Friday, 24 April 2015

Major Conference will explore the legacy of the Gate Theatre in Ireland and beyond  Friday, 24 April, 2015: NUI Galway’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, together with the Irish Theatrical Diaspora Project (ITD) and the Gate Theatre, Dublin, will be presenting the first academic conference dedicated solely to the Gate Theatre. The conference features public talks, academic panels, and rehearsed readings of plays by Samuel Beckett and Bernard Shaw. Those taking part in the panels and talks include world experts on Irish theatre, the Gate and its history (such as Christopher Fitz-Simon, Nicholas Grene, Emilie Pine, Richard Pine, Paige Reynolds, Anthony Roche, and Elaine Sisson), as well as theatre practitioners associated with the Gate including Gate artistic director Michael Colgan and designer Joe Vanek. The two rehearsed readings, which are being presented with support from the Irish Research Council, feature well-known actors associated with the Gate. The reading of Beckett’s The Old Tune (a free translation of Robert Pinget’s French play La Manivelle) stars Barry McGovern, the great Beckett actor, and Bryan Murray, familiar from his star turns in Fair City, Strumpet City, Brookside, and The Irish R.M.; McGovern and Murray play two old Dublin codgers, exiled in England. The reading of Shaw’s World War I play O’Flaherty, V.C. stars Michael James Ford, known for his work on the Gate and Abbey stages and from productions that have toured across Ireland and the world. Ford is joined by three actors who have appeared in critically-lauded Dublin productions in recent years: Elliot Moriarty, Karina Power, and Hanna Tatschl. Speaking about the conference, NUI Galway Professor of Drama Patrick Lonergan stated that the event will provide a long overdue assessment of the Gate. “The Gate Theatre is one of Ireland’s great theatres. It has given the world many great actors, launching the careers of Orson Welles, James Mason and Michael Gambon, among many others. It has transformed our understanding of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, two of the great dramatists of the twentieth century. And it has premiered major Irish plays, notably Brian Friel’s Philadelphia, Here I Come! Our conference will give new attention to the actors, writers, designers and managers who have made the Gate what it is – from the era of Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir to Michael Colgan today.” This joint event with the Gate marks one of many links between NUI Galway and Irish theatre companies. In 2012, it launched a project to digitize the entire archive of the Abbey Theatre (a task that will be completed in 2016), and last year established the Druid Academy with Druid Theatre. It also has links with Galway International Arts Festival and many other companies. Its BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance is one of the university’s most popular programmes, and it recently launched new full-time and part-time MA programmes in Irish theatre, theatre practice, and playwriting. In advance of the conference, Michael Colgan, Artistic Director at The Gate said: “The Gate Theatre has always enjoyed a strong relationship with NUI Galway and welcomes the opportunity to further collaborate with the University on this year’s 12th Annual Irish Diaspora Conference.  We are honoured that the theme of the conference will be the history of the Gate Theatre and continue to be grateful to NUI Galway for their interest in the Gate and their continuous dedication to Irish theatre.” The conference takes place on 30 April and 1 May at the Gate Theatre in Dublin. Attendance is free, but registration in advance is required. For more details regarding this free conference – including how to register – please visit: www.gatetheatre.ie/section/IRISHTHEATRICALDIASPORACONFERENCEGATETHEATRE. ENDS

Monday, 27 April 2015

Government funding will support 100 research positions working on 23 research projects involving 40 companies NUI Galway will lead three of the proposed projects and collaborate on a fourth Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD today announced over €30 million of research funding for 23 major research projects. The funding will be delivered by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation through the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Investigators Programme. The Programme will provide funding over a four to five year period, for 23 research projects involving over 100 researchers. Funding for each project will range from €500,000 to €2.3 million. Three of the projects are led by NUI Galway researchers, and in partnership with University of Limerick, are significantly involved in a fourth project. According to the NUI Galway’s Vice-President for Research, Professor Lokesh Joshi: ‘Research aimed at understanding osteoporosis, reducing the cost of drugs, treating wastewater and creating new modelling tools for industry will undoubtedly yield societal and economic benefits. The excellent performance of NUI Galway researchers in the Investigators Programme is to be applauded and testifies to the scientific excellence and relevance of on-going innovative research at NUI Galway.” Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English T.D., said: “This funding provides assistance to individual researchers to advance their investigations and address key research questions in sectors such as energy, medicine, food and nutrition, technology and agriculture. It allows researchers to further their careers and build partnerships with leading industry partners who also benefit from access to some of the leading academic talent on this island. The Investigators Programme is an important contributor to Ireland’s credentials as a research leader in a number of sectors.” The NUI Galway projects include: Dr Laoise McNamara, NUI Galway - This research project will advance understanding of mechanobiology to develop treatment approaches for bone pathologies. Tissues of the human body can adapt in response to mechanical forces by a cellular process known as mechanobiology. Although mechanobiological processes are fundamental to normal bone physiology and may play an important role in the development of osteoporosis, the role of mechanobiology in bone development and changes occurring during ageing are not yet fully understood. Moreover mechanobiological responses have not been targeted as treatments for osteoporosis, nor have they been sufficiently exploited to develop novel regenerative tissue strategies. Dr Alan Ryder, NUI Galway - Many drugs for human health are complex biological molecules like proteins which are made in living cells on an industrial scale. Both the cell food (media) and the protein products have to be carefully analysed to make sure that they are good and safe. Both media and proteins are very complex mixtures that are difficult to analyse. Here we will build a faster, cheaper, and non-contact way of testing using light to generate chemical information from these mixtures. This information will then be analysed using advanced statistical methods (chemometrics) and the results used to improve manufacturing, and reduce drug costs. Professor Vincent O'Flaherty, NUI Galway - This research targets new technologies for treatment of wastewaters from industry (food production) and households (sewage). The output will be a system for simultaneous purification of wastewater, production of renewable energy and recovery/recycling of valuable nutrient resources (phosphorus). The proposed system relies on microorganisms, which transform wastewater pollutants into a readily usable fuel (methane/natural gas) by digestion of organic matter. Methane provides a competitive low-carbon fuel source, which can be used for transport, home heating and electricity production. The proposed research will have positive impacts towards more sustainable food production, economic competitiveness and innovation, environmental protection and climate change. Professor Sean Leen of NUI Galway, in conjunction with Professor Noel O’Dowd University of Limerick – This project aims to develop new modelling tools for Irish industry for more accurate design and assessment of materials and structures. The focus will be on welds, which are the most common location of failure in engineering components. The tools will be used to provide tailored combinations of welding and heat treatment parameters, to design material structures at the nano-, micro- and macro-scale. Specific applications are the design for optimum grain size in power-plant steels and improved designs for steel pipelines used in oil and gas offshore platforms. The SFI Investigators Programme supports excellent scientific research that has the potential to impact Ireland’s society and economy. The 23 projects were selected by competitive peer review involving 400 international scientists after a call for proposals across a number of thematic areas of national and international importance. The awards include research in areas such as materials science, data management, medicine and pharmaceuticals, food and nutrition, agriculture and veterinary research and have links to 40 companies. Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, added: “The SFI Investigators Programme provides important support to researchers in Ireland, creating employment opportunities and allowing them to leverage State funding to access additional funding streams, such as the EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme. Their research focuses on areas such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, animal breeding and disease prevention, ICT and data storage, as well as bioenergy among other topics. These are areas that will make a difference to both Ireland’s economy and society.  All of the successful projects have been peer reviewed by international experts to ensure scientific excellence and we have funded every project deemed to be of the highest standard internationally.” -ends-

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Thought leaders from the seemingly disparate worlds of human rights and the arts will come together for the Galway International Summer School on the Arts and Human Rights from 9-11 July. This landmark event, a world-first, is hosted by NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights, and will take place in the days immediately before the Galway International Arts Festival. Bringing together arts and human rights practitioners and others interested in the topics, events will take the form of panel discussions, exhibitions and performances. There will also be three parallel workshops on the topics of literature and human rights, the visual arts and human rights, and music and human rights. The Summer School is co-directed by Professor Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights and Dr Dominique Bouchard, Curator at the Hunt Museum. The organisers envisage that the event will provide a platform for cross-fertilisation of ideas from the two disciplines of the arts and human rights, both of which are strongly aligned with issues such as social justice, cultural expression and cultural freedom. The summer school, which is currently open for enrolment, will follow the theme of ‘Belonging’ as seen from an arts and a human rights perspective. The opening speaker will be United Nations’ leading expert on human rights and culture, Farida Shaheed (the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Cultural Rights). Among the other speakers are: Professor Manfred Nowak, University of Vienna; Dr Guido Gryseels, Director Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium; Julian Fifer, Musicians for Human Rights; Vered Cohen Barzilay, Founder and Director of Novel Rights; Professor Rod Stoneman, Director of the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, NUI Galway; Mary Lawlor, Founder, Front Line Defenders; Professor Sarah Joseph, Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University, Australia; Professor Paul Seawright, Professor of Photography and Head of Belfast School of Art at the University of Ulster; Bob Collins, Chairman of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Rita Duffy, Artist; Dr Neil Jarman, Director of the Institute for Conflict Research, Belfast; Katerina Šedá, Artist; Jennifer Johnston, Novelist; Barbara Bukovska, Article 19; Leila Doolan, Film maker; Dominic Thorpe, Artist; Vincent Woods, Poet and broadcaster; and Susan McKay, Author. As part of the Summer School, a unique exhibition will be mounted at St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church in Galway City, the 1949 UNESCO photographic exhibition illustrating the then recently adopted Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This exhibition toured the world at the end of the 1940s to build awareness and understanding of human rights. The exhibition will go on from Galway to be shown at UN headquarters in New York. Side by side with the 1949 exhibition the winning images from a new photographic competition, The Galway International Human Rights Photographic Competition will be displayed. This competition will invite images that depict the situation of human rights today. NUI Galway’s James Hardiman Library will also mount an exhibition to run during the days of the Summer School. ‘Staging Belonging’ is a digital exhibition from the Theatre Archives of the University’s Library. The Summer School will also incorporate performance. Confirmed performers include: Ariel Dorfman’s “Speak Truth to Power: Voices from Beyond the Dark”, directed by Professor Patrick Lonergan, Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance. ‘Tell me your Story”, The Irish Traveller with Music and Song’ with music from Uilleann Piper, Mickey Dunne; Brid Dunne on fiddle; Carl Hession on piano; songs by Mary Mc Partlan and narration by Donncha O’Connell. Professor Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, said: “We are very excited to have developed this world class and unique event. The interaction of the arts and human rights is neglected and the practitioners in both areas need to get to know and understand each other much better. There is no better a place to do this than the city of Galway with its fantastic record in the arts and the University’s international reputation for human rights research, teaching and advocacy.” Dr Dominique Bouchard, Co-director of the Summer School, said: “Museums and contemporary art are exploring the relationship between art and social justice and the summer school offers a rare opportunity to contribute a new dimension and to help drive that dialogue. We hope the summer school will provide artists and human rights practitioners not only a chance to work together, but also the opportunity to challenge each other. The format of the programme is intended to maximise interaction and we look forward to the surprising outcomes which will no doubt emerge from such an experimental approach to these areas.” For more details, to register or to see the full list of speakers visit http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=418. -ends-

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

 The voice of the child is not being heard in areas of such as education and decisions about where a child lives Parents spoke of children being excluded from mainstream schools because of “health and safety concerns” A new report on access to justice for children with cognitive disabilities in Ireland has been published by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway. The project focused on access to justice in three main areas of a child's life: education, decisions about where a child lives and the criminal justice system. One issue raised by the report was that the child’s voice was often not heard in proceedings. Existing laws are not interpreted or used consistently to accommodate for the voice of the child in Ireland, according to the report. Interviews with experts consistently showed that cultural and attitudinal barriers often operate to exclude children with cognitive disabilities in non-criminal proceedings. The report’s co-author Dr Eilionóir Flynn, Acting Director of the Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway, said: “We need to involve children with disability. The mantra should be ‘nothing about us without us’. Access to justice for children with cognitive disabilities in Ireland would include first and foremost access to education (including mainstream education) and educational supports for children with cognitive disabilities. Importantly, children with cognitive disabilities should be meaningfully involved in decision making about where they attend school. The appeals procedure should include views of the child and have the requisite supports to enable a child with a cognitive disability to do so.” Jennifer Kline of the Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway, who co-authored the report, said, “Children with disabilities face real barriers, for example, in term of inclusive education. Parents spoke of children being excluded from mainstream schools because of “health and safety concerns” which they found very hard to contest. The key barriers identified included the timeframe for complaints and the lack of support to make a complaint. Also of concern were delays and inaccessibility of hearing processes, and retaliation for complaints made.” The report is part of an EU funded-project involving similar studies in Lithuania, Slovenia, Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia and the United Kingdom. The project gathered data in these EU countries on access to justice for children with mental disabilities and developed standards in relation to protection of privacy, child participation, accessible information, legal representation and protective measures. As well as promoting this research, it developed training and educational materials for use by policy-makers, the judiciary and the police. -ends-

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Academics and employers name the world’s top universities in 36 disciplines NUI Galway has come out strong in the QS Rankings by Subject 2015, scoring in all 30 subjects and achieving a ranking in 9 subjects, an improvement from 4 in 2014.  In the nine subject areas, NUI Galway makes the Top 150 in History and the Top 200 in Computer Science & Information Systems, English Language & Literature and Earth & Marine Sciences. Five more subject areas are ranked in the top 200-350 range. Domestically, NUI Galway performed well and is ranked second in Ireland in Earth & Marine Sciences and third in History, Mathematics and Computer Science & Information Systems. Subject Rankings: English Language and Literature (151-200) History (101-150), third in Ireland Computer Science & Info Systems (101-150) , third in Ireland Engineering - Electrical (251-300) Medicine (201-250) Biological Sciences (201-250) Chemistry (251-300) Mathematics (301-350), third in Ireland Earth & Marine Sciences (151-200), second in Ireland Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway spoke of the relevance for subject rankings and how it important it is to see NUI Galway improving its ranking from 4 subject areas to 9 subject areas. “Across the globe NUI Galway graduates value their alma mater featuring in global rankings as it provides employment opportunities especially across Asia and the US where Rankings are a relevant feature of job applications. The QS World University Rankings is one of the best regarded evaluations of higher education in the world and we are consistently improving our position on this global platform which is testament the developments in teaching and research that have taken place at this University in recent years.” The fifth edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject, released today on TopUniversities.com, features a record-breaking 36 disciplines making it the largest ever ranking of its kind. The expert opinion of 85,062 academics and 41,910 employers informed the results, alongside the analysis of 17.3 million research papers and over 100 million citations (Scopus/Elsevier bibliometric database). Ten Irish Universities feature in these rankings, taking up 88 places across the tables. Of these, 69 are within the Top 200. Compared to last year’s performance, 36 places maintained the same 2014’s position a further 22 have moved up, 14 are new entries and 16 dropped. American universities dominate in terms of the number of subjects in which they lead, just as they do in all the global institutional rankings. Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) continue to take the lion’s share of top places, leading in 21 subjects between them. However, UK universities have improved their positions overall, with six separate institutions leading in at least one subject. Fifteen different institutions top at least one of the subjects covered in the QS World University Rankings by Subject for 2015. Ben Sowter, QS head of research says: “The growing number of academics and employers all around the world who take part in our polling has enabled us to expand the exercise considerably. We hope to cover even more subjects in future because we are keenly aware that students want to know about the course they plan to take, as well as the standing of the university.” Sowter continues: “While US and UK remain the dominant players, our ranking shows that academic excellence is widely distributed around the globe. The 894 universities ranked in at least one subject are based in 60 different countries. The 200 universities we list for business, for example, are in 32 nations, and the 400 we rank for medicine in 47.” ENDS

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG) is recruiting participants aged 55 or over who are living in Galway city and county to participate in a free, short course. The new programme, Touchstone, aims to develop the skills and knowledge of people who wish to play a part in helping to make their communities more age friendly. Touchstone will run over six weeks, with each weekly session lasting around two hours. Initially, the course will be held on two different days each week, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Wednesday course will run in the mornings starting on 20 May, with the Tuesday course running in the afternoons starting on 2 June. Lunch provided during each session. Participants will develop new skills, explore a range of interesting and topical issues, as well as carry out practical projects. No previous experience or qualifications are required. All sessions will be held in the new Institute for Lifecourse and Society Building on the Upper Newcastle Road next to the University’s park and ride car park. The course is led by a team based at the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway, with input from Active Retirement Ireland, Age & Opportunity and Third Age. Touchstone has been developed by the Active Aging Partnership and also involves the cooperation of Age Friendly Ireland. For more information, or to register for the course, please contact Ann Marie Atkins, Touchstone Galway Co-ordinator at 086-0261408 or annmarie.atkins@nuigalway.ie. Places are limited and will be allocated on first-come, first-served basis. -Ends-

Thursday, 30 April 2015

‘Seas Suas’ is a new initiative encouraging student-to-student mentoring Thursday, 30 April, 2015: Over 70 students were awarded their ALIVE certificates for participating in ‘Seas Suas’, NUI Galway’s innovative student-to-student mentoring programme. ‘Seas Suas’ is a new initiative between NUI Galway’s Student Services and Students’ Union designed to encourage students to be proactive in helping fellow students. It aims to improve the health, well-being and engagement of students, enabling them to get the most out of their time at NUI Galway. The objective of the ‘Seas Suas’ Programme is to encourage students to be more observant of fellow students in need of help and to increase motivation to help fellow students. The programme, which is based on the Bystander Model used in the University of Arizona, aims to help students to develop skills to safely respond and expand a culture of support and care in the University’s community. Student volunteers from a range of academic disciplines in NUI Galway completed training sessions on topics such as mental health, alcohol, sexuality and suicide prevention, and volunteers were trained about how best to safely respond to such issues. Training includes gaining knowledge about challenging issues and corresponding supports, developing strategies for effective helping, and learning skills to intervene safely or refer appropriately. After training, volunteers were encouraged to put the aims of ‘Seas Suas’ into action in a variety of ways. Volunteers are currently contributing to a number of specific events such as the Green Ribbon Campaign promoting mental health, helping with the Exam Support Team and preparing for Student Orientation Week in September 2015. The ‘Seas Suas’ Programme has successfully developed sustainable partnerships between students, staff and external agencies. Father Ben Hughes, Dean of Chaplaincy Services and ‘Seas Suas’ Project Leader at NUI Galway, said: “It is really encouraging to work with generous young people who are willing to learn new skills so that they can successfully negotiate challenges and help each other manage life more effectively.” The Award Ceremony was also the occasion to recognise six courageous students who received ‘Seas Suas’ Medals of Honour for heroic acts of intervention. These six have demonstrated the value of human kindness and proactive concern for other reflecting the ethos of Vision 2020, NUI Galway’s Strategic Plan for the period 2015-2020. For more information on the Seas Suas programme contact Fr Ben Hughes, NUI Galway’s Chaplaincy Services at chaplains@nuigalway.ie or 091 49 5055. -Ends-  

Monday, 2 March 2015

NUI Galway’s Mountaineering Club Maamturks Challenge will take place on Saturday, 18 April. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the challenge, this hillwalking event is considered one of the toughest in Ireland, covering 24.3km over tough, mountainous terrain with a total ascent over the course of the walk of 2,336 metres. First organised by Mountaineering Club members in 1975, it comprises of a route covering the full Maamturks hill range in Connemara. Typically participants start the walk at 5am at the base of Corcóg, to finish 8-11 hours later in Leenane. Along the route, NUI Galway Mountaineering Club crew, with the Galway Radio Experimenters Club will be at eleven checkpoints watching over participant’s safety and wellbeing, supported by the Galway Mountain Rescue Team. NUI Galway Mountaineering Club Captain, Cathal Breathnach, said: “This year we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the event. This is definitely a milestone in the history of the Mountaineering Club; it is a great accomplishment that each year, a dedicated team of volunteers have organised this event for the general public.” To celebrate the 40th jubilee and recognise the volume of organisation and voluntary work required to make this event such a success, the Club aim to make a documentary about the Challenge. This documentary will be shown during a special commemoration ceremony after the walk in Leenane Hotel. Cathal continued: “We have reached capacity for the Maamturks challenge, but we would like to invite all who are, or have previously been, involved in the Maamturks’ Challenge to attend the celebrations in the Leenane Hotel, at 8pm.” Participation from past members of the organising committees, past participants, and members of the public are encouraged to submit photos, stories and anecdotes from the past 40 years for inclusion in the documentary. For more information on the Maamturks Challenge visit http://www.nuigmc.com/maamturks/. To submit material for the documentary please email maamturks@nuigmc.com -Ends-

Monday, 2 March 2015

Six NUI Galway academics were among the recipients of the inaugural Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Grant Awards, which were presented at a special ceremony in Academy House in Dublin recently. Funded by the Academy, the Charlemont Grants are designed to act as a career springboard to assist scholars in strengthening their international mobility and developing international collaborative networks. These are small grants, with high impact, and are complimentary to larger programmes offered by other funders including the Irish Research Council and SFI. The NUI Galway recipients were: Dr Margaret Brehony, Centre for Irish Studies; Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley, History; Dr Eoin Daly, School of Law; Dr Jessica Hayes, REMEDI; Dr Martin O'Halloran, NCBES; and Dr Anuradha Pallipurath, School of Chemistry. Grants are available for short visits to any country to support primary research in any subject area. The duration of visits is generally between one week and six weeks in length, the key objectives being to initiate one-to-one collaborations, explore opportunities to build lasting networks and gain access to ideas, research facilities, and complementary equipment. Funds are available to facilitate initial project planning and development; to support the direct costs of research; or for visits by or to partner scholars. The 2016 call for applications will open in early autumn, for further details please visit www.ria.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

NUI Galway Radio Society is delighted to announce the second National Student Radio Conference will take place in NUI Galway on Saturday, 7 March, 2015. The conference is supported by Craol, the representative, co-ordinating, lobbying, training, & support organisation for Irish Community Radio; NUI Galway Societies’ Office and Flirt FM 101.3. Covering areas from imaging to sound art and from sports to music journalism, the conference will see; Chris Greene (2fm & 4OD), Shane O'Connor (BBC 5 Live & Peanut Productions), Joyce Ní Chionnaith (Raidio na Life), Louise Clarke (iRadio), Tweakel, La Cosa Preziosa (Sound Art & Field Recording), Team 33 (Newstalk), Ros Madigan (GoldenPlec), Denzil Lacey (ZAVA Media & 4FM) and Mary O'Malley (RTÉ's Sunday Miscellany) talk to student radio producers and enthusiasts from all over Ireland. Special surprise events will also be revealed on the day. Tickets for the conference can be found on Eventbrite.ie. Groups of 10 or more people can purchase tickets at a reduced rate. Ticket holders will be given a welcome goodie pack, lunch and admittance to the post conference social. Also included is entrance to a pre-event taking place on Friday March 6th for those travelling to Galway early. For more information on the conference visit http://www.nsrc.ie/ https://twitter.com/NSRConference                    hello@nsrc.ie https://www.facebook.com/nationalradioconference?fref=nf -Ends-

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Recently published research, which looked at the cost thresholds for relatively expensive new drugs in the UK, will be discussed at NUI Galway on Friday, 6 March. Professor Karl Claxton from the University of York will speak at an event hosted by NUI Galway’s Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group. Professor Claxton’s talk, ‘Methods for Estimating the Cost-Effectiveness Threshold for NICE and the NHS’ will take place at 2pm in Lecture Hall 1 of the Cairnes Building on the North Campus of NUI Galway. “While the research is based on British data, its findings are very relevant for Ireland given that the HSE uses a very similar system to the NHS for deciding which new drugs are to be reimbursed,” explained Mr Brendan Kennelly, Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group at NUI Galway. “Every public health system has to cope with a limited budget and has to decide how to use the available resources to achieve the best possible health outcomes for all the people that are entitled to use the system. This is a very challenging decision involving important questions about ethics, values, measuring health, and opportunity costs.” Health economists have developed a concept called a Quality Adjusted Life Year (commonly known as a QALY) to help this decision making process. A QALY is equal to one year of life in perfect health. When public health systems decide whether or not to reimburse a pharmaceutical company for a new drug they often refer to the cost per QALY of the new drug. In February, a group of leading health economists at the University of York produced important new research on this issue. A team, which was led by Professor Karl Claxton, estimated the effects of changes in NHS expenditure on the health of all NHS patients. The results indicate that £13,000 of NHS resources adds one Quality Adjusted Life Year to the lives of NHS patients. It suggests that the NHS offers much better value of money that was previously thought. Currently in the UK, the National Institute for Clinical and Healthcare Excellence (NICE) uses a threshold of £30,000 per QALY to judge whether the health benefits offered by a new drug are greater than the health likely to be lost elsewhere because of the additional cost imposed on the NHS. The York research shows that this threshold is too high and as a consequence the approval of new drugs at current prices is doing more harm than good to NHS patents overall. In Ireland, the maximum that the HSE will pay for a new drug is around €45,000 per QALY. This has led the HSE to reject certain drugs as being too expensive relative to the health benefits that they produce. “The recent controversy over the cost of Soliris, a life-saving but very expensive drug for people with a rare blood disorder, is just one example of the difficult choices that public health systems have to make on a regular basis,” says Mr Kennelly. -ends-

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

NUI Galway students perform ‘A Poem for Ireland’ shortlist in Galway city centre Students of Irish and of Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway recently brought poetry out of the lecture halls and onto the main shopping street in Galway city for the pleasure of unsuspecting shoppers. Students recited a selection of verses from poems shortlisted in RTÉ’s ‘A Poem for Ireland’ campaign. These included poems by W.B. Yeats, Patrick Kavanagh, Seán Ó Ríordáin, Paula Meehan and Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh. This flashmob style event, which also included a number of musicians, aimed to encourage the general public to engage with the ten shortlisted poems and to cast their vote in the national ‘A Poem for Ireland’ campaign. To view the flashmob event on Shop Street visit http://youtu.be/Cv9jNnUrnTo. Event organisers Dr Rióna Ní Fhrighil, Gaeilge lecturer at NUI Galway, and Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance at NUI Galway, believe that there are many ways to engage with poetry. Beyond the act of reading, poetry can be made accessible through performance. Their students performed poetry on a busy city street to remind people that poetry is for everybody. One of the poems shortlisted for RTÉ’s ‘A Poem for Ireland’ is ‘Filleadh ar an gCathair’ by Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh. Ailbhe is a graduate of NUI Galway, and currently lectures in the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures in the University. For a full list of the 10 shortlisted poems and to vote for your favourite poem, see www.rte.ie/apoemforireland. -Ends-

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A research showcase, “The Brains behind the Breakthroughs”, will be hosted by the NUI Galway Neuro Society at 7pm in the Westwood Hotel on Monday, 9 March. This free public seminar will showcase the depth and scale of brain research being conducted in NUI Galway. Designed specifically for a lay audience, it promises to give an insight to the life of a neuroscientist and the approaches being taken to tackle some of the biggest questions about the brain. Professors, senior research scientists and students will present a variety of perspectives on their current areas of research which range from increasing our understanding of pain and brain pathology to the latest in medical neuroimaging and genetic studies. Professor David Finn will introduce proceedings as head of the Galway Neuroscience Centre which represents the multi-disciplinary research groups focused on neuroscience in NUI Galway. Auditor of the NUI Galway Neuro Society, Michelle Naughton, adds: “This event is for anyone who is curious about the brain and what we have still yet to learn about it. With many exciting new developments in the field of neuroscience, this showcase will demonstrate the substantial research being undertaken in NUI Galway to advance our current knowledge.” As an additional Brain Awareness Week event, on the 11th and 12th March, NUI Galway’s Neuroscience Centre will be holding an exhibition in the Aula Maxima aimed at teaching secondary school students about the brain and disorders of the nervous system. This event is being hosted to celebrate, Brain Awareness Week (9-15 March), which is a global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. It is a worldwide celebration of the brain that grows more successful every year. For more information contact neuro@socs.nuigalway.ie or check out the NeuroSoc NUI Galway facebook page. -ends-

Thursday, 5 March 2015

NUI Galway will this week submit its opposition to proposals in the Galway City Transport Project. The University, which is central to the life of the city and surrounding region, is one of the major employers in the city; it hosts a population of over 20,000 students and staff and has invested €400m over the last decade in capital development. The University believes that what currently makes the NUI Galway campus an attractive location – for Irish and international students and staff – would be irretrievably damaged should proposed routes be accepted. Increases in research activity have seen a surge in the numbers of international staff. International student numbers have grown significantly, to the extent that NUI Galway now has the largest proportion of international students of all the Irish universities. Foreign students are a great benefit to the local economy, supplementing the flow of income generated by the increased number of Irish students. University buildings have expanded, creating high-quality infrastructure for increased student numbers and research activities. The University’s Strategic Plan for 2015-2020 will reflect a drive to maintain the dramatic improvements and enhance its national and international standing. All these developments are under threat. The last decade has seen an investment of €400m in capital development by NUI Galway and this has been undertaken with a purpose: not just to build a successful university, but to continue a lengthy pattern of interaction with Galway and its citizens, providing graduates to support the growth of high-quality local employment and engaging in research activities which connect both with local industry and with the rich culture of Galway city and the region. The physical growth of the University has been carefully planned over many decades. A programme of land acquisition in Dangan has allowed the University to increase the area for new buildings while simultaneously acquiring space for sports facilities. The unified campus is now an educational base for over 17,000 students. The University continues to climb in world rankings, reflecting significant improvements in research activity and overall performance. Its progress would be severely disrupted by the current proposals. If in recent decades the University and the city have grown hand in hand, we are now threatened with the prospect that both would face a future of relative decline. The University is proud of its unified campus which has emerged as a result of decades of planning and forethought. The campus sees teaching and research buildings intermingled, sports facilities readily available to students, and University lands providing a major recreational facility for all. The University will therefore strongly object to current proposals and call for alternative options for the future of Galway transport planning. ENDS OÉ Gaillimh ag cur in aghaidh Thionscadal Iompair Chathair na Gaillimhe Tá Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh le hagóid fhoirmiúil a dhéanamh an tseachtain seo in aghaidh na moltaí atá i dTionscadal Iompair Chathair na Gaillimhe. Tá an Ollscoil ar cheann de na fostóirí is mó sa chathair, agus í i gceartlár shaol na cathrach agus an réigiúin máguaird. Tá os cionn 20,000 duine, idir mhic léinn agus chomhaltaí foirne, ag staidéar nó ag obair ar an gcampas agus €400m infheistithe ag an Ollscoil le deich mbliana anuas i bhforbairtí caipitil. Creideann an Ollscoil gur láthair thar a bheith tarraingteach é campas na hOllscoile faoi láthair do mhic léinn agus comhaltaí foirne as Éirinn agus thar lear, agus go ndéanfaí dochar as cuimse don champas dá nglacfaí le haon cheann de na cúrsaí bealaigh atá molta do Sheachbhóthar na Cathrach. Tá méadú mór tagtha ar líon na gcomhaltaí foirne ón iasacht atá san Ollscoil le tamall de bharr méadú ar an méid taighde atá ar bun. Tá méadú suntasach tagtha ar líon na mac léinn ón iasacht, agus OÉ Gaillimh anois ar an ollscoil Éireannach a bhfuil an sciar is mó de mhic léinn idirnáisiúnta i mbun staidéir inti. Tá an-tairbhe le baint ag an ngeilleagar áitiúil as na mic léinn ón iasacht, agus cuireann siad leis an ioncam a thagann isteach sa chathair ó na mic léinn Éireannacha.  Tá méadú tagtha ar na foirgnimh san Ollscoil agus bonneagar den scoth anois ann le haghaidh na mac léinn agus na ngníomhaíochtaí taighde atá ar bun, agus méadú seasta ag teacht orthu sin. I bPlean Straitéiseach na hOllscoile, 2015-2020, beidh béim ar an rún daingean atá ag an Ollscoil leanúint den dul chun cinn láidir atá sí a dhéanamh agus an seasamh náisiúnta agus idirnáisiúnta atá aici a neartú tuilleadh. Tá contúirt anois ar na forbairtí seo go léir. Le deich mbliana anuas, rinne an Ollscoil infheistíocht €400m i bhforbairtí caipitil agus is le cuspóir soiléir a rinneadh é sin: ollscoil a mbeadh rath uirthi a thógáil, agus lena chois sin leanúint den dlúthcheangal atá ag an Ollscoil le Gaillimh agus muintir na Gaillimhe – céimithe oilte a chur ar fáil ar mhaithe le fostaíocht áitiúil ar ardchaighdeán mar aon le gníomhaíochtaí taighde a chur chun cinn le go mbeadh ceangal ann le tionscail áitiúla agus le cultúr luachmhar chathair na Gaillimhe agus an réigiúin trí chéile. An fás fisiciúil atá tagtha ar an Ollscoil, rinneadh é a phleanáil go mion le cúpla scór bliain anuas. Ceannaíodh talamh in imeacht na mblianta i gceantar an Daingin agus dá thoradh sin bhí a dóthain achar talún ag an Ollscoil i gcomhair foirgnimh nua agus áiseanna spóirt araon. Is lárionad oideachais é an campas comhtháite seo agus os cionn 17,000 mac léinn i mbun a gcuid léinn ann. Tá ardú ag teacht chuile bhliain ar sheasamh na hOllscoile sa rangú domhanda – is toradh é sin ar an bhfeabhas mór atá tagtha ar chúrsaí taighde agus ar fheidhmíocht na hOllscoile trí chéile. Chuirfeadh na moltaí reatha isteach go damanta ar dhul chun cinn na hOllscoile. D'fhás an Ollscoil agus an chathair in éindí le blianta fada anuas, ach tá an baol anois ann gur meath atá i ndán dóibh araon. Tá campas comhtháite ag an Ollscoil mar thoradh ar phleanáil agus fadbhreathnaitheacht le blianta fada, agus í an-bhródúil as an gcampas sin. Tá foirgnimh theagaisc agus thaighde fite fuaite ina chéile ar an gcampas, tá áiseanna spóirt ar fáil do na mic léinn gan stró, agus tailte na hOllscoile ar fáil do chách mar áis mhór áineasa agus caithimh aimsire. Tá rún ag an Ollscoil, dá bhrí sin, agóid láidir a dhéanamh i gcoinne na moltaí reatha agus iarrfaidh sí ar na húdaráis roghanna malartacha a chur chun tosaigh i dtaca le cúrsaí iompair i nGaillimh don aimsir romhainn. CRÍOCH

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Research published in Cochrane Review Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a non- pharmacological intervention for patients with Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease (COPD) and its effectiveness was confirmed in a Cochrane Review which has generated major interest across the world. The review was led by a team from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the National University of Ireland Galway. The team consisted of Bernard McCarthy, Dr Dympna Casey, Professor Declan Devane, Professor Kathy Murphy, Edel Murphy and the internationally renowned Canadian pulmonologist Dr Yves Lacasse. The two-year project brought together the findings of 65 randomised control trials involving 3822 participants for inclusion in the analysis. COPD is a chronic lung disease that causes obstruction in breathing. This results in persistent and progressive breathlessness, productive coughing, fatigue and recurrent chest infection. Worldwide, COPD is a major cause of long term health issues. The World Health Organisation projects that by the year 2030 it will be the third most frequent cause of death globally. There are around 110,000 people in Ireland diagnosed with COPD, but it is estimated that a further 200,000 people living with the disease who have not been diagnosed. COPD affects the quality of peoples’ life but pulmonary rehabilitation can make a difference. Bernard McCarthy, NUI Galway, the lead author explains: “At this time, COPD is an incurable, life-limiting condition that is associated with significant economic costs due to progressive disease severity and frequent hospital admissions and readmissions. Our findings from pooling all the international research demonstrate that pulmonary rehabilitation has a significant positive effect. Pulmonary rehabilitation which includes exercise as a key component and may also include assessment, education, psychological support and dietary advice, has been shown to relieve breathing difficulty and fatigue and improves individuals’ sense of control over their condition. These all lead to a better quality of life for individuals with COPD, facilitating them to re-engage with their normal lives.” The authors concluded that these improvements from Pulmonary Rehabilitation are clinically significant. In addition the volume of evidence is now so convincing that “additional randomised controlled trials are no longer warranted.” What we now need, according to the team, is to investigate the components of pulmonary rehabilitation essential for best outcomes. “It would be good to investigate the ideal programme length and location, the degree of supervision and intensity of training required, or how long treatment effects persist.” The team also found some tentative evidence that “there is a difference between hospital-based and community-based programmes, which now requires further study.” Some authors of the report were previously involved in the PRINCE study which was completed in 2012 in conjunction with Irish general practices. The PRINCE (Pulmonary Rehabilitation in Nurse-led Community Environment) study was funded by the HRB, and consisted of a two-armed randomised cluster trial. In one arm (intervention group), persons with COPD received a structured education pulmonary rehabilitation programme, while the other arm (control group) received usual care. At the time, the study was one of the largest pulmonary rehabilitation trials conducted in primary care. This recent Cochrane Review informs the global community of professionals working in this field about the potential for helping patients with this debilitating illness. Bernard McCarthy added “We must reinforce that prevention is the priority, focusing on measures, such as smoking cessation. Our findings gives hope to those suffering from COPD worldwide who are currently housebound and reluctant to engage in routine activities of living due to the limiting natures of this condition. For them Pulmonary Rehabilitation might be a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.” -ends-

Monday, 9 March 2015

Against stiff international competition, NUI Galway has to date secured several conference bids and will host 18 international conferences in 2016 with over 5,000 international delegates confirmed to attend. This is an increase of over 250% on 2014 international conference visitors to the University and is expected to boost the local economy by up to €7m.   In the past year, NUI Galway hosted over 100 events on campus attracting in excess of 12,000 delegates while over 52,000 summer visitors stayed in University residences attending a diverse range of events. A large percentage of conferences which take place on campus are hosted by University Staff in support of Government strategy to attract more international visitors to the country. Conferences can have a significant impact on the local economy with the average spend by an international conference delegate valued at €1,400 according to figures by Fáilte Ireland, more than twice that of a leisure tourist. Speaking about the University’s success in attracting international conferences, Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway said: “The University has built a strong reputation for successfully hosting major international conferences in recent years. The excellent facilities and services available to support world-class events together with our experienced conference team have helped in securing several major International Conferences up to 2020. We look forward to hosting these major events on our campus. The impact of this will be twofold; bringing real academic benefits for the University – networking, reputation and peer review, while also having an enormously important economic benefit to tourism and business in our region.” Dr Browne recently secured the bid to host the 2016 European University Association Conference in Galway, welcoming over 300 University Presidents, Rectors, Vice-Chancellors and senior staff from European universities. Ann Duggan, Manager of Commercial Services at NUI Galway, said: “Conferences and events are now a regular feature of campus life at NUI Galway. World-class conference and meeting spaces, restaurants, accommodation and support services, complemented by a professional and dedicated event team have positioned NUI Galway as a leading destination in the international events marketplace.” For more information on the range of support and services available for international events hosted at NUI Galway, please visit www.nuigalway.ie/events or contact Patricia Walsh by emailing tricia.walsh@nuigalway.ie or calling 091 493467. -Ends-

Monday, 9 March 2015

One of China’s leading human rights lawyers will speak at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway on Monday, 16 March. He is in Ireland on a national speaking tour organised by Front Line Defenders, the international foundation for the protection of human rights defenders. Dr Teng Biao, currently at Harvard University as a Visiting Fellow, has been at the forefront of the human rights movement in China for over a decade. In 2003, Dr Teng helped found the Open Constitution Initiative, an organisation consisting of lawyers and academics that advocates the rule of law and greater constitutional protections in China. He holds a PhD from Peking University Law School and practised law in Beijing prior to the revocation of his law license in 2008. Dr Teng will be speaking about his experience of trying to use the law to defend the rights of ordinary people. The Irish Centre for Human Rights is pleased to host Dr Teng for this public event where he can engage with Galway residents and with the Centre’s thriving human rights community. The organisers look forward to hearing him speak on his work and on the human rights situation in China. The event takes place on Monday 16 March, 5.15pm at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway (opposite the Cathedral). -ends-   

Monday, 9 March 2015

A new book, which takes an in-depth look at the emerging field of policing social media has been published by the Managing Director of Digital Training Institute, based in NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre. Authored by Joanne Sweeney-Burke, Social Media Under Investigation, Law Enforcement and the Social Web takes and in-depth view of An Garda Síochána’s adoption of social media and benchmarks this against international best-practice. Joanne’s knowledge on this emerging niche area has earned her an invitation to speak at the SMILE conference (social media, the Internet and law enforcement) in Phoenix, Arizona in April. The entrepreneur has also launched an online training school for police forces called LEO (law enforcement observer) which will offer officers worldwide the chance to learn from the best. According to Joanne: “The book has taken me 18 months to research and write and I actually really enjoyed the process. The motivation to combine policing and social media came from my background as a broadcast journalist and my skills as a social media and digital marketing practitioner. I am so excited to be able to bring my knowledge to the United States in April and get first-hand knowledge of the experience there. In fact it may even provide research for a second edition of the book.” Joanne has found the support received by NUI Galway and the University’s Ignite Technology Transfer Office invaluable in progressing her ambitions. Media Box was her first business, Digital Training Institute her second. Last year she began work on a dedicated eLearning course for young people called Young Minds Online, which was co-authored by her daughter Sophie, now a first year accountancy and commerce student at NUI Galway. Young Minds Online is part of new edtech startup Webiket, which was formed with fellow entrepreneur Lisa Wright. This company provides a suite of eLearning courses to young people, parents and professionals on how to protect their cyber wellbeing online. Joanne featured as a finalist on TV3’s ‘The Apprentice’ in 2011 and holds a total of 10 academic and professional qualifications, including a Masters in Journalism from NUI Galway. NUI Galway Business Development Manager Fiona Neary said: “The Ignite Technology Transfer Office would like to congratulate Joanne Sweeney-Burke on the launch of her new book. Joanne is a pleasure to work with in the Business Innovation Centre and as a successful entrepreneur she had a great ability to nurture creative thinking, put action-plans in place and get the job done. We look forward to seeing what’s next from Joanne.” -Ends-     

Monday, 9 March 2015

NUI Galway’s Harry Potter Society will hold a three-day convention dedicated to Harry Potter fans. PotterFest Galway, Ireland’s only Harry Potter convention, will take place from 13-15 March in Áras na Mac Léinn at NUI Galway.  Visitors of all ages are invited to attend and will have the chance to experience the magic of the Wizarding World here in Ireland. NUI Galway will be transformed into Hogwarts for three days of magical fun, with a huge variety of events such as Potter-themed games, cosplay competitions, panels, classes, role-playing workshops and guest speakers on everything Potter. Guests will be sorted into their perfect Hogwarts House and attend classes in all of Harry’s favourite subjects, from Potions, Transfiguration and Herbology to Defence Against the Dark Arts. The cast and crew of ‘Mudblood and the Book of Spells’, an upcoming original Harry Potter fan film set in Manchester, will be giving a behind-the-scenes sneak peak of what to expect from their movie. Sunday is Mothers’ Day in the Wizarding World too; the occasion will be honoured with a Mums of Potter Panel, as well as a Tea Party with Mrs Weasley. On Sunday there will be a chance to learn and try out playing Quidditch with the Galway Grindylows, Ireland’s first Muggle University team. Pre-registration for PotterFest Galway 2015 is now open on Eventbrite.ie, with standard day tickets costing €10, while full weekend tickets are €15. Special concessions are available for families and children under 12. Tickets will also be available at the door throughout the weekend. For more information please contact Isabella De Luca, PotterFest Galway at potterfestgalway@gmail.com or 087 750 4377, or visit www.potterfestgalway.com. -Ends-  

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A team of NUI Galway scientists have found that cells of the immune system have a previously undescribed ability. In a paper just published Journal of Cell Biology, the scientists describe the presence of primary cilia on immune cells. These antenna-like structures are found on almost all cell types in the body, but since the 1960s, it has been thought that they do not arise in blood cells. Professor Ciaran Morrison of NUI Galway’s Centre for Chromosome Biology, who co-authored the paper with Dr Suzanna Prosser, explains the significance: “The paper is of scientific interest because it provides new information about how ciliation is controlled. Also, we have shown that immune cells do at least have all the material they would need to make primary cilia. The next question is whether the cells make cilia in the body.” Cilia are structures that stick out of cells to sense their local environment. They are very important in monitoring fluid flows, so problems with cilia cause diseases that affect body orientation, development, the eye, the kidney and various other organs. These diseases, which include Joubert syndrome and polycystic kidney disease, are called ciliopathies. The paper describes how a small calcium-binding protein called centrin controls primary cilium formation by removing an inhibitor of ciliation called CP110 from the base of the cilium, allowing it to extend. Professor Morrison and his team discovered this by using gene disruption techniques in cultured retinal cells and in cultured blood cells, where they also found that cell starvation can induce cilia. Active immune system cells, including B- and T-lymphocytes, divide rapidly, so they would not normally have a chance to make cilia. “Cilia have not been described in lymphocytes before, to our knowledge”, explains Professor Morrison. “We starved the cells of nutrients to delay their division cycle, but ciliation still occurred at a very low frequency, in about 5% of cells. It is possible that, even if cilia do exist in the body on certain slow or non-dividing blood cell populations, they may be short-lived, difficult to visualise or rare. What ciliated immune cells might do is an entirely new question. These results, which came from work funded by Science Foundation Ireland, illustrate how surprising findings can emerge from work on unrelated topics.” The 60 scientists led by 11 Principal Investigators at the Centre for Chromosome Biology in NUI Galway are dedicated to understanding many different areas of chromosome biology, such as how cell proliferation is controlled, the structure and maintenance of the genome, precise control of genome duplication and how genes are expressed. Their work is critical to the ongoing scientific battle against cancer and other areas including human reproduction and fertility and genetic diseases such as Huntington’s Disease. -ends-

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Competition sees students from Irish universities compete for most professional analysis of a quoted Irish company In front of a panel of leading financial services professionals, a student team from NUI Galway retained the prestigious Chartered Financial Analysts Ireland 'Global Investment Research Challenge' title. Having won the competition in 2014 analysing Ryanair, this year's team took home the trophy with their analysis of Kingspan. The Challenge is an annual global competition that provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis. It offers students a unique hands-on opportunity to learn from industry experts and to compete with peers from the world’s top finance programmes. The NUI Galway team comprised of four students from the Master of Economic Science International Finance programme, Adrian Bushell from Tuam, Co. Galway, Fergal Brennan and Niall Deasy, both from Ennis, Co. Clare, and Sarunas Ramanauskas from Galway City, and Bachelor of Commerce student, Adam Mollen from Tullamore, Co. Offaly. NUI Galway Academic Mentor and Lecturer in Financial Economics, Cian Twomey said: “It’s a fabulous achievement to have retained the title. It speaks volumes as to the high calibre of students taking our programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.” The NUI Galway team now proceeds to the European Middle-East Africa (EMEA) finals in Amsterdam in early April. -Ends-

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The public are invited to attend NUI Galway’s first-ever Undergraduate Research Conference on 19 March. Throughout the day, students will present on research topics ranging from biology, to philosophy to sociology. The objective is to provide undergraduates with opportunities to discuss their research for their educational, professional and career development. Organisers expect that such early exposure to research, especially through a conference environment, will spark a growing interest in future research opportunities. The conference is being organised in response to a groundswell of research among undergraduate students. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway explains how: “We are very much a research-led university. There is a vibrant and exciting research ethos among students at undergraduate level, postgraduate and PhD level. This event provides a platform for students to share their work, and for other students and members of the public to learn and explore a number of concepts around research.” A special roundtable discussion format will allow attendees and presenters to share thoughts and ideas during the sessions. With hundreds of delegates expected, a group of transition year students from the Galway city Secondary School transition years will volunteer and attend as conference organisers on the day. “We not only aim to bring the students and staff of NUI Galway closer together but to bring the community of Galway together, by inviting members of the public and community to engage with undergraduate research. The involvement of secondary schools will hopefully sow the seeds of research in the next generation of researchers”, said Lorraine Tansey, Volunteer Coordinator with NUI Galway’s ALIVE Programme. A brainchild of second year Commerce students Ben Coady, Brian Dooley, Jason Carey, Evan Wynne and their NUI Galway staff member, Lorraine Tansey, the conference is funded by EXPLORE, a collaboration between NUI Galway and NUI Galway Students’ Union. The purpose of EXPLORE is to encourage innovation, enterprise and creativity among staff and students. Dr Maria Gallo, St Angela’s College Sligo, partners of the conference said, “Undergraduate students across the University are involved in some interesting and valuable research projects. This conference is a unique opportunity to share their research with their peers as many of them may be considering postgraduate study or a research related career.” To find out more or register to attend visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/undergrad-research/ -ends-

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Report on Ireland’s Medical Brain Drain Thursday, 12 March, 2015: A study published today shows that 88% of Irish medical students are intending or are contemplating migration, when they qualify. Led by NUI Galway, this is the largest study of its kind in Ireland, and was published in the open access journal Human Resources for Health. This study included over 2,000 medical students in Ireland, of whom 1,519 were Irish, studying across the country’s six medical schools. The main reasons cited for possible migration included perceptions regarding career opportunities (85%), working conditions in Ireland (83%) and lifestyle (80%). Pishoy Gouda, a final year medical student at NUI Galway, was the principal investigator of the study. “We have known for some time, from previous research, that a significant percentage of qualified doctors are leaving the country. This research confirms this, with 34% definitely planning to migrate, but also shows a widespread culture of ‘intention to emigrate’ with a further 53% contemplating it. These migration intentions are a major concern to the sustainability the Irish healthcare workforce.” “This outflow of qualified personnel may represent a financial loss to the Irish healthcare system, when one considers the costs involved in training medical students, the cost of recruiting replacements and the service delivery constraints if replacements cannot be found.” Nearly two-thirds of students identified that they did not have a great understanding of the training following graduation and a third of the students surveyed also indicated that they had a poor understanding of how the Irish healthcare system worked. According to Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan, Senior Lecturer in Social and Preventive Medicine at NUI Galway, who supervised the study: “Interventions are needed including providing a better understanding of career structures and opportunities, and of the changing organisation of the health service. Changes are needed in order to retain medical graduates and attract those who have already emigrated to return.” As the shortage of doctors is so great in Ireland, Pishoy Gouda, the lead author suggests that postgraduate opportunities should also be made more accessible to non-EU students who are trained in Ireland. Current European working laws make it difficult for non-EU graduates of Irish medical schools to obtain Irish intern or pre-registration/foundation year positions; they are therefore lost to the system immediately upon graduation. “These statistics come at a time when Ireland is facing a significant shortfall in physicians. Because of this outflow of human capital, we are having to go to huge efforts to attract doctors from other countries, including developing nations. Not only is this a problem for Irish recruitment, but we need to be mindful of WHO guidelines on international recruitment and taking skilled personnel away from countries that have medical staff shortages”, said Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan. This research helps to define appropriate interventions at the medical undergraduate level, with the aims of enhancing student understanding of the Irish health service, career and training opportunities, and in the longer term, enhancing retention. Alongside NUI Galway, the report was co-authored by staff at the Department of Public Health, HSE West, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University of Limerick, University College Cork, University College Dublin, and Trinity College Dublin. -ends-

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The UN has designated 2015 the UNESCO International Year of Light and President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has been announced as the LIGHT2015 Ireland Patron. NUI Galway is coordinating Ireland’s involvement and a series of events will take place across the country, and schools will be invited to learn more about the science of light and the contribution of light to our communities. Leading this initiative in Ireland is Professor Martin Leahy from NUI Galway and he is the recipient for two funding awards from the European Union for these efforts. “Light particles, or photons, are harnessed for use in the world around us. Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling, and detecting photons. Photonics underpins technologies of daily life from smartphones to laptops to the Internet to medical instruments to lighting technology. We have truly entered the Photonics Era.” “We are delighted to have such high profile patron and distinguished orator supporting our efforts to promote the Year of Light in Ireland. Ireland has a rich history of light science and engineering from Newgrange 3200 BC to the modern scientific discoveries of Stokes, Hamilton, Joly, Jellet and Tyndall among others. The President’s reputation in social justice and the arts will assist us in bringing the power of light to a much wider audience.” LIGHT2015 represents a unique opportunity to marry science, engineering, medicine and the arts – particularly cinema and the fine arts. As part of the International Year of Light, children will have the chance to have their art projected onto walls in city centre locations and app enthusiasts will get access to new apps. “We are no longer in the electronic age, the 21st century is all about harnessing light through photonics. Water treatment, the internet, cinema, the fine arts, scientific discovery as well as medical diagnosis and therapy – all use photonics. This is what we want to celebrate during 2015,” added Professor Leahy. Recent recognition by Science Foundation Ireland through the award of €30 million to establish the Irish Photonics Integration Centre, and a previous award from the Higher Education Authority of €30.5 million for the National Biophotonics and Imaging Platform, demonstrate its continuing importance to Ireland and the Irish economy. Photonics is also recognised by the Irish Government as one of the six platform technologies and is directly underpinning many of the identified research priorities and, more recently, the €7 billion partnership between Photonics21 and the European Commission will have a substantial impact on future growth and job creation, and significantly assist the EU’s continued economic recovery. LIGHT2015 is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health. To watch a video about the International Year of Light 2015 click here https://youtu.be/rcoMeWV0jZc

Monday, 16 March 2015

NUI Galway will hold its first climate congress highlighting national and international approaches, adaptation and mitigation. Focusing on the need for action on climate change, the event will take place on Wednesday, 25 March in the Bailey Allen Hall from 11am-8pm. Guest speakers will include: Tara Shine, Independent Expert and Special Adviser to the Mary Robinson Foundation. Tara will give a talk on the recent climate change negotiations, the new climate agreement, the link to the sustainable development goals and climate justice. Ian Lumley from An Taisce, who will discuss climate change and food production from an Irish perspective, what can or should Ireland contribute. Carla Sarrouy from the Warwick Crop Centre who will discuss her work concerning food security in Senegal. There will also be a networking event featuring a variety of NGO’s and NUI Galway societies who will present their work in relation to climate change. The event is organised by the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Society (CCAFS Society), which began operating in NUI Galway in September 2014. This event is free to attend. For more information, or to registration for the event, visit https://www.eventbrite.ie/myevent?eid=15615628766. -Ends-

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The talk is part of the Martin Reilly Lecture Series NUI Galway’s Centre for Irish Studies and Comhrá Ceoil has announced details of the second Martin Reilly Lecture of 2015. Taking place on Tuesday, 31 March at the Galway City Library at 6.30pm, the talk will be delivered by writer and broadcaster Dr Deirdre Ní Chonghaile. Deirdre’s talk, ‘Sean-nós song in Pennsylvania, 1884-1935: the Reverend Daniel J. Murphy Collection’, explores the work of the scholar Reverend Murphy (1858-1935) from the Ox Mountains in County Sligo. During his life-time, Reverend Murphy, together with JJ Lyons of Glenamaddy, collected over 1000 Irish language songs in Philadelphia and the surrounding coal-mining towns.   From the Aran Islands Deirdre is co-ordinator of the on-going project Amhráin Árann - Aran Songs and is currently writing a book about music-collecting in Ireland. This series of talks is dedicated to Martin Reilly, the celebrated Galway uilleann piper, and gives an opportunity to researcher-practitioners in Irish traditional music and dance to present their work in a public forum. Admission is free to all the talks in the Martin Reilly Lecture Series. Further information on all the talks in the series available on Facebook at Martin-Reilly-Lecture-Series or e-mail Martinreillylectureseries@gmail.com. -Ends-

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Professor Peter McHugh was elected Science Secretary of the Royal Irish Academy at the Stated General Meeting of the RIA recently. The Royal Irish Academy is Ireland’s leading body of experts in the sciences and humanities. Founded in 1785 The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann is a publicly funded institution established for the promotion of Irish academic research. Professor Peter McHugh holds a BE in Mechanical Engineering from UCG (1987), and an MSc (1990) and PhD (1992) in Mechanics of Solids from Brown University, Providence, USA. He joined NUI Galway in 1991, where he is currently Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Head of Discipline of Biomedical Engineering, within the College of Engineering and Informatics. His research is focused on fundamental developments and applications of computational and experimental methods in biomechanics, tissue mechanics and medical implants and devices. He has taken a leadership role in the development of biomedical engineering in Ireland through high quality and prolific research and publication output, and undergraduate and graduate education programme generation. He has received numerous awards, including membership of the Royal Irish Academy (2011), the Silver Medal of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland (Section of Bioengineering) in 2011, the Presidential Nominee Fellowship of Engineers Ireland in (2009), and the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (1995).  

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Irish Research Council announce partnership with The Wheel The Irish Research Council (IRC) has announced that a number of Galway based projects will receive funding under a newly launched partnership with The Wheel, aimed at engaging community and voluntary organisations in academic research.  Researchers from the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) are collaborating with organisations such as COPE, Aiseanna Tacaíochta Networks, EmployAbility, Galway Simon Community, Burrenbeo Trust and Rape Crisis Network Ireland, to address pressing societal issues. Under the partnership, the IRC is awarding almost €400,000 to support collaborative projects between community and voluntary groups and researchers around the country. Galway Research Projects Dr Josephine Boland, NUI Galway, is working on one such research project. In association with Galway Simon Community, the research will develop a participatory approach to planning a new resettlement service which empowers young adults to exit homelessness, and transition to independent living. Other projects awarded funding include: COPE - Home Movies: Using Community Filmmaking to Explore Perspectives on Belonging. Aiseanna Tacaíochta Networks - Self Directed Support and Disability – Achieving Good Lives. EmployAbility – A series of events to explore the options of piloting a Community Café that employs people with disabilities for the new ILAS (Institute for Lifecourse and Society) building at NUI Galway.‌ Burrenbeo Trust - ‘Find out’: How to record objects from the past. Rape Crisis Network Ireland - “Sexy Consent”: Devising Workshops to Empower Young Adults to Negotiate Consent to Sexual Activity. Commenting today, Dr Eucharia Meehan, Director of the IRC, said: “Research can add value to all of society, benefiting all sectors, whether enterprise, government or civic, and ultimately benefits all citizens. “The partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel is a new departure for the research sector.  It provides a targeted research funding mechanism which includes community and voluntary groups. The research findings from these projects will not only benefit grassroots communities, and inspire the work of researchers, but will also inform national policymaking for civic society.” Official Launch by Minister Jan O’Sullivan The partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel was officially launched in Dublin by the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD. Commenting at the launch, Minister O’Sullivan said: “Effective engagement between higher education and the community and voluntary sector is a key objective of the National Strategy for Higher Education.    “This partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel will facilitate researchers to exchange knowledge and spread their work beyond academia.  At the same time, it will allow community and voluntary groups to access leading research expertise and to collaborate on cutting-edge research projects.  Ultimately, this will increase awareness of the benefit of research on society, and on our quality of life. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the projects funded under this initiative.” For more information, visit www.research.ie. ENDS

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Global Sustainability Initiative (GSI), an innovative global impact investment project, joins the fight against global warming with the creation of a safe economic model for sustainable production and consumption of food, water and energy in disadvantaged regions of the world will have an initial focus on southern Africa. An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Mayo County Council Cathaoirleach Damien Ryan and Mayo County Chief Executive Peter Hynes, were on hand in Washington DC for the announcement on Monday 16 March, and welcomed GSI’s launch, the result of five years of development and planning by Dublin-based OpenSparkz LP and its partners. Mayo County Council Enterprise and Investment Unit has worked with OpenSparkz to select suitable sites for GSI operations in the county and is delighted with this significant announcement today following detailed discussions regarding the project since last summer. NUI Galway will support research and development at the Global Sustainability Centre to be based in Castlebar. According to Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, who was in Washington DC for Monday’s announcement: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting and innovative new project. NUI Galway’s priority areas of research and development align closely with the Global Sustainability Initiative’s vision. We hope to work together and to apply our support and expertise to great effect.” “Ireland was chosen as headquarters for GSI given the country’s strong technology and skills base in sustainability, and in particular, its leadership in food technology and its long-term friendly relationships with Africa and other less developed markets,” says Paul Lindsey, CEO of Opensparkz.” In addition, the level of practical support we have received from the Mayo County Council and the Irish Government agencies provided a concrete stepping stone towards securing the necessary locations to allow substantial operations take place in Co. Mayo." OpenSparkz and leading innovative partner companies will develop a technology hub within the Castlebar facility to be called the Global Sustainability Centre, expecting to generate more than 250 new jobs. The financing of the Centre and GSI’s initial projects in Africa are led by investment bank BPA International Group in partnership with OpenSparkz. BPA. With formal approvals from the Luxembourg Regulator, the CSSF, BPA has launched an alternative investment fund “GSF1” in Luxembourg and is now taking investment commitments for some €300 million, forming the basis of a listed offering when GSI’s projects are sufficiently developed.  “Investments into GSI projects will come from the impact investment sector, as well as sovereign wealth funds, multilateral and supranational bodies and the multinational corporate and institutional brands,” says Stephen Johnson, Chairman of the BPA International Group. “In fact, these organisations strongly supporting global sustainability and are actively increasing their investments in development projects like GSI.” GSI and GSF1 The GSI initiative will play a role in helping to provide solutions to a series of world-scale challenges, including the development of viable new sustainable biomass fuel supplies which will be essential in helping Governments tackle the threat of global warming. GSF1 intends to secure land rights in South Africa which will be used to produce these biomass energy fuels in collaboration with local communities, who will benefit from the investment that will be made in improving their nutritional, health, education and technology conditions. The land will also be developed to produce large scale supplies of healthy bio-organic foods and new bio-diversity wildlife reserves to secure the survival of endangered species, including animals like the rhino, which are under increasing threat from poaching.  The GSF1 approach is unique in that 40% of the profits generated by the initiative will be reinvested as social dividends dedicated to the development of urgently needed social projects within these local and other communities, such as farming for food supply, water purification, health clinics, schools for education, energy and IT / tech connectivity. Global Sustainability Center Partners Research and development at the GSC will be supported by Irish universities and institutions, including the NUI Galway, GMIT and Mountbellew Agricultural College as well as the Western Development Commission. Opensparkz is also working closely with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland to help us to attract more leading global companies into the Centre and Ireland. Opensparkz has already started to attract global partners to the GSC in Castlebar including: Viridis Aquaponics (U.S) - food production through the use of aquaponics and high tech methodologies. (www.viridisaquaponics.com) New Generation Biogas (England) - technologies and equipment for local community power production and bio-fertilizers through anaerobic digestion. (www.ngbiogas.com) IFood Systems (Canada) - packaging technology that extends the shelf life, safety and vitality of agricultural food products. (www.ifoodsystems.com) Flexiway Solar Solutions (Australia) a subsidiary of NRS International that creates fit-for-purpose solar lights for the humanitarian aid and international development sectors (www.nrs-international.com) Hedviga Group (Czech Republic) products that convert organic materials from waste (rubber granules, sorted plastics, biomass and sorted municipal waste) into useable products and fuel. (www.hedviga.cz) Arcadian Biomass (US) expertise in project development, construction, commissioning and operation of lumber, wood chipping, co-generation and wood pelletising operations. (acadianbiomass.com) Aquiva Foundation (England) a registered charity delivering sustainable desalination project based on the innovative memsys technology in developing countries using waste heat from power generation or solar  (www.aquiva-foundation.com) Risk Management International, Ireland's longest established firm providing risk management and project assurance. (www.rmi.ie) Indaba Mobile, a South African-based mobile-focused enabling company that extends social networking and communication to the last mile in frontier markets. (www.indabamobile.co.za) OpenCarb LP, an Irish-based enterprise, that secures, trades and assures biodiversity rights from sustainable  projects for the benefit of those communities protecting the environment. (www.opencarb.com) “This project has resulted from many years of research and development on a new economic model and best in class technologies that will work in less developed markets and deliver impact at scale to communities. The GSC will be a one stop shop to facilitate the delivery to communities of both capital and technologies.  It will focus on the big six basic community needs including Food, Energy, Water, Healthcare, Education and IT access, using an economic model based on trade rather than aid. This new approach of investment for impact provides both investors and communities alike better outcomes at scale,” says Declan Conway, Chairman and Founder of OpenSparkz LP. This is just the beginning of what is to become a major co-operation between developed countries and the developing ones but also the many powerful institutions, organisations and businesses that have already expressed interest in being involved - for a better world for everybody. The Global Sustainable Fund initiative was inspired from a commitment to action with the Clinton Global Initiative, a US-based group which was established by Bill Clinton to help support worthwhile projects globally. Accordingly, GSI is looking to play it's part in helping to solve some very big world-scale issues, including developing new sustainable fuel supplies to replace coal with biomass and providing sustainable food production which can help us all to tackle the catastrophic risks created by the threat of global warming. -ends-

Monday, 23 March 2015

NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences Bio-EXPLORERS programme is now taking bookings for its Easter Holiday Science Camp running from 7-10 April. The camp is open to all young scientists aged between 8 and 13 years old and participants will get a chance to work as real scientists by performing and analysing experiments in a real research environment.  The Bio-EXPLORERS programme is composed of two science communication and public engagement initiatives, Cell EXPLORERS directed by Dr Muriel Grenon and Eco-EXPLORERS directed by Dr Michel Dugon. With Dr Dugon, the host of RTÉ’s Bug Hunters, children will participate in activities such as discovering local and exotic plants and animals, studying their habitats and understanding how they interact with their environment. With the dynamic team of Cell EXPLORERS, children will learn how cells make our bodies work. They will run their own experiments, build models, observe their own cells under microscopes and extract DNA from cells. The Bio-EXPLORERS programme’s primary goal is to inspire interest in science in the general public and to impact positively on science education. It proposes activities that are designed to engage children in a hands-on way and stimulate their interest in exploring science-related themes. The programme has engaged thousands of children in the West of Ireland since its creation and has been very active during the last Galway Science and Technology Festival. Last year Bio-EXPLORERS ran three successful science holiday camps at Easter and Summer time. These camps provide a fun take on science where children can get involved and experiment as real scientists do. Small participant numbers, hands-on activities and a good ratio of well-trained, interactive demonstrators maximise the learning environment. The Easter Science Camp will run over four days from 9.30am to 4.30pm each day. The cost is €140 per child, €125 for additional siblings for this course which is packed with fun and exciting activities. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis. For further information or to book a space on the Camp email cellexplorers@nuigalway.ie or visit www.cellexplorers.com for more details on our activities. -Ends-