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Call for Volunteers for Sea2Sky on 23 September
Monday, 5 September 2011
Volunteers are being sought to support Sea2Sky, a free, family-oriented event taking place in Salthill on Friday, 23 September. Organisers NUI Galway, in collaboration with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria, are looking for 70 volunteers to help out on the day. At the event, hundreds of scientists will showcase their work in the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. Visitors to Sea2Sky will be able to participate in experiments, competitions and quizzes, watch demonstrations and simulations and to exchange ideas with the researchers. Different exhibits will allow the public to learn more about whales and dolphins, take a 3D tour of the universe, tour the Atlantaquaria, check-out scientific demonstrations, and take part in a variety of other hands-on activities. Chief organiser, NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer, says “This is first time Ireland has participated in the European Researchers Night and we are proud to be the first host of such an important occasion. By bringing together researchers and the public, everyone can be a scientist for one night. There is growing excitement around this event, and I encourage and welcome volunteers who want to get involved and help out with this unique occasion.” The Sea2Sky event is being funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. Sea2Sky is a free event open to all ages and will take place in Leisureland and Galway Atlantaquaria, Salthill, with doors open from 11am-11pm. A science background is not needed to volunteer as information and training will be given in advance of the event. For more information and to sign up for volunteering www.sea2sky.ie -ENDS-
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Major Conference Marks Ireland’s Standing in Biomaterials Industry (4-8 September)
Friday, 2 September 2011
Now recognised as a significant player in the international biomaterials industry, Ireland will be the venue the 24thEuropean Conference on Biomaterials from 4-8 September. Jointly hosted by NUI Galway’s Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB), and the University of Ulster, Jordanstown, this is the first time the annual meeting of the European Society for Biomaterials (ESB) will be held in Ireland. Some 950 delegates will attend ‘ESB 2011’ at the Dublin Convention Centre, including members from academia, medicine and industry. The latest research findings and technologies from Europe and beyond will be presented over the course of the five-day conference. With almost 60 researchers, the NFB at NUI Galway is one of the largest biomaterial groups in the EU. Director of the NFB at NUI Galway, Professor Abhay Pandit commented: “Biomaterials, natural or synthetic, are at the forefront of some of the most exciting fields in medical research today. New understanding at cellular and molecular levels, coupled with innovative concepts in scaffolding technologies and advances in nanotechnology, have increased the range of areas biomaterials can improve human health. Already we are seeing success in the treatment of wounds, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.” The Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly, has said that this is a very significant conference and it is great to see it being hosted in Ireland: “Biomaterials enable the development of innovative healthcare technologies which provide advanced diagnostic and therapeutic options for patients and healthcare professionals. High quality scientific and clinical research of these technologies is critical to ensure that these products are safe, effective and valuable to patients and healthcare professionals.” A $280 billion industryBased at NUI Galway, the NFB was set up in 2003 with funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to establish a critical mass of biomaterials activity in Ireland. Ireland’s capacity in the field of biomaterials is ever-increasing, and at the conference podium presentations will be delivered by 48 researchers from 13 Irish-based, academic and industrial research groups. The global medical technologies industry is valued at $280 billion, and is growing at approximately 7% per annum. According to Professor Pandit, “Ireland is a well-established hub in the global medical technology field. Ireland is home to 15 of the world’s top 20 Medical Technology Companies, with significant manufacturing and R&D operations coming out of Ireland. In fact, exports of medical devices and pharmaceuticals continue to grow, providing a beacon of hope for economic recovery.” The opening day of the conference will be Industry Day and is sponsored by global healthcare products company Covidien. The day will bring together companies in the medical device market and entrepreneurial academics, who will share their experiences taking innovative biomaterial concepts to the clinic and the market. Conference Programme Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague, will open the conference proceedings on Monday, 5 September, which is expected to bring an estimated €3 million boost to the local economy. Speaking ahead of the event, he said: “I know the significant presence of medical device firms and research activities in Ireland was a key factor in securing this major event. We look forward to welcoming all delegates, including young Irish researchers who will have a wonderful opportunity to showcase their work to an international audience and network with many of the top names in the field.” Experts in the biomaterials field will travel to Dublin from across the world to deliver plenary speeches and keynote addresses. Keynote speakers will include: Professor Messersmith, from Northwest University, USA, who works on the biological adhesives of shellfish and geckos. He will be discussing research on biologically inspired biomaterials, and their roles in the medical field, from surgical adhesives to cancer drug delivery. Professor Frechet from King Abdullah University, Saudi Arabia, has a wide range of research interests including targeted drug delivery. His plenary address will detail the design of macromolecules to facilitate improved drug delivery. Professor Catts of the University of Australia is a unique academic, bridging the gap between the creative arts and biology. A past art project involved the culture of ‘steaks’ and ‘jackets’ in the laboratory to interrogate the possibility of victimless animal products. Thematic sessions planned for the conference, include recent advances in the use of biomaterials for therapeutics; vascularisation, innervations, and tissue integration; advances in nanotechnology and materials science and host response. The Young Scientists Forum (YSF), designed to stimulate and engage the next generation of researchers, is an integral part of the programme. -ends-
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Pulsars Discoveries by NUI Galway Astronomers
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Astronomers from NUI Galway’s Centre for Astronomy have made an important breakthrough in the understanding of how pulsars work, and have recently published their findings in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The team, led by NUI Galway’s Dr Andy Shearer, compared optical observations with a detailed model of the structure of the pulsar. From this, using their inverse mapping or reverse engineering approach, they were able to establish for the first time that most of the light from the pulsar comes from close to the star’s surface. This is contrary to most pulsar models and points to a new way of analysing observational data from pulsars. Dr Shearer said: “This is the culmination of ten years work. Our success is based upon having some talented post-graduate students and post-doctoral researchers combined with looking at the problem in a different way. The result shows the importance of our approach of combining numerical models run on large supercomputers with detailed observations. To follow these calculations we will use the SFI funded Galway Astronomical Stokes Polarimeter (GASP)* to finally establish the conditions around a pulsar and solve a forty year old problem - how do pulsars work?” In another development, NUI Galway astronomers, working with colleagues in Italy, the UK and US, have discovered an X-ray bright tail coming from a pulsar. The tail was discovered by combining optical observations taken with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-Ray observatory. The pulsar, known as PSR J0357, is about half a million years old and is located 1,600 light years from Earth with a tail of over four light years across. These findings have been recently published in The Astrophysical Journal. Despite over forty years of observation and theory, pulsars, which are rapidly rotating neutron stars, have defied an explanation of how they work. Pulsars are about one and a half times the mass of the sun, but are so small they could fit into Galway Bay. Consequently they represent extreme matter. They have a magnetic field which can be greater than a million billion times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field. Their density is also about a million, billion times greater than the density of the Earth. They are formed during a massive explosion at the end of a star’s life known as a Type II supernova. During a supernova, the light from a single star outshines its host galaxy which contains up to a hundred billion stars. The work at NUI Galway involved observations of the Crab pulsar formed in April 1054 when it was observed as a daytime star – unusually, very few observations of this event come from Europe, although it was observed by Irish monks and recorded in the Irish Annals. ENDS
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Competition Kicks Off Ahead of Europe-wide Celebration of Science
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Showcasing science on a grand scale, European Researchers Night will take place in 800 venues across 320 cities on Friday, 23 September. Galway will be the venue for Ireland’s first participation in this event, under the theme ‘Sea2Sky’. The free, fun, family event will see hundreds of scientists presenting their research from the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. Thousands are expected to visit Leisureland in Salthill on the night, to participate in experiments, competitions and quizzes, to watch demonstrations and simulations, to exchange ideas and get to know the researchers. In the build-up to the big event, details of a schools competition were announced today by organisers NUI Galway in collaboration with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria. The competition is open to 8-18 year-olds, and prizes include a two-night family break at the McWilliam Park Hotel in Co. Mayo, membership to the Aquarium and book hampers. The challenge is to design a ‘futuristic’ Research Vessel for the year 2040, where the Sea2Sky scientists, inventors and dreamers team will use it for exploring new discoveries from the ocean to the sky. NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer is heading up the event: “It is very exciting to be part of such a large European celebration, and in terms of research, Ireland has much to celebrate. Around the world our reputation is growing as a hub of science, discovery and innovation. This event on 23 September offers the opportunity for us to explore the future being created on our doorstep. We envisage an evening full of fun, surprise and wonder.” Details and entry guidelines for the competition are available at www.sea2sky.ie. Closing date for entries is Wednesday, 21 September, and all designs will be displayed during Sea2Sky at Leisureland on 23 September. The Sea2Sky event is being funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. Sea2Sky is a free event open to all ages and will take place in Leisureland and Galway Atlantaquaria, Salthill from 11am-11pm. The event offers the opportunity to explore the future being created on your doorstep in an evening full of fun, surprise and wonder. ENDS
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Connemara Symposium to Celebrate Creative Force of Tim Robinson
Monday, 29 August 2011
NUI Galway has announced it will host the Connemara Symposium, a two day series of events in September in celebration of the work of Tim Robinson, the internationally acclaimed writer, map-maker and thinker based in Roundstone, Co.Galway. A series of free events will run from 9 to 10 September. Tim Robinson is best known for his two-volume studyStones of Aran: Pilgrimage and Labyrinth (republished by New York Review of Books Classics Series 2008-9). He is currently completing the final volume of a trilogy, Connemara: Listening to the Wind (2006) and The Last Pool of Darkness (2008).The recipient of a major European Conservation Award in 1987, Robinson was Parnell Visiting Fellow in Irish Studies at Magdalene College, Cambridge, this last year. Tim Robinson's Stones of Aran was described by the Irish Times as ‘one of the most original, revelatory and exhilarating works of literature ever produced in Ireland' and by the London Review of Books as ‘a wonderful achievement'. This year is the 25th anniversary of the first publication of Tim Robinson's Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage.The Connemara Symposium offers a unique opportunity to engage with his work and follows a previous meeting in Cambridge University (Watch a video of the Cambridge University meeting). The Connemara Symposium brings some of the world's leading creative thinkers and artists engaged with questions of human society and the environment toGalway. Events include a screening of Pat Collins’s film ‘Tim Robinson: Connemara' in Roundstone Community Hall on the evening of Friday, 9 September; lectures and talks in the Galway City Museum by an international assembly of writers including John Elder, Eamonn Wall, Briona Nic Dhiarmidha and Kelly Sullivan; and readings in the Druid Theatre by Andrew McNeillie, Manchán Mangan, Moya Cannon, Eamon Grennan and Tim Robinson on the evening of Saturday, 10 September. “Tim Robinson’s writing about landscape and the human place within it is one of the world’s cultural treasures. We are delighted to bring writers, academics and artists to celebrate his achievement and to discuss his work, which continues to speak to readers around the world. Tim’s engagement with the west ofIreland, its people and languages, has added to a rich cultural tradition that extends back over centuries. Our aim is to invite the community to join in the free and public events we have organised in conversation with Tim’s work. The film screening, readings, lectures and discussions all offer different points of access to one of our greatest living writers’, says Nicholas Allen, Moore Institute Professor at NUI Galway.” In 2006, Tim Robinson and his wife Máiréad bequeathed their house, Folding Landscapes on the sea wall at Roundstone to NUI Galway. Folding Landscapes is a specialist publishing house and information resource centre dealing with three areas of particular interest and beauty aroundGalwayBay, the Aran Islands, the Burren andConnemara. The Robinsons continue to reside in the house, Folding Landscapes. At the same time the house has become a venue for the University to engage with the local community and to share the resources and knowledge of the institution's many visitors, academics and practitioners. The Robinsons have a long-standing relationship with NUI Galway. Tim received an Honorary Degree in 1997 from the University. The Symposium is hosted by the Atlantic Archipelagos Research Project, a collaboration between the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies at NUI Galway, Folding Landscapes and theUniversityofExeter, with funding from theBritishAcademy. For a full schedule of the Connemara Symposium please see http://www.nuigalway.ie/mooreinstitute ENDS
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