Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Professor Gary Donohoe, Established Professor of Psychology at NUI Galway and Director of the NUI Galway Center for Neuroimaging, Cognition and Genomics, and Dr Akke Vellinga, Epidemiologist and Senior Lecturer in the School of Medicine, have been named as two of five new Research Leaders by the Health Research Board. Each Research Leader has developed strong partnerships with different parts of the health sector to conduct research programmes that will deliver evidence to directly inform changes in health policy and practice. Professor Donohoe is aiming to provide psychosocial supports for young people with severe mental health challenges, while Dr Vellinga will provide actionable research to reduce infections and the use of antibiotics. Professor Donohoe’s award is in the area of youth mental health, in collaboration with the National Early Intervention for Psychosis Service. The overarching aim of this research program is to build capacity for evaluating and implementing psychological treatments in young people with mental health difficulties. 75% of all mental health difficulties first occur between 15-25 years of age, but despite this young people have the poorest access to treatment and supports. The more severe of these disorders, including schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, are ranked by the World Health Organisation as a top five cause of years lived with disability. Commenting on the award, Professor Donohoe said: “This is a tremendous opportunity to lead a collaboration with key figures in the Health Service Executive providing early psychosis services, and international experts in youth mental health research. This award recognises the critical need for research-informed services focused on youth mental health, informing implementation of best practice and new discoveries in routine care.” Dr Vellinga was named as HRB Research Leader for her Collaboration to reduce Antibiotic use and Resistance and identify opportunities for improvement and Awareness (CARA) project. In Europe, about 33,000 people die each year as a direct consequence of an infection due to bacteria resistant to antibiotics.  Dr Vellinga said: “Superbugs cause resistant infections which are difficult to treat and pose a serious threat to human health. This programme will combine, link and analyse data from multiple already existing databases about infection, antibiotic prescribing antibiotic resistance and other healthcare- information. The CARA data-infrastructure will be set up with dashboards for other researchers, clinicians, and healthcare workers to visualise relevant and linked data. Using data visualisation, we will be able to identify opportunities to reduce infections and antibiotic use and improve health care.” Dr Vellinga and her team will be working closely with Professor Mathieu d’Aquin from the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at the NUI Galway, as well as the Health Protection and Surveillance Centre, Irish College of General Practitioners, DCU, and Imperial College London. Dr Darrin Morrissey, CEO of the Health Research Board: “It is essential that we support health research leaders who can deliver solid evidence to improve decision making, practice and policy in relation topical health issues such as health service reform, mental health and antimicrobial resistance.” The research programs will support a team of researchers over five years, including PhD students, research assistants, and postdoctoral researchers, and provide dedicated academic and clinical time. The total value of each award is €1.5M. -Ends-

Friday, 27 March 2020

New therapies for pneumonia patients being developed Quick profiling of immune response in patients to be researched NUI Galway has begun a comprehensive review of its existing healthcare research to repurpose it to help fight the spread of COVID-19. A team of researchers at NUI Galway is examining an existing study of interventions for patients with community acquired pneumonia which is rapidly being repurposed to examine COVID-19 patients. This study is being revised and repurposed to enable healthcare professionals to offer novel emerging therapies to the sickest patients. A new working group has been established to give healthcare professionals the ability to quickly profile the immune response of severely ill patients with a view to guiding therapeutic options. The working group comprises of the University’s top academics in the fields of haematology, immunology and ID. The University’s critical care researchers are working with the Irish critical care trials group and international pandemic research consortia to develop and rapidly implement Clinical Trials in patients with COVID-19 Severe Respiratory Failure in order to test and gain access to novel therapies as they emerge. President of NUI Galway, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said “NUI Galway exists for the public good. The Irish people have answered the Government’s call to combat the spread of Covid 19, and the University is mobilising all its academic capabilities to join this global action.  While we’re also repurposing our research to combat this crisis, I’d like to pay particular tribute to our medical community, staff and student doctors and nurses who are on the frontline saving lives in our hospitals, nationally and internationally. They making a great contribution throughout the world and our impact is at its most profound through them and their commitment to others.  We are deeply grateful to them.” Vice Dean for Research at NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, and Professor of Anaesthesia, NUI Galway and Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Galway University Hospitals Professor John Laffey added: “There are several emerging drug therapies for COVID-19, including antivirals, chloroquine and derivatives, steroids and immune modulating drugs. However, the research is at an early stage and further comparative studies are needed to determine their effectiveness before we will know what are the best therapies for COVID patients. Our research focuses on what we already know about virus induced severe respiratory failure and how we can quickly adapt it to make early and effective interventions to save the lives of thousands of people.” Healthcare students at NUI Galway are playing a vital role in the provision of healthcare- in their clinical placement and through volunteering, both in contact tracing and at various testing centres across the city.  The Inspire project, led by Professors Martin O'Halloran and John Laffey, is an industry-academic partnership based at NUI Galway, designed to deliver fast-to-clinic medical devices to support the COVID-19 effort. The Inspire team is composed of over 30 clinicians, medical physicists, engineers and other healthcare staff from UHG, NUI Galway and the local medtech industry.  The team have a number of development streams, addressing topics ranging from infection control to improving oxygen delivery to critically ill patients. One notable stream involves the establishment of a video-conferencing system in ICUs, to allow isolated quarantined patients keep in daily contact with their families. This work is supported by IBM, Cisco and Apple. A second project seeks to reduce the infection risk associated with high-flow oxygen delivery, supported by Tympany, Venari Medical and Endowave, amongst others. If successful, this work will reduce the current dependency on ventilators, allowing for more patients to receive life-saving oxygen therapy.   A new website called www.covidmedsupply.org has been created by NUI Galway and the University of Limerick to offer essential aid in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The new global platform is designed to help local organisations, such as industry, businesses, universities and labs provide available personal protective equipment. The teams in Evidence Synthesis Ireland, Cochrane Ireland and the HRB-TMRN, all based in NUI Galway are, with the help of the University Library and colleagues throughout the University and broader research community, supporting a number of prioritised COVID-19 related projects including membership of the International Cochrane COVID-19 Executive Response Team, conducting rapid updates of Cochrane systematic reviews (e.g., personal protection equipment), mapping of COVID-19 evidence and conducting a number of World Health Organisation prioritised rapid reviews of evidence. Other measures being investigated by NUI Galway researchers include; enhancing the capacity of doctors to provide respiratory support for COVID-19 patients; using data to accurately predict modelling and potential trends of the virus and preclinical studies into COVID-19. -Ends-

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Intelligence not only involves grey matter, but also white matter - the brain’s wiring system Largest meta-analysis looking at brain structure and cognitive function in schizophrenia An international collaborative study led by researchers from the NUI Galway provides findings on the neural basis of intelligence, otherwise known as general cognitive ability (IQ). This new research uses an imaging technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to provide an insight into how small variations in this wiring system is associated with differences in IQ in both the general population and how disorders such as schizophrenia manifest. Over 40 scientists from around the world were involved in analysing brain MRI scans and measures of cognitive function of 1,717 participants, with both healthy functions and patients with schizophrenia. This resulted in a new method to harmonise data collection and analysis as part of the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis project (ENIGMA), Schizophrenia Working Group.  The study, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, was led by Dr Laurena Holleran, Lecturer in Clinical Neuroscience and Professor Gary Donohoe, Established Professor at NUI Galway’s School of Psychology and Centre for Neuroimaging Cognition and Genomics. Commenting on the findings, lead author Dr Laurena Holleran, stated that: "To date, this is the largest meta-analysis study of brain structure and cognitive function in schizophrenia. Understanding the neural basis of cognitive function is essential so that effective therapies that address difficulties associated with disorders like schizophrenia, which aren’t targeted by current treatments. This is important because cognitive deficits associated with the disorder strongly predict social and functional outcomes, such as employment or social relationships.   “Previous literature suggested that general intelligence relies on specific grey matter areas of the brain, including temporal, parietal and frontal regions. However, the results from this study indicate that efficient connection pathways across the entire brain provide a neural network that supports general cognitive function.” According to the study’s senior author Professor Gary Donohoe: “These results advance our knowledge in a number of ways. Firstly, we have demonstrated that the relationship between brain structure and intelligence not only involves grey matter, but also white matter - the brain’s wiring system. Secondly, it’s not just one part of this wiring system that is important for intelligence, but rather the wiring system as a whole. And finally, the relationship between intelligence and the brain’s wiring system is basically the same in patients with schizophrenia and healthy people, in that the lack of pattern explains their cognitive abilities. This suggests that cognitive function in patients is the same as the general population, at least as far as white matter is concerned.” Research at NUI Galway’s Centre for Neuroimaging Cognition and Genomics focuses on providing a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between genetic, brain structure and environmental risk factors associated with psychiatric disorders. By understanding the neural basis of cognitive deficits, researchers aim to establish whether and how these deficits can be ameliorated by therapeutic interventions, leading to better patient functional outcomes. -Ends-

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Dúshláin roimh mhic léinn go leor de bharr Éigeandáil COVID-19 D’iarr Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, ar úinéirí réadmhaoine oibriú i gcomhar leis an Ollscoil agus cion agus comhbhá a léiriú i leith mic léinn le linn éigeandáil COVID-19. Rinne an Ollscoil an cinneadh go ndéanfar na ranganna agus na measúnuithe go léir a reáchtáil ar líne as seo go deireadh an tseimeastair.  Is in OÉ Gaillimh atá an líon is mó mac léinn ó thaobh scaipeadh tíreolaíoch de thar aon ollscoil sa tír agus moladh do mhic léinn filleadh abhaile ar a muintir féin le linn éigeandáil COVID-19.  I gcás roinnt mac léinn níl ar a gcumas filleadh abhaile, agus is cosúil go bhfuil fógraí díshealbhaithe tugtha do mhic léinn reatha.  Cé go dtacóidh reachtaíocht nua le mic léinn atá sa chás seo, tá cásanna ann freisin a bhfuil deacrachtaí ag cuid de na mic léinn a d’fhill abhaile de bharr gur fhág siad níos luaithe ná mar a bhí beartaithe, agus tá éarlaisí á gcoinneáil siar uathu.  Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag an Ollamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh inniu: “Is tréimhse dhúshlánach í seo dár bpobal uile.  D’fhan go leor mac léinn i nGaillimh ag an am seo, mar go raibh orthu.  D’fhill go leor eile abhaile, mar go raibh orthu.  Tuigeann OÉ Gaillimh an tionchar atá ag COVID-19 maidir le cúram sláinte, cúrsaí sóisialta agus eacnamaíochta ar gach duine dár sochaí. Molaimid na tiarnaí talún a léirigh cineáltas den scoth dár mic léinn.  “Is tréimhse í seo ina gcuimhneoimid ar an méid a rinneamar agus ar an gcaoi ar chaitheamar leis na daoine timpeall orainn. San fhadtréimhse, is ar mhaithe linn ar fad é go mbeidh clú agus cáil ar Ghaillimh mar áit fháilteach ina bhfuil meas ar chách.  Dá bhrí sin, iarraimid ar úinéirí réadmhaoine a bhfuil ár gcuid mac léinn ina dtionóntaí acu cion, comhbhá agus beagán solúbthachta a léiriú ag an am cinniúnach agus riachtanach seo.” Tá lóistín campas na hOllscoile oscailte i gcónaí do mhic léinn a bhfuil orthu fanacht i nGaillimh, agus tá socruithe i bhfeidhm do mhic léinn a mbeidh orthu fanacht amach ón bpobal más gá dóibh.   Chun mic léinn reatha a choinneáil ar an eolas faoi na forbairtí is deireanaí maidir le folláine agus tacaíocht, reáchtálfaidh an Ollscoil sraith seisiún Ceisteanna & Freagraí ar líne, ag tosú le ceisteanna maidir le lóistín.  Bí linn Dé hAoine, an 27 Márta idir 11am-1pm áit a ndéanfar do chuid ceisteanna uile a bhaineann le lóistín a fhreagairt ag https://nuigalway.pubble.io/app/preview/66049 -Críoch-

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Many Students Faced with Challenges Arising from COVID-19 Emergency NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, has called for property owners to work with the University and show care and compassion to students during the COVID-19 emergency. The University has made the decision that all classes and assessments will move online for the remainder of the semester. NUI Galway has the most geographically spread student population of any university in the country and students have been encouraged to return home to their families during the COVID-19 emergency. With some unable to do so, there have been reports of current students being served with eviction notices. While new legislation will support such students, there have also been cases where some of those who have returned home have faced difficulties in leaving earlier than planned, with deposits being withheld from them. Speaking today, Professor Ó hÓgartaigh said: “These are challenging times for all our community. Many students have remained in Galway at this time, by necessity. Many have returned home, also by necessity. NUI Galway is mindful of the healthcare, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on all members of our society. We commend the many landlords who have shown remarkable kindness to our students. “This is a time when we will remember what we did and how we were to our fellow human beings. In the long-term, Galway’s reputation as a welcoming, respectful place is in the interests – and to the benefit – of us all. We therefore request that property owners who have our students as tenants in their properties show care, compassion and some flexibility at this time of urgency and need.” The University’s campus accommodation remains open to students who need to remain in Galway, with arrangements in place for students to self-isolate if needed.   To keep current students up-to-date on all developments in relation to wellbeing and support, the University is hosting a series of online Q&A sessions, starting with accommodation queries. Join us on Friday, 27 March from 11am-1pm where all your accommodation questions will be answered at https://nuigalway.pubble.io/app/preview/66049 -Ends-

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

NUI Galway and University of Limerick collaboration to help front line clinical staff Researchers at NUI Galway and University of Limerick have designed a new innovative Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) emergency supply donation website to connect industry PPE stock to hospitals worldwide. The COVID19 pandemic has overwhelmed the resources of the world’s health systems, often leaving frontline clinical staff without the required PPE, as traditional supply logistic chains lag behind the surge. Professor Derek O’Keeffe, Consultant Physician University Hospital Galway and Professor of Medical Device Technology, NUI Galway, has developed this innovative solution with his engineering colleague Dr Kevin Johnson, University of Limerick, Ireland to help combat this problem. The new global platform, www.covidmedsupply.org, allows local organisations, such as industry, business, universities, and laboratories, who may have PPE stock in supply to list the categories of what they have on inventory of PPE’s, such as gloves, gowns, goggles etc., with contact details and then drop a map pin to show their geographic location. If a COVID19 surge occurs in their geographic area, for example Cairo, Cork, Calgary, then the local hospital or clinic can simply click on the map of their surroundings and see what emergency PPE/Medical stock is in the vicinity and access it quickly. Professor Derek O’Keeffe said: “Speaking with my clinical colleagues across the world and looking at the repeating patterns of health supply logistics breakdowns that have occurred as COVID19 surges have swept across the world, it is clear that innovative alternative solutions need to be developed such as www.covidmedsupply.org to enable frontline staff get vital PPE to keep them and their patients safe.” Dr Kevin Johnson said: “Everybody has a role to play in this fight against the COVID19 pandemic – that could be simply to self-isolate, use your skillset to create a website such as www.covidmedsupply.org or donate any surplus supplies you might have to this worthy cause. With so much technology at our fingertips, why not use it for the good of your community. “ For more information visit www.covidmedsupply.org. -Ends-

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Roadmap critical in the COVID-19 crisis An international conference on ‘Inclusive Ageing: The Way Ahead’, recently held in Brussels in conjunction with the European Committee of the Regions, called for governments, civil society, and researchers to commit to reducing social exclusion of older people and addressing the multiple forms of disadvantage that can take hold in later life. The Conference was co-organised by the ROSEnet European research and policy stakeholder network, AGE Platform Europe and the European Committee of the Regions, and featured an opening address by Katerina Ivanovic, Head of the, Social Affairs Unit within the DG for Employment, Social Affairs and Social Inclusion. Launching a Roadmap for reducing social exclusion amongst older people, Professor Kieran Walsh, Chair of ROSEnet and Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, said: “We must maximise the commitment of all stakeholders to engage together to combat exclusion in older age, and to advance innovations in policy and practice interventions.” “It is on this basis that we present a roadmap to reduce old-age social exclusion through research and policy. Critically, the roadmap outlines specific actions with respect to: how we should measure and monitor exclusion in later life; the sort of policy we need to reduce disadvantage in older age; and the sort of research areas that need further work. It also helps to prepare us to be responsive to new and unexpected forms of exclusion.” According to Professor Walsh, the COVID 19 outbreak has the potential to become a new source of social exclusion and disadvantage for older adults. “Older people may not only encounter significant risks to their health, but may struggle to access appropriate information on the virus due to digital exclusion. They may also experience disruption to their support and social networks because of the need for restricted face-to-face contact with others.” However, Professor Walsh also stresses: “More critically, in crises such as these where there is a strain on health systems and resources, it is very important that resource allocation does not become solely focused on those who are perceived to be healthier or, even, more ‘productive’. We need to ensure that health care access continues to be based on need, and not on arbitrary age thresholds. Otherwise, we run the risk of problematising ageing and older people, and devaluing their status as equal citizens in our communities.” Social exclusion of older people is a critical issue for public policy, today and into the future. With 101 million older people in Europe, and a projected increase in this population to 149 million by 2050 (Eurostat 2017), demographic ageing will fundamentally determine the capacity to achieve the stated goal of a ‘Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions’. The conference also stressed the importance of how an ageing-related policy must be evidence based, and rooted in the everyday lives of older people. Otherwise concerns over system effectiveness and system sustainability will very much become a reality. Funded by the COST Association, ROSEnet (Reducing Old-Age Social Exclusion) aims to overcome fragmentation and critical gaps in research and policy to tackle social exclusion amongst older people in Europe. The Roadmap, along with six briefing papers on different forms of exclusion, can be accessed at http://rosenetcost.com/rosenet-briefing-paper-series/  -Ends-

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Aquila Bioscience, a pioneering Irish company, based at NUI Galway and the Irish Defence Forces have announced a collaboration with to provide Irish Defence Forces soldiers with its groundbreaking Anti-Bioagent Wipe (ABwipeTM). Aquila Bioscience and the Irish Defence Forces have been collaborating on this technology for over four years, with the Ordnance Corps actively engaged in the concept & product trials. Working with the Irish Defence Forces, the Department of Defence and the European Defence Agency Aquila Bioscience has developed a novel, safe, effective and environmentally friendly technology to decontaminate surfaces from bacterial, viral and biotoxin threats. ABwipeTM technology serves as a decontamination wipe for first-responders, healthcare workers and for civilians to significantly reduce and prevent pathogen transmission from person-to-person and therefore reducing the spread, panic and impact of the pathogen, as is the case with coronavirus COVID-19. Aquila Bioscience’s ABwipeTM contains components that bind to and decontaminate the surface, taking advantage of the virus’s own attack mechanism (in this case, carbohydrates and proteins). Because ABwipeTM contains no harmful ingredients, it can also be used on skin and sensitive mucosal areas such as eyes, nose and mouth (main portal for virus infection). Most existing decontamination solutions contain chemicals that are harmful to the skin, health of the user and to the environment. ABwipeTM technology was developed to safely and effectively decontaminate multiple bio-threat agents (including viruses), and its use will significantly reduce the spread of COVID19 and will help ensure that first responders and emergency workers are kept safe to allow them to react when called upon. Speaking today, Professor Lokesh Joshi, co-founder and director of Aquila Bioscience, and Vice-President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway said: “The concept for this technology was driven by the Irish Defence Forces and an identified capability need in the Chemical, Biological, Radiological & Nuclear (CBRN) protection measures. The innovative concept resulted in European Defence Agency supported research & development by Aquila Bioscience at NUI Galway and is just now ready for mass manufacture and could be a valuable technology in the fight against the Coronavirus. This unprecedented situation requires unprecedented measures and the DF have committed to the purchase of a consignment of the AB wipes for troop force protection measures.” At this time of global urgency and unknown impact on human lives and economy because of the COVID- 19 pandemic, ABwipeTM will serve as an essential tool in the arsenal against coronavirus to stem its spread and to save lives. For more details see www.aquilabioscience.com or contact info@aquilabioscience.com -Ends-

Thursday, 12 March 2020

The “What Works to Prevent Violence” funded by UK’s Department for International Development demonstrates the high cost of Violence against Women  An economic cost of over €115,000 for domestic abuse survivors in Ireland NUI Galway today held an event on ‘Violence Against Women and Girls: Accelerating Efforts to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals 5 on Gender Equality’. The event marks International Women’s Day and the close of the What Works to Prevent Violence project undertaken by NUI Galway researchers. The event was a collaboration between NUI Galway and Safe Ireland. The What Works research project which focused on Ghana, Pakistan and South Sudan was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development as part of its global programme to prevent violence against women. The research found that violence against women has serious opportunity and productivity costs. Opportunity costs for women including resigning from leadership roles due to stigma relating to intimate partner violence and changing their work patterns in an attempt to reduce violence they experienced at home. The economic costs of violence are particularly high. In South Sudan, the impact of violence on productivity meant that, in effect, employed women in businesses lost 10 working days per year in addition to their usual annual leave. In Ghana, the productivity cost due to absenteeism alone translated into a loss of 1% of Ghana’s GDP due to violence against women, an extraordinarily high figure. The study’s lead researcher, Dr Nata Duvvury from Centre for Global Women’s Studies at NUI Galway, concluded: “The cost of inaction - doing nothing or not doing enough to prevent violence- is a huge economic burden on not only women but also the wider economy, impacting potential for growth. Governments must be cognizant of the invisible costs violence imposes on countries, a cost that can be wiped out through effective action.” These impacts are also seen in Ireland. Further research conducted by Safe Ireland and NUI Galway found that the total average economic cost of domestic abuse in Ireland to a survivor was €115,790, from the onset of the abuse to their initial recovery. Today’s event emphasised that all governments, including the Irish government, should take a number of new steps to meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in relation to gender equality. These steps should include collecting data on a regular basis on the prevalence of violence against women and girls and its costs; to integrate these costs into social and economic policy-making and budgetary planning to ensure Government scale-up prevention efforts; and a comprehensive package of measures to respond to and prevent the levels of violence against women in Ireland.  Sharon O’Halloran, CEO, Safe Ireland reiterated the social change agency’s call for violence against women to be a top priority in the new Programme for Government in order to begin to meet the SDG targets of 2030.  “Through prioritising a comprehensive programme which includes a focus on prevention to tackle the root causes of violence, as well as investing in appropriate infrastructure to respond effectively to survivors, we can begin to systematically erase the structural barriers which keep women, and their children trapped in controlling and abusive relationships. This joined-up approach would also address the social and economic cost to Irish society caused by violence. We know this is achievable, but it needs leadership with the combined effort of all sectors in order to realise the SDGs and make Ireland a more just and equal society.”  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations’ Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership.  Goal 5 is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, with combatting violence being a core component.  ENDS

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

A lecture series at the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway featuring new Professors in the College will continue with Personal Professor in the School of Psychology, Professor AnnMarie Groarke, on Thursday, 26 March at 5pm, in the Moore Institute NUI Galway (GO10). In her talk titled ‘What Enhances or Hinders Psychological Adjustment to Chronic Illness for women and men? A programme of research’ Professor Groarke will share findings from her programme of research on psychological adjustment in patients with cancer and arthritis. Given individual variability in response to diagnosis and treatment of illness the focus of this research has been to identify factors that enhance or disrupt adaptation.  Specifically, it highlights the importance of stress appraisal and stress management on quality of life. Coping strategies, illness beliefs and psychological protective attributes that are useful and adaptive are also identified. While diagnosis of serious illness is associated with emotional distress, positive psychological change can also occur in the aftermath of highly stressful events. Some findings on when and why this post-traumatic growth might occur for women with breast cancer will be discussed. The potential impact of prostate cancer and its treatment on men’s sense of manhood and identity is also a focus of interest. Implications for patient care and self-management will be considered. Dr Seán Crosson, Vice-Dean for Research in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to continue this lecture series which provides a great opportunity for the University to make the general public more aware of the world-leading innovative research and practice being undertaken in the college. This is the tenth speaker in the series which has featured contributions to date in the areas of social policy, education, political thought, online therapies, language transmission, folk song traditions in Irish, historical research, behavioural psychology, and modern Irish literature. We are honoured to now feature Professor Groarke in the series, an academic whose research, particularly with regard to the psychological adjustment to illness, has brought significant advances for patients, including through the development of cognitive-behavioural stress management programmes.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Public can now have early alert on toxicity level of national and European air pollution episodes Tuesday, 10 March, 2020: NUI Galway’s Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies (C-CAPS) has launched a new app to provide real-time forecasting data on atmospheric composition which will shine a light on the key drivers of climate change and air pollution and build on its internationally-recognised Mace Head Atmospheric Research station.  The C-CAPS’s Mace Head research centre in Connemara is one of the most important facilities for atmospheric composition observations globally and has been operating as far back as 1958. Executive Dean of Science and Engineering at NUI Galway, Professor Walter Gear, said: “We are very proud of the work we do here and its contribution to European health and to informing measures to protect our planet.  We are now adding this new app, StreamAIR, that will help to raise further awareness about air pollution and climate issues and their implications.” “Ireland and the world’s future can only be safeguarded by an immediate reduction in harmful emissions.  Cleaner air can yield co-benefits for human health and for the planet by reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.  Meeting our requirements under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is a major challenge for Ireland but by using our technologies here in Galway, Ireland can accurately measure and report the progress it is making.” Mace Head is a member of a number of regional to global networks, contributing data and analysis to a wide range of atmospheric problems.  In particular, it is a World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) atmospheric composition and climate research station, and a European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP) supersite with the aim of solving transboundary air pollution problems under the United Nations Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP). The Centre’s Director, Professor Colin O'Dowd said “The StreamAIR app is an extension of the Mace Head real-time data system, designed to fuse together real-time observation and forecast data on multiple platforms including mobile devices.” Through StreamAIR, NUI Galway and Mace Head not only provide current real-time data to a range of agencies and networks, the Facility has generated some of the most important long-term observation datasets of greenhouse gases (GHGs), such has carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone, and ozone depleting substances such as CFCs, along with Particulate Matter (PM), such as sulphate haze producing acid rain.   Professor Colin O'Dowd added, “These long-term trends have underpinned successful policy development and intervention in acid rain and ozone depletion issues, but a lot of work still remains for GHG warming agents, driving global warming.  In fact, ozone is a double agent  - while it is critical to have (stratospheric) ozone high in the sky to protect us from the sun’s harmful UV rays, at the surface, (tropospheric) ozone is a harmful air pollutant, causing premature deaths and mortality, and also a short-term warming agent (i.e. its lifetime is much shorter that CO2) in terms of global warming. The StreamAIR app brings the polluting agents and global warming agents together into the palm of everybody’s hand, emphasising that both types of agents must be reduced through co-benefit observations, research, and policy development.” Dr Liz Coleman, the Principal Researcher on the project, funded by the SFI MaREI Energy, Climate and Marine research centre, said that the app has the potential to identify the sources of air pollution, as well as the toxicity level of air pollution episodes. This information can be combined with exposure data to better inform the public of the potential risks from a national level to a European scale. This enables users to protect their health by taking necessary precautions when a pollution event is forecasted on the app.    The app can be downloaded from the App Store. For more information visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/science/research/macehead/ or watch a video on the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies at https://vimeo.com/bbcswcp/download/371385129/d8dbcd983d. ENDS

Thursday, 5 March 2020

A new exhibition, A Sisyphean Task, will showcase the work of four practice-based PhD students at the Burren College of Art. The exhibition will open on Thursday, 12 March from 5-7pm and run until 9 April, Monday to Saturday, 11am to 4pm. Artistic Research is a core part of the academic programme at Burren College of Art. In its PhD programme, which is accredited by NUI Galway, students focus on a research topic which they explore through artistic practice in order to generate new knowledge. Research at the College represents a plurality of approaches to the artistic process, is interdisciplinary and often informed by collaboration across multiple fields.   Conor McGrady, Burren College of Art Dean of Academic Affairs and curator of the exhibition, said: “Work in this exhibition highlights the interdisciplinary approach that PhD Students at Burren College of Art bring to investigating the world around them, and to contributing to how we understand and engage with it through the lens of contemporary art.” The exhibition will feature the work of students Qi Chen, Tanya de Paor, Kelly Klaasmeyer and Robbie Lawrence and will investigate a range of chosen research topics.   Qi Chen’s research focuses on the combination of portrait, text and documentary film to question or collapse subjective distance between people, with a view to enhancing mutual understanding. Qi has worked as a full-time artist in Hunan Painting Academy and Hunan Province Artists Association, and was the Director of the Young Artists Association of Hunan Province and had the honour of being part of the Great Wall Chinese Painting Distinguished Painters. Tanya de Paor presents research from a series of intergenerational workshops that aim to co- create speculative, fabulated and playful stories about the Anthropocene. Tanya is an artist, researcher and lecturer based in Cork, and her work is concerned with exploring human/nature connections in the neo natural world of the Anthropocene. Her work is multidisciplinary including sculpture, drawing, installation, text and lens based media. Tanya recently presented at the TransCultural Exchange 2018, International Conference for Opportunities in the Arts, in Québec City.  Kelly Klaasmeyer’s research enquires into the relationship between painting and story, exploring as to whether an expanded idea of the portrait can enhance our understanding of subjectivity. Her work is in public and private collections in the United States and private collections in Austria, Germany and The Netherlands. She worked as Arts Writer and Art Critic in St. Petersburg, Russia for the St. Petersburg Times and then in Houston, Texas for the Houston Press and various publications.  The editor of the online art magazine Glasstire from 2007 to 2013, Kelly was awarded a USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellowship as well as a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for Short-Form Writing. Robbie E. Lawrence’s research examines painting as a vehicle for understanding and ameliorating Thanatophobia (Existential Death Anxiety). Her practice revolves around observational painting and drawing techniques, using representation to investigate the psychology of the objects and people around her. These careful techniques are used to capture moments of storied depth and sensitivity to create quiet, contemplative spaces.    -Ends-

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

University to host international conference for next generation of solar scientists NUI Galway has continued to build on its credentials as one of the world’s leading centres on sustainable manufacturing research having won a €4 million project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme, to produce chemicals using solar energy. Part of the project is to train 15 early stage researchers as specialists in using water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen to produce solar chemicals such as hydrogen, ammonia and methanol. The kick-off conference for the researchers will take place at the end of March in Galway. At present, there is a gap in Europe in the area of solar chemicals production and their usage in industry and mobility. NUI Galway has been working in this sphere for some time and is already involved in an exciting project to power public transport using green hydrogen. An NUI Galway pilot project to produce hydrogen from solar to power the public transport fleet in the Canaries will commence shortly. The latest project, known as SOLAR2CHEM, is led by Dr Pau Farràs Costa of the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway who is also driving the Canaries’ hydrogen pilot. SOLAR2CHEM includes nine academic organisations and three non-academic partners to provide training programmes on scientific, technical and personal development skills. The programme includes secondments to leaders in solar chemical development including Japan and the United States. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “NUI Galway has committed itself to put Climate Change at the centre of the agenda for the University. We recently developed a five-year strategy to drive radical change in how our economy and society develops underpinned by values, including sustainability, and SOLAR2CHEM shows our capacity to deliver sustainable technologies that deliver for Ireland’s research and development sector, further enhancing our ability to attract foreign direct investment.” Head of SOLAR2CHEM at NUI Galway, Dr Pau Farràs Costa said: “I will be delighted to welcome European colleagues here to Galway on 27 March to begin work on this solar chemicals project. It will help to further establish NUI Galway as Ireland and Europe’s leading university for sustainability. We plan to work hard to deliver an intensive training programme that explores new methods of solar energy conversion to deliver a future supply of sustainable chemicals for the European Union. The EU needs to become leaders in this field and our university will be proud to work with the highest tiers of academics and industry to achieve this.”  NUI Galway is involved in over 133 Horizon 2020 projects and has received over €63 million in direct funding from the programme. NUI Galway places a strong focus on providing a supportive and exciting environment for its researchers and was awarded the ‘HR Excellence in Research’ logo by the European Commission. -Ends-

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

NUI Galway researcher John Daly was named PhD Researcher of the Year at the recent Irish Cancer Society Research Awards. John, who is currently doing a PhD with NUI Galway, was presented with the award for his studies into combatting Multiple Myeloma; a type of blood cancer for which there is currently no cure.  A past winner of a biomedical research scholarship from the Irish Cancer Society, John’s team has focussed on a type of immune cell called Natural Killer cells that normally destroy cancer cells, but are unable to detect those of Multiple Myeloma. John and his colleagues are attempting to find ways of boosting these Natural Killer cells so that they can successfully detect and destroy Multiple Myeloma cells, in a development that would revolutionise treatment for the disease. Commenting on his award, Daly said: “I’m absolutely delighted, a lot of hard work has gone into this so far, not just from me but everyone in my group, and particularly my supervisor and co-supervisor, Professor Michael O’Dwyer of NUI Galway and Dr Mattias Carlsten, Karolinska Institute. Things like this are really encouraging and motivating for the next couple of years as we try to move our research on.” Professor Michael O’Dwyer, Professor of Haematology at NUI Galway, said: “I am very proud of John's recent achievements. This is a reflection on his own hard work, the supportive ecosystem in my laboratory, our collaboration with the Karolinska Institute, and of course the generous support of the Irish Cancer Society. John's work is helping to usher in a new era of immunotherapy for cancer, employing the use of genetically modified immune cells called natural killer cells, which we believe have great potential.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

A study carried out by the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway has examined the problem of social media overload, which is the feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of communication and information a person is exposed to through social media channels. The research, which was published in Internet Research, specifically focused on identifying the causes of social media overload amongst users, and how it affects their energy levels. NUI Galway researchers found that the more prone to feeling bored a social media user is, the more likely it is they will feel overloaded by social media content. In terms of consequences, it found that users who report higher levels of social media overload are more fatigued on a day-to-day basis. However, this level of fatigue depends on what the person uses social media for. Using social media as an information source, for example accessing news stories through Facebook and Twitter, amplifies the effects of overload on fatigue levels. In contrast, using platforms liked Snapchat and WhatsApp to communicate with friends and family actually diminishes fatigue levels, even when a person is feeling overloaded.  Lead author of the study, Dr Eoin Whelan, Senior Lecturer in Business Information Systems, J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics at NUI Galway, said: “The use of social media is pervasive across the globe with Facebook alone having 2.7 billion monthly users. While social media undoubtedly provides many advantages to users, researchers are now more closely scrutinising the problematic effects of platforms such as Facebook.” Dr Whelan continued: “Our study finds that social media users who are more prone to boredom are more likely to become overloaded by that content, which ultimately has the adverse effect of depleting their energy levels. While being overloaded by social media has many negative psychological consequences, our findings suggest overload only leads to fatigue when social media is used to source information. Using social media for communication purposes acts as a coping mechanism, enabling users to maintain energy levels even when experiencing overload. Therefore, users need to consider not just the amount of social media they expose themselves to, but also how they use these technologies, if they wish to avoid exhaustion.” To read the full study in the journal Internet Research visit: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/INTR-03-2019-0112/full/html  -Ends- 

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Díreoidh an MA nua ar chruthú ábhar digiteach agus ar rialachas spóirt Is féidir le mic léinn staidéar a dhéanamh go dátheangach i mBéarla agus i nGaeilge Tá clár nua Máistreachta san Iriseoireacht agus Cumarsáid Spóirt seolta ag OÉ Gaillimh. Tá an clár dírithe ar chéimithe a bhfuil spéis acu gairm bheatha a bhaint amach san iriseoireacht spóirt, chomh maith leis an réimse ghinearálta a bhaineann le cumarsáid spóirt, mar shampla cruthú ábhar digiteach, anailís sonraí agus comhairliúchán straitéiseach.  Gné ar leith den chlár nua is ea go mbeidh béim láidir ar rialachas, riarachán agus bainistíocht spóirt – gné atá riachtanach do chéimithe atá ag iarraidh a bheith ina ngairmithe spóirt i gComhlachtaí Rialaithe Náisiúnta. Beidh OÉ Gaillimh ag obair le príomhpháirtithe leasmhara lena n-áirítear na meáin náisiúnta, eagraíochtaí spóirt agus Comhlachtaí Rialaithe Náisiúnta chun gnéithe tábhachtacha oiliúna a chur ar fáil. Beidh roinnt iriseoirí spóirt mór le rá ag teagasc ar an gclár, orthu sin tá: Keith Duggan, Príomh-Scríbhneoir Spóirt de chuid The Irish Times agus buaiteoir ‘Iriseoir Spóirt na Bliana’ faoi dhó Mike Finnerty, Eagarthóir Spóirt le Mayo News agus láithreoir Sky Sports Cliona Foley, Iriseoir spóirt Liam Horan, Iriseoir spóirt Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, láithreoir Rugbaí Beo ar TG4 Cuirfear deiseanna intéirneachta ar fáil do mhic léinn an chláir seo in eagraíochtaí meán agus i gComhlachtaí Rialaithe Náisiúnta. Bhí an méid a leanas le rá ag Comh-Stiúrthóir an Chláir agus údar Gaelic Games on Film agus Sport and Film, an Dr Seán Crosson: “Tá an-áthas orainn an clár ceannródaíoch seo a sheoladh, clár a chuireann le cultúr taighde fadbhunaithe atá dírithe ar spórt in OÉ Gaillimh, obair bhaill de Ghrúpa Taighde Spóirt agus Aclaíochta na hOllscoile san áireamh. Mar chuid den chlár freisin beidh peirspictíochtaí taighde nua agus nuálacha le fáil ó bhaill den Ghrúpa taighde seo, ar a bhfuil lucht acadúil sa leigheas, síceolaíocht, gnó, eolaíocht pholaitiúil, socheolaíocht, agus lucht acadúil ar fud réimse na ndán agus na ndaonnachtaí. Tabharfaidh na peirspictíochtaí seo tuiscint níos fearr do mhic léinn ar na mórcheisteanna i gcúrsaí spórt sa lá atá inniu ann, rud a chuirfidh ábhar saibhir ar fáil dóibh dá dtionscadail iriseoireachta.” Dúirt an Dr Crosson: “Le hionchur ón gcraoltóir cumasach agus iomráiteach Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, den chéad uair in Éirinn beimid ag forbairt modúil san Iriseoireacht Spóirt trí mheán na Gaeilge mar pháirt den chúrsa.” Ag labhairt dó ag seoladh an MA nua san Iriseoireacht agus Cumarsáid Spóirt, dúirt Tom Felle, Ceann na hIriseoireachta agus Cumarsáide in OÉ Gaillimh: “Is tionscal ar fiú na milliúin euro é tionscal an Spóirt in Éirinn agus tá sé ag éirí níos gairmiúla. Tá éileamh mór ar ghairmithe cruthaitheacha a bhfuil an-spéis acu sa spórt a bheith ag obair i róil mar chruthaitheoirí ábhair, i rialachas, i gcumarsáid straitéiseach, agus san iriseoireacht. Creidimid go bhfuil an clár seo an-oiriúnach chun oiliúint a chur ar ghlúin nua de chéimithe, céimithe ar mian leo fostaíocht fhiúntach a bhaint amach ina rogha gairm bheatha.” Tá traidisiún fada ag OÉ Gaillimh ag cur oiliúint sna meáin chun cinn, agus tá an-tóir ar na cláir atá againn sna Meáin Dhomhanda, san Iriseoireacht agus sna tionscail chruthaitheacha. Tá infheistíocht os cionn €400,000 déanta ag OÉ Gaillimh in áiseanna craolacháin nua lena n-áirítear seomra nuachta digití agus stiúideo raidió in 2019 mar aon le stiúideo teilifíse nua-aimseartha 4K ar an gcampas i mí Eanáir 2020. Tá tuilleadh eolais faoin gclár, nósanna imeachta maidir le hiarratas a dhéanamh san áireamh, le fáil ar www.nuigalway.ie/journalism -Críoch-

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

New MA will have dual focus on digital content creation and sports governance Students can study bilingually in English and Irish NUI Galway has launched a major new Masters programme in Sports Journalism and Communication. The programme is aimed at graduates interested in pursuing a career in sports journalism, as well as in the broader field of sports communication, such as digital content creation, data analysis and strategic consulting.  A unique element of the new programme is that it will also include a strong focus on sports governance, administration and management – key for graduates who are looking to work as sporting professionals in National Governing Bodies. NUI Galway will work with key stakeholders including national media, sporting organisations and National Governing Bodies to deliver important elements of training. A number of high profile sports journalists will teach on the programme, including: Keith Duggan, Chief Sports Writer of The Irish Times and two-time ‘Sports Journalist of the Year’ winner Mike Finnerty, Sports Editor with the Mayo News and Sky Sports presenter Cliona Foley, Sports journalist Liam Horan, Sports journalist Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, presenter of Rugbaí Beo on TG4 Students on the programme will be offered internship opportunities with media organisations and National Governing Bodies. Programme Co-director and author of Gaelic Games on Film and Sport and Film, Dr Seán Crosson said: “We are delighted to be launching this ground-breaking programme which builds on a long standing and established research culture focused on sport at NUI Galway, including the work of members of the University’s Sport and Exercise Research Group. The programme will also feature new and innovative research perspectives on sport from members of this Research Group, which includes academics in medicine, psychology, business, political science, sociology, and across the arts and humanities. These perspectives will deepen prospective students’ understanding of major issues in sport today, providing rich material for their journalistic projects.” Speaking at the launch of the new MA Sports Journalism and Communication, Tom Felle, Head of Journalism and Communication at NUI Galway, said: “Sports is a multimillion euro industry in Ireland and increasingly professionalising. There is a growing demand for creative professionals who have a passion for sport to work in roles as content creators, in governance, strategic communications, and in journalism. We believe this programme is ideally placed to train a new generation of those graduates, who will find meaningful employment in careers they love.” NUI Galway has a long tradition of media training, and has highly sought after programmes in Global Media, Journalism and the creative industries. NUI Galway has invested more than €400,000 in new broadcasting facilities including a digital newsroom and radio studio in 2019 and a new state-of-the-art 4K television studio was opened on campus in January 2020. More details on the programme, including application procedures, can be found at www.nuigalway.ie/journalism -Ends-

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Owen Ward, an Irish Traveller who is a Professional Master of Education student at NUI Galway, has been elected by postgraduate students onto the University’s Údarás na hOllscoile (Governing Body of the University). This is the first time that an Irish Traveller has been elected onto a University Governing Body in Ireland. Údarás na hOllscoile, is the University's governing authority and is responsible for managing all the affairs of the University. It is chaired by The Hon Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, with members including President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Registrar and Deputy-President Pól Ó Dochartaigh, representatives the University staff, Ministerial nominees, Student Union and local authority representatives. Speaking about his appointment to the Governing Body Owen Ward said: “As an Irish Traveller who has overcome many barriers, this successful outcome demonstrates how open and respectful NUI Galway has become. This reflects the values of the current strategic plan at NUI Galway. I plan to bring a proactive postgraduate voice to this forum and to represent the diversity of issues that affect postgraduates on campus.” Owen became an early school leaver at 16 years old and never sat the Junior Certificate or Leaving Certificate. Instead, he returned to education on an Access programme at NUI Galway, where he successfully completed the programme, secured his place in university and graduated with an Honour’s degree. He is the first in his family to go to University. At present he is in the final months of completing a Professional Master of Education. He also mentors’ students from disadvantaged backgrounds at NUI Galway to be successful within higher education. Last summer Owen was elected on the University Societies Coordinating Group the Cultural and Social Representative. Within the role he aims to work hard to ensure an enhanced positive student experience for all students within the cultural and social constituency including international students, students with disabilities, LGBT+ and ethnic minorities. Additionally, he was a co-founder of the Mincéirs Whiden Society with fellow Traveller students at NUI Galway and the Galway Traveller Movement. The first Traveller student society in higher education in Ireland. ‘Mincéir Whiden’ means ‘Travellers Talking’ in the Cant language, which is spoken by the Irish Travelling community. He has worked alongside the Student’s Union, senior university staff and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to ensure a stronger student voice and better outcomes for all students particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Owen is also the coordinator of NUI Galway Schools of Sanctuary programme. The NUI Galway Schools of Sanctuary programme is an outreach component of the National University of Ireland Galway University of Sanctuary initiative and NUI Galway Access Centre. Schools of Sanctuary promote the welcoming of refugees, asylum seekers, Irish Travellers and other migrants into educational communities in meaningful ways. While highlighting pathways into higher education. Also, he sits on the University of Sanctuary steering committee which introduced University of Sanctuary Scholarships Programme for International Protection Applicants, refugees, vulnerable migrants and Irish Travellers. NUI Galway is the first Third level institute in Ireland to offer scholarships to members of the travelling community. The Hon Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, Chair of Údarás na hOllscoile, said: I would like to welcome Owen to Údarás na hOllscoile and it is great to have him join. I am delighted to see NUI Galway lead the way in this area and NUI Galway have a proud tradition of welcoming members of the Travelling community as students. It is great to see Owen take on such a senior leadership role within the University. I look forward to having the benefits of his experience and insights on Údarás na hOllscoile.” -Ends-      

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

NUI Galway is calling all wanna-be-engineers to participate in a free full day family event ‘Engineering Our Future: Family Fun Day’, which will take place on Saturday, 29th February 2020 from 10am–4pm in the Alice Perry Engineering Building at NUI Galway.  The Family Fun Day is part of the Engineers Week 2020, which celebrates engineering across Ireland. The Family Fun Day will provide plenty of science and engineering shows, movie screenings, workshops and hands-on activities that will inspire young (and older) people. Families can watch ‘Dream Big: Engineering Our World’ and ‘John Phillip Holland: Submarine Inventor’ on the day. ‘Dream Big: Engineering Our World’, which is narrated by Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges, celebrates the human creativity behind engineering marvels big and small from the Great Wall of China and the world’s tallest buildings to underwater robots, solar cars and smart, sustainable cities, and show how engineers push the limits of innovation in unexpected and amazing ways. ‘John Phillip Holland: Submarine Inventor’ delves into the life of a revolutionary Irish engineer, who was behind the first fully functioning modern submarine. Young and older attendees can engage with the ‘It's all Done with Mirrors' show by Dr Ken Farquhar, which blends magic tricks, illusions and stunts with extraordinary science and engineering. Trapped doors, mirrors or camera effects? Everyone can have their own theory. Whatever you discover and more may be revealed! Quirky stunts and illusions performed.  Science discovered. Engineering explored. In parallel, ‘Using physics to engineer a better future’ by Anyone4Science explores the physics behind forces, electricity, flight and energy through a range of experiments. Children can even examine the physics behind ice-cream by making their own ice-cream with the team! Families are encouraged to come and build their own wind turbine, investigate the ‘magic’ of cleaning water, explore the vast range of chemicals used in our daily lives (which typically end up going down our drain and into our environment!), have a closer look at the animal kingdom of ‘Leg to legless’, interact with CoderDojo Ninjas to learn about programming, test if they are stronger than a superhero, explore the GEEC: Galway Energy Efficient Car, relax at the free LEGO play area or learn about our rich engineering heritage. These and many other activities showing the world of civil, environmental, mechanical, biomedical and electronic engineering, and information technology will be available on the day. For the first time this year, there will be a sensory room available for our youngest engineers and all those who would like some timeout in peace and quiet. According to Professor Peter Mc Hugh, Head of School of Engineering at NUI Galway: “Engineering is in every aspect of our lives; it allows us to live, communicate, travel, work, play, stay safe and healthy. By taking maths and science from the lab engineers dream of, invent, design and build things that change the reality and future of all human beings.” Speaking about the Family Fun Day, Dr Jamie Goggins from the School of Engineering at NUI Galway and the MaREI Centre said: “Children are natural engineers. They love to design and build things, using whatever they can get their hands on. With knowledge, innovation and creativity engineers change the reality and future of all human beings. Join us for the Engineering Our Future: Family Fun Day and explore Engineering through exciting and fun hands-on activities and shows, as well as meeting with practicing engineers to better learn about the world around us, understand the role of Engineering in our lives and its impact on our future.” All details about the Family Fun Day are available at www.nuigalway.ie/engineersweek and bookings of free tickets can also be made through the website. Tickets can be booked in advance for some shows, but it will also be possible to attend shows without pre-booking on a first-come-first-served basis on the day. For further information on ‘Engineering Our Future: Family Fun Day’ contact Jamie Goggins jamie.goggins@nuigalway.ie, Magdalena Hajdukiewicz magdalena.hajdukiewicz@nuigalway.ie or William Finnegan william.finnegan@nuigalway.ie -Ends-

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

NUI Galway researcher Dr Elaine Toomey has been shortlisted for the Euroscience European Young Researcher Award in the Postdoc category. Since 2010 EuroScience has been awarding the European Young Researchers Award to the most talented young European researchers engaged in PhD projects and Postdoc projects. The award aims to recognise not only young people who have already made important contributions to their disciplines, but who have also succeeded in developing the societal context of their achievements and in promoting their field of research by notable outreach activities. Dr Toomey is the Associate Director of Cochrane Ireland, based in the School of Nursing and Midwifery in NUI Galway. Her research is in Open Science and Health Research Transparency, and aims to improve the scientific methods and processes used in health research to maximise the overall impact of health research for society. Research dissemination and outreach is central to Dr Toomey’s work, and she has consistently engaged in public outreach and communication beyond academia. Speaking on the shortlisting announcement, Dr Toomey said: “I’m incredibly honoured to be shortlisted for this award, and particularly want to thank my colleagues in NUI Galway and mentors Professor Declan Devane and Professor Molly Byrne for their wonderful support and encouragement.” Professor Declan Devane, Director of Cochrane Ireland and Evidence Synthesis Ireland, said: “That Elaine is shortlisted is testament to the quality and relevance of her work on an international platform. It reflects well on NUI Galway, but I am particularly pleased for Elaine herself who has worked hard for many years on her research. I wish her well for the award.” The overall winners will be announced at the award ceremony which will take place at the EuroScience Open Forum in Trieste, Italy, from 5-9 July. Finalists will also have a chance to compete for the Popular Prize which will be decided by an audience vote at the event. More information on the European Young Researchers Award can be found at https://bit.ly/2HVa5KW.    -Ends-

Monday, 24 February 2020

The study was published in world’s leading science journal Nature Energy A new study written by three NUI Galway academics on how renewable energy sources can generate storable hydrogen fuel through water electrolysis has been published by the world leading multi-disciplinary science journal, Nature Energy.  The study was written in collaboration with the University of Liverpool and the Technical University Berlin. The three NUI Galway academics involved include Dr Wenming Tong, Dr Roghayeh Sadeghi Erami and Dr Pau Farràs Costa. NUI Galway’s recently published strategy focuses on sustainability as one of its core objectives.  Hydrogen has experienced a massive growth in interest with large car manufacturers and oil and gas companies showing a clear shift of their investment strategies towards it.  Hydrogen is a clean energy vector and is seen as a key component in the energy mix to meet the targets of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals which relate to climate change mitigation. The NUI Galway study looks at how electric current in the form of electrolysis can be applied to water to produce a chemical reaction to produce hydrogen and how the renewable energy source can be stored. The study analyses current costly methods of electrolysis such as used in the desalination of sea water and addresses potential other approaches that yield stronger results to deliver more sustainable energy production and storage. Potable and clean water is a precious resource which should not be used to produce fuels. The lead author of the study, Dr Pau Farràs Costa of the Energy Research Centre at the Ryan Institute of NUI Galway, said: “Hydrogen is one of the world’s most exciting fuels and can be the key to unlock Ireland’s energy needs for the next 50 years.  This study looks at how installing an electrolyser, a device which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrical energy, will allow us to achieve Ireland’s climate targets in transport, heating, energy and storage. With the right vision and drive, Ireland can be a world leader in developing new clean technologies as it doesn’t have other major energy industries to displace.  Hydrogen can deliver to all sectors of society, creating a zero-emission economy.” Dr Farràs Costa is one of Ireland’s experts in synthetic chemistry and catalysis, having received numerous awards and fellowships, including the prestigious Newton International Fellowship by the Royal Society in 2013 and the Great North Museum Fellowship in 2015 for outreach activities.  He has published over 30 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has been selected as Emerging Investigator 2018 by Chemical Communications. At present, there is a gap in Ireland in renewable energy and its storage, and hydrogen can be the key to solve the issue. NUI Galway has been working in this sphere for some time and is already involved in exciting projects to power transport fleets using hydrogen.  The full study can be viewed at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41560-020-0550-8. -Ends-

Monday, 24 February 2020

A new research study which explores the benefits of community-based advocates in improving the lives of young people and their families has been published at NUI Galway. The research study led by Dr Bernadine Brady and Dr Carmel Devaney from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway involved interviews with 50 young people, parents, referrers and advocates involved with the programme, in addition to a staff survey and focus groups.  The study focused on the Youth Advocate Programme Ireland model, which is a unique way of providing intensive, focused support to children, young people, and families with a range of needs, based upon the development of a trusting relationship between a supportive, trained, and skilled adult advocate, the young person, and their family. The model aims to provide an alternative to the institutionalisation of vulnerable young people, through the operation of integrated, family- and community-based programmes of support services for young people and their families in need or at risk. The findings indicate that the Youth Advocate Programme Ireland model is seen as supporting young people and families to have their needs and issues resolved and helps to keep young people at home and out of the care system. Dr Carmel Devaney, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway, said “A key feature of this approach is that the needs of the young person and family are central to the intervention.  Advocates are carefully chosen for their ability to relate to young people and their families and play a key role in facilitating young people to access local community activities and necessary services. This helps to ensure that the young person has access to sustainable supports after they complete their involvement with the programme. Young people and families greatly valued the positive, respectful approach taken by the programme and many feel that it has been effective in addressing their needs.” Siobhán O’Dwyer, Youth Advocate Programme Ireland CEO, said: “At a time when many children, young people and families face social, emotional and educational difficulties I am delighted that the research shows that this community based advocate model achieves very positive outcomes with them.  The strengths based, individualised service plan and employment of community based advocates who want to work with young people and families to achieve change is the key to the success of the programme as evidenced in the research.” -Ends-

Monday, 24 February 2020

NUI Galway’s Health Promotion will hold its annual Open Evening on Friday, 28 February, from 6-7.30pm in Áras Moyola, on the north campus. The Open Evening will provide an overview of NUI Galway’s full and part time postgraduate courses by the course co-ordinators. Current courses include MA/Postgraduate Diploma in Health Promotion, Outreach Postgraduate Certificates in Health Promotion including Workplace Wellness, Approaches to Cardiovascular Health and Diabetes Prevention and Oral Health. There will also be a short presentation from a Postgraduate Recruitment Officer, Valerie Leahy, who will offer advice on issues such as applications, funding, and what employers want from Health Promotion graduates. There will also be an opportunity for prospective students to meet with course lecturers and tutors, who will be on hand to answer queries. Dr Mary Jo Lavelle Director for Postgraduate and Specialist Certificate Programmes at NUI Galway, said: “The Open Evening gives prospective students the opportunity to get more information on the courses they are interested in, employment opportunities and the chance to talk to members of the teaching staff on a one-to-one basis. Graduates of our programmes have gone on to work in statutory services, non-governmental organisations, in the academic sector, and in a number of roles including dedicated Health Promotion specialist posts." For further information contact us at hpinfo@nuigalway.ie -Ends-

Friday, 21 February 2020

Autism most expensive condition internationally A new study published by NUI Galway health economists has provided the first assessment of the level and nature of unmet service needs of children and adolescents with an ASD as well as debt related to meeting needs of such families in Ireland. The study’s findings were published this week in the international journal – Health Policy - and are of great relevance given Ireland’s forthcoming National Autism Strategy to address the needs of the autistic community. It is the first international study to examine the predictors of unmet service needs and debt while controlling for predisposing, enabling and need factors.  The key findings from the study based on a national survey on the economics of autism spectrum disorder in Ireland among 195 families with 222 children aged between 2 to 18 years of age in 2014/2015 show: Prevalence of unmet service needs and ASD specific family debt: The findings from parental reported responses show over 74% of children and adolescents did not receive one or more services in the previous 12 months 33% of families incurred debt in the previous 12 months specifically due to the child’s/children’s condition resulting in an average ASD related family debt of €3,260 per year  ASD severity and families that had two or more children with an ASD were significantly more likely to experience unmet service needs, while families that had two or more children with an ASD were also significantly more likely to incur debt in the previous 12 months specifically due to the child’s/children’s condition  The study was based on a national survey conducted by Áine Roddy, J.E. Cairnes School of Economics and Business at NUI Galway and was funded by the Irish Research Council and Autism Ireland.  Áine Roddy, the study’s lead author said: “The publication of this study provides timely evidence on the magnitude of unmet service needs and the susceptibility to future unmet needs experienced by children and adolescents who are autistic in Ireland. The financial and quality of life implications of not addressing the needs of autistic people with appropriate services and supports are profound. Policymakers need to understand that we need to spend in order to save, as research shows that autism is the most expensive condition internationally due to the substantial economic burden on State expenditure for adult assisted care provisions, institutional care costs and high unemployment rates (80%) among autistic adults.” “We need to invest to improve long-term outcomes and support autistic people and their families. Their needs are across the lifespan for the 1 in 65 people who are autistic in Ireland and their 234,000 immediate family members who face significant daily challenges due to social and financial isolation. Last April a motion put before Dáil members in Ireland to set up a Parliamentary Committee on Autism and publish a National Autism Empowerment Strategy received unanimous political support.  Ireland is still awaiting the delivery of an overdue National Autism Strategy which requires a framework that draws from evidence-based research in partnership with the autistic community.” Reasons cited for having unmet service needs included: 55% of the 222 children had unmet needs arising from being on a waiting list for currently provided services Over 61% of children had unmet needs arising because the service(s) concerned were not currently provided  31% of children had unmet needs arising because no private services were available in their area Some examples of unmet service needs: Parental reports of unmet needs for occupational therapy for children showed 79% of children aged 2-4 years, 69% of children aged 5-12 years and 59% of adolescents aged 13-18 years had unmet service needs for occupational therapy in the previous 12 months Unmet needs for social skills training/group were reported for 46% of 2-4 year olds, 47% of children aged 5-12 years and 61% of adolescents aged 13-18 years 88% of children aged 2-4 years had an unmet need for speech and language therapy, with 57% of children aged 5-12 years and 48% of adolescents aged 13-18 years also having an unmet need for speech and language therapy Policy Implications for Future National Autism Strategy There is a significant level of unmet need and economic hardship, as evident in the level of ASD-related debt Issues exist with current capacity, geographic inequalities and inadequate publicly-funded provision that warrant a policy response Addressing unmet needs is complex and requires careful planning and commitment on behalf of policymakers regarding designing and delivering autism specific services. The future National Autism Strategy, forthcoming in Ireland, requires a framework which: draws on research; should tailor services to severity level; ensure all children with ASD have access to care per their rights under the Disability Act; identify families with two or more children/adolescents with an ASD and provide appropriate supports; families with children with an ASD, based on our findings require additional financial support and/or greater support around flexible employment and carer-giver leave; and investment to design and implement cost-effective services and supports to address unmet needs Professor Ciaran O’Neill the study’s co-author is Professor of Health Economics Queens University Belfast and Adjunct Professor of Health Economics at NUI Galway. To read the full paper entitled “Predictors of Unmet Needs and Family Debt Among Children and Adolescents with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence from Ireland” in Health Policy visit https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthpol.2020.01.005. -Ends-

Thursday, 20 February 2020

New research carried out by the Palaeoenvironmental Research Unit at NUI Galway has proven that Céide Fields, situated on the north Mayo coast, date back to the early Neolithic (earliest farming period), almost 6,000 years ago. Céide Fields is one of the best preserved ancient farming landscapes not only in Ireland but in Europe, thanks to the extensive growth of blanket bog that covered, and preserved these landscapes. The research was carried out by NUI Galway’s Professor Michael O’Connell, Dr Karen Molloy and Dr Eneda Jennings, and was recently published in the international journal E&G Quaternary Science Journal. Widely regarded as dating to the Neolithic, i.e. 4000–2400 BC, and hence of great cultural importance, Céide Fields has been the subject of detailed study by archaeologists and other researchers for well over half a century. The dating of the stone-wall field systems to the Neolithic relies on evidence derived from, inter alia, archaeological surveys and excavations, pollen analysis, study of bog-pine timbers, i.e. bog deal, and radiocarbon dating. Professor Michael O’Connell, Professor Emeritus at NUI Galway, said: “This new research not only confirms the early Neolithic age of the field systems but also leaves no doubt as to the intensity of the initial phase of Neolithic farming in north Mayo. This started at 3800 BC and lasted for 400 years. Not only was it of long duration, but the fossil pollen data, provided by pollen analyst, Dr Karen Molloy, at NUI Galway, suggests that it was more intensive than any farming of Neolithic age so far recorded in Ireland or Britain.” The research shows that, in all likelihood, construction of the regular system of field walls at Céide Fields took place during the earlier part of the intensive farming phase during the early Neolithic. The fossil pollen evidence, taken in conjunction with the large, indicates that the farming was mainly pastoral, more than likely a cattle-based farming economy. Cereal cultivation, however, also took place and was, undoubtedly, an integral part of the local farming economy. The intensive, early Neolithic farming phase was followed by a period of three centuries with reduced, though still substantial farming. After that, there was a lull in farming that lasted several centuries. It was during this lull, in the late Neolithic and prior to the onset of the Bronze Age, that major expansion of blanket bog occurred. Blanket bog, today a dominant landscape feature in north-west Mayo, is sometimes referred to as ‘climatic peat’ because of its requirement for high and frequent rainfall. The NUI Galway researchers show that a shift towards wetter and cooler climate, in itself, does not provide a satisfactory explanation for the way in which Neolithic farming waxed and waned at Céide Fields. Other factors that were possibly involved include deforestation, soil acidification, and impoverishment though prolonged use with little or no replenishment of essential nutrients. However, abandonment of farming, in the context of a considerable population decline triggered by cultural and socio-economic factors, was probably more important than any fluctuations in climate. The phenomenon of pine growing within blanket-bog contexts, a frequent occurrence in the past, is also discussed at length by the researchers in the light of the many radiocarbon dates now available from fossil pine timbers preserved by bog, not only at Céide Fields but also elsewhere in Co. Mayo, including Erris, Garrynagran and Shanvallycahill. The new information, which relies mainly on research carried out by Dr Eneda Jennings at NUI Galway, sheds additional light on landscape development and climate change during prehistory in western Ireland. Professor O’Connell continued: “The substantial and multi-disciplinary body of evidence now available demonstrates, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the pre-bog field system at Céide Fields pertains to the Neolithic and indeed the earlier part of the Neolithic as known from Ireland, Britain and much of north-western Europe including Scandinavia, a view that is also shared by most archaeologists and other palaeoecologists.” The full study is available (open access) at https://www.eg-quaternary-sci-j.net/69/1/2020/ -Ends-

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

NUI Galway will celebrate Irish Traveller Ethnicity Day by hosting the ‘Travellers in Education: Building a Sense of Belonging’ event on Wednesday, 26 February. Irish Traveller Ethnicity Day marks the anniversary of Travellers gaining ethnic status, while celebrating Travellers culture and heritage including music, craft traditions and language. The event will showcase the rich cultural heritage of Irish Travellers through the Traveller Living Exhibition which is open to the public from 10am – 2.30pm outside Áras na Mac Léinn. The exhibition, a vibrant recreation of Traveller life in the 1950s includes a fully restored barrel-top wagon, a traditional tent, a flat cart, a working tinsmith, a storyteller, and a campfire. Irish traditional music and Sean-nós dancing will also feature. Parallel to the showcase, the Access Centre will facilitate workshops to highlight pathways into university, specifically medicine and law, while outlining the multiple supports available to potential students. Imelda Byrne, Head of NUI Galway’s Access Centre, said: “The Access Centre is delighted to collaborate with our student societies, the Office of the Vice-President for Equality and Diversity, and Traveller Organisations across our region in organising this unique event. The first of its kind in any third-level institution in the country the event is core to the University’s strategy, particularly the values of openness and respectfulness delivered through the School of Sanctuary programme. We are proud and excited to host this event.” At 1pm in the Bailey Allen Hall (NUI Galway), there will be panel discussions focusing on the student experience and Travellers in education with: Hannagh McGinley, PhD Student in Education; Owen Ward, Access Centre; Martin Ward, WestTrav; Senator Alice Mary Higgins, Dean of Students Michelle Millar, and others. The panels will also hear from current students and graduates from NUI Galway amongst other higher education institutions about their experience in higher education. NUI Galway’s Owen Ward, Schools of Sanctuary Coordinator at NUI Galway, said: “This event highlights the openness of NUI Galway and participating schools where equality, diversity and inclusion is embedded within all its actions. This creates the opportunity for all students, including Irish Travellers, to commence building their sense of belonging at NUI Galway, while building bridges between all communities.” The event is organised by the NUI Galway’s Access Centre, Mincéirs Whiden Society and in collaboration with local schools participating in the NUI Galway Schools of Sanctuary programme. The participating schools are St. Marys College, Our Lady’s College, Scoil Bhríde Shantalla and Scoil Chroí Íosa. NUI Galway’s Schools of Sanctuary programme aims to empower students to cultivate their sense of belonging within education while enhancing their knowledge of pathways into Higher Education. The programme is an important element of the NUI Galway University of Sanctuary initiative and the University’s Strategic Plan. -Ends-

Friday, 14 February 2020

Study shows how the jellyfish Hydractinia produces eggs and sperm more flexibly than humans A new study, led by Dr Tim DuBuc and Professor Uri Frank from the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway, has found that Hydractinia, a North Atlantic jellyfish that also lives in Galway Bay, reproduces in a similar way to humans but does so far more flexibly. An article presenting these findings has been published today in the journal Science, with co-authors Dr Andy Baxevanis from the National Human Genome Research Institute of the US National Institutes of Health and Dr Christine Schnitzler from the Whitney Laboratory of Marine Bioscience of the University of Florida. Most animals, including humans, generate germ stem cells – the exclusive progenitors of eggs and sperm – only once in their lifetime. This process occurs during early embryonic development by setting aside (or ‘sequestering’) a small group of cells. All sperm or eggs that we humans produce during our lives are the descendants of those few cells we sequestered as early embryos. Importantly, there is no way for humans to replenish germ cells that were not sequestered during embryonic development or lost in adult life, resulting in sterility. In findings that may have implications for the study of human infertility, this research shows that Hydractinia uses a gene called Tfap2 as a ‘switch’ to commit its adult stem cells to produce gametes – eggs and sperm. Humans also use Tfap2 to commit cells to gamete production but only go through this process once, in a narrow time frame during embryonic development. In contrast, Hydractinia performs this process throughout its adult life. Therefore, the loss of germ cells in Hydractinia has no consequences with respect to fertility as its germ cells can be generated throughout its lifetime. Speaking today, Professor Uri Frank explained: “Looking at the similar, yet more flexible, system of reproduction in Hydractinia broadens our understanding of the issues affecting reproduction in humans. While much of a human’s capacity to reproduce is determined during embryonic development, we see that these jellyfish are far more adaptive and have a much greater capacity to regenerate their reproductive system throughout their adult lives. By looking at these genetically more tractable animals, we hope to understand core processes that control cells’ decisions in development and disease.”  The full article is published in Science and available at: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/367/6479/757 ENDS

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

A new book which brings together theory, research and practice in relation to youth mentoring in a care context was recently launched at NUI Galway. Mentoring for Young People in Care and Leaving Care was written by Bernadine Brady, Pat Dolan and Caroline McGregor from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway. Mentoring for Young People in Care and Leaving Care provides a comprehensive synthesis of current international literature on theory and practice relating to mentoring for young people in care and leaving care. Illustrated with the details of original research with care-experienced young people, it offers much-needed insight into how young people interpret and make sense of their experiences in care and of mentoring. The research with young people in Ireland found benefits of mentoring included enhanced emotional well-being, educational progression, social capital and identity development.  The book also includes original research with young people in Ireland who have taken part in Foróige’s Big Brothers Big Sisters programme, offering valuable insights into how young people interpret and make sense of their experiences in care and mentoring. Co-author Dr Bernadine Brady, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway, said: “There are over 6,000 children in care in Ireland, with the majority cared for in foster placements. Research has shown that the needs of young people in care are often complex and extensive because of the reasons for their admission to care and/or the challenges associated with being in care. While these needs often require formal supports, such as psychology or social work, there is increasing evidence that the availability of informal social support from a trusted adult can also make a significant difference in the lives of young people.  Research has shown that many young people in care draw on mentors – i.e. non-parental adults - for guidance, encouragement and emotional support and that those who do so tend to experience more positive outcomes.  Formal mentoring programmes aim to replicate the benefits of natural mentoring relationships by ‘matching’ a young person with a volunteer mentor who can be a friend and support to him or her.”  Speaking at the launch, Sean Campbell, CEO of Foróige, said: “The informal social support provided through a high-quality mentoring relationship can help young people in care to sustain positive mental health, cope with stress and fulfil their potential through adolescence and into adulthood. We are delighted to launch this book, which provides a highly readable synthesis of research findings in relation to mentoring for children in care and explores the challenges and considerations relating to practice in this area.” -Ends-

Monday, 17 February 2020

Five NUI Galway based programmes will engage more than 100,000 members of the Irish public with science in 2020 Five NUI Galway public engagement and education initiatives have been awarded funding of more than €175,000 through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme, to fund projects dedicated to educating and engaging with 112,000 members of the public in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in 2020. The funding awards were announced by Secretary General of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Dr Orlaigh Quinn as part of a national investment of €5.12 million. The five projects include Bright Club, Cell EXPLORERS Escape Room, SpaceShip Earth, CÚRAM ‘Curios Young Minds’ and ReelLIFE SCIENCE. Speaking about the funded projects, Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “It’s part of our culture at NUI Galway to engage, to connect and to communicate. Our researchers have an excellent track record in public engagement and have devised fun and engaging programmes to highlight the importance of STEM in addressing societal challenges. The support from SFI is particularly important in helping us to carry on inspiring minds.” Speaking about the Programme, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland said: “I am delighted to see such a strong contingent from NUI Galway this year. The SFI Discover Programme encourages people from all communities, age groups and backgrounds to engage with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). This is achieved by supporting a diverse range of engagement activities across Ireland, designed to help people explore STEM in meaningful and creative ways. All of the Discover projects are supported by a number of Higher Education Institutes, Research bodies, companies and councils. I congratulate the each of the teams and look forward to watching them inspire our future scientists, engineers and innovators.” NUI Galway Funded Projects Bright Club (€49,862 funding award) Bright Club is a variety show with a twist. Academic researchers become comedians for one night, using comedy to talk about their research. The researchers from science, engineering, mathematics, social science, and the humanities get training in humour as communication, before joining actual comedians on stage in front of the public to talk about their research in an informal pub setting. Bright Club has been running across Ireland for five years with over 70 live events and 200 academics trained, spearheaded by Dr Jessamyn Fairfield in the School of Physics at NUI Galway. More information can be found at www.brightclub.ie. Cell EXPLORERS Escape Room (€46,542 funding award) Cell EXPLORERS is a successful science education and public engagement programme delivering STEM activities nationally. By using hands-on activities facilitated by local scientist volunteers. In 2020, with the support of the SFI Discover strategic partnership fund 2018 (€298,778), the programme will run school visits nationally with the participation of 13 teams based in 15 universities and institutes of technology. More information can be found at www.cellexplorers.com. This year, the programme will also create a Cell EXPLORERS Escape Room to reach participants not normally engaged with STEM. Escape rooms, in which a group of participants solves puzzles to resolve a mystery and escape a confined space/situation, are a combination of intellectual challenge, hands-on experience and social gathering. The content will relate to modern biology and will be co-created with young people, teachers, scientists, and education specialists, including Escape Room artist Dr Ran Peleg from Southampton University. The Cell EXPLORERS Escape Room will be launched during Science Week 2020 in three distinct geographic locations and in one school, while kits will subsequently be circulated around the country making this project sustainable for several years. SpaceShip Earth (€39,200 funding award) Spaceship Earth will inspire, engage and educate teachers, students and the public about STEM through launching four high-altitude balloons from Ireland to the ‘Edge of Space’ and back on 4 May 2020 (May the Fourth Be With You - Star Wars Day). Space is an amazing way to enthuse people about STEM and, given the current justifiable concern for Climate Change, the ability of high-altitude balloons to carry student projects and cameras into the stratosphere (~30,000m), allows reflection on the uniqueness of our blue planet - Spaceship Earth. The Spaceship Earth format will engage students in real-world, project-based experiments, to develop collaborative problem-solving skills and a framework for asking and answering scientific questions. The project team (including NUI Galway/UL/Met Éireann) will work closely with participating schools for their first high-altitude balloon mission. This celestial pilot project proposal represents a new dawn of innovation for Irish STEM education and public engagement. CÚRAM ‘Curious Young Minds’ Project (€28,135 funding award) CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, together with community partners, scientists and artists will develop and deliver a series of hands-on STEAM workshops to families living under Direct Provision in Galway City with the ‘Curious Young Minds’ project. A creative approach to science learning will be at the core of the workshops, aimed primarily at children aged 4-12 and their parents. Workshop content will be designed in conjunction with participants to increase their interest in science as well as their confidence in learning about and exploring science topics. Workshops will be held throughout the year, exploring different science topics and culminating in the development of a STEAM toolkit which will be distributed to hundreds of families living in Direct Provision centres throughout Ireland. The contents of the toolkit will be developed directly by the children and parents participating in the workshops, making them the authors. CÚRAM’s Education and Public Engagement Programme ‘Breaking Barriers’ aims to forge collaborations between researchers and the community. More information is available at www.curamdevices.ie/curam/public-engagement/. ReelLIFE SCIENCE (€15,000 funding award) ReelLIFE SCIENCE is a nationwide science video competition, which encourages young people and the general public to discover more about STEM and its impact on individuals, society and the environment, while developing participants’ creativity, communication and digital skills. Young people from schools and youth organisations are challenged to research a STEM topic and communicate it for the public via an engaging and educational three-minute video. The deadline for entries is Friday October 16th, and the best videos are awarded €1000 and are screened for the public at the Galway Science and Technology Festival in NUI Galway. Since being launched by Dr Enda O’Connell in 2013, ReelLIFE SCIENCE has enabled more than 13,000 young people from 400 schools and community groups all over the country, to engage with STEM in a novel way. More information about this programme can be found at www.reellifescience.com. Science Foundation Ireland has invested in over 440 public engagement projects through the Discover Programme since 2013. This year’s funded initiatives are estimated to reach five hundred and eighty thousand people. 47 diverse initiatives will be supported by this year’s programme, with successful awardees being carefully selected through international peer-review. -Ends-

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

USI runs a Sexual Health Health Awareness campaign and launches a survey on campuses across Ireland Today the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) launched a Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) campaign running from the 10th -14th February. The campaign will include the launch of a ‘Sexual Experiences Survey’ with NUI Galway Active Consent, the distribution of 30,000 ‘SHAG Packs’, as well providing information on sexual health. The theme for this year is Sexual Empowerment amongst students. USI President, Lorna Fitzpatrick says: “The main focus of this campaign is to promote positive attitudes towards sex and raise awareness of all aspects of sexual health. In Ireland, talking about sex can still be considered a taboo subject and USI believes it is important to break through these barriers and encourage people to practice safer sex and to look after their sexual health. The truth is that many young people do not receive adequate relationships and sexual education while in school and for many the first time they learn about their sexual health is when they come to college. The USI continues to lobby for a more inclusive and evidence-based RSE programme for primary and secondary schools to ensure young people have experience of these conversations before going to college. This campaign allows us to directly reach 30,000 students with information about masturbation, consent, abortion information and sexual transmitted infections.” As part of the SHAG 2020 campaign, USI and NUI Galway Active Consent are working together in launching a national online students’ survey for third level students; the Sexual Experiences Survey (SES). The survey is designed to gain an insight on students’ experiences of sexual violence, attitudes towards consent, and perceptions of HEI supportsand responses to sexual misconduct. The Sexual Experiences Survey will help to address the knowledge gap by surveying students across all HEIs in the Republic of Ireland affiliated with USI. Survey findings will be presented in a report later in 2020 that highlights priorities across the HEI sector for prevention, awareness, and skills development. Dr Lorraine Burke, NUI Galway Post-Doctoral Researcher, leading the survey implementation said: “The 2019 Department of Education Consent Framework identified goals for HEIs in supporting students’ positive sexual health and to contend with the problem of sexual harassment and violence. The Sexual Experiences Survey will make sure we get comprehensive, up to date information on our students’ awareness of services, the prevalence of negative experiences, and the positive role of students in supporting a culture of respect”. Dr Pádraig MacNeela, Senior Lecturer in Psychology in NUI Galway and Active Consent programme leader said: “The issue of sexual violence and harassment will only be addressed successfully when all of us join forces and act together. We are delighted to partner with USI to carry out this important survey. Each of us brings important strengths, and through collaboration with third level colleges we aim to get a full picture of positive and negative student experiences. Once we know that information we can use it to help target sexual health education and supports”. USI Vice President for Welfare, Róisín O’Donovan says: “USI is delighted to be launching this survey in collaboration with NUI Galway Active consent on this important topic for students. The last time USI did a national survey on consent was the ‘Say Something’ survey in 2013, so it’s time for more up to date data to be reflective of the student society at the moment in Ireland. We’re looking forward to gaining a better insight into students’ sexual experiences and how we can best move forward with the ‘Consent Framework’”.