NUI Galway Conferences to Boost Local Economy by €7m in 2016

NUI Galway Conferences to Boost Local Economy by €7m in 2016-image

Monday, 9 March 2015

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

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Leading Chinese Human Rights Lawyer to Speak at the Irish Centre for Human Rights

Leading Chinese Human Rights Lawyer to Speak at the Irish Centre for Human Rights-image

Monday, 9 March 2015

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

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NUI Galway-based entrepreneur’s new book looks at policing and social media

NUI Galway-based entrepreneur’s new book looks at policing and social media-image

Monday, 9 March 2015

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

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NUI Galway Hosts Ireland’s Only Harry Potter Convention

NUI Galway Hosts Ireland’s Only Harry Potter Convention-image

Monday, 9 March 2015

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

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Antenna-like structures found on immune cells for first time

Antenna-like structures found on immune cells for first time-image

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

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

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NUI Galway Team Retain 'Global Investment Research Challenge' Title

NUI Galway Team Retain 'Global Investment Research Challenge' Title-image

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

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

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First NUI Galway Undergraduate Research Conference

First NUI Galway Undergraduate Research Conference-image

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

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

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9 out of 10 Irish Medical Students Consider Leaving Ireland when they Qualify

9 out of 10 Irish Medical Students Consider Leaving Ireland when they Qualify-image

Thursday, 12 March 2015

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

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President Higgins announced as Patron of Year of Light

President Higgins announced as Patron of Year of Light-image

Thursday, 12 March 2015

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

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NUI Galway Holds First Climate Congress

NUI Galway Holds First Climate Congress-image

Monday, 16 March 2015

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

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