stage. The full list of conference plenary speakers includes: Ms Jasmina Byrne, UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti. Dr John Canavan, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway. Dr Deborah Daro, Chapin Hall, University of Chicago. Professor Nick Frost, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Leeds Beckett University; Professor Nóirín Hayes, School of Education, Trinity College, Dublin. Professor Ursula Kilkelly, School of Law, University College Cork. -ends-

Monday, 15 June 2015

NUI Galway will hold the 19th annual Health Promotion Research Centre Summer Conference on Thursday, 18 June in Áras Moyola. Plenary lectures, workshops, oral and poster presentations will explore the importance of health literacy and how it can be enhanced as a priority area for health promotion. The ‘Healthy Ireland’ Framework identifies health literacy as a priority action to empower people and communities for improved health and wellbeing. Health literacy is linked to literacy and is about people’s knowledge and ability to access, understand, assess and apply health information in order to take decisions in everyday life to improve their health. The conference will bring together policy, research and practice perspectives on how health literacy can be strengthened, including the implementation of interventions across sectors that will promote the health of the citizens of Ireland. Dr Rima Rudd, Harvard School of Public Health, will deliver a lecture on new developments in health literacy and policy implications. Dr Rudd said: “Health literacy research challenges us to consider how we can make health information more accessible and health services easier to navigate.” Dr Geraldine Doyle, UCD School of Business in UCD will focus on health literacy research in Ireland and internationally. Dr Doyle has been involved in large European surveys and studies on health literacy and said: “Having generated first time data on the measurement of health literacy, it is now important that national and EU monitoring of such health literacy measurement continues over time. Strengthening health literacy, at both individual and health system levels, offers a simple solution to the cost of health care provision and for the sustainability of health care systems.” During the conference lectures will be also be delivered by: Dr Graham Kramer, GP and National Clinical Lead in Scotland for self-management and health literacy, who will describe the health literacy policy in Scotland; Inez Bailey, Director of the National Adult Literacy Agency, who will deliver a lecture on the evolution of health literacy policy in Ireland and the challenge of implementation; and Dr Jo Protheroe, General Practice, University of Keele, England, who will describe the process of moving from research to practice, using examples from Stoke Public Health. Oral and poster presentations and skills based workshops will also feature during the day, giving every delegate a chance to network and meet with the speakers and colleagues. Dr Jane Sixsmith, Director of NUI Galway’s Health Promotion Research Centre and Chair of the Annual Conference 2015, said: “The conference is a key event in the Health Promotion calendar in Ireland and it provides a unique opportunity to strengthen the promotion of health towards a Healthy Ireland for everyone. The conference is relevant to practitioners, researchers and policy makers.” -Ends-

Monday, 15 June 2015

A research project into ageing at NUI Galway is looking for additional participants to take part in the study. The study is part of a larger ongoing project in NUI Galway, which commenced in 2013, exploring the functions and effects of music listening with younger and older adults. The project is seeking participants aged 60-85 years to join an experimental study on the effects of listening to music. Volunteers will spend 2-3 hours in the lab carrying out a variety of verbal and numerical tasks while listening to music and having their brain waves measured by electroencephalography (EEG). Prior to the lab session volunteers will also complete a questionnaire measuring their typical uses of music, personality and wellbeing. Jenny Groarke, a musician and PhD student at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway, said: “We will examine whether listening to music improves psychological functioning across a range of domains, which we hope can be used to benefit older adults in the future.” “Findings emerging from these ongoing studies are suggesting that one of the primary reasons people listen to music is to regulate emotions. There is evidence that older adults are more skilled at emotion regulation, and that positive and negative emotions can have a range of effects on physical health, emotional well-being, and cognitive functioning. Our research is highlighting that individuals also use music to optimise their abilities - such as boosting performance at work, and during sport or exercise. An important aim of the experiment is to determine if listeners beliefs about music’s positive effects can be confirmed in the lab,” Jenny continued. Through her research, Jenny has already discovered some differences in music listening between younger and older adults. These are outlined in an upcoming paper to be published in the Psychology of Music journal. Interestingly, older adults typically used music to experience a sense of connection with significant others and to lessen feelings of social isolation, whereas younger adults focused on the use of music for bonding in social settings, and adapting to crowded public places. The Galway native was inspired to study the link between music and well-being in older adults by her late grandfather Jimmy Dooley, who sang in the Augustinian choir for more than 65 years and played the drums in the Galway Bay Jazz band in Busker Brownes every Sunday. She has also set up a business, Sing-Bang Music Workshops, which brings music workshops to nursing homes to improve memory ability, happiness, and quality of life in elderly adults through group music making. Those interested in participating will need to complete the questionnaire of adaptive music listening functions, and sign up for the experiment here at http://sgiz.mobi/s3/AFML. Alternatively a paper version of the questionnaire can be requested from jenny.groarke@gmail.com or phone 086 0333 033. For more information on volunteering for the research visit www.adaptivefunctionsofmusic.com. -Ends-

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Dr Gerard Wall, a Senior Lecturer in NUI Galway’s Microbiology and CÚRAM, the SFI-funded Centre for Research in Medical Devices, has been awarded a Fulbright-Marine Institute Scholar Award to carry out research at the University of Wyoming, US. Other Fulbright recipients included three NUI Galway graduates, Emma Lowry, Méabh Ní Choileáin and Séamus O’Sullivan. A total of 31 Scholarships were announced recently at an event hosted by the Minister for Diaspora Affairs, Jimmy Deenihan T.D. and the US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley. Since 1957, the Fulbright Awards are given annually by the Irish and US governments and provide Irish students, scholars, and professionals with the opportunity to study, lecture, and research at top universities and institutions throughout the United States. Dr Gerard Wall, a Senior Lecturer in NUI Galway’s discipline of Microbiology and the SFI-funded Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM), has been awarded a Fulbright-Marine Institute Scholar Award to carry out research at the University of Wyoming. Dr Wall’s research involves cloning and exploiting antibodies, derived from the human immune system, in medical devices and drug delivery applications. While based at the University of Wyoming, he will work to develop a novel, handheld sensor device, based on surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) spectroscopy, for point-of-care toxin detection. The technology platform will initially be developed for marine monitoring but will also be applicable to rapid identification of pathogenic bacteria and viruses in human serum and saliva. Dr Wall’s current research in Microbiology and CÚRAM encompasses targeted drug delivery and materials functionalisation programmes. He currently coordinates an EU-funded research programme on cardiovascular stent development, with partner groups in materials science, stent production and cardiology in Poland and Slovakia. Here the goal of the cross-sectoral consortium is to design and produce cardiovascular stents with increased biocompatibility in the body, leading to a reduced frequency of complications such as stent re-blocking. Emma Lowry from Glasnevin, Dublin has been a secondary school teacher in Dublin’s Gaelcholáiste Reachrann for seven years. Emma graduated from NUI Galway with a Dióploma sa Iarchéime Oideachas and Master’s in Language Education and has a Degree in Irish from University College Dublin. Emma will be a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at the University of Montana. Méabh Ní Choileáin studied Applied Communications at NUI Galway and is a recent graduate of St. Patrick’s College, where she qualified as a primary teacher. She currently works as Children’s and Education Editorial Assistant for Penguin Books, London. Méabh, from Ranelagh, Co. Dublin, will be a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at the Catholic University of America, Washington DC. Séamus O’Sullivan from Listowel, Co. Kerry, graduated with a BA in English and Modern Irish from NUI Galway in 2013 and went on to complete an MA in Modern Irish at UCC in 2014. During his BA he completed a year-long apprenticeship in creative writing funded by Forás na Gaeilge. He will be the first Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at Idaho State University.  US Ambassador Kevin O’Malley said: “Year on year US and Irish Fulbrighters provide a fascinating insight into the direction of global research in a wide variety of fields. This year we have seen a particular increase in research in the areas of health and technology. The Fulbright program provides a unique platform for international scholars to break new ground, to collaborate with other world class researchers and to make a difference.” The next round of applications for Irish Fulbright Awardees will open on Monday, 31 August. Interested applicants in all disciplines are encouraged to visit the Fulbright Commission’s website, www.fulbright.ie, for more information. All applications for the 2016-2017 academic year will be due on Friday, 30 October. -Ends-

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Dr Jim Browne, President National University of Ireland Galway We are deeply saddened and heartbroken to hear of the Irish students lost in the devastating tragedy in Berkeley, California. This untimely loss of life has shocked the University communities across Ireland and we wish to extend our deepest sympathies to all of their families, classmates and friends at this time. The University also wishes to express its heartfelt condolences to our colleagues at other Institutions who are in mourning at this time. We also offer our support, through whatever means possible, to our students who may have been injured or affected by this tragic incident and a book of condolences is now on the University website http://www.nuigalway.ie/berkeleytragedy/ A book of condolence has also been opened by the Mayor of Galway in the City Hall. Flags at NUI Galway will be flown at half-mast today in honour of the students and all those involved in the tragedy. May these young students rest in peace.               ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- An Dr Jim Browne, Uachtarán Ollscoil na hÉireann Gaillimh Is mór an brón agus an briseadh croí atá orainn i ndiaidh dúinn an scéal a chloisteáil maidir leis na mic léinn Éireannacha a cailleadh sa tubaiste tragóideach in Berkeley, California inné. Goilleann an tragóid seo go trom ar phobail na n-ollscoileanna ar fud na tíre agus ba mhaith linn ár gcomhbhrón a ghabháil le teaghlaigh, comhghleacaithe agus cairde na mac léinn a cailleadh. Gabhaimid comhbhrón freisin lenár gcomhghleacaithe in institiúidí eile atá faoi bhrón ag an am seo. Tabharfaimid tacaíocht, ar aon bhealach is féidir, do mhic léinn na hOllscoile a gortaíodh sa timpiste nó a bhfuil ag fulaingt dá bharr, agus tá leabhar comhbhróin ar shuíomh gréasáin na hOllscoile anois: http://www.nuigalway.ie/berkeleytragedy/ Tá leabhar comhbhróin curtha ar fáil ag Méara na Gaillimhe freisin i Halla na Cathrach. Beidh brataigh OÉ Gaillimh i lár crainn inniu in onóir do na mic léinn a bhí páirteach sa tubaiste. Suaimhneas síoraí dá n-anamacha.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

NUI Galway today (18 June) conferred degrees on almost 260 students. Among that number, 61 were conferred with doctoral degrees. The largest cohort of students to graduate was over 120 future doctors who received their Honours Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, and Bachelor of Obstetrics (MB, BCh, BAO) degree. Among the cohort of medical students, Cillian McNamara from Ennis, Co. Clare received 5 out of 14 Final Medical Medals for his outstanding academic performance. Every year, NUI Galway awards the Final Medical Medals to the student who receives the highest mark in each subject area. Speaking at the ceremony, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: Speaking at the ceremony, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “On behalf of NUI Galway, I congratulate each of today’s graduates. It is very encouraging to see the number of research and graduate degrees which we are conferring today. These graduate numbers continue to grow. From a base of about 50 doctorates per year at the turn of the millennium, we now confer up to 4 times that number annually.” President Browne added words of encouragement to graduates conferred at the ceremony: “Our economy is clearly turning a corner. Have hope and courage. You have what it takes to make the difference to our society. The opportunities that you have to create your own environment and to shape your own futures are enormous.” The President also remembered the Irish students lost in the devastating tragedy in Berkeley, California saying: “We wish to extend our deepest sympathies to all of their families, classmates and friends at this time. The University also remembers our colleagues at other Institutions who are in mourning. We think too of the injured students and we send our very best wishes for their full recovery.” International students were well represented at the ceremony, with the University conferring a large number of graduates from Malaysia and Canada, among other countries. -Ends- Searmanas Bronnta an tSamhraidh in OÉ Gaillimh Bronnadh céimeanna ar bhreis is 260 mac léinn inniu (18 Meitheamh) in OÉ Gaillimh. Ina measc siúd, bronnadh céimeanna dochtúireachta ar 61 mac léinn. Ar an ngrúpa is mó díobh bronnadh Baitsiléir Onóracha sa Leigheas, Baitsiléir sa Mháinliacht agus Baitsiléir sa Chnáimhseachas (MB, BCh, BAO) ar bhreis is 120 ábhar dochtúra. Fuair Cillian McNamara as Inis i gCo. an Chláir, duine de na mic léinn leighis, 5 Bhonn don Bhliain Deiridh Leighis as 14 Bhonn dá fheidhmíocht acadúil. Gach bliain, bronnann OÉ Gaillimh Boinn Deiridh Leighis ar an mac léinn leis an marc is airde i ngach ábhar. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne le linn an tsearmanais: “Thar ceann OÉ Gaillimh, tréaslaím le gach duine agaibh. Ábhar misnigh dúinn ar fad is ea go bhfuil an oiread sin céimeanna taighde agus iarchéimeanna á mbronnadh againn inniu. Tá níos mó agus níos mó céimeanna á mbronnadh againn bliain i ndiaidh bliana. Bhíodh 50 céim dhochtúireachta in aghaidh na bliana á mbronnadh againn ag tús an chéid ach bronntar a cheithre oiread sin anois gach bliain.” Dúirt an tUachtarán leis na céimithe gur cheart dóibh aghaidh a thabhairt ar na blianta amach rompu le teann dóchais: “Is cinnte go bhfuil borradh ag teacht faoi chúrsaí eacnamaíochta. Bíodh misneach agus dóchas agaibh. Tá an cumas ag gach duine agaibh dul i bhfeidhm ar an tsochaí ar shlí éigin. Níl teorainn ar bith leis na deiseanna atá agaibhse an cineál saoil is mian libh a chruthú daoibh féin agus lántairbhe a bhaint as na deiseanna a thiocfaidh in bhur dtreo sna blianta amach romhainn.” Labhair an tUachtarán chomh maith ar na mic léinn Éireannacha a bhásaigh go tragóideach in Berkeley, California: “Ba mhaith linn comhbhrón ó chroí a dhéanamh leis na teaghlaigh, comhghleacaithe ranga agus cairde ag an am brónach seo. Tá an Ollscoil ag cuimhneamh ar ár gcomrádaithe in Institiúidí eile atá faoi bhrón. Ní féidir linn dearmad a dhéanamh ach an oiread ar na mic léinn a gortaíodh agus guímid go dtiocfaidh biseach orthu go luath.” Bhí roinnt mhaith mac léinn idirnáisiúnta i láthair chomh maith ag an searmanas, agus an Ollscoil ag bronnadh céimeanna ar lear mór céimithe as an Malaeisia agus as Ceanada, i measc tíortha eile. -Críoch-

Friday, 19 June 2015

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill entered committee stage yesterday and came one step closer to becoming law. Over four hundred proposed amendments were motioned and debated by the Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. A number of civil society organisations in Ireland felt that the Select Committee could have gone further to more fully secure the rights of older citizens and those with disabilities. Professor Gerard Quinn, Director at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy (CDLP) at NUI Galway, stated that: “Our Centre has joined with a coalition of over 15 organisations representing people with disabilities and their families, older persons, mental health service users, and health professionals, to contribute to the development of the Bill. The coalition is pleased with the strong public consultation of the Department of Justice and Equality in the development of the Bill. But we remain concerned that the Department may have missed an opportunity to fully harmonise the Bill with current human rights standards.” Sarah Lennon from Inclusion Ireland stated that: “We are pleased overall with the commitment of the Department of Justice and the Justice committee to making this law responsive to the needs of Irish citizens. The sheer number of amendments reflected the extensive consultation with civil society organisations representing experts through experience in the development of the Bill. We want to continue working with the Department to create robust mechanisms truly harmonise the Bill with international human rights standards.” Dr Eilionóir Flynn, the Deputy Director of the CDLP stated that: ‘The repeal of the “wards of court” system has been a long time coming. The Ministry for Justice has rightly consigned the 1871 Lunacy Regulation Act to the dustbin of history. But there is a risk that residues of the old-style paternalism have remained. In particular, the Bill places too much emphasis on a person’s mental capacity. We don’t want a situation where people with disabilities and older persons are forced to get a mental capacity assessment to enter into support agreements under the Bill. Under the Bill a person will be ineligible to appoint an assistant for a decision if the person is seen to lack mental capacity. Yet the whole point of the Bill was to provide support arrangements precisely for people who would otherwise fail outdated and discriminatory mental capacity assessments. This shift is required under international human rights law. The UN Committee on the rights of Persons with Disabilities has been clear: mental capacity assessments must go.” Jim Walsh, of the Irish Advocacy Network, expressed concern that: “Assessing capacity will become the focus rather than understanding and facilitating individual support needs. Statutory bodies concerned with training care staff, we fear, will focus on how to question someone’s capacity rather than helping staff to address social support needs and support a person’s decision making.” Some mental health advocates are also concerned that the new advanced healthcare directives will be useful for physical health problems but will apply unequally to mental health service users. Fiona Walsh of Tallaght Trialogue commented that: “Physical health and mental health issues must be given equal respect. Under the current Bill, not even a government minister could make an Advance Healthcare Directive which would be respected in the event of a mental health crises that leads to involuntary treatment under mental health law.” Another area of concern related to informal decision-making powers. The term 'informal decision-maker' was removed in yesterday’s committee stage. However, advocates remain concerned that some of the troubling aspects of the provisions remain in place. Tina Leonard, Head of Advocacy and Public Affairs at The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, said: “The Minister for Justice rightly removed some of the excessive power inadvertently granted to informal supporters of people who believed that the person they were supporting lacked mental capacity. That provision would have allowed, for example, an older person to be placed in a home against their wishes simply because their adult child 'believed that the person lacked mental capacity'. Instead, we need to secure people’s dignity to take risks. But although the language has changed after the Minister’s recent amendments, we are concerned that some of these 'informal powers' remain in place. It is not enough to simply remove the term 'informal decision–maker' if the excessive powers remain the same.” Professor Quinn concluded: “All of us are shaped by the balance of protection and autonomy in law. The legal requirement to wear seatbelts is an example showing where autonomy ends and public protection begins. But the current Bill seems to say that for people with disabilities and older people, different rules apply in striking that balance. We need to move beyond 'special laws' for people with disabilities, just as we’re moving away from 'special schools' and 'special day programs'. True integration requires a commitment to equality.” -ends-

Friday, 19 June 2015

NUI Galway based researcher Dr. Elaine Dunleavy receives €1 million funding from Science Foundation Ireland  President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has today received Dr Elaine Dunleavy, NUI Galway, as the recipient of the Science Foundation Ireland President of Ireland Young Researcher Award (PIYRA) at Áras an Uachtaráin. Accepting the award, Dr. Dunleavy said, “It is a great honour to receive this award which will enable me to recruit talented researchers and further my research effort in stem cell biology. My approach will utilise genetic manipulations in fruit fly stem cells, combined with state-of-the-art high-resolution imaging, to investigate genes and molecules that impact stem cell identity. This research will drive the development of stem cell therapies and the use of regenerative medicine to improve diagnosis and treatment of an aging population in Ireland.” Dr. Dunleavy’s award will support her research in the field of genetics and will focus on gaining an increased understanding of how stem cells divide. Using state-of-the-art cell imaging techniques, data generated from this research will substantially improve our knowledge of mechanisms of genome stability in stem cells with implications for fertility, reproduction, aging, cancer and regenerative medicine. Commenting on the award, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said, “PIYRA recognises outstanding researchers who, early in their careers, have shown exceptional potential to become a research leader of the future and achieved significant research accomplishments in areas of fundamental national and international importance. This initiative is one of Science Foundation Ireland’s programmes to support a new generation of top-tier early career researchers and assist them to build internationally competitive research careers in Ireland.” PIYRA is Science Foundation Ireland's most esteemed award for researchers who have shown exceptional promise as possible future leaders in international research and are known for excellence in their field. Awardees are selected on the basis of exceptional accomplishments in science and engineering and on the basis of creative research projects that have attracted international acclaim. ENDS

Monday, 22 June 2015

The 2015 Ignite Technology Transfer Office (TTO) Commercialisation Programme ‘Ignite Eco-System’ at NUI Galway came to an exciting finale with five of the overall group presenting to a panel of expert judges. The final presentations were the product of an intense 10-week commercialisation training and mentoring workshop. Participants joined the programme at first with an idea, a new discovery or application of some form which they felt may have commercial potential. This potential was then explored, through research the opportunities were evaluated in order to allow each participant to determine the best course of action for their venture. Experienced coaches and mentors assisted in developing commercialisation roadmaps, detailing the next steps towards commercialisation. Participants benefitted from expert assistance in formulating their business models and value proposition and yesterday brought all of this together into impressive presentations to the judges. Awards were presented on the day to: Lisa Mullee, PhD Biochemistry NUI Galway Amir Shafat, Senior Lecturer of Physiology at NUI Galway Sweta Rani, Research Fellow, PhD Molecular Biology NUI Galway Aftab Iqbal, Research Associate, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, NUI Galway Frankie Conlon, MSc Marketing Practice student, NUI Galway The most striking aspect of the programme was the transformation participants made over 10 weeks. All participants joined the programme because they had little to no experience or knowledge on the commercialisation process. Participants came from academic backgrounds, all impressive and admired in the academic community, however their skillset did not necessarily contribute towards a competency in commercialisation. Something which was daunting at first, such as an elevator pitch, now comes naturally, giving the participants the knowledge and confidence to take their technology to the next step. Dr Amir Shafat, said of the programme: “It has shown me what is required to commercialise a technology. The programme has shown me a pathway that I would not originally have thought of. It was very well planned and executed, I highly recommend it to anyone interested progressing technology or business ideas.” Fiona Neary, Business Development Manager of Ignite TTO at NUI Galway and programme coordinator adds: “To see the progress made by these finalists is amazing. The group has been a joy to work with and I’m sure this time next year we will be telling the 2016 group about some of the successes this year’s class have gone on to achieve. Well done to all who took part.”   For more information about the Ignite Technology Transfer Eco-System please visit http://tto.nuigalway.ie/en/ -ends-

Monday, 22 June 2015

Canada’s Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin Vickers, recently launched the Digital Irish Famine Archive which is curated by NUI Galway. The Digital Irish Famine Archive is designed to make accessible eyewitness accounts of the Irish famine migration to Canada in 1847-1848 that would otherwise be unknown. It also pays tribute to those who cared for Irish famine emigrants. The archive contains the digitized, transcribed, and translated French language annals of the Grey Nuns of Montreal, or Sisters of Charity, who first tended to Irish famine emigrants, especially widows and orphans, in the city’s fever sheds in 1847 and 1848. It also includes annals from the Sisters of Providence and correspondence from Father Patrick Dowd, who worked alongside the Grey Nuns in the fever sheds, as well as testimonies from Irish famine orphans, such as Patrick and Thomas Quinn, Daniel and Catherine Tighe, and Robert Walsh, who were adopted by French-Canadian families. Launching the archive, Ambassador Vickers said: “It gives me great pleasure to launch the Digital Irish Famine Archive. The archive commemorates and pays tribute to the Grey Nuns of Montreal and people of French and English Canada, like Bishop Michael Power in Toronto and Dr John Vondy in Chatham, now Miramichi, New Brunswick, who gave their lives caring for Irish emigrants during the Famine exodus of 1847. It is especially fitting that we launch the digital archive on this day, after Montreal’s Irish community has just made its annual pilgrimage to the Black Stone monument, which marks the site of the city’s fever sheds and mass graves for six thousand Irish dead, and before the Irish Famine Summer School begins at the Irish National Famine Museum in Strokestown, County Roscommon. The stories contained within the digital archive attest to the selfless devotion of the Grey Nuns in tending to typhus-stricken emigrants and providing homes for Irish orphans. In an age of increasingly desperate acts of migration, their compassion provides a lesson for us all.” President Michael D. Higgins is the patron of the Digital Irish Famine Archive. In his preface for the archive, he states: “During that bleak and terrible period of our history, an estimated one hundred thousand Irish people fled to Canada. It is impossible to imagine the pain, fear, despair and suffering of these emigrants, many of whom lost beloved family members on their journey. As a country we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the Grey nuns, who cared for so many Irish widows and orphans who were left destitute, impoverished and alone in a strange country. This virtual archive is a very important project, which allows us to finally acknowledge the generosity and enormous humanity of those wonderful sisters whose great kindness and compassion, during one of the worst tragedies in our Country’s history, must never be forgotten.” The Digital Irish Famine Archive is curated by NUI Galway’s Dr Jason King. Dr King developed the archive in partnership with NUI Galway’s Moore Institute; Ireland's Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University; the University of Limerick; the Irish National Famine Museum; the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation; the Ireland Park Foundation; the iNua Partnership; and the Irish Research Council. The Digital Irish Famine Archive can be found at http://faminearchive.nuigalway.ie/. For more information, please contact Dr Jason King at jason.king@nuigalway.ie or jkingk@yahoo.com. -Ends-