Thursday, 9 May 2013

            Academics and employers name the world’s top universities in 30 individual disciplines The new 2013 QS World University Rankings by Subject, released today on TopUniversities.com has revealed that NUI Galway is one of the eight Irish institutions to have appeared on the list of the world’s top 200 universities in 30 individual disciplines including mathematics, economics, history, environmental sciences and 25 others. The subject area ranking is based on last year’s (2012) rankings data. NUI Galway features in the top 200 institutions in 5 of the 30 subjects featured in this year's QS World University Rankings by Subject: *   English Language & Literature (151 – 200) *   History (101 – 150) *   Computer Science & Info Systems (101 – 150) *   Pharmacy & Pharmacology (151 – 200) *   Law (151 – 200) Speaking of the announcement, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne said: “This is very good news for NUI Galway as the QS World University Rankings by Subject series takes into the account the opinion of academics and employers via a global survey confirming that our position globally is on the rise. We operate in a global market, competing for students and research support on an international playing field and this international recognition of the quality of our research and teaching from academic and employer opinions around the world are very significant.” Now in its 3rd year, The QS World University Rankings by Subject series is the only international evaluation that allows prospective students to compare universities in their particular area of interest. Ben Sowter, head of research at QS says, “As many governments around the world move towards the ‘student pays’ model on higher education funding, employability is increasingly crucial to graduates. QS is the only ranking organisation that takes into account the opinion of employers” He continues, “Although only eight of Ireland’s institutions have ranked in the top 200, we found that 23 Irish institutions in total have been cited by academics in at least one subject, which suggests that the international reputation of the country’s institutions among academics is strong.” The new QS World University Rankings by Subject is published at a time where the impact of rankings is discussed in a report by the European Universities Association<http://qs-email.com/76R-1GVXK-18YFQF-L26VE-1/c.aspx>, which maintains that: “Comparisons between universities on a subject basis can be much more useful for them than global university league tables that try to encapsulate entire institutions in a single score.” The 2013 QS World University Rankings by Subject evaluated 2,858 universities and ranked 678 institutions in total. The full methodology with an overview of the performance of all the Irish institutions considered is published on TopUniversities.com alongside the 2013 QS World University Rankings by Subject tables for accounting and finance; chemistry; history; English language; sociology; electrical engineering; chemical engineering; politics, biological sciences; modern languages; psychology, and more. Ends __________________                               OÉ Gaillimh i measc an 200 Ollscoil is fearr ar domhan                          Ainmníonn acadóirí agus fostóirí na hollscoileanna is fearr i 30 disciplín ar leith Foilsíodh Ranguithe nua Ollscoile QS an Domhain de réir Ábhair 2013 inniu ar TopUniversities.com agus tá OÉ Gaillimh ar cheann de na hocht n-institiúid Éireannacha atá ar an liosta den 200 ollscoil is fearr sa domhan i 30 disciplín ar leith lena n-áirítear matamaitic, eacnamaíoch, stair, eolaíochtaí comhshaoil agus 25 disciplín eile. Tá an rangú ábhair bunaithe ar shonraí rangaithe na bliana seo caite (2012). Tá OÉ Gaillimh luaite i measc an 200 institiúid is fearr i gcúig cinn de na tríocha ábhar i Ranguithe Ollscoile QS an Domhain de réir Ábhair: *   Béarla agus Litríocht (151 - 200) *   Stair (101 - 150) *   Eolaíocht Ríomhaireachta agus Córais Faisnéise (101 - 150) *   Cógaslann agus Cógaseolaíocht (151 - 200) *   Dlí (151 - 200) Ag labhairt dó faoin bhfógra, dúirt an Dr Jim Browne, Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh: “Is iontach an scéal é seo do OÉ Gaillimh mar go gcuimsíonn sraith Ranguithe Ollscoile QS an Domhain de réir Ábhair tuairimí acadóirí agus fostóirí trí shuirbhé domhanda, rud a dhearbhaíonn go bhfuil ár seasamh domhanda ag dul i dtreise. Táimid ag feidhmiú i margadh domhanda, san iomaíocht do mhic léinn agus do thacaíocht taighde ar pháirc idirnáisiúnta agus tá an t-aitheantas idirnáisiúnta seo ar ár gcaighdeán taighde agus teagaisc bunaithe ar thuairimí acadóirí agus fostóirí ar fud an domhain, thar a bheith suntasach.” Is í seo an tríú bliain a bhfuil Ranguithe Ollscoile QS an Domhain de réir Ábhair foilsithe agus is é seo an t-aon mheasúnú idirnáisiúnta a thugann deis do mhic léinn ollscoileanna a chur i gcomparáid lena chéile i réimse spéise ar leith. Deir Ben Sowter, ceann an taighde ag QS, “De réir mar a bhogann rialtais go leor ar fud an domhain i dtreo an mhúnla maoinithe ardoideachais ina n-íocann an mac léinn féin, tá tábhacht níos mó ná riamh le hinfhostaitheacht do chéimithe. Is é QS an t-aon eagraíocht rangaithe a chuireann tuairimí fostóirí san áireamh.” Deir sé freisin, “Cé nach bhfuil ach ocht n-institiúid Éireannacha luaite i measc an 200 ollscoil is fearr, chonaiceamar go raibh 23 institiúid Éireannach san iomlán luaite ag lucht acadúil in ábhar amháin ar a laghad, rud a léiríonn go bhfuil cáil idirnáisiúnta institiúidí na tíre go láidir i measc an lucht acadúil.” Foilsítear Ranguithe nua Ollscoile QS an Domhain de réir Ábhair ag am ina bpléitear an tionchar a bhaineann le rangú i dtuarascáil de chuid Chumann na nOllscoileanna Eorpacha<http://qs-email.com/76R-1GVXK-18YFQF-L26VE-1/c.aspx>, a áitíonn:  “go mbíonn sé i bhfad níos úsáidí comparáidí a dhéanamh idir ollscoileanna bunaithe ar ábhair le hais táblaí sraithe domhanda ollscoile a dhéanann iarracht institiúidí iomlána a mharcáil in aon scór amháin.” Rinne Ranguithe Ollscoile QS an Domhain de réir Ábhair 2013 measúnú ar 2,858 ollscoil agus rinne sé 678 san iomlán a rangú. Is féidir teacht ar an modheolaíocht iomlán chomh maith le léargas ar fheidhmíocht na nInstitiúidí Éireannacha ar fad a measadh ar TopUniversities.com chomh maith le táblaí Ranguithe Ollscoile QS an Domhain de réir Ábhair do na hábhair seo a leanas - cuntasaíocht agus airgeadas; ceimic; stair; Béarla; socheolaíocht; innealtóireacht leictreach; innealtóireacht cheimiceach; polaitíocht; bitheolaíochtaí; nuatheangacha; síceolaíocht, agus tuilleadh nach hiad. Críoch

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Workshop Brings Together Stakeholders to Drive Future Business Growth With almost a million apps now available worldwide, a new project has begun to measure the app economy in Europe and help guide stakeholders towards success. The ‘Eurapp’ project was launched by the European Commission, and is being run by the Digital Enterprise Research Institute at NUI Galway in conjunction with leading technology industry analyst firm GigaOM Research. The project kicks off with a working workshop in Brussels on 14 June, “Shape the Future App Economy of Europe”, featuring leaders from the app industry. Eurapp is part of the Startup Europe initiative of the European Commission’s Digital Agenda, which aims to help technology entrepreneurs start, maintain and grow their businesses in Europe. The project will carry out interviews and surveys with various players in the app economy to determine its characteristics. It will also use a series of workshops and innovation challenges to crowdsource proposals for how growth can be stimulated in the future. The workshop will bring together stakeholders and experts to brainstorm how the ecosystem of developers, platform providers, regulators and other participants in the European app economy can grow in the future. It will also consider how companies can succeed in the app ‘aftermarket’. “Recent studies on the app economy in the US estimate that it was responsible for the creation of nearly 500,000 jobs. In Europe, we don’t have the same kind of data just yet, but the region is a strong player in the global app economy, with companies like Rovio, SoundCloud and SwiftKey leading the way,” said NUI Galway’s Dr John Breslin, who is leading the Eurapp project at DERI. The Shape the Future workshop in June will have invited speakers from the apps industry, including Samsung, SwiftKey and Betapond. The format will be a series of lightning talks featuring experts in the space, followed by mapping sessions to probe attendees’ collective thinking and examine some of the issues to be tackled in growing the app economy in Europe. “Some of the key talking points will include identifying the bottlenecks which are experienced by app developers - environmental, technical, or financial - so that the EU could develop policies to overcome or mitigate them. We also want to map out the best measures of success for an app company, such that they can be guided towards successful business outcomes.” After the workshop, solutions to address bottlenecks and to suggest potential success strategies will be crowdsourced in two innovation challenges via the Innocentive platform. Attendees at the event include: Peter Elger, CTO of Betapond; Kumardev Chatterjee, founder of the European Young Innovators Forum; David Card, Vice President of GigaOM Research; Kevin Mobbs, Director of Innovation Programs EMEA at Innocentive; and Eurapp project lead John Breslin, who is also co-founder of boards.ie and the app company StreamGlider. According to Breslin, “The aim of this effort is to not just review the size of the app economy in Europe, but also to guide future app companies to success as per the aims of the Digital Agenda for Europe’s Startup Europe initiative.” The workshop will be held in BU33, Auderghem in Brussels on 14 June 2013. There are very limited places available for the workshop, but those interested can apply to attend at http://eurapp.eu/ -- ENDS --

Thursday, 9 May 2013

As part of the Bealtaine Festival, the second ‘Reel Lives Film Festival’ will take place from 20-24 May. Organised by NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, the festival will feature free lunchtime screenings of films celebrating ageing across the lifecourse. Alison Herbert, event organiser and PhD student with NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Social Gerontology said: “We age from the day we are born, so to celebrate ageing is to celebrate life itself. Ageing is not just old age; ageing is a part of and relevant to all of us, and film is an ideal genre to get the message across that ageing is to be celebrated.” A main film and an Irish short film or documentary will be screened daily with each main film centre on different aspects of ageing, from the lived experiences of women; the yearning for youth; Alzheimer's; being single in older years; and ageism. The short films and documentaries deal with losing one's partner in older years; trying to re-capture youthful feelings; and the lived experiences of those in a Galway nursing home. Award-winning films shown will include: Cocoon; All That Heaven Allows; Another Year; His and Hers; and Away From Her. Short films will include: Ken Wardrop’s Undressing My Mother, and The Herd; Wednesdays; Passing; and When We Were Young One Day. The multi-award winning opening-film His and Hers scored at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, and picked up awards in London, Dublin, and Galway along the way.  A 2009 documentary by Ken Wardrop, His and Hers focuses on the lives of around 70 women from the Irish Midlands. Wardrop interviews women about their relationships with the men in their lives - fathers, boyfriends, husbands, and sons - offering a somewhat quaint peek into a largely rural world. Cocoon stars Brian Dennehy, Don Ameche, and Jessica Tandy.  Directed in 1985 by Ron Howard, this is the highly-watchable story of senior citizens in a retirement home meeting aliens in a humorous film that focuses on the consequences of searching for the elixir of youth.  So successful was Cocoon that it spawned a sequel Cocoon The Return. All That Heaven Allows is a renowned Douglas Sirk film from 1955, which examines the restricting social mores of mid-20th century America. Starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson, the film exposes the ageism that dictates acceptable behaviour.  Wyman is a middle-class widow with adult children, who falls for her younger gardener.  Scandal ensues amongst her country club peers. Away From Her deals with the topic of Alzheimer’s disease, but from a quite different angle. Julie Christie takes the lead in this 2006 film, directed by Sarah Polley, and adapted from the Alice Munro short story The Bear Came Over the Mountain. Christie leaves her husband to admit herself into a nursing home specialising in the care of Alzheimer’s patients. The unusual perspective comes from Christie’s transference of affection from her husband to that of a wheelchair-bound mute in the nursing home. Her husband watches as he loses his wife to both Alzheimer’s and to another man. Another Year is a British comedy/drama from 2010 which looks at four seasons in the lives of married couple Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen. Like all Mike Leigh films, Another Year takes a forensic look at the minutiae of everyday life, revealing the nature of human relationships. The lunchtime screenings are open to the public and will begin each day at 1pm in IT125G, IT Building, NUI Galway.  Each film will be followed by a short audience discussion and refreshments.  Films are sponsored by NUI Galway’s Huston School of Film and Digital Media; Screenclick; The Galway Film Centre; Venom; and Liam Bluett.  The Reel Lives poster was designed by NUI Galway artist Marina Wild. Refreshments are courtesy of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union Shop and spot prizes are sponsored by NUI Galway’s Kingfisher Sports Centre and Masterchefs Hospitality. Details of films being shown and dates of screenings visit www.icsg.ie. For more information contact 091 495461 or 087 2830757. -ENDS-

Friday, 10 May 2013

NUI Galway’s School of Law and the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, in association with the Irish Centre for International Family Mediation will host a conference on Mediation in Cases of International Family Conflict and Child Abduction on Saturday, 18 May.  The aim of the conference is to highlight the availability and suitability of mediation as an appropriate means of intervention in cases of international child abduction and family disputes. The conference will address the topic from a practical, legal and cultural perspective. Speakers will include legal and mediation practitioners, academics and members of the judiciary; the speakers will address the core topic from their perspectives and the recommended model of mediation in such cases will be presented. Lughaidh Kerin, School of Law, NUI Galway, said: “This interdisciplinary and cross cultural approach will assist conference delegates in gaining a broader understanding of the important issues that need to be addressed in relation to mediation in cases of international family conflict and child abduction, which is indicative of the holistic philosophy at the core of mediation.” Aimed at judges, legal practitioners, social and child care workers, academics, researchers, NGO’s and those involved in family and children issues, the conference will be jointly chaired by Professor Donncha O’Connell, Head of the School of Law, NUI Galway and Professor Pat Dolan of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway. The conference will bring together internationally renowned experts in their respective fields, including: Hilde Demarré, Child Focus (Brussels); Judge Eberhard Carl (Retd.) (Berlin); Dr Mohamed M. Keshavjee BL (London); and representatives of the EU Network of International Family Mediators, amongst others. The conference will take place in the Fottrell Theatre, Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway, and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points will be available to those eligible as well as a Certificate of Attendance. For further information, including the conference programme, registration and a list of speakers, see visit www.eventbrite.ie/event/6086818839. For other enquiries contact Lughaidh Kerin at 091 493341 or lughaidh.kerin@nuigalway.ie.                       -ENDS-

Monday, 13 May 2013

NUI Galway and Leitrim County Council will host the seventh International Seminar on John McGahern, commemorating the work of the renowned Irish writer, from Thursday 23rd to Saturday 25th May in Co. Leitrim. Last year’s Seminar attracted more than 140 participants from Ireland and overseas. The literary, historical and hinterland aspects of McGahern’s work will be the focus this year, and the keynote lecture will be given by Roy Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford and author of numerous crucial books and essays on Irish history and writing. Commenting on the opening event, Dr John Kenny, Academic Director of the Seminar, remarked that “Professor Foster’s talk on ‘McGahern and the Memory of the Irish Revolution’ promises to be one of the vital occasions in the seven years of this McGahern Seminar.” The Seminar includes a rich variety of lectures, open discussions, readings and tours. The Dutch novelist and IMPAC winner, Gerbrand Bakker, will talk about the influence of rural settings on fiction and will discuss and read from his own work. Patrick McCabe, one of the key Irish fiction writers of the post-McGahern generation, will give a public interview and reading, and Claire Kilroy, one of the most noted Irish novelists of the subsequent generation, will discuss the influence of McGahern and read and discuss her own work. Other speakers at the event will include Professor Nicholas Allen of the University of Athens, Georgia, who will give a lecture on ‘McGahern and the Republic’, and Dr Heather Laird of University College Cork, who will discuss McGahern’s views on his Irish literary heritage. This year is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the death of David Thomson, an author much admired by McGahern, and to mark the occasion Professor Angela Bourke of University College Dublin will give a feature lecture on Thomson’s major work, Woodbrook, his 1974 memoir about his experiences as a tutor at Woodbrook House near Carrick-on-Shannon, close to where McGahern grew up. Author Brian Leyden will present readings from Thomson during the Seminar boat trip to McGahern’s own Cootehall. In keeping with the theme of memoir, author and Irish Times columnist, Michael Harding, will give a talk at McGahern’s beloved Aughawillan on ‘Experience, Memory and Fiction’, and the Abbot of Glenstal, Mark Patrick Hederman, will conclude the weekend with a talk entitled ‘McGahern and the Weather of the Times’. The Seminar will also have an Archives feature with a presentation on the materials held at the James Hardiman Library of NUI Galway in the John McGahern Papers. NUI Galway has provided five Scholarships to assist students to attend the Seminar and visit the Archive. Announcing the McGahern events, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “Through the International John McGahern Seminar, we at NUI Galway are working to broaden access to literary scholarship and to share the riches of the McGahern archive with the widest possible audience. In holding this valuable archive in the West of Ireland, we feel that the University is holding in trust a treasure for the literary world, for the Irish nation and most especially for this region, which we have served for more than 160 years. I wish the 2013 International McGahern Seminar every success and I welcome the continued partnership of Leitrim County Council in this culturally important endeavour.” Speaking at the launch of the 2013 programme, Jackie Maguire, Manager, Leitrim County Council, said: “Leitrim County Council views the Seminar as an important part of the county’s and indeed Ireland’s literary calendar which presents an excellent opportunity for both academic and general readers to engage richly with the work of John McGahern and we are delighted to continue to work in partnership with NUI Galway in organising this seventh International Seminar.”  As well as appealing to all lovers of McGahern’s own work, the International Seminar will be of interest to literary researchers and to book clubs, to readers of contemporary fiction and modern writing, and to all national and international students of Irish literature, culture society and history. A limited number of places are still available for the full Seminar, however the keynote lecture in the Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon on Thursday 23rd at 7pm is open to all. For further details and to book for the 2013 International Seminar on John McGahern contact Christine at 071 9621694, email ckelly@leitrimcoco.ie, or visit www.leitrimarts.ie ENDS

Monday, 13 May 2013

NUI Galway is offering secondary school students the choice of six separate Summer Schools in June, across the disciplines of Business, Nursing, Computing, Engineering and Science. The summer schools are specially designed to give prospective students a real taste of University life through a wide range of hands-on practical activities. The Nursing Summer School will take place on Wednesday, 5 June. This initiative will give students the opportunity to learn more about studying Nursing and the careers available to them upon graduation. Activities at the Summer School will focus on lifesaving skills include CPR, recognising vital signs and hand hygiene. Spaces for this Summer School are limited to 32 students and are on a first-come, first-served basis. NUI Galway’s week-long Computing Summer Camp introduces computing in a novel, fun and interactive way. Students will have the opportunity to explore and experiment with a range of digitally-inspired topics including Programming, Computer Animation, Games, 3D Modelling and Robotics. The summer camp will also give students a sense of the exciting possibilities in computer science and information technology, and will also provide an insight into the range of topics that form part of the highly successful BSc in Computer Science and Information Technology. Due to popular demand, NUI Galway will hold two of the week-long sessions from 10-14 June, or 17-21 June. The closing date for applications for the Computing Summer Camp is Friday, 31 May. Students interested in the Engineering Summer School have a choice of two different days to participate, Thursday, 27 June, or Friday, 28 June. Taking place in the University’s new Engineering Building, the Summer School offers a unique hands-on practical experience to get a taste of life as an engineer. Activities include controlling a wastewater treatment plant remotely, robo-soccer games, building and testing pacemaker circuits, designing an eco-house, and for future Formula 1 engineers, designing a go-kart. There will also be a 'Frankenstein Design’ feature on how bioengineers make new body parts. From Wednesday 26 to Thursday 27 June, the Science Experience Summer Event will offer students two days to delve into a wide range of scientific disciplines in world class research facilities and institutes. The workshop will feature all disciplines of the College of Science including Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics. Prospective students will get a taste of life as a scientist with the opportunity to take part in lab experiments and demonstrations, find out more about careers in Science and hear about the latest discoveries and inventions. The closing date for applications for the Science Experience Summer Event is Sunday, 26 May. New for 2013 is the Business Summer School and the Computer Science and Information Technology One-Day Camp. Open to all secondary school students, the Computer Science and Information Technology Camp will take place on Monday, 24 June. Taking place on Tuesday, 25 June the Business Summer School is made up of workshops and lectures bases around the five subject areas taught by the School of Business and Economics; Marketing, Human Resource Management, Accounting, Economics and Business Information Systems. Students will get a taste of life as a business student and see how what they will learn in NUI Galway is applied to the Business world. Activities include five 45 minute workshops providing insights into each subject, tours of student facilities at NUI Galway and students will have the opportunity to find out about the financial positioning of their local businesses. Spaces for all Summer Schools are limited so early booking is advised. The closing date for applications is Friday, 7 June, with the exception of the Science Experience Summer Event and the Computing Summer Camp which have a closing date of Sunday, 26 May and Friday, 31 May respectively. For further information, or for application form, visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/summer-schools/. -ENDS-

Monday, 13 May 2013

Scientists have developed techniques for the genetic improvement of sunflowers using a non-GMO based approach. The new technology platform can harness the plant’s own genes to improve characteristics of sunflower, develop genetic traits, which will improve its role as an important oilseed crop. The work was led by Dr Manash Chatterjee, an Adjunct Faculty member of Botany and Plant Science at NUI Galway, and has been published in the journal BMC Plant Biology. Among oilseed crops, sunflowers are one of the most important sources of edible vegetable oil for human consumption worldwide. Sunflower and other oilseed crops are the source of the vast majority of vegetable oil used for cooking and food processing. The oils are also for industrial processes such as making soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, paints and biofuels. Dr Chatterjee is currently a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) ETS Walton Fellow at NUI Galway, collaborating with the SFI Genetics and Biotechnology Lab of Professor Charles Spillane. Dr Chatterjee’s research uses an approach called TILLING (Targeting Induced Lesions In The Genome), an established non-GM method for creating and discovering new traits in plants. According to Dr Chatterjee: “Over the centuries, the sunflower has been cultivated for traits such as yield. However, along the way many useful genetic variations have been lost. This new technology allows us to pinpoint key genetic information relating to various useful traits in the sunflower, including wild sunflower species. It gives us a method to quickly create variability for further breeding to enhance the quantity, quality and natural performance of the crop. In this era of increasing global food crisis and changing climatic regimes, such ability is highly desirable.” The research breakthrough was part of a collaborative project between Bench Bio (India), URGV Lab INRA (France), NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (Ireland) and Advanta Seeds Argentina. NUI Galway PhD student Anish PK Kumar has been working on the technology platform development as a component of his PhD research studies. Dr Chatterjee is also involved in research in the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) to improve the bioenergy crop Miscanthus. Also known as elephant grass, miscanthus is one of a new generation of renewable energy crops that can be converted into renewable energy by being burned in biomass power stations. -ends-

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

For the European Month of the Brain, staff and students of NUI Galway’s Neuroscience Centre are organising a major public information exhibit on the Ground Floor in the Eyre Square Shopping Centre on Saturday, 18 May from 10am to 5pm. Members of the public will have the opportunity to learn more about brain disorders, via a series of large information posters prepared by the staff and postgraduate students of NUI Galway Neuroscience Centre.  The posters cover a variety of illnesses including: Epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Pain, Anxiety, Depression, Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Stroke, Brain injury and Spinal cord injury. Neuroscientists form the Galway Neuroscience Centre will be on hand to chat to the public about how the brain works and brain disorders. Information leaflets obtained from brain-related charities and organisations will be displayed and available for the public to take away, such as MS Ireland, Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland, Parkinson’s Association of Ireland, Aware, Chronic Pain Ireland, Shine, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland and Brainwave. Dr Karen Doyle, Lecturer in Physiology at NUI Galway, said: “In May 2013, neuroscientists across Europe will hold events to highlight research in to how the brain works and diseases of the brain. One in every 3 people will be affected by a brain disorder during our lifetime. Approximately 180 million Europeans are thought to suffer from a brain disorder, at a total cost of almost 800 billion euro per annum. This event run by the neuroscientists in NUI Galway during the European month of the brain is to help the Galway public understand how the brain works normally, and brain disorders.” The Galway Neuroscience Centre acknowledges funding from the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Science in NUI Galway and the international Dana Foundation. -ENDS-

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

NUI Galway Alumni Association will hold its annual golf outing in the Galway Bay Golf Club, Oranmore on Friday, 7 June.                               Seán O’Rourke, NUI Galway Alumni Board Chairman, said: “This is a great opportunity for alumni and friends to get together for an afternoon of friendly competition. It also affords graduates the opportunity to reminisce on their time spent at NUI Galway, hear about developments on campus and catch up with former classmates and friends old and new.” The entry fee of €25 includes green fees and prizes and is open to all graduates and friends of NUI Galway. For further details and booking information, contact Alumni Office on 091 493750 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/alumni-friends -ENDS-

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Professor Donncha O’Connell is the newly-appointed Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway having recently been appointed to an Established Chair in Law. He is also a part-time Commissioner of the Law Reform Commission, the statutory body charged with advising the government on law reform proposals, and a member of the Legal Aid Board. Welcoming the news, Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway said: “On behalf of NUI Galway I am delighted to announce this professorial appointment.  Donncha O’Connell has a tremendous record of achievement as an academic, teacher and public intellectual.  I am confident that he will lead the School of Law in a new and exciting phase of its development. He will lend his talents to further developing the strong international reputation of the School of Law, drawing on his academic skills, public policy experience and his leadership abilities as a former Dean.” Donncha was born in 1968 and grew up in Swinford, Co. Mayo. He graduated with a BA (in Legal Science and Sociology & Politics) in 1988 and an LL.B in 1990 after which he was called to the Irish Bar. Immediately after that he went to the University of Edinburgh for a year graduating with a Masters in Law in 1993. Upon returning from Edinburgh Donncha was appointed to a lectureship at the School of Law, NUI Galway and taught Constitutional Law, Labour Law and European Human Rights there until taking unpaid leave of absence in 1999. In 1999 he was appointed as the first full-time Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), an NGO founded in 1976 by Kader Asmal and Mary Robinson. In 2002 Donncha resigned as Director of the ICCL and returned to the Law School at NUI Galway. In the same year he was appointed as the Irish member of the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights established by the European Commission on foot of a recommendation by the European Parliament LIBE Committee. In 2005 Donncha O'Connell was elected Dean of Law at NUI Galway and served a full term until 2008. During that time he worked through the Council of Deans to bring about the establishment of the new College of Business, Public Policy & Law, NUI Galway, made up of the former faculties of Commerce and Law as well as the Shannon College of Hotel Management & Catering. While serving as Dean of Law Donncha continued to teach Constitutional Law and European Human Rights to under-graduate students while pioneering new courses, such as Equality Law: Principles & Thematic Application and Processes of Law Reform, offered to post-graduate students on the Law School's LL.M in Public Law. In 2007, he tendered successfully with an international consortium that formed FRALEX, the legal expert group that advises the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights based in Vienna and continued to work as the Senior Irish Expert until 2011. He edits the Irish Human Rights Law Review, published biennially by Clarus Press. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the London-based NGO, INTERIGHTS from 2009-2012. Donncha joined the Board of INTERIGHTS while spending a sabbatical year (2009-2010) as a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE). He has been a member of the National Council of the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) Ltd., the National Executive Committee of Amnesty International – Ireland and the Advisory Board of the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA), a project of FLAC. Since 2006 Donncha has played an active part on the Board of Directors of the internationally-acclaimed, Galway-based, Druid Theatre Company. He is also a trustee of Counterpoint Arts based in Dublin and London. ENDS   Ceann Scoil an Dlí nua in OÉ Gaillimh Tá an tOllamh Donncha O’Connell nuacheaptha mar Cheann Scoil an Dlí in OÉ Gaillimh tar éis dó a bheith ceaptha le gairid mar Chathaoir Bunaithe sa Dlí. Chomh maith leis sin tá sé ina Choimisinéir páirtaimseartha ar an gCoimisiún um Athchóiriú an Dlí, an comhlacht reachtúil a bhfuil sé de chúram air comhairle a chur ar an rialtas faoi mholtaí athchóirithe dlí. Tá sé freisin ina bhall den Bhord um Chúnamh Dlíthiúil. Chuir an Dochtúir Jim Browne, Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, fáilte roimh an scéala: “Thar ceann OÉ Gaillimh tá ríméad orm an ceapachán ollúnachta seo a fhógairt.   Tá éachtaí bainte amach ag Donncha O’Connell mar fhear léinn, mar theagascóir agus mar intleachtóir poiblí.  Táim muiníneach go dtreoróidh sé Scoil an Dlí i dtréimhse nua agus spreagúil dá cuid forbartha. Úsáidfidh sé a chuid buanna chun cur le cáil láidir idirnáisiúnta Scoil an Dlí, ag úsáid a chuid scileanna acadúla, a thaithí ar bheartas poiblí agus a chumais cheannaireachta mar Dhéan.” Rugadh Donncha sa bhliain 1968 agus tógadh é i mBéal Átha na Muice, Co. Mhaigh Eo. Bronnadh céim BA (san Eolaíocht Dhlíthiúil agus sa tSocheolaíocht agus Polaitíocht) air i 1988 agus bhain sé LLB amach i 1990 agus ina dhiaidh sin glaodh chun Bharr na hÉireann é. Go díreach ina dhiaidh sin d’fhreastail sé ar Ollscoil Dhún Éideann ar feadh bliana áit ar bhain sé amach Máistreacht sa Dlí i 1993. Nuair a d’fhill sé ó Dhún Éideann ceapadh mar léachtóir i Scoil an Dlí, OÉ Gaillimh é, áit ar mhúin sé Dlí Bunreachtúil, Dlí Oibreachais agus Cearta Daonna na hEorpa go dtí gur thóg sé saoire neamhláithreachta gan phá i 1999. Sa bhliain 1999 ceapadh é mar an chéad Stiúrthóir lánaimseartha ar an gComhairle um Chearta an Duine (ICCL), an eagraíocht neamhrialtasach a bhunaigh Kader Asmal agus Mary Robinson i 1976. Sa bhliain 2002 d’éirigh Donncha as mar Stiúrthóir an ICCL agus d’fhill sé ar Scoil an Dlí in OÉ Gaillimh. An bhliain chéanna ceapadh é mar bhall de chuid na hÉireann ar Líonra an AE de Shaineolaithe Neamhspleácha ar Chearta Bunúsacha a bhunaigh Coimisiún na hEorpa tar éis moladh ó Choiste LIBE Pharlaimint na hEorpa. Sa bhliain 2005 toghadh Donncha O’Connell mar Dhéan Dlí in OÉ Gaillimh agus d’oibrigh sé téarma iomlán go dtí 2008. Le linn an ama sin d’oibrigh sé le Comhairle na nDéan chun Coláiste an Ghnó, an Bheartais Phoiblí & an Dlí, OÉ Gaillimh a bhunú. Cuireadh na dámha Tráchtála agus Dlí chomh maith le Coláiste Bainistíochta Óstáin agus Lónadóireachta Shionainne le chéile chun an Coláiste nua seo a bhunú. Nuair a bhí sé ina Dhéan Dlí lean Donncha ar aghaidh ag teagasc Dlí Bunreachtúil agus Cearta Daonna na hEorpa do mhic léinn fochéime agus chuir sé cúrsaí nua chun cinn ag an am céanna cosúil le Dlí Comhionannais: Prionsabail agus Feidhmiú Téamach agus Próisis um Athchóiriú Dlí, a chuirtear ar fáil do mhic léinn iarchéime ar an LLM sa Dlí Poiblí a bhíonn ar fáil i Scoil an Dlí. Sa bhliain 2007, d’éirigh leis sa tairiscint a chuir sé ar aghaidh in éineacht le grúpa idirnáisiúnta FRALEX, an grúpa saineolaithe dlí a chuireann comhairle ar Ghníomhaireacht an AE um Chearta Bunúsacha i Vín agus lean sé leis ag obair mar Shaineolaí Sinsearach Éireannach go dtí 2011. Déanann sé eagarthóireacht ar an Irish Human Rights Law Review, a fhoilsíonn Clarus Press gach re bliain. Bhí sé ina bhall den Bhord Stiúrtha ar an eagraíocht neamhrialtasach INTERIGHT, atá lonnaithe i Londain, ó 2009-2012. Chuaigh Donncha ar Bhord INTERIGHTS nuair a bhí sé ag caitheamh bliain shabóideach (2009-2010) mar Chomhalta Sinsearach ar Cuairt in Ionad don Staidéar ar Chearta Daonna, Scoil Eacnamaíochta agus Eolaíocht Pholaitiúil Londan. Tá sé mar bhall de Chomhairle Náisiúnta na nIonad Comhairle Dlí Saor in Aisce (FLAC), Coiste Feidhmiúcháin Náisiúnta Amnesty International - Éire agus Bord Comhairleach Comhaontas Dhlí Leas an Phobail, tionscadal de chuid FLAC. Ó 2006 i leith bhí páirt ghníomhach ag Donncha ar Bhord Stiúrthóirí Chompántas Amharclainne Druid, compántas atá lonnaithe i nGaillimh agus a bhfuil cáil idirnáisiúnta air. Tá sé ina iontaobhaí chomh maith ar Counterpoint Arts i mBaile Átha Cliath agus i Londain.   CRÍOCH  

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics and the Career Development Centre will hold a networking breakfast on Tuesday, 21 May from 8-9am in the new Engineering Building in NUI Galway. Representatives from a range of companies will attend including Abbott, Fidelity Investments, SAP, Arup Consulting Engineers, Storm Technologies, Thermo King and IBM. This event will provide an opportunity for companies and alumni to meet the Dean of Engineering and Informatics, Professor Gerry Lyons, academic staff, course directors, Career Development Centre Staff and the Technology Transfer Office.  Employers will have the opportunity to discuss their organisation’s requirements regarding course content and student and graduate skills. Information will be available on graduate recruitment, placement opportunities, upcoming fairs and current research. Employers of engineers, large and small, are also invited to visit and view this world-class teaching and research facility. An optional tour of the new Engineering Building is being organised at 9am. John Hannon, Head of the Career Development Centre, NUI Galway said: “This event will enable the University to maintain and foster good relationships with employers and business leaders”. To attend the networking breakfast meeting email placement@nuigalway.ie. -ENDS-

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A new research project at NUI Galway aims to better understand the underlying causes of comfort eating, which may stem from childhood. Comfort or emotional eating happens when we are not hungry but perhaps in need of stress relief or a reward. NUI Galway researchers are conducting a study, which aims to examine the influence of emotional factors in childhood on comfort eating and weight. They have devised a questionnaire which investigates these issues, and will also be conducting individual interviews. Volunteers are being sought to take part in this study, the only requirement being that participants are over-18. “We’re hoping to explore the relationship between a range of factors, such as how people learned to cope with their emotions in childhood, or how people relate to others, and how this influences eating patterns and BMI in adulthood”, explains Roisín Finnegan, who is a Trainee Clinical Psychologist and carrying out this research under the supervision of Dr Jonathan Egan, Lecturer in Psychology at NUI Galway. The research is being funded by the Millennium Research Fund at NUI Galway. While the wide availability of convenience foods and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle are recognised as significant contributing factors to the spike in obesity rates, research is finding that psychosocial factors in childhood, such as abuse, lack of parental support, depression, may also play a role. “We believe that children growing up in an environment where they feel unable to express their emotions may turn to food as a source of comfort,” explains of Dr Jonathan Egan. “This pattern of coping with emotion through food continues into adulthood, and may well contribute to weight problems. These are just some of the factors we’re interested in investigating further as part of this research. We’re also interested in the concept of mindfulness, and how the ability to attend to how one is feeling in the present moment may act as an antidote to emotional eating.” For those interested in participating in this study, it will involve completing a questionnaire, taking part in an interview, or doing both, though it is not a necessity of the study that you take part in both. The questionnaire is a series of tick box questions, and hopefully should only take people 15 minutes to complete. Interviews will take place in Laois, Offaly, Longford or Westmeath. “It would be great if people could share their experience with us,” concluded Róisín. Those who wish to complete the questionnaire online should log onto https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/comforteating Participants can also complete the questionnaire in paper format by contacting Róisín on r.finnegan8@nuigalway.ie. Anyone interested in taking part in interview should express this through email also, and more detail will be provided. All participants’ data will be kept strictly confidential. -ends-

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

World leading theorist of urban studies to deliver keynote lecture As part of the 45th Conference of Irish Geographers, Professor David Harvey, a leading theorist in the field of urban studies, will deliver a keynote lecture on Friday, 17 May at 5.30pm in the Engineering Building, NUI Galway. David Harvey is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York (CUNY), Director of The Center for Place, Culture and Politics, and author of numerous books which have been widely translated. A leading social theorist of international standing, he is among the top 20 most cited authors in the humanities. Professor Harvey’s reflections on the importance of space and place and on global capitalism have attracted considerable attention across the humanities and social sciences. Hosted by NUI Galway, the 45th Conference of Irish Geographers, will take place from 16-18 of May. With approximately 300 delegates attending, the conference will be the largest national geographer’s conference to date. The event brings together leading geographers from all over the globe to discuss key geographical research issues including: marine spatial planning; community geographies; climate change modeling; contemporary perspectives on urban planning, on migration, and on tourism; sustainable consumption policies and practices; art and geography; space and identity politics; marine and coastal processes; geographies of food as well as the interdisciplinary needs of contemporary environmental research. Entire conference sessions will be dedicated to the internationally recognised key research areas within Geography at NUI Galway – Environmental Change, Geopolitics and Justice, Planning and Sustainability and Rural Studies. During the three-day event 150 papers will be presented displaying the breadth and depth of the discipline of Geography. Papers will address topical and controversial issues of relevance to Irish society. Mike Goodman from Kings College London will present a paper on ‘The Lie of the Lasagne: Galloping Transgressions and (Horse)Meaty Tropes’, while Cian O’Callaghan and Mark Boyle form NUI Maynooth will discuss ‘Capitalist crisis, ruins, and uneven development: Ireland’s Ghost estates’. Garret Duffy and his colleagues in Earth and Ocean Science in NUI Galway will examine the ‘Origin of seabed heterogeneity around Inverin Bank: implications for Galway Bay fish farm siting’. One of the most supported sessions at this year’s conference will honour the lifework of one of the most influential geographers of his generation, Neil Smith on Friday, 17 May. Given Neil’s recent passing, the session connects to his lifework with papers addressing the broad remit of his writing and activism. The day-long session will culminate in the launch of the Neil Smith Graduate Research Award, which is designed to celebrate Neil’s legacy by encouraging continued graduate research in the areas of geopolitics, development and social and environmental justice. The session is being organised by the Geopolitics and Justice Research Cluster in Geography at NUI Galway. Cluster leader and session organiser, John Morrissey, said: “Neil was an inspirational and brilliant colleague, and to have such an array of contributory papers from across the UK, Ireland and France in a day-long session in Neil’s honour, is a great testament to not only Neil as a person but to the huge legacy and continued relevancy of his life’s work.” Chair of the Conference and President of the Geographical Society of Ireland, Dr Frances Fahy said: “We in Geography at NUI Galway are honoured to be hosting the 45th Conference of Irish Geographers, particularly as it caps off a year of celebrating 50 years of Geography within our University. As geographers we have the capacity not only to reflect but also to shape wider discourses; this endeavour is mirrored in our conference theme for 2013 – Transformative Geographies: Critical Reflections on Environment, Sustainability and Governmentality.” This year’s conference is being held in conjunction with the Galway Dance Days programme and as a result a range of innovative workshops and unique performances are taking place throughout the three days of the conference. Registration for the Conference is now closed but tickets are still available for some of the Galway Dance Days performances, please contact the Town Hall Theatre at www.THT.ie or 091 569777. For more information email frances.fahy@nuigalway.ie. -ENDS-

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The LLM in Public Law programme at the School of Law, NUI Galway, will host the 5th Annual Conference of the Irish Society of Comparative Law from 24-25 May. Over 50 legal academics and practitioners from Ireland, other European countries, the U.S., Uganda, Japan and China will present papers at the conference on the overarching theme of comparative public law. Topics covered throughout the conference will include: children in rainbow families; equality in healthcare; cyberbullying; money laundering; and the question of constitutional rights for human-animal hybrids and chimeras. Professor Brice Dickson from Queens University Belfast will present a keynote paper entitled ‘The Irish Supreme Court in Comparative Perspective’ to which former Supreme Court Judge, the Hon Catherine McGuinness, who is an Adjunct Professor of Law at NUI Galway and also the newly appointed Chair of the University’s Governing Authority, will respond.  The other keynote speaker will be Professor Susan Farran of the University of Northumbria, who will present a paper entitled ‘The age of Empire. Again: critical thoughts on legal imperialism’. Marie McGonagle, Director of the LLM in Public Law programme at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to welcome so many legal scholars from all over the world to Galway. It will be a great opportunity for our Masters and PhD students to participate with them and learn of the work they are doing on such varied topics in very different jurisdictions.”   For more information on the programme and on registration please visit http://conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=218.  -ENDS-

Thursday, 16 May 2013

All recent graduates currently seeking employment should come along to a unique graduate support event titled ‘Kick Start your Job Search’ in NUI Galway on Thursday, 30 May from 9.30am to 2.30pm in IT 125G in the Information Technology Building.  This free event, organised by the Career Development Centre is targeted at NUI Galway graduates and final year students, but all are welcome to attend. Information on emerging employment areas, innovative job search strategies and tips on how to stay motivated, are just some of the topics that will be covered by a panel of experts. Graduates and students will also be able to get an employer’s perspective on how to stand out from the crowd; this workshop will be run by local multi-national SAP. Attendees are also encouraged to bring along their CVs for an interactive workshop. Professional bodies will be present for a networking event after the workshops including JobBridge (The national internship scheme), Galway County & City Enterprise Board, and Engineers Ireland. Information will also be available on postgraduate study options at NUI Galway. “We look forward to continuing our support to our alumni through this unique event and strongly encourage those who are looking for new ways to market themselves to come along and ‘kick start’ their job search” said John Hannon, Head of the Career Development Centre, NUI Galway. Details of the full programme are available on www.nuigalway.ie/careers . For further details contact the NUI Galway Career Development Centre on 091 493589 or email pamela.devins@nuigalway.ie Ends

Friday, 17 May 2013

This week, the Botany and Plant Science Discipline in NUI Galway hosted the Irish Plant Scientists Association Meeting (IPSAM2013), where up to 100 Irish plant scientists met to discuss their research and its importance for future sustainable development in Ireland and internationally.  Plants and plant derived products are essential to human life on earth. Plants supply food, energy, health and medicines, and also supply industry with raw materials and are a vital component of our natural environment. People are not only dependent on plants for food, but also as fodder for livestock and fuel for energy. All of the coal, gas and oil reserves are derived from photosynthetic organisms (e.g. plants) that have decomposed over millions of years. In addition, people are dependent on plants to make clothes, paper, paints, oils, medicines, timber, and biodegradable plastics, among many other things. Although underappreciated by policymakers, the Irish economy, society and environment is completely reliant on products (and services) derived directly and indirectly from plants for its existence.  Professor Charles Spillane, Head of Botany and Plant Science at NUI Galway, said: “The annual IPSAM meeting is a key annual event that brings together plant scientists across Ireland’s universities and research centers. These scientists are studying plants from many different perspectives including both fundamental and applied topics such as plant chemistry and genetics, paleobotany and climate change, algal and lichen biology, crop and soil science, forestry and tree biology, plant-derived medicines, biodiversity and ecology.” Keynote speakers at the IPSAM2013 included Professor Liam Dolan from University of Oxford who presented the latest findings regarding how root biology evolution allowed plants to move from aquatic environments to the land over 450 million years ago. Professor Dolan also highlighted how such fundamental "blue skies" research on plant roots is informing new applied science strategies to double the yields of crop plants to meet the doubling of food production that is necessary by 2050. In addition, keynote speaker Professor Bob Crawford from the University of St Andrews discussed the types of physiological constraints that limit the geographic distribution of different plant species, a key issue facing humanity in the face of climate change impacts on both wild and cultivated plants.  The IPSAM 2013 Conference was sponsored by NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences, Bord Bia, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), New Phytologist and QIAGEN. For more details on IPSAM2013 visit www.ipsam.org Also promoting global awareness of the importance of plants, the second international ‘Fascination of Plants Day’ will take place across Ireland on Saturday, 18 May. Dr Zoe Popper from NUI Galway Botany and Plant Science is the National Coordinator of Fascination of Plants Day. Facilitated by the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO), of which NUI Galway is a member institution, the goal of this activity is to get as many people and policymakers as possible worldwide fascinated by plants and to appreciate how humanity is completely dependent on plants for its survival. For more information on ‘Fascination of Plants Day’ visit www.plantday12.eu/ or contact Dr Zoe Popper at zoe.popper@nuigalway.ie or 091 495431. -ENDS-

Friday, 17 May 2013

New research project will analyse samples dating back to 1994 Lack of public awareness of a new cancer epidemic is causing lasting damage to patients, delegates at symposium on head and neck cancer in NUI Galway heard today. Professor Ivan Keogh, Head of the Academic Department of Otorhinolaryngology at NUI Galway and Consultant Otolaryngologist at Galway University Hospitals, said that head and neck cancers related to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) are rising dramatically and are projected to surpass cervical cancer by 2020. “There is a changing nature in the cause of head and neck cancers from traditional heavy smoking and drinking use to HPV. While the survival rate for the latter if very good, these cancers are very disfiguring. Often, treated patients have swallowing and speech problems. We need an awareness campaign so that individuals, as well as their GPs and dentists to become aware of the early symptoms”, said surgeon Professor Keogh, who has seen first-hand the numbers of cases rise dramatically in his clinic. At the symposium, Dr Linda Sharp, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist with the National Cancer Registry Ireland, announced a new project involving the HRB funded Irish Cervical Screening Research Consortium collaboration, CERVIVA, in partnership with surgeons and pathologists. Commencing in autumn 2013, the project will see a major investigation of HPV in squamous cell carcinomas of the oropharynx, oral cavity and larynx diagnosed since 1994. This will provide the first population-based data on the epidemiology of HPV infection in head and neck cancer in the Republic of Ireland. In Ireland, head and neck cancers are the 6th most common cancer in men and 16th most common in women. With the incidence of HPV-related head and neck cancer more likely to occur in men than women it raises the debate about vaccinating boys against this sexually-transmitted virus, as is now taking place in Australia. “Australia and Canada are already rolling out vaccination programmes for boys. Ireland will need to consider it’s position on this over the near future and take a reasoned look at all the factors involved”, said co-organiser, Mr Tony O’Connor, Consultant Otolaryngologist, Bon Secours Hospital, Galway. The event also heard from internationally-renowned keynote speakers from the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution. Dr Sara Pai and Dr William Westra, shared their experiences of the cancer which has now been deemed an ‘epidemic’ by the American Cancer Society. Dr Brenda Corcoran, HSE National Immunisation Office, concluded the symposium. The symposium was organised by NUI Galway’s Academic Department of Otorhinolaryngology and School of Economics, the event is funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) as part of its Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination Scheme (KEDS). -ends-

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The number of deaths caused by smoking in the home could be comparable to the numbers of fatalities from road traffic collisions, according to new research led by NUI Galway and funded under the EPA’s STRIVE Research Programme. ‘Indoor Air Pollution and Health’ is a new in-depth study of air pollution in homes and shows that the concentration of particulate pollution in the homes of smokers who smoke indoors is six times higher than the World Health Organisation’s recommendation for general outdoor air quality. This research examined the health impacts of air pollution in homes.  It presents new information on levels of indoor air pollutants in homes using solid fuels for heating or cooking and in homes that have a resident smoker. The report highlights the need for public health policy and research professionals to develop interventions to address this. The research was completed by NUI Galway and researchers at the University of Aberdeen, the Institute of Occupational Medicine, Edinburgh and the University of Birmingham. Dr Marie Coggins, NUI, Galway explains: “Our research shows that air quality in homes using the solid fuels coal, wood, peat and gas is mostly comparable to that of outdoor air, however smoking at home creates much greater levels of air pollutants. Levels of particulate pollution were up to 17 times levels found outdoors. The impact of exposure to such levels, on vulnerable groups such as children, in homes where smoking occurs indoors needs urgent action.” The average European spends 90% of their time indoors so the quality of the air people breathe plays a significant role in their health and well-being. Over the last few decades there have been many advances in the design and construction of domestic dwellings. As a result, the amount of air entering and leaving a typical building is estimated to be 10 times lower now compared to 30 years ago. Dara Lynott, EPA Deputy Director General said: “The environment and health are intrinsically linked and this innovative research project on indoor air pollution aims to help protect both. This research, funded under the EPA’s STRIVE Research Programme, has identified air pollutants in homes as one of the key factors related to the exacerbation of respiratory illnesses.  It will help public health policy and research professionals to develop interventions.” The report authors have called for improved national survey campaigns to determine what proportion of the population is exposed to environmental tobacco smoke at home.  Key recommendations include the following: -          A co-ordinated national campaign to educate smokers and non-smokers about the health effects from smoking at home and the promotion of smoke-free homes. -          More education as to the health effects of second hand smoke in the home as a means of reducing exposures. -          Greater focus on finding ways to encourage smokers to move towards smoke- free homes. Welcoming the report Professor Luke Clancy, Director General, TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland said:  “It is very reassuring to find that Indoor Pollution in Ireland is very low even where coal, peat or gas is used but the findings about Secondhand Smoke are very worrying. The finding that particle load is almost 10 times the allowable level for healthy breathing in homes where smoking occurs is disappointing, especially since we know of some 4000 harmful chemicals that exist in tobacco smoke and we also know that over 40% of Irish children are exposed to Secondhand Smoke in Ireland. Action is needed to encourage people not to smoke or at least not to subject others to the health risks associated with inhaling other people’s smoke.”  -ends- http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/research/health/iapahreportmcoggins.html  

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The eleventh Galway Symposium on Higher Education will take place at NUI Galway on Friday, 7 June in Áras Moyola. The symposium, entitled ‘Thinking Differently’ – New Curricula, New Skills in Higher Education, will be comprised of papers, short presentations, and workshops. The Symposium will question the kind of degree and curricula most relevant to graduates in this age of mass higher education and what particular attributes and skills graduates should have. Workshop sessions will provide participants with opportunities to experiment with course design with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity and active learning. There will also be a showcase of innovations in Teaching and Learning, locally and nationally. Keynote speakers will include: Professor Marijk van der Wende, University College Amsterdam, who will describe a model for the renewal of the idea of the ‘Liberal Arts and Sciences’; Dr Camille Kandiko, King’s College London, will present an overview of models of curricular redesign that have emerged in institutions across the world in recent years; Professor Derek Raine, Leicester University, will show how they radically reconceptualised its undergraduate Science programme around interdisciplinarity and higher levels of student intellectual engagement; Dr Alastair Robertson, Higher Education Academy, will discuss key ideas on graduate attributes; and Dr Vicky Gunn, University of Glasgow, will describe the efforts her institute use to involve students in the support and development of graduate attributes. Dr Iain Mac Labhrainn, Director of Centre for Excellence and Teaching (CELT) at NUI Galway said: “This is a period of rapid change for higher education and NUI Galway, in parallel with other research-led institutions, is exploring new models of learning and teaching. This event will examine the question as to what kinds of degree programmes are best suited to the needs of students, employers and wider society. We are delighted to welcome some key international experts in the field of curriculum design and institutional change as presenters at the event and we look forward to much stimulating debate and discussion.” -ENDS-

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

NUI Galway is set to become the first university in Ireland to provide postgraduate training to Masters level (MSc) in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in a unique community partnership with the heart and stroke charity Croí, the West of Ireland Cardiac Foundation. Croí has led the development of this programme through a collaboration with industry partners Kerry Group and MSD Ireland; HSE West and NUI Galway. The University is currently recruiting its first intake of students to the one year full-time in service course, due to commence in September of this year. Programme Director for the new Masters course in Preventive Cardiology, which also has a postgraduate Diploma stream, Dr Gerard Flaherty, who has recently been appointed Honorary Academic Director at the new Croí Heart and Stroke Centre, Galway says; “With all of the expensive high technology interventions in medicine, it is easy to neglect the fundamentals of prevention, yet the evidence for cardiovascular disease prevention is compelling despite the challenges of translating it into effective patient care.” This innovative postgraduate course is only one of two of its kind in the world and the collaboration with Croí makes it unique. The founder course at Imperial College London is fully supportive of the NUI Galway programme. Assistant Course Director of the Galway programme, Jenni Jones, recently joined Croí from Imperial College London, where she was Programme Leader for their Masters in Preventive Cardiology course. Commenting on the partnership, Croí CEO Neil Johnson, said: “This exciting collaboration will contribute significantly to translating scientific evidence to practice in reducing mortality and morbidity from chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Furthermore, the programme strengthens the links between Croí and the School of Medicine at NUI Galway where earlier this year five members of the Croí Health Team were awarded Honorary Clinical Fellowships for their contribution to medical education through the delivery of special study modules to medical students.” This new educational development at NUI Galway comes about due to the success of the Croí MyAction lifestyle and behavioural change programme which was established in Galway by Croí almost five years ago. Since then, thousands of individuals at risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes have benefited from changes to their lifestyle in terms of diet, weight, exercise, blood pressure and cholesterol reduction. “We believe that for Irish healthcare professionals to have access to a Masters in Preventive Cardiology will ultimately be of enormous benefit to Irish patients” said Mairead McCaul of MSD who also announced their sponsorship of a bursary fund for the programme. “We are very pleased to be involved in this partnership and to further enhance our commitment to Croí and NUI Galway. We are delighted to announce that successful applicants to the Masters programme can apply through Croí for the MSD Preventive Cardiology Bursary.” Announcing details of the new postgraduate programme, Dr Flaherty said: “This course will equip a diverse array of healthcare workers with the knowledge and practical skills required to implement the evidence-based international guidelines in clinical practice. The course will comprise three core modules to be completed in semester 1 and one of three elective advanced modules in semester 2. All of the teaching will be delivered in the state-of-the-art Croí Heart and Stroke Centre in Galway. Masters candidates will also complete a supervised research project in semester 2 and submit a ready-for-publication dissertation by an August deadline.” Dr Flaherty added: “It is expected that the course will appeal to doctors, nurses, dieticians, physiotherapists, pharmacists, sports scientists, healthcare managers, health promotion graduates and health economists, reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of preventive cardiology.” The new Masters in Preventive Cardiology programme is being supported by an honorary advisory council which is comprised of experts in areas such as cardiology, endocrinology, obesity, stroke, medical education and industry. Among its membership is Galway businessman Pádraig Ó’Céidigh who has recently spoken publicly of his own heart health issues. ENDS

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Creativity, Research and Innovation topic at Coimbra Conference Video links to all speeches at the 2013 Coimbra Group Annual Conference are available below NUI Galway has announced that the 2013 Coimbra Group Annual Conference will be addressed by President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins and will take place from 22 - 24 May at the University. The theme of this year’s conference is Creativity, Research and Innovation in Universities. Founded in 1985 and formally constituted by Charter in 1987, the Coimbra Group is an association of long-established European multidisciplinary universities of high international standard. NUI Galway is a long-standing member of the Coimbra Group and last hosted the Coimbra Group annual conference in 1988, twenty-five years ago. Other members include leading institutions such as University of Edinburgh, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Università di Bologna, Saint Petersburg State University and Trinity College Dublin. The Coimbra Group is committed to creating special academic and cultural ties in order to promote, for the benefit of its members, internationalisation, academic collaboration, excellence in learning and research, and service to society. It is also the purpose of the Group to influence European educational policy and to develop best practice through mutual exchange of experience. The symposium ‘Creativity, Research and Innovation in Universities’ on Friday, 24 May, will include a keynote address by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins. Other keynote speeches and panel discussions on the day will include contributions from: Commissioner Maire Geoghegan Quinn, European Commissioner for Research,  Innovation & Science Professor Carol Becker, Dean of the Arts, Columbia University, New York Professor Joep  Leerssen, Professor of Modern European Languages, Universiteit van Amsterdam Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland & Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of Ireland. President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “NUI Galway is a proud member of the Coimbra Group since 1986. As a university on the western edge of Europe we value deeply the rich network of connections and links which the Group has fostered to promote excellence in scholarship, research and service to society. It is particularlyfitting that the conference returns to Galway in the year in which Ireland holds the Presidency of the European Union and at a time when the conference theme of Creativity, Research & Innovation in Universities could not be more relevant or timely for our European universities.” Commissioner Máire Geoghegan Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation & Science, who will speak at the event, said: “If we want to tackle our biggest societal challenges and develop technology-based business, we need an excellent science base and we need to train creative graduates and foster critical and innovative mind-sets. In my view, universities should become 'innovation centres' for their region. They should train and retrain the workforce in cooperation with industry. Mobility between industry and academia should become the norm.” Speaking in advance of the conference, Dorothy Kelly, Chair of the Coimbra Group Executive Board, commented: “We are delighted to be revisiting NUI Galway after 25 years. This year the theme is a reflection of the central role universities play in societal progress and wellbeing as open, diverse and critical spaces for the pursuit of knowledge something we look forward to discussing at length. We are particularly honoured this year to welcome to our meetings both the President of the Republic of Ireland, Dr Michael Higgins, and the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation & Science, Maire Geoghegan Quinn, as we hold our 29th General Assembly in Ireland and under the Irish presidency of the European Union.” To view President Higgins' speech at the 2013 Coimbra Group Annual Conference click here Videos from Coimbra Conference President of Ireland, Dr Michael D. Higgins (43 minutes) Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science (22 minutes) Professor Carol Becker, Dean of Faculty and Professor of the Arts at Columbia University School of the Arts, New York (19 minutes) Professor Joep Leerssen, Professor of Modern European Literature, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands (25 minutes) Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland & Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland(29 minutes)    ENDS

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

On Tuesday, 28 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion Research at NUI Galway will host a Partnership Working Meeting with the WHO Regional Office for Europe. This meeting will focus on WHO priorities and collaborative actions in the field of Health Promotion including; the Health 2020 European health policy framework for action across governments and society to improve health and wellbeing of populations and reduce health inequalities; and the implementation of the European Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2012-2016.  The event will be addressed by leading Health Promotion experts from: WHO Regional Office for Europe; EuroHealthNet; International Union for Health Promotion and Education; the Department of Health, Health Service Executive; and the Public Health Institute in Ireland.  Presentations will be given by the directors of WHO Collaborating Centres in Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the UK.  The Health 2020 policy responds to the changing context for population health in Europe and the growing health inequities within and between countries. “WHO is committed to strengthening efforts for improving the health of citizens and the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases in the European region. Within the Health 2020 policy framework, specific actions are identified to which Member States, WHO and partners can commit themselves over the coming years”: says Dr Gauden Galea, Director of Noncommunicable Diseases and Health Promotion at WHO Europe, who will address the meeting. Professor Margaret Barry, Head of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion Research at NUI Galway, said: “This Partnership Working Meeting provides an important opportunity for WHO Collaborating Centres to provide the necessary research to support the implementation of new policy frameworks for promoting health and wellbeing in the European region.” OnWednesday, 29 May,NUI Galway will also host the 17th Annual Health Promotion conference,entitled Health in All Policies: Strengthening Multisectoral Health Promotion in an Irish Context. Speakers will include: Dr Erio Ziglio, Head of the European Office for Investment for Health and Development, WHO Regional Office for Europe           WHO European Strategy Health 2020 Dr Stephanie O Keeffe, Director of the Health and Wellbeing Programme, Department of Health, Ireland           New Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing Margaret Whitehead, Professor of Public Health at the University of Liverpool, England           Paddling Upstream? Obstacles and opportunities for tackling inequalities in health “The conference provides an opportunity to discuss global, national and local approaches for promoting health and wellbeing across different sectors”, said Dr Michal Molcho, Health Promotion at NUI Galway and Chair of this year’s conference. For more information visit www.nuigalway.ie/hprc. -ENDS-

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

NUI Galway has today (22 May) announced the attainment of the global AMBA accreditation for its MBA programme offered in the School of Business and Economics. AMBA provide the only dedicated accreditation regime for MBA Programmes and now positions NUI Galway against the best worldwide. The Association of MBAs (AMBA) accreditation is internationally recognised as the global standard for all MBA programmes. AMBA accreditation represents the highest standard of achievement in MBA education and is earned only by the best programmes. AMBA accredits 200 Schools in over 70 countries.  “The number of MBA qualifications available worldwide is now in the thousands, but only a small percentage of these would achieve accreditation if they were submitted to our rigorous international criteria” says Mark Stoddard, Accreditation Manager at AMBA. The NUI Galway MBA is one of the leading management development programmes in the country. A general management programme which enhances and develops business and management capabilities while preparing students for strategic leadership roles, the programme places an emphasis on strategic decision making and develops practical and professional skills for success in increasingly complex environments. Speaking about the achievement, Dr Alma McCarthy, Executive MBA Programme Director, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, said: “The NUI Galway MBA this year celebrates its 40th anniversary and it is fitting that we successfully attained AMBA accreditation demonstrating the world-class quality of our MBA programme. Employers and top business recruiters looking to acquire the best managers and future business leaders know that graduates of the AMBA accredited programmes have received the highest quality management education. We are proud to now confirm that to recruit a graduate from the NUI Galway MBA is to recruit top talent in Ireland.” Dr McCarthy added: “We know for students, the decision to study an MBA represents a major commitment, both in terms of time and money. This AMBA accreditation ensures that students' investments are rewarded with the finest MBA education available. We have constant engagement with the business community and our programme reflects and aligns with developments in industry both nationally and internationally. Our class sizes are kept small, our lecturers are leading experts in their respective fields and keep teaching relevant to the changing demands of the business world which overall results in greater one to one attention and learning experience.” Graduates of the NUI Galway Executive MBA have significantly advanced their careers with many being promoted, starting their own business, or changing careers after completing the programme. Applications for the next programme will be accepted from September 2013. Further information on the Executive MBA at NUI Galway is available at http://www.cairnes.nuigalway.ie/mba/ ENDS

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

New method of polymerisation creates possibilities for medical devices, drug delivery, elastics and adhesives A new slow-motion method of controlling the synthesis of polymers, which takes inspiration from both trees and Celtic Knots, opens up new possibilities in areas including medical devices, drug delivery, elastics and adhesives. Scientists at the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) in the National University of Ireland Galway have just published their breakthrough polymerization method in Nature Communications. Their new polymerization technique allows for the easy creation of new complex, multi-functional, branched compounds. The research team was led by NFB’s Dr Wenxin Wang at the National University of Ireland Galway, who said: “The versatility of our synthesis process could allow us to tailor polymer properties, such as structure, functionality, strength, size, density and degradation - with previously unimaginable ease.” The researchers took inspiration from ancient arts, and use their new technique to build up ‘Celtic Knots’. These materials have chains that only link to themselves in an interlaced pattern. In addition, the new technique can also create hyper-branching polymers, which branch and spread outwards like trees. Polymers are a broad class of natural and synthetic compounds, built up of many parts known as monomers, which connect together in fast growing chains. Until now, creating more complex branched polymers, known as dendrimers (from the Greek word “dendron” meaning “tree”), has been a labour intensive and time consuming process.   Now, for the first time, “dendritic” or tree like polymers have been synthesised in bulk, with branch points after every few monomers of the build process. This allows a far higher degree of branching than previously obtainable, and opens up new possibilities for the use of polymers. The new process developed by the team, in collaboration with Dr Julien Poly from the Institut de Science des Matériaux de Mulhouse, France, is called ‘vinyl oligomer combination’. In effect the process allows a simple “one-pot” procedure that leads to easy up-scale of the process.The expectation is that these intricate woven and branched polymers will be cheap to produce and high in quality, as the technique is fully scalable. Dr Wenxin Wang is trying to uncover therapies for diseases such as diabetic ulcers and Epidermolysis Bullosa, which causes chronic skin conditions: “We are currently investigating the use of these new materials for biomedical applications such as drug/gene delivery, cross linkable hydrogel materials and skin adhesives. However, in reality this synthesis method could be used for a wide range of materials outside the biomedical field.” Dr Wenxin Wang continued: “It is interesting to note the period of difficulty often encountered with break through developments. For example, the road to acceptance of dendrimer materials was long and winding. Because this work contradicts long-standing theories about polymerization, we too have faced the challenge of acceptance. Finally, researchers are seeing the importance of these materials, and the ease at which new structures can be synthesized. Although these are early steps, we are looking forward to seeing the future realization of these structures in a wide range of applications.” The research, funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the Health Research Board (HRB), DEBRA Ireland and DEBRA Austria is published in Nature Communications journal. -ends-

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Parents of children with autism are invited to a conference at NUI Galway on 11-12 June to share their experiences and hear the latest research and practical advice. With estimates that one in 88 children has an autism spectrum disorder, the Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research (ICAN) at NUI Galway, in collaboration with the US science and advocacy group Autism Speaks, is making parents a particular focus of this the 2nd International Autism Conference. The event ‘Autism Spectrum Disorders: From Research to Practice’ will feature keynote talks, as well as workshops aimed at providing parents, practitioners, teachers and researchers, with the latest evidence-based approaches to diagnosis, clinical management and adult service provision. The conference will place a special emphasis on providing practical solutions for parents struggling with autism on a daily basis. Workshops will be delivered on managing behaviour in the home, sleep, toileting, interventions for non verbal, minimally verbal and verbal children and how to manage transitions effectively. There will be an emphasis on the needs of adolescents and adults with autism, as Dr Geraldine Leader, Director of ICAN, explains: “Much of the research literature to date focuses on the needs of young children with little, if any, discussion paid to the needs of adolescents. For many parents, they are either currently dealing with teenagers challenged with autism, or are anticipating this new phase in a few short years. We are hosting a practical workshop as part of the conference on ‘Adolescence, growing up and sexuality.” Professor Peter Gerhardt from the McCarton School, New York, will also deliver an address focusing on issues relating to employment, quality of life and inclusion for adults on the autism spectrum.  The conference will also be highly relevant to the needs of practitioners and teachers. Professor Susan Swedo, of the National Institute of Mental Health in the US, will update delegates on the latest changes to the diagnostic categorisations of autism. Professor Deborah Fein from the University of Connecticut will discuss what determines best outcomes for children on the autism spectrum, while Professor Richard Hastings from Bangor University will discuss what the research is telling us in relation to effective autism interventions. Practical workshops addressing mood, anxiety, ADHD and the role of medication and from early signs through to diagnosis will also be provided. “Autism has become a national epidemic. This conference will bring the worlds leading experts in diagnosis, clinical management and education to NUI Galway as well as catering for the needs of parents,” said Dr Leader. “International evidence indicates an alarming rise in the prevalence of autism, as reflected in the recent data from the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which estimates that one in 88 children, including one in 54 boys, has an autism spectrum disorder.” “By way of comparison, these estimates represent more children currently diagnosed with autism than diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and Down syndrome combined.” To register for the conference visit http://www.conference.ie. A special early booking fee is available until 4 June. -ends-

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock TD, has today announced Government funding through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) of €6.9 million encompassing 62 research awards. NUI Galway received 8 of these awards to a total value of almost €1 million. The investment is being made through SFI’s Technology Innovation Development Award (TIDA) programme, in collaboration with Enterprise Ireland.  Minister Sherlock said, “The TIDA programme focuses on commercially relevant research projects. It will enable numerous research teams to take the first steps in developing new discoveries and inventions with commercial potential.” Commenting on the awards, Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway researchers are taking on some of the greatest challenges of our times. With today’s announcement, we will go further to commercialise and exploit opportunities arising from our research to deliver excellent research with impact and contribute to economic development.” The eight NUI Galway projects funded under the Programme and their leaders are: Dr Stephen Cunningham, Alimentary Glycoscience Research Cluster (AGRC) Novel direct detection of early bacterial infection for bovine mastitis Dr Cunningham will develop a method for the early detection and screening of bacterial infection for bovine mastitis. Effective control of mastitis to ensure milk quality is an ongoing challenge facing the dairy industry. The basis of detection is focused on the use of surface coat polysaccharides of the mastitis pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus, which could be adapted for individual and continuous in-line monitoring of herd milk production. Professor Stefan Decker, Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) Feasibility study into the social semantic journalism Professor Decker will develop a Semantic Web assistant for journalists or news organisations, creating breaking news stories by sourcing, aggregating, filtering and verifying User-Generated Content (UGC) from various social media platforms, integrate them and place a structure on them in order to make it machine readable and therefore more easily searchable and verifiable. Currently, this is done manually and is a time-consuming and labour-intensive process for media organisations. Professor Manfred Hauswirth, Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) Research, Design, and development of a demonstrator integrating private commercial data, Public Sector data and geographic mapping data with a simple visual user interface to support retail business planning Professor Hauswirth is developing software which will integrate public and private data with a simple and intuitive user interface to support retail business planning. There is a huge potential in leveraging existing internal private commercial data, public sector data, and geographic mapping data to decrease costs and improve quality of decision making in the context of planning, managing, and developing a retail business going forward. There is a vast amount of data available but the fundamental challenge is that it is fragmented, difficult to find and consolidate in order to make it meaningful. Dr Donal Leech, School of Chemistry Development of a biological oxygen demand monitoring system for wastewaters Dr Leech is applying his TIDA award to develop an in-situ sensor for measurement of the level of dissolved oxygen in waste water treatment plants.  Biochemical oxygen demand or BOD is widely used as an indication of the organic quality of water. It refers to the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms in a body of water to break down organic material present in a given water sample. The standard BOD test can take up to 5 days and there is thus a real need for an in-situ, real time measurement which is the focus of this proposal.  Professor Paul Murphy, School of Chemistry New macrocyclic peptidomimetics with potential in cancer therapy Professor Murphy has developed a compound to inhibit proteins which are involved in the progression of cancer. The project deals with an unmet clinical need in targeting a protein called Mcl-1(myeloid cell leukemia-1). There are very few potent inhibitors of Mcl-1 identified to date and Mcl-1 is a very important target. Dr Thomas Ritter, Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) Regulating immunogenicity and tolerogenicity through cell surface glycosylation (Acronym: GlycoShield) Dr Ritter is evaluating the use of glyco engineered cells to assess their ability to suppress immune response from host cells during tissue or organ transplantation. Glyco engineering involves coating the cell surface with carbohydrates that are recognised by the host recipient as self, ensuring that cell rejection does not occur. This method will permit researchers, clinicians and industries to perform transplants with no adverse immune reaction from the host and will have wider implications on the engineering of immune-tolerant tissue transplants. Professor Charles Spillane, Plant & AgriBioscience Centre (PABC) Application of unique lineage-specific orphan gene cassettes to confer drought stress tolerance in crop plants of commercial importance. Professor Spillane is using his TIDA award to develop genetically-modified crops which are tolerant to drought. He has identified unique lineage-specific genes in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana which are tolerant to drought. The TIDA award will enable him to determine if these genes can be deployed and commercially developed across multiple crop species.  Dr Eva Szegezdi, National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) Development of Ex Vivo Diagnostic Multivariate Index Assay for Prediction of Treatment Efficacy in Acute Leukemias Dr Szegezdi is developing a theranostic assay for use in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).  AML is a heterogeneous and aggressive disease and the current mainstream therapy is unsatisfactory. Refractory and relapsed disease is a major problem that occurs in 70-80% of AML patients. Although a number of potential drugs exist, there are no tools to aid the decision of which drug combinations may be effective and safe in a given patient. The assay under development is based on the extraction of bone marrow from the patient, and testing of a series of chemotherapeutic drugs on the bone marrow ex-vivo. This will enable the testing of medications for possible reactions and the tailoring of optimum treatments based on the test results. The TIDA Programme Minister Sherlock concluded by outlining the thinking behind these awards. “A key part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs is to support the commercialisation of excellent research and ultimately help to create the quality sustainable jobs we need. These 62 TIDA awards will release vital funding to allow the development of early discoveries and inventions with commercial potential, thereby feeding into our Action Plan.” The Director General of SFI, Professor Mark Ferguson, said, “As set out in Agenda 2020, one of SFI’s strategic objectives is to become the best scientific funding agency in the world at creating impact from excellent research and demonstrating clear value for our research investment. Each submitted project has been through a rigorous review process and ultimate selection was on the basis of the quality and novelty of the proposed innovation, its potential impact, and its fit with the National Research Prioritisation areas. Additionally, the commercial expertise that Enterprise Ireland brought to the TIDA selection process played a key role in further underpinning the market potential of the award recipients.” Incorporated into the TIDA programme is an entrepreneurship training course to consolidate and intensify the entrepreneurial skills of postdoctoral researchers active in SFI funded research labs. This course, which will support over 100 personnel, is designed to develop the skills necessary for SFI funded researchers to assess the market for potential commercial developments from research discoveries. It is also designed to create a network of researchers with business acumen who will interact regularly with each other, with SFI, Enterprise Ireland and Ireland’s Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) established across the higher education institutes -ends-

Thursday, 23 May 2013

NUI Galway’s Ecology Society and Galway’s Community Bike Workshop, An Mheitheal Rothar, are running a competition for an outdoor mural. The competition is open to those aged between 12-24 from schools, art colleges, youth or other groups, and individuals. The the winning design will be painted on the exterior of the community workshop, The Ecospace, based at Earl’s Island. The selected designs will be painted in the first two weeks in June by a professional artist, on the exterior of the Ecospace. The completed mural will be launched on Sunday, 16 June as part of the opening weekend of National Bike Week 2013 (15-23 June). The winning design(s) will be chosen on the merit of its quality and relevance by The Ecology Society, An Mheitheal Rothar and the selected artist. The winner or winning group will have their design professionally illustrated and painted by the artist. They will also receive a prize of a participatory workshop with the artist to paint part of the mural. Paul O’Donnell, Auditor of NUI Galway’s Ecology Society, said: “We invite the submissions to be as creative as possible and make use of the ability to paint onto the double door entrance to the workshop as well as other features such as the gable end of the building which is 4.5 metres tall at the peak. Groups are more than welcome to contact us to visit the space in person.” Designs can be submitted electronically in a digital format, hand-drawn or painted with most formats will be taken as long as the dimensions of the building are considered. Entrants must be aged between 12 and 24 on the closing date for submissions, Sunday, 2 June at 6pm. Submissions should reflect the themes of the workshop including: cycling, and a vibrant culture around cycling; community based action on climate change; and education and awareness of the environment. An Mheitheal Rothar (The Bicycle Community) is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit bicycle workshop, providing a free practical facility to the Galway community for bicycle maintenance and repairs. Their aim is to encourage a culture of cycling in Galway City by establishing a practical facility and social hub which will support a strong community and promote the health and environmental benefits of cycling. The Ecospace is also the home of NUI Galway’s Ecology Society and is a participatory community space encouraging each individual visiting to be a creative participant while there, resulting in a dynamic and friendly atmosphere, where community project ideas are supported and can take shape. The mural is part of a wider series of community-based events being organised by NUI Galway’s Ecology Society and An Mheitheal Rothar called ‘Be the Chainge!’ and is part funded by the European Commission through the Youth in Action Programme. For images and dimensions of the exterior of the The Ecospace visit https://www.facebook.com/AnMheithealRothar, or contact 091 494347 or an.mheitheal.rothar@gmail.com. -ENDS-

Monday, 27 May 2013

Swim Ireland Teams Up with NUI Galway to Pioneer Ground Breaking Performance Analysis Technology Swim Ireland has teamed up with NUI Galway with a view to developing a new high performance analysis system for competitive swimming. The development work is well under way on the new system which utilises innovative kinematic sensing technology. The new technology which is in test mode is being designed to deliver performance information in real time both to the swimmer and his/her coach. The technology is the brainchild of PhD student Robert Mooney who is a former Swim Ireland employee. The development team is led by Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin of NUI Galway’s Discipline of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Funding for the research is being provided both by Swim Ireland and by the Irish Research Council’s Enterprise Partnership Scheme. It is hoped to have the prototype system up and running by early 2014. Once developed, the system will be tested on elite Irish swimmers to measure, record and track their technical improvements achieved with training. Athletes to be tested will include swimmers based at the recently established Swim Ireland Connacht Performance Centre, based at the Kingfisher facility on the NUI Galway campus and which was officially launched last November. Lead researcher Robert Mooney commented: “A coach can often observe where improvements need to be made, but having hard evidence to back this up is key. We want to facilitate a new approach to swimming coaching, allowing for improved analysis of stroke mechanics, race performance and energy expenditure as well as real-time feedback to the swimmer, enabling more efficient, competitive and quantitative swim coaching.” “Any competitive swimmer will tell you just how demanding their sport is.  In a sport of narrow margins where the difference between winning and not winning can be little as one one-hundredth of a second, the availability of the proposed system might make all the difference”, explains Professor Ó Laighin. “With this in mind we are capitalising on low-cost, high-performance Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMs) technology coupled with innovative algorithms to achieve our goals.” Peter Banks is Performance Director with Swim Ireland, the national governing body for aquatic sports in Ireland. Banks is no stranger to success, having coached US swimmer Brooke Bennett to three gold medals at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games. “We have seen a marked increase in the success of Irish swimmers on the international stage in recent years, with medal winning performances by the likes of Gráinne Murphy, Sycerika McMahon and Melanie Nocher. This type of technology is very exciting for Irish swimming to be involved with, the project gives our coaches and swimmers an opportunity to learn more about how athletes perform in the training pool and helps us make more informed decisions around their training programmes.” -ends-

Monday, 27 May 2013

Summary: National University of Ireland Galway-led program with Concern Worldwide wins prestigious Gates Foundation funding for participatory research on improving agricultural tools to reduce labour demands on smallholder women farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa The Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The NUI Galway collaborative research programme with Concern Worldwide has been awarded a US $100,000 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Grand Challenges Exploration (GCE) Phase I grant to pursue an innovative global health and development research project (3D4AGDev) on participatory 3D rapid-prototyping of agricultural/cropping tools to reduce labour demands on women smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mould in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. The 3D4AgDev team’s project is one of the Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10 grants announced this week by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. To receive funding, the 3D4AgDev teamand other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10 winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of four critical global health and development topic areas that included agriculture development, neglected tropical diseases and communications. Applications for the next Round will be accepted starting September 2013.  This, the tenth round of GCE funding, is the first round in which any Irish institution or university has been successful in being awarded a Gates Foundation GCE award. While the initial Phase I grants are for US $100,000 each, projects showing promise have the opportunity to receive additional funding of up to US $1 million. In the most recent (tenth) round of GCE funding there were 1,300 proposals submitted worldwide, while 61 awards were made.  The 3D4AgDev Program within the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) will be conducted in close partnership with Concern Worldwide, focusing on labour-saving agri-tool innovations for women smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The 3D4AgDev Program project team consists of: Professor Charles Spillane, NUI Galway PABC agricultural research scientist; Dr Una Murray, NUI Galway PABC gender in agriculture expert; Carol Morgan, Concern Worldwide’s Regional Director for Central Africa; and Paul Wagstaff, Agriculture Advisor for Concern. Over 1000 million smallholder farmers (predominantly women) are farming using labour intensive agricultural hand tools. Such agricultural tools include ones for tasks such as weeding, planting, harvesting and crop/food processing. Professor Spillane stressed that: “Smallholder agricultural systems remain largely dependent on human labour, having minimal access to alternative energy sources for cultivation and agri-processing such as draught animals or fossil-fuel powered mechanization. Routes out of poverty for smallholder rural communities will require a swathe of innovations that improve the labour productivity of their agricultural systems. Smallholder farmers living on less than a dollar a day face this challenge in an era when energy demand and energy costs are increasing to their disadvantage. The innovation challenge is how to enable smallholders to generate more income and agricultural produce while reducing the labour burden on women and rural children so that their livelihoods can improve.” User-led innovation is where the end-users are involved in the research and design of an innovative product or process. The overall aim of the farmer participatory 3D4AgDev Program is to link the potential of user-led innovation with Rapid Prototyping (e.g. via 3D printing) to enable women smallholder farmer groups in Sub-Saharan Africa to design and develop their own labour-saving agricultural tools, tailor-made for their culture, soils and cropping systems. The 3D4AgDev Program will facilitate a participatory technology development program with women smallholders farmers so that the farmers can develop their own agricultural tool and labour-saving innovations. Dr Una Murray highlighted that: “Labour saving tools for women smallholders can have major impacts, including leading to higher yields, higher incomes, more time for other activities, and reductions in harmful child labour in rural areas”. Through linking the women smallholder farmer groups to rapid-prototyping user innovation processes, Paul Wagstaff from Concern indicated that “there is significant potential to improve the status of rural women through fostering an enterprise-oriented ‘maker culture’ for agri-tool innovations”. -ends-

Monday, 27 May 2013

Joseph Fleury, a final year Electronic and Computer Engineering student at NUI Galway has been awarded the Avaya Prize for the best final year project in Electrical and Electronic Engineering in the College of Engineering at NUI Galway. A native of Birr, Co. Offaly, Joseph’s project focussed on the development of an autonomous robot system capable of navigating itself around an area using its own computer vision system. The developed robot system is part of a research study in the discipline of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at NUI Galway on the feasibility of using intelligent robot systems to remove weeds in commercial crop and vegetable growing operations.  Dr Michael Keane, Senior Manager with Avaya in Galway, said: “Avaya employ 400 people in Galway with 200 in high technology R&D positions and as part of our ongoing commitment to encouraging and supporting students in the Electrical and Electronic Engineering discipline at NUI Galway, we were delighted to award Joseph this year’s prize. There is an ever-present need to encourage high quality students such as Joseph into degree programmes in this area in order to fill the many open graduate positions in the areas of ICT and software development in companies like ourselves in Avaya.” Dr Martin Glavin, Lecturer in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at NUI Galway, and supervisor of Joseph’s project, said: “Joseph’s project was incredibly sophisticated in that he not only had to build the robot, integrate electronic circuitry and write the software to control it but he also had to develop and test complex mathematical image analysis techniques which would allow the robot to ‘see’ and navigate. His project is an excellent example of how industry focussed post-graduate research expertise within our discipline permeates our under-graduate degree programmes in order to produce engineers with experience in relevant and cutting edge technologies.” -ENDS-