Wednesday, 30 January 2013

NUI Galway is delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Lokesh Joshi as the new Vice President for Research, effective immediately. The role will see Professor Joshi lead the research mission for NUI Galway and firmly place NUI Galways among the top research led Universities globally. The University has a strong commitment to research, with annual research income in the region of €58 million, over 1500 academic and research staff, and 1,200 postgraduate research students. Professor Joshi joined the University in 2007 as a Science Foundation Ireland Stokes Professor of Glycoscience and is the Director of the Alimentary Glycoscience Research Cluster, a SFI-funded Strategic Research Cluster. He received his PhD from Bath University, in the UK, and completed Post-Doctoral and Research Associate training at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Before joining NUI Galway, he was an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and Director of the Center for Glycoscience and Technologies in the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, USA. Lokesh was also co-founder and CSO of Arizona Engineered Therapeutics, a biotechnology company developing products for cardiovascular diseases. Speaking of his appointment, Professor Joshi commented: “I am honoured to be appointed to this role. I firmly believe that NUI Galway has a unique opportunity to excel in research areas that are relevant to Ireland and the global community and am convinced that NUI Galway's excellent research community will quickly adapt to the challenging climate in research funding and continue to be successful.” NUI Galway has internationally recognised expertise in areas including Biomedical Science and Engineering, Web Science, Human Rights, Marine Science, Energy and Environmental Science, Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy, and Humanities. Professor Joshi’s research interest is in the role of sugars (glycans) in health and diseases and for industrial bioprocessing. The Alimentary Glycoscience Research Cluster has been very successful in securing both SFI and EU funding, and Lokesh is currently coordinating an EU-FP7 Health project called GlycoHIT which is developing novel and faster ways to detect cancer biomarkers. Speaking on the announcement, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “I am delighted to congratulate Prof. Joshi on his appointment as Vice-President for Research.  As an accomplished and successful international researcher, Lokesh brings a unique and fresh perspective to this vital role.  I look forward to working with him to support the continued development of the University’s ambitious research agenda. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Terry Smith for his excellent contribution to the University as Vice President for Research for the last four years.” ENDS

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Comhrá Ceoil and the Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway, are delighted to announce details of the second Martin Reilly Lecture Series.  Dedicated to Martin Reilly, the celebrated East Galway uilleann piper, this series gives an opportunity to researcher-practitioners in Irish traditional music and dance to present their work in a public forum.  The success of the inaugural Martin Reilly Series in 2012 confirmed the interest in research of this kind in Galway, where traditional music and dance are part of the cultural fabric of the city. Terry Moylan will present the first talk this year, which will take place at 6.30pm on Tuesday, 19 February at the Galway City Library.  Terry’s talk, titled ‘Paddy’s Resource – The Songsters of the Society of United Irishmen’ will explore the content of the four editions of Paddy's Resource/The Harp of Erin, the songbooks published by the Society of United Irishmen. Terry will be looking at the repertoire of songs within the collections in terms of language, iconography and their political message, as well as considering the range of tunes to which the songs were set. Terry Moylan is a piper and dancer and now the chief archivist with Na Piobairí Uilleann at its Dublin headquarters on Henrietta Street. Terry is a founder member of the Brooks Academy, which was influential in the revival of set dancing during the 1980s, and indeed since. He has published widely, including three collections of set dances and the song collection The Age of Revolution – 1776 to 1815 in the Irish Song Tradition published by the Lilliput Press.  A board member of the Irish Traditional Music Archive at various times, Terry has lectured in Ireland, Britain and the United States and it is a great pleasure to welcome him to Galway. Admission is free to all talks.  Further information on this and other planned talks in the series available at e-mail: Martinreillylectureseries@gmail.com and/or Facebook: Martin-Reilly-Lecture-Series ENDS

Monday, 28 January 2013

Funding for eleven research projects, with a total value of over €6 million, has been announced for NUI Galway. The awards cover a range of research areas including biomedicine, bioengineering, bioenergy production, chemistry, and commercially valuable seaweeds. The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD and the Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD, last Friday announced funding, totalling €60million, dedicated to 85 pioneering research initiatives around the country. Eleven projects, administered via Science Foundation Ireland’s Investigator Programme, have been awarded to NUI Galway. Making the announcement, Minister Bruton said: “A central part of this Government’s plan for jobs and growth is to ensure that this research is better targeted at turning the good ideas of researchers into good products and good jobs. By supporting these world-class researchers in their ground-breaking work we will ensure that we continue to maintain, attract and develop dynamic companies and create the quality jobs we need.” President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, commented: “As a research-led university, innovative research is at the heart of all that we do. Today’s announcement is further endorsement of the calibre of research underway on our campus.  This research will have far-reaching impact and will, ultimately, address some of the major health and scientific challenges facing society.  It will also further strengthen Ireland’s capacity as a knowledge economy.  I congratulate each of the researchers on their success in winning this support from SFI for their important work.” Three examples of the research awards include: Aiding cornea transplant success: With more than 100,000 procedures annually, cornea transplantation is the most frequent procedure of human tissue. However, long-term allograft survival is limited by immunological problems. Dr Thomas Ritter and his team will try to overcome this problem through novel cell and gene therapeutic approaches. Using synthetic carbohydrate chemistry to benefit society: Sugary molecules or ‘glycosides’ are ubiquitous and relevant to many aspects of life and health. Professor Paul Murphy’s team will work on a method to produce complex sugars related to those found in nature. They will apply the method to the synthesis of sugars and modified sugars relevant in cancer, infection & immunology. The research is relevant for development of vaccines, therapeutics or diagnostics for health, including cancer, and in crop protection. Understanding human cells to tackle cancer: One of the mysteries of cell reproduction, which underlies health and cancer, is how a cell moves its chromosomes into new cells when they divide. A special part of the chromosome called the centromere is responsible for this. Professor Kevin Sullivan will pursue new discoveries his team have made about how the centromere itself is reproduced which could help build anti-cancer drugs, but also provides new insight into how healthy cells work. Speaking of the SFI Investigator announcement, Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock said: “Over the past decade, Ireland has invested heavily in R&D and the rewards are clearly visible. What is particularly heartening about today’s announcement is that much of this excellent research, which was selected competitively following international peer review, is being done in collaboration with companies who are seeking to find new products and services, including IBM Ireland, Intel Ireland, HP, EMC and Bord Gáis.” ENDS

Monday, 3 December 2012

The renowned UN human rights expert, Professor Michael O’Flaherty FRSA, has been appointed as Professor of Human Rights Law at the National University of Ireland Galway. He will also serve as Director of the University’s Irish Centre for Human Rights. Professor O’Flaherty will combine the new roles with his current commitment as Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. During the period that Professor O’Flaherty remains at the Northern Ireland Commission the Irish Centre for Human Rights will be co-directed by Professor Ray Murphy. Since October 2011, Professor O’Flaherty has been Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. The Commission advises the government and is responsible for protecting and promoting human rights throughout Northern Ireland. It is also empowered to help people whose rights may have been denied and can carry out its own investigations. Professor O’Flaherty has worked the UK university sector since 2003 as Professor of Applied Human Rights and Co-Director of the Human Rights Law Centre at the School of Law in University of Nottingham. A native of Galway, Professor O’Flaherty has a distinguished reputation in the human rights arena. Since 2004, he has been an elected member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and is currently a Vice-Chairperson. He is also a member of the UN Expert Group on Human Rights Indicators, serves on a number of human rights advisory bodies of the UK government and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. Professor O’Flaherty sits on committees of the European Roma Rights Centre, the Diplomacy Training Programme, the UN-UK Association, the World Organization Against Torture, the Hilde Back Education Fund and a number of other groups worldwide. Prior to taking up his posts at the University of Nottingham, he served in a number of senior positions with the United Nations. He established the UN human rights field missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1994) and Sierra Leone (1998) and subsequently guided UN headquarters support to its human rights programmes across the Asia-Pacific region. National University of Ireland Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, welcomed the announcement: “Professor O’Flaherty brings an outstanding reputation to our School of Law and Irish Centre for Human Rights. Building on the strong foundations laid by his predecessor, Professor Bill Schabas, who retains an important connection with the Centre, Professor O’Flaherty will continue to develop the global reputation of the Centre for high quality academic programmes, leading edge research and engaged advocacy. Professor O’Flaherty brings a unique blend of academic skills and practical knowledge of human rights law which will enrich the teaching, research and outreach activities of the Centre.” Since its establishment in January 2000, the Irish Centre for Human Rights has developed a global reputation for excellence in the field of human rights teaching, research and advocacy.  Amongst the taught postgraduate programmes offered by the Centre are LL.M. in International Human Rights Law, Peace Operations and Humanitarian Law, and International Criminal Law. Additionally, under the auspices of the Law School, the Centre has built a strong doctoral studies programme, with a significant number of doctoral students supervised by individual staff members.  At undergraduate level, the Irish Centre for Human Rights is integral to the University’s BA with Human Rights. The degree is the only one of its kind in Ireland to offer a Human Rights qualification at undergraduate level. -ends-

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

“Older people’s finances are not regarded as a problem, but look deeper and genuine hardship is there” A new report suggests that many older people are experiencing real hardship during Ireland’s recession, but that this remains largely hidden from public view. This suggests caution is necessary when interpreting official statistics, which show deprivation and poverty rates for pensioner households to be at an all-time low. The NUI Galway research report‘Deprivation and its Measurement in Later Life’ was undertaken by the University’s Irish Centre for Social Gerontology. It was funded through the Irish Research Council with support from the Department of Social Protection. Led by Professor Thomas Scharf, Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, the research tries to understand how older people respond to the 11-item basic deprivation index used in official poverty statistics. Re-analysis of available national data shows that measured deprivation depends in large part on the choice of indicators used. Some indicators used in official measures are less relevant to older people than other population groups. This was reinforced in focus groups and interviews with a diverse sample of older people. As a result, older people are less likely to be identified as deprived. In launching the report, Professor Scharf said: “Older people’s finances are not regarded as a problem, but look deeper and genuine hardship is there. Our research suggests that older people respond differently to standard deprivation measures than other population groups. This means that reported levels of deprivation may under-estimate the actual experience of poverty and deprivation amongst older people.” Professor Scharf feels that a new, stand-alone deprivation index for older people is needed for use in official statistics. Many research participants held a relatively narrow view of poverty, linking this to an inability to afford basic household items. Participants were generally more likely to identify as necessities items relating to housing and accommodation, food and food quality, household bills and clothing. By contrast, taking a holiday away from home or being able to afford to replace worn-out furniture were less likely to be regarded as essential. The research shows that poverty and deprivation continue to affect the lives of many older people in Ireland. While the value of state pensions has been maintained, a number of people who took part in the research were struggling to cope with the loss of other forms of support at a time when additional demands were being placed on their finances. In particular, providing financial support to adult children and grandchildren during the recession featured in several participants’ accounts. Welcoming the research, Robin Webster, CEO of Age Action Ireland, congratulated the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology on producing this timely report that gives a greater insight into the nature of deprivation as experienced by many older people in maintaining their quality of life in the face of rising costs and reduced support services. He also welcomed the proposal to have a new deprivation index for older people. ENDS

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

NUI Galway recently launched the new Colm Ó hEocha Bursary. Established in memory of the late Dr Colm Ó hEocha, the Bursary has a value of €3,000 and will be awarded annually to the NUI Galway graduate who has registered for a Taught Masters Programme in the University provided through Irish and who has, in her/his primary degree taken at NUI Galway, obtained the highest overall percentage of those eligible. Originally from Dungravan, Co. Waterford, Dr Colm Ó hEocha was President of NUI Galway (then University College Galway) from 1975-1995. Dr Ó hEocha had previously been the University’s first Professor of Biochemistry from 1963. He also served as the Chair of the New Ireland Forum, of the Science Council of Ireland, of the Arts Council and of the Interim Local Radio Commission. Dr Ó hEocha was the recipient of honorary doctorates from Queen’s University Belfast, Dublin University, University of Limerick and Connecticut College. NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, said: “Colm Ó hEocha is a towering figure in the history of NUI Galway – as a teacher, researcher and as president of the University at a time of enormous transition.  Conscious of his achievements and his distinguished legacy, the University has established Sparánacht Choilm Uí Eocha – the Colm Ó hEocha Bursary with support of Galway University Foundation.  We are proud to recognise and commemorate Colm Ó hEocha in the presentation of this Bursary which gives expression, in a special way to his support for graduate studies within the University, as well as his love for and commitment to Irish Language.” -ENDS- Sparánacht Choilm Uí Eocha Seolta ag OÉ Gaillimh Sheol OÉ Gaillimh Sparánacht Choilm Uí Eocha le gairid Bunaíodh an Sparánacht i gcuimhne an Dr Choilm Uí Eocha, nach maireann. Is fiú €3,000 an Sparánacht agus bronnfar é go bliantúil ar an gcéimí de chuid OÉ Gaillimh atá cláraithe ar Chlár Máistreachta Múinte san Ollscoil a chuirtear ar fáil trí mheán na Gaeilge agus a bhfuil an céatadán foriomlán is airde bainte amach aige/aici, i measc na n-iarratasóirí incháilithe, ina b(h)unchéim in OÉ Gaillimh. B’as Dún Garbháin, Co. Phort Láirge an Dr Colm Ó hEocha ó dhúchas agus bhí sé ina Uachtarán ar OÉ Gaillimh (Coláiste na hOllscoile, Gaillimh ag an am) idir 1975-1995. Bhí an Dr Ó hEocha ar an gcéad Ollamh le Bithcheimic san Ollscoil sa bhliain 1963. Chomh maith leis sin bhí sé ina Ollamh ar Fhóram Nua-Éireann, ar Chomhairle Eolaíochta na hÉireann, ar an gComhairle Ealaíon agus ar an gCoimisiún Eatramhach Raidió Áitiúil. Bhronn Ollscoil na Banríona, Béal Feirste, Ollscoil Bhaile Átha Cliath, Ollscoil Luimnigh agus Coláiste Connecticut céimeanna oinigh ar an Dr Ó hEocha. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag an Dr Jim Browne, Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh: “Ba dhuine mór le rá é Colm Ó hEocha i stair OÉ Gaillimh – mar theagascóir, mar thaighdeoir agus mar Uachtaran na hOllscoile ag am a raibh go leor athruithe ag tarlú.  Tá Sparánacht Choilm Uí Eocha bunaithe ag an Ollscoil – le tacaíocht ó Fhondúireacht na hOllscoile chun a chuid éachtaí agus an oidhreacht iontach a d’fhág sé againn a thabhairt chun cuimhne.  Is mór an onóir dúinn aitheantas a thabhairt do Cholm Ó hEocha agus comóradh a dhéanamh ar a shaol tríd an Sparánacht seo a bhronnadh mar go léiríonn an Sparánacht seo, ar bhealach speisialta, an tacaíocht a thug sé don staidéar iarchéime san Ollscoil agus an grá a bhí aige don Ghaeilge.” -CRÍOCH-

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

NUI Galway scientist Dr Enda O’Connell has been named a winner in a new online science engagement event. Dr O’Connell won first prize in the health category of I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here!, which saw scientists chatting with students from 36 schools across the island of Ireland over the course of two weeks. Dr Enda O’Connell is a senior technical officer with the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science at NUI Galway. His work involves using a robot to help find cures for different types of cancers. He said: “I really enjoyed chatting with the students, answering their questions about science in general and my work in NUI Galway.  It gave me a new perspective on what it means to be a scientist.” Dr Tim Downing, a lecturer with the School of Mathematics at NUI Galway, whose research involves discovering mutations linked to drug resistance in flesh-eating parasites, also participated in the challenge. Students took part in quickfire Facebook-style online live chats, asking the scientists all sorts of questions before voting for their favourite scientist to win a prize of €500. Originating in the UK, this is the first time the event has come to Ireland, and it’s proved very popular with teachers. More information at http://imascientist.ie. -ENDS-

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

One of Ireland’s leading experts on stem cells will address the 8th World Stem Cell Summit, which takes place in Florida this week. Professor Tim O’Brien, Director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, will present a session on ‘Leading Institutions and Their Strategies for Advancing Regenerative Medicine’. Speaking alongside colleagues from research institutes around the world, Professor O’Brien will present on Wednesday, 5 December, discussing the latest research from REMEDI in the field of adult stem cell research here in Ireland. The World Stem Cell Summit is the largest interdisciplinary, networking meeting of stem cell stakeholders, uniting the diverse regenerative medicine community. With the overarching purpose of fostering biomedical research funding and investments targeting cures, the summit is seen as main conference charting the future of this burgeoning field. The programme provides the research, industry, economic and societal context for understanding how all of the pieces of the stem cell puzzle fit together. The agenda features more than 150 speakers and 50 hours of in-depth presentations. Supported by 200 sponsors, exhibitors, endorsing organisations and media partners, the summit is a three-day showcase of innovation, insight and inspiration. Speaking ahead of the event, Professor Tim O’Brien said: “Ireland has invested substantially in adult stem cell research in both infrastructure and human capital. The country is now poised to move from pre-clinical research to clinical trials subject to regulatory approval.” NUI Galway has become a leading centre of translational research in adult stem cells involving its National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) and REMEDI, which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland. The REMEDI team, which includes Professor Timothy O’Brien and Professor Frank Barry, are partnering with academics and clinicians from all over Ireland and beyond to study the clinical potential of adult stem cells in the treatment of many different diseases. -ends-

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Researchers and industrial organisations involved in optical imaging will meet in NUI Galway on Friday for the first ‘Opto-Imaging Ireland’ Workshop. The optical imaging device sector is burgeoning, with applications for highly sophisticated cameras to be found everywhere from mobile phones to cars, to space probes. The workshop will cover various applications of optical imaging, including imaging the eye to allow early detection of disease, and new microscopy techniques to enhance the study of microorganisms. The workshop is being organised by Dr Nicholas Devaney of the Applied Optics group in the NUI Galway’s School of Physics. The research team at the University has worked with industry on many projects such as customising lenses after cataract surgery, the early detection of eye diseases before they cause blindness and using laser beams for communication.  According to Dr Devaney: “The potential market for new imaging systems is enormous, and several Irish companies are already leading developments in the field. For example, Digital Optics Corporation, which has a centre in Galway, is a world leader in the production of miniature imaging systems. We see its applications all around. In top of the range cars, cameras combined with sophisticated software are used to automatically detect pedestrians and warn drivers in time to avoid accidents. Andor technology, based in Belfast, is a world leader in high-quality cameras for medical imaging systems.” Dr Devaney added: “Images from security cameras can be analysed to search for missing persons or criminals, and thermal cameras will allow this to be possible at night. Thermal cameras can also be used to detect cancer without the use of harmful x-rays. In this exciting filed, 3D imaging systems are also becoming available. These allow images to be refocused after they are taken and even allow the user to change the perspective or angle from which the picture appears to be taken.” The workshop will be addressed by eminent international experts; Professors Andrew Harvey, of the University of Glasgow and Professor Alan Greenaway of the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. According to Dr Devaney, this is a unique opportunity for academic and industrial researchers to learn from one another and explore exciting new projects. The Applied Optics Group was set up in 2002 with the support of Science Foundation Ireland and developed into a world-leading center for innovation in optics and imaging. The group is led by Dr Nicholas Devaney and Dr Alexander Goncharov. Petronel Bigioi, General Manager for the Embedded Image Enhancement Division of Digital Optics Corporation, explains: “The modern consumer imaging devices are size, cost and performance driven, forcing the modern designs to combine the optics, light sensing and digital image processing to achieve the right balance to be successful. The Applied Optics Group has the right expertise and mix of knowledge to deliver imaging solutions within the modern constraints.” -ends-

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The first group of educational users in the world to utilise Microsoft Office 365 Lync have delivered a virtual lecture to MBA students at the American University of Cairo, Egypt.  The lecture was delivered by NUI Galway Lecturer Dr Murray Scott with final-year BSc Business Information Systems (BIS) students and the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass). The lecture was delivered as part of an international student virtual team project that aims to prepare students for the modern working environment and was received by participants from around the globe including Galway, Cairo, Boston, and Barcelona.  Dr Murray Scott, BIS Module Director at NUI Galway, said: “For the last number of years we have been collaborating with Professor Gino Sorcinelli and his team at UMass Amherst to deliver this exciting new course, which is at the forefront of teaching modern cloud computing technologies.  This is a great example of students putting what they learn into practice and being able to utilise the latest cloud technologies we teach in the classroom.” The lecture was delivered partially by Peter Langan from Drumcliff, Co. Sligo, a final year BSc Business Information Systems (BIS) at NUI Galway. Peter describes his experience of the module as one of a kind. “It was an amazing feeling to jointly deliver the lecture on a Sunday morning from my home in Sligo along with colleagues based in Galway to a class of MBA students in Cairo.”    Classmate Dorothy Rab, from Portlaoise, Co. Laois, was also involved in lecture saying: “This was a great opportunity in preparing me for the modern working world, where employers no longer limit their employees’ boundaries to one building or even one country but require them to communicate with colleagues located on different sides of the globe.” The students’ experience of collaborating across international boundaries has been captured by Microsoft and now features on their Office 365 for Education website. -ENDS-

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

“Older people’s finances are not regarded as a problem, but look deeper and genuine hardship is there” Tuesday, 4 December, 2012: A new report suggests that many older people are experiencing real hardship during Ireland’s recession, but that this remains largely hidden from public view. This suggests caution is necessary when interpreting official statistics, which show deprivation and poverty rates for pensioner households to be at an all-time low. The NUI Galway research report‘Deprivation and its Measurement in Later Life’ was undertaken by the University’s Irish Centre for Social Gerontology. It was funded through the Irish Research Council with support from the Department of Social Protection. Led by Professor Thomas Scharf, Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, the research tries to understand how older people respond to the 11-item basic deprivation index used in official poverty statistics. Re-analysis of available national data shows that measured deprivation depends in large part on the choice of indicators used. Some indicators used in official measures are less relevant to older people than other population groups. This was reinforced in focus groups and interviews with a diverse sample of older people. As a result, older people are less likely to be identified as deprived. In launching the report, Professor Scharf said: “Older people’s finances are not regarded as a problem, but look deeper and genuine hardship is there. Our research suggests that older people respond differently to standard deprivation measures than other population groups. This means that reported levels of deprivation may under-estimate the actual experience of poverty and deprivation amongst older people.” Professor Scharf feels that a new, stand-alone deprivation index for older people is needed for use in official statistics. Many research participants held a relatively narrow view of poverty, linking this to an inability to afford basic household items. Participants were generally more likely to identify as necessities items relating to housing and accommodation, food and food quality, household bills and clothing. By contrast, taking a holiday away from home or being able to afford to replace worn-out furniture were less likely to be regarded as essential. The research shows that poverty and deprivation continue to affect the lives of many older people in Ireland. While the value of state pensions has been maintained, a number of people who took part in the research were struggling to cope with the loss of other forms of support at a time when additional demands were being placed on their finances. In particular, providing financial support to adult children and grandchildren during the recession featured in several participants’ accounts. Welcoming the research, Robin Webster, CEO of Age Action Ireland, congratulated the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology on producing this timely report that gives a greater insight into the nature of deprivation as experienced by many older people in maintaining their quality of life in the face of rising costs and reduced support services. He also welcomed the proposal to have a new deprivation index for older people. ENDS

Thursday, 6 December 2012

NUI Galway research features significantly in the Health Research Board’s ‘Picture of Health 2012’ publication which will be launched in Dublin today. The highlighted research from NUI Galway includes work on adult stem cells, diabetes in pregnancy, communicating with GPs diabetic foot disease. The annual Picture of Health publication highlights, in non-technical language, recent and exciting developments arising from Irish health research funded by the Health Research Board. Research featured includes projects that seek to improve patient care, search for better treatments and innovate in health policy and practice. At the launch, Dr Akke Vellinga, a senior lecturer in primary care and lecturer in bacteriology at NUI Galway, willspeak about her work on antibiotics. TheHealth Research Board-funded study in the west of Ireland shows that many antibiotics are prescribed inappropriately, and highlights a link between the prescription of antibiotics and an increased risk of antibiotic resistance. “By using antibiotics we make them gradually less useful,” says Dr Vellinga. “The antibiotics end up in the environment and the bacterial community adapts by developing resistance.” The study at NUI Galway looked at databases on prescribing practices and antibiotic resistance risk and found a direct link between the amount of antibiotics prescribed and the chance that an individual patient would be diagnosed with a resistant E.coli infection. The researchers also found that while they could identify bacteria in 20 per cent of samples from patients with urinary tract infections, more than 50 per cent of the patients were prescribed antibiotics. And of those, only 37 per cent were prescribed the recommended treatment.    In addition, the risks of being diagnosed with an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection shot up if a patient had more than one course of antibiotics: having two or more rounds of the medication could increase the risk of resistance by more than six-fold. NUI Galway’s Vice President for Research, Professor Terry Smith, said: “The NUI Galway research highlighted in the report represents concrete examples of the innovative thinking our researchers are applying to impact positively on people’s health and wellbeing with the ultimate aim of improving health outcomes and contributing to a world-class health service in Ireland.” Other Health Research Board funded research at NUI Galway which is featured in ‘A Picture of Health 2012’ includes the following: Professor Fidelma Dunne and Dr Geraldine Gaffney headed a major study called Atlantic Diabetes in Pregnancy (DIP) to measure the incidence and outcomes of diabetes in pregnancy in the west and north-west of Ireland. The research led to improved pregnancy outcomes for women with diabetes in the west of Ireland. Dr Claire Welford investigated the question as to whether older people in residential care have autonomy. Her research led to information for a resource pack and tool kit for all nursing homes in Ireland. A project looking at interacting with GPs asked migrants and health professionals about the ideal ways to break down communication barriers in consultations. The outcomes informed guidelines on interpreting needs of migrants in GP consultations and Ireland leading a €2.9 million EU project in this field. Dr Róisín Dwyer collaborated with the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at Galway and the Mayo Clinic in the US to look at the possibility of using adult stem cells to fight tumours. The work opened up the potential for developing a new therapeutic delivery system and won an award from the Irish Cancer Society. A new study measured, for the first time, the levels of risk of diabetic foot disease among patients in a community setting. Dr Sean Dinneen’s work identified a potential link between a standard blood test and diabetic foot risk. A study led by Dr Thomas Ritter sounded a note of caution for treatments that require many infusions of stem cells in the same patient. The research highlights that the immune system could get wise to ‘foreign’ stem cells over time and potentially eliminates them. The Irish Primary Care Research Network, a collaboration between the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research, the Irish College of General Practitioners and the WestRen Research network, led by the discipline of General Practice at NUI Galway, seeks to assess and provide comparative clinical data that enable health professionals to enhance the quality of care they provide to their patients. The work already has provided decision-support tools to help diagnosis and prescribing in primary care. Enda Connolly, Chief Executive at the HRB says: “The government’s continued investment in research must be recognised as a vital step to encourage innovation and help reinvigorate the economy. Researchers must see this investment as a vote of confidence in their ability to deliver change and embrace the opportunity to continue to demonstrate that the work that they do has real impact. In the past few years, the HRB has taken a strategic decision to focus our funding on research that has a positive impact on people’s health, patient care and the health service. The outcomes highlighted in this report show the difference our funded researchers are making in these areas.” ends

Monday, 10 December 2012

Two NUI Galway students have won €50,000 in Competitive Start Funding from Enterprise Ireland with their energy saving product. The team consists of NUI Galway Engineering students Justin Conboy and Dearbhaile Forde, who beat off stiff competition with their Drag Reduction System. The second year engineering students invented a drag reduction device which can reduce the drag between a truck and its container load so significantly that it will reduce fuel consumption of the truck by 8%. The Competitive Start Fund award will be used to accelerate the growth of the students company Cú Buí Engineering Concepts Ltd., trading as Drag Reduction Systems Ireland/drs.ie and Aerosleek.com. This award will enable the company to reach key commercial and technical milestones and provide them the capability to succeed in global markets. The Competitive Start Fund is to accelerate the growth of start-up companies that have the capability to succeed in global markets.  The fund is designed to enable those companies reach key commercial and technical milestones. The fund was open to applications from early stage companies, from the following sectors: Internet, Games, Mobile, Apps, SaaS, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Software, Lifesciences, Cleantech and Industrial Products.  Congratulating the award winners on their success, Mary Dempsey, College of Engineering and Informatics, NUI Galway, said: “The CSF award of €50,000 is an outstanding achievement for our undergraduate students. These budding engineers have demonstrated how design, innovation and creativity are critical components of engineering education which can translate into a commercially viable business. Their recipe for success has included self belief and resilience. It is heartening to witness their energy and enthusiasm and I congratulate them on their achievements.” -ENDS-

Monday, 10 December 2012

Ever wondered how research at NUI Galway affects you, your family and community? The public are invited to a competition which might just answer that question on Monday, 17 December, at 7.30 pm in Jigsaw Galway on Fairgreen Road. The THREESIS competition will see NUI Galway staff and students present their research to the audience and a panel of judges in accessible language a non-expert can understand, in three minutes or less. Each of the 15 finalists will have only three slides and be under strict time pressure to communicate their research area and relevancy. Competitors are judged on how well they convey the subject of their thesis and their ability to communicate to a general audience. Each of NUI Galway’s five priority research areas will be represented, with topics ranging from wastewater treatment to the cost of drug treatment for diabetes. The winner will receive a generous prize and award, based on the decision of the judges who will include: Liam Bluett Director of Ballybane Enterprise Centre; Professor Terry Smith, Vice-President of Research at NUI Galway, and Frances Shanahan, Journalist with RTÉ Radio. Professor Terry Smith said: “This will be a fun event and we would really encourage people to come along and enjoy these short sharp presentations. This is an opportunity to get a feel for the type of world-leading research which takes place right here in Galway.” NUI Galway is forward-thinking and global in scale in terms of its research. Its work is focused on translational research that has a positive impact on society, leading the field in many areas. Some 448 research staff and 1,246 postgraduate research students make NUI Galway their home, and this event is a chance for the general public to get an insight into what they do.  The event is free and refreshments will be served on the night. -ends-

Monday, 10 December 2012

An innovative musical score application for a mobile device, using genetic algorithms to crack encryption codes and an online hotel booking system are just some of the new technologies which graduates of NUI Galway have won awards for recently. Prizes were awarded to recent graduates, who in their final-year, excelled in projects which span a wide range of fascinating topics, reflecting the diversity of research and career opportunities for graduates of Information Technology.  The Best Project in the BSc in Computer Science and Information Technology, sponsored by Cisco System, was awarded to graduate Elise Karlsson. Originally from Sweden and now living in Galway City, Elise developed an innovative musical score application for a mobile device to enable experienced music composers to easily and quickly visualise and compose music notation. Best Project in the HDip/MSc in Software Design and Development, sponsored by Cisco Systems, was presented to Gearóid Joyce from Letterfrack, Co. Galway, Colm Kavanagh from Annaghdown, Co. Galway and Darren Tighe from Strandhill, Co. Sligo. The team’s project focused on online security and encryption, developing a system that applied genetic algorithms to code cracking. Sean Coleman from Loughrea, Co. Galway and Roseanne Carroll from Athlone, Co. Westmeath were presented with the prize for Best Project in the BA in Information Technology, sponsored by NUI Galway’s College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies for their creation of a complete online hotel booking system. It contained both a back-end database and a web based user interface. Each year a special Entrepreneurship Prize is awarded to the students who produce the best business plan during the academic year. These plans are evaluated by external business experts from WestBIC. This year the prize was awarded to Elise Karlsson and Niall Dolan from Loughrea, Co. Galway for their ‘Grown@Home’ system. Essentially the application and backend will provide users such as consumers, farmers, third party suppliers, with an infrastructure to source, buy, advertise and promote locally produced produce. Dr Michael Madden, Head of Information Technology at NUI Galway, said: “Information Technology is central to the development of the Smart Economy in Ireland. It is a breeding ground for entrepreneurs and attracts the kind of creative people who want to invent and promote technology based products and services.  At NUI Galway, students of the BSc in Information Technology study Professional Skills and Business Planning as part of their core academic work.” Dr Madden also welcomed Cisco Systems as the corporate sponsor for Best Projects in the Information Technology degree programmes. “We believe this is a strong endorsement of the commercial relevance of our degree programmes, and underlines our commitment to innovation, professionalism and research at NUI Galway. We place a huge emphasis on Final Year Project work. These projects are a proving-ground for research and commercial business opportunities. Partnering with a blue-chip global company like Cisco gives students the added motivation and ambition to deliver excellent work. -ENDS-

Monday, 10 December 2012

A Galway cancer researcher has been awarded a Research Fellowship Award of €230,000 to develop new strategies to help improve treatments for patients with colon cancer. Dr Aideen Ryan from Ballinasloe in Co. Galway, received the award from the Irish Cancer Society. Colon cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths in Ireland and represents a significant health problem. In many instances, colon cancer spreads to other organs, which is called metastasis. When this happens it is most likely to result in death. New ways to tackle the problem of colon cancer metastasis have had very little success, but Aideen’s research is taking a fresh approach by focusing on the cancer cells interaction with the immune system. Aideen collaborates with mentor Professor Laurence Egan at NUI Galway, and collaborators Professor Matthew Griffin also of NUI Galway and Dr Aileen Houston at UCC. Their previous research has shown how the body’s own immune system affects how colon cancer cells spread. The team aims to discover the factors that control the immune systems interaction with colon cancer. Dr Ryan states: “Blocking these factors would enable us to develop new drugs that could, in turn, be used to make our immune response to cancer stronger. This novel approach to cancer treatment could potentially result in better treatments and consequently a better prognosis and quality of life for patients with colon cancer.” -ends-

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Stem Cell Scientists and Autism Research Groups at TCD and NUI Galway to outline New Research Project Public Forum, Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, 7pm, 12 December, 2012 Often seen as an alternative to embryonic stem cells, iPS - or induced pluripotent stem cells - are adult stem cells reprogrammed to an embryonic-like state.  IPS cells are increasingly of interest to scientists studying brain disorders such as autism, since accessing brain tissue is so difficult. Recent breakthroughs in autism genetics research have revealed that a small but significant minority of individuals with autism may have rare genetic changes that are potentially causative of their condition. The TCD autism research group, which has investigated the genetic causes of autism for over a decade, has teamed up with scientists at the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) in NUI Galway to apply stem cell technology to further the understanding of autism that may lead towards the identification of better treatments. In a first for Ireland, REMEDI has already begun producing iPS cells from the skin cells of people with autism and their siblings. This new research project hopes to find out how rare genetic changes might impact on the functioning of brain cells using iPS cell models. This research may ultimately help to identify drugs that could help to treat symptoms of the disease pathology. TCD’s Autism Research Group, and REMEDI scientists are reaching out to families who may be willing to participate in this innovative research. A public forum entitled ‘Treating Autism, Can Stem Cells Help?’ will be held on Wednesday, 12 of December at 6pm at the Science Gallery at TCD. Professor Louise Gallagher, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Principal Investigator of the TCD Autism Research Group will discuss the recent breakthroughs in autism genetics emerging from the work of the TCD group and how this has begun to inform some understanding of the causes of autism; REMEDI’s Outreach Officer Danielle Nicholson will explain about Stem Cell technology and Professor Sanbing Shen, Professor of Stem Cell Biology at REMEDI will discuss the work from his lab which has begun producing iPS cells from the skin cells of people with autism and their siblings. The event will be chaired by Dr Geraldine Leader, Director of Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research (ICAN) at NUI Galway. “Our research in autism genetics over the last 10 years or more has revealed interesting rare genetic causes of autism. By applying this new and exciting technology to further investigate autism we may identify the underlying mechanisms of these genetic anomalies in causing autistic spectrum disorders”, explains Professor Louise Gallagher. Over the years we have been indebted to over 300 individuals with autism and their parents and families who have participated in our active research programs and biorepository collections. We are hoping that this exciting public forum will provide a further opportunity to engage with the autism community and provide information about this exciting initiative in autism research. Professor Sanbing Shen explains the science: “We are in the very early stages of research, but by reprogramming skin cells, we may provide a way to study neuronal cells in autism and to test new therapies. These iPS cells can specialize into different cell types raising the possibility to treat patients with their own stem cells. This is exciting news for people who are affected by conditions that have no treatment.” The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine was awarded jointly to Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent”. This Irish initiative now hopes to bring this science to bear on autism. The prevalence of autism is on the rise. In the United States, the Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 110 children will be diagnosed with autism.  Among boys the incidence is 1 in 70. “Although there are no comparable studies on autism in Ireland, it is believed the prevalence is similar to that found in the US,” says Dr Geraldine Leader. “A diagnosis of autism can have a devastating effect on a family and the lack of autism services in Ireland places an enormous burden on parents. Neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism affect individuals and their families across the life span. Yet parents and families are the true advocates for those diagnosed. Stem cell research like this is the cutting edge of science, and is one of many opportunities which we would like to provide to families.” NUI Galway has become a leading centre of translational research in adult stem cells involving its National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) and REMEDI, which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland. The REMEDI team, which includes Professor Timothy O’Brien and Professor Frank Barry, are partnering with academics and clinicians from all over Ireland including Trinity College Dublin, the Royal College of Surgeons and Galway University Hospitals, to study iPS cells and their clinical potential in the treatment of many different diseases. For more information on the public forum visit http://sciencegallery.com/events/2012/12/treating-autism-can-stem-cells-help -ends-

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

NUI Galway’s sailing campaign has been named the Irish Cruiser Racing Association's (ICRA) ‘Boat of the Year’. The prize was presented to NUI Galway in Kilkenny at the recent association’s annual conference which was attended by Ireland’s leading sailors, race organisers and industry professionals such as Olympic race officer Jack Roy and Volvo Ocean Race champion Damian Foxall. ICRA is the organising authority of Irish yacht racing. Nine boats from around Ireland were shortlisted for their ‘Boat of the Year’ award for having excelled at national and international level. Ultimately the judges favoured NUI Galway for the award on the basis of the exceptional level of preparation, training, competitive racing and achievement from the young crew. NUI Galway’s sailing yacht is a Reflex 38 based out of Galway Bay Sailing Club who raced in the 2012 Round Ireland Yacht Race. The crew finished sixth place in the overall standings, and first in their class, in the race. The team, one of the youngest to compete in the competition, was the second Irish boat to cross the finishing line in their 38-ft racing yacht which they chartered especially for the race. They were also the Class 1 winners in the Wales to Wicklow Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) race which they did as preparation for Round Ireland race. The boat was also raced by a number of the NUI Galway students in the 2012 Irish Cruiser Racing Nationals in Howth and Cork Week with the boat owner Martin Breen. The NUI Galway crew is made up of students and graduates from various disciplines including engineering, science and commerce and include Ben Scallan, Eoghan McGregor, Eoin Breen, Joan Mulloy, Mark Armstrong, Ruaidhri De Faoite, Conor Kinsella, David Fitzgerald, Louis Mulloy and Cathal Clarke. Kathy Hynes, Sports Officer NUI Galway, said: “This group of young people represent the future of sport through energy, passion and their high skill level ensure that NUI Galway sport is moving in the right direction.” -ENDS-

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Central Bank of Ireland today (12 December 2012) issued its latest collector coin, a €15 silver proof coin featuring the design of a wolfhound, at NUI Galway. The coin is the final in a series of three which pays tribute to the original 1928 coins designed by Percy Metcalfe and which featured iconic Irish animals including the Irish hunter horse and the salmon. The €15 coin features the design of a wolfhound alongside its pup and is the work of coin designer Emmet Mullins. Speaking at the launch, Governor Patrick Honohan said: ‘We are delighted to be in Galway today to mark the issue of the final €15 coin honouring Percy Metcalfe’s 1928 designs. Today’s coin launch coincides with a number of Central Bank events taking place in Galway including the first meeting of the Board of the Central Bank – the Central Bank Commission - outside of Dublin and a consumer protection road-show for retail intermediaries. I would like to thank Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway for hosting today’s events and for the warm welcome we have received. The collector coin has an issue limit of 8,000 units and is available to the public at a cost of €46 per coin. Each coin is accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity specifying the quality of the coin and the limited issue. The coin can be purchased by downloading an order form from the Collector Coin section of our website or by calling 1890 307 607 (lo-call within Ireland) or (+353 1) 219 8000.  It may also be purchased directly from the Central Bank’s premises in Dame Street, Dublin.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Researchers at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) in NUI Galway are leading a European Union, multi-million euro initiative aimed at government transparency and giving citizens a voice in creating policies. The project, entitled ‘Puzzled by Policy’ has now launched a new widget (http://join.puzzledbypolicy.eu) that provides a fun way for users to find out about immigration policy and become actively involved in the immigration policy-making process. Immigration is traditionally a highly contentious topic, but one that is relevant to all, including immigrants and citizens, employers and employees, NGOs and public-sector bodies. Immigration policy can impact on all aspects of life, from social welfare and housing, to education, employment and healthcare. This unique widget encourages users to explore their opinions on various immigration topics, as well as enabling them to see how their views compare to those of policy-makers, NGOs, and other immigration stakeholders. While the ‘Puzzled by Policy’ widget is customised for Greece, Hungary, Italy and Spain, users from other countries may also participate at a European level. To facilitate wide and diverse participation, this innovative widget has been designed so that it can be embedded on any website, blog or Facebook page. This enables existing communities to become more informed on immigration policy, while becoming actively engaged on particular issues. NGOs, immigrant organizations, academic institutions and think-tanks are already successfully using the widget to engage their communities. DERI’s Deirdre Lee, who is leading the ‘Puzzled by Policy’ project, comments: “The Puzzled by Policy project aims to help end the detachment and disillusionment of citizens in the policy making process of the EU by improving information resources and tools. DERI is providing the models, technologies and tools for more effective and efficient public administration systems. This is all part of a larger move toward eGovernment, which embraces the world wide web for better governance.” Deirdre Lee added: “eGovernment offers the ability to transform not only the way in which most public services are delivered but also the fundamental relationship between government and citizen.” With over 140 researchers, DERI is one of the world’s leading international web science research institutes, established as a CSET in 2003 with funding from Science Foundation Ireland. DERI’s researchers have a specific focus on the Semantic Web and Networked Knowledge, which provides the framework to link information in a way that allows us to use, analyse and retrieve this information more efficiently. -ends-

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Galway Neuroscience Cluster, based within the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) at NUI Galway, last week gained the status of Centre of Excellence in Neurodegeneration (COEN) after a national and international review process. By gaining COEN status, the Galway Neuroscience Cluster joins a select group of international centres that are entitled to apply for research funding that is awarded through this international initiative.    Leader of the Neuroscience Cluster, NUI Galway’s Dr David Finn, said: “This is a very significant achievement by the Neuroscience Cluster and it represents international recognition and approval of the quantity and quality of our research over the past 5-10 years.  I would like to acknowledge the efforts and support of all members of the Neuroscience Cluster and University which have contributed significantly to this exciting development.”  The overall aim of the COEN initiative is to build collaborative research activity in neurodegeneration research across borders, focusing on critical mass and excellence.  Congratulating those involved NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne said:  "NUI Galway’s designation as a Centre of Excellence in Neurodegeneration is a wonderful endorsement of the calibre of research underway at this University.  It underscores the growing international reputation of our University and its researchers.  This designation will enable the Galway Neuroscience Cluster to further develop and to join an elite group of international centres working on advancing new therapies for a range of medical conditions." The news came on the eve of the annual research meeting of the Galway Neuroscience Cluster last Thursday at NUI Galway. This meeting showcased the best of neuroscience research in the University. Attendees included undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as post-doctoral research scientists and academic members of staff from a number of different disciplines and research centers within university. The research presented encompassed a number of different areas within neuroscience. The presentations included the genetic approaches taken to improve the symptoms of Huntington’s disease, the potential use of marine products in neuroscience, the use of new delivery methods for therapies in Parkinson’s disease, the development of relevant models to study chronic pain as well as a keynote lecture given by Professor Ciaran Regan of UCD on the development of potential therapies for autism spectrum disorders. Awards for the best postgraduate oral and poster presentations at the meeting were also presented by Dr John Newell of the Clinical Research Facility in Galway who sponsored the meeting. The poster prize was won by Jason Ridge (Anatomy and Psychiatry, NUI Galway) whose work detailed the changes in size of certain brain regions in patients with schizophrenia. Ben Newland (Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials, NUI Galway) won the oral presentation prize for presenting his work on the development of a new strategy to delivery genes for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Nikita Burke (Physiology and Centre for Pain Research) won the runner-up prize for her work on the effects of early life stress on the perception of pain. The mission of the Neuroscience Cluster is to develop Neuroscience in Galway through research, education and community initiatives. The Cluster is truly multidisciplinary in membership, bringing together researchers from a range of clinical and preclinical disciplines, which enable the investigation of nervous system disease at a number of levels. Cluster Leader Dr David Finn added: “I would like to congratulate the prizewinners and all those who presented and contributed to a fascinating meeting and I look forward to the continued growth and success of neuroscience at NUI Galway in 2013 and beyond.” ENDS

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A well-known local science advocate believes that Galway should emulate its international status as an arts city by striving to become the European equivalent of California’s Silicon Valley. Brendan Smith, Community Education and Outreach Officer for the Digital Enterprise Research Institute at NUI Galway, was presented with the Science Person of the Year Award at the recent Galway Science and Technology Festival. He was given the award for delivering a range of pioneering science and technology learning initiatives to schools, colleges and to communities. Brendan Smith believes passionately that the city possesses many of the key ingredients needed to transform the region into a leading global hub for smart technologies’ innovation and development. According to Brendan Smith: “Silicon Valley is home to many of the world’s largest information technology corporations as well as thousands of small start-ups. These organisations have established a symbiotic relationship with third-level colleges in the vicinity that provide the stream of young enthusiastic inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers and scientists needed to sustain their existence and success. Brendan says Galway bears an uncanny resemblance to San Francisco possessing many of its main traits in abundance. Located on the west coast of the United States, the area is famed for its natural beauty that has engendered a quality of life ethos amongst the inhabitants. The city of San Francisco has also long being characterized by political, environmental and social liberalism; possessing a strong progressive artistic, music, cultural and community solidarity ethos with a youthful, student, cosmopolitan and outward-looking population. Many of the leading corporations in the biomedical and information technology sectors such as Avaya, Boston Scientific, Cisco, Electronic Arts, Hewlett-Packard, Medtronic and SAP, are already based in Galway with established links to research institutes located in GMIT and NUI Galway such as DERI, Ryan Institute and REMEDI which are providing the scientific expertise to sustain their presence in Galway and underpin their status as leaders in cutting edge product development. There is also the presence locally of indigenous high-tech manufacturing and services industries comprising Irish-owned companies such as Creganna and Storm Technologies. Galway can rightly claim to be the country’s first and premier ‘Digital City’, building on an unbroken tradition of computing innovation that dates back to 1971 when Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), then the world’s largest minicomputer company, opened its first European manufacturing facility in Mervue. This proud technology heritage is exemplified by the fact that the ‘Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland’, which pays tribute amongst other things to the oftentimes hidden role of Ireland, women and youth in communications development, is based in the city at DERI in NUI Galway. “What is also an abiding feature of Galway is the deep sense of ‘community solidarity’ as well as the high level of volunteerism that exists amongst many of the prime ‘movers and shakers’ in the industrial, political, educational and local government sectors. These individuals have over the years collaborated under the auspices of the Galway Education Centre, Junior Achievement and the Galway Science and Technology Festival, to deliver important learning initiatives in schools and colleges across the Western region.” “In a modern industrial urban version of ‘Meitheal’ that was once the hallmark of traditional Irish rural community support, these visionaries have promoted and harnessed an army of young professional mentors from industry and third level colleges who give their time and energies to teach in primary and post-primary classrooms delivering science courses whilst acting as positive ‘role models’ for our young generation.” Such courses will equip our children with a range of skills, from using mathematics to fostering critical thinking, necessary for transforming Ireland from being a nation of ‘digital users’ into a nation of ‘digital creators’ that would export worldwide a series of beneficial Irish-made smart tech products and services. These formal learning programmes are now being complimented by the activities of electronic and computer coding volunteer clubs such as 091 Labs and Coderdojo which are often established by young people themselves to provide informal after-school digital maker’s environments where participants are encouraged to be creative and to experiment in new processes and ideas, writing software for instance for online games or to control the movements of robots. The success of these initiatives is best shown by the dramatic uptake by schools in these mentoring courses as well as by the tens of thousands that attend the science shows and exhibitions during the annual two week Galway Science and Technology Festival. -ends-

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

NUI Galway has announced that the 2013 Alumni Awards will be presented at the annual Alumni Awards Gala Banquet on Saturday, 9 March, 2013. The Gala Banquet will again be held in the Bailey Allen Wing located in Áras na Mac Léinn on campus. The Alumni Awards recognise individual excellence and achievements among the University’s more than 70,000 graduates worldwide. The Awards programme boasts an impressive roll call of 74 outstanding graduates who have gone on to honour their alma mater, including, for example, Michael D. Higgins, Ciarán FitzGerald, Sean O’Rourke, Professor Frank Gannon, Dr Luke Clancy and Gráinne Seoige. Speaking on the announcement of the Awards, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne said: "Our Alumni Awards programme recognises the many Galway alumni who are leaders in their professions and excel in their pursuits at national and international levels. These awards celebrate the life-long value of an NUI Galway education and recognise individual achievements among the University's more than 70,000 graduates worldwide and we look forward to announcing the award winners early in the New Year.” For ticket and booking information contact the Alumni Office on 091 493750 or email alumni@nuigalway.ie. Online bookings at www.nuigalway.ie/alumni-friends   ENDS

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Robin Tipps, a Sociology-Criminology student from the University of Oklahoma, has been awarded a George J. Mitchell Scholarship to study Public Law at NUI Galway next September. The George J. Mitchell Scholarship, awarded by the US-Ireland Alliance, funds one year of graduate study in Ireland and Northern Ireland to students who satisfy requirements for an Irish master's degree. The George J. Mitchell Scholarship honours the former U.S. senator's contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process and was established in 1999. This year 12 scholars representing a cross-section of American students have been awarded the scholarship on the basis of academic distinction, leadership and service. Among their achievements, they count breaking the cryptic code of Rhode Island founder Roger Williams, tutoring underserved children and improving the performance of biofuels. Robin, a member of the Quapaw Tribe, was raised in Ardmore, Oklahoma and will graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in sociology-criminology in 2013. He has been the Senior Vice-Chair of Investigations for his University’s Integrity Council and hopes to become a tribal attorney and the chairman of his tribe. His many service activities include work at the same-day surgery clinic at Norman Regional Hospital and as Collections Assistant at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History. The son of a Quapaw mother and a Caucasian father, Robin has thought a great deal about Native American identity. He grew up 300 miles from tribal headquarters, and the annual ritual of Pow Wow took on great meaning for him, as it was the time when he could connect most easily with his Native American heritage. Marie McGonagle, Director of the LLM in Public law at NUI Galway, express her delight that Robin had chosen the Public Law programme, the second winner of a prestigious Mitchell scholarship to do so in three years. “Robin will be a very welcome addition to the class and I hope he will find the many opportunities presented to students on the programme to attend conferences and engage with public bodies beneficial to his future career.” -ENDS-

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Dr Patrick O’Brien, Group Director of Strategic Business and Marketing for Wood Group Kenny and a member of the Executive Management Team of MCS Kenny, has been appointed as Adjunct Professor in the College of Engineering and Informatics, NUI Galway. Dr O'Brien, a chartered engineer with close to 30 years industry experience, was awarded a Bachelor of Engineering degree, Master of Engineering Science and PhD by NUI Galway. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland and a Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology. Dr O'Brien plays an active role in a number of industry bodies and he is a board member of Subsea UK. Throughout his career, Dr O’Brien has gained extensive experience primarily in the design of compliant pipeline systems that connect from the seafloor to an offshore oil and gas floating platform. One of his major achievements is the development of the engineering algorithms for the world leading Flexcom riser analysis software. He is the author of many technical papers and he has chaired numerous industry conferences on riser technology. His specialties include: flexible pipe technology, riser mechanics, riser design, nonlinear structural analysis, subsea industry knowledge, strategic and creative thinking, and business networking. NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics has had ongoing research links with MCS Kenny since it was first founded as a campus spin-off in the 1980s. Currently Dr O’Brien is working with NUI Galway’s Dr Annette Harte and Adrian Connaire, PhD researcher, on a project which aims to greatly increase the efficiency of the current approaches to modeling the mechanical response of highly compliant marine risers. This new appointment will mark the beginning of a new phase in the relationship between the University, MCS Kenny and the Wood Group Kenny in the field of research and development in the offshore arena. Commenting on his appointment, Dr O'Brien said: “There has been a long tradition of collaboration between the University and MCS Kenny, and this appointment greatly strengthens that link. The company is currently working on two joint research projects with the engineering school, and we will look to build on that going forward. I am honoured to accept this position, particularly as NUI Galway is my alma mater, and I look forward to contributing ongoing lectures which bring my company's extensive experience of the offshore oil and gas industry to the engineering school's students, a timely input given recent announcements of the oil and gas potential offshore Ireland.” -ENDS-

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Sean Sherlock, Minister of State for Research and Innovation today (Wednesday) announced NUI Galway has secured funding from the European Space Agency (ESA) for a new ash cloud research project.  ESA has invested €2.1 million in an ash cloud detection and forecasting system led by the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) and involving NUI Galway and the Irish Aviation Authority Irish Aviation Authority’s Volcanic Ash Detection and Forecasting Initiative. The funding was secured with the aid of Enterprise Ireland, which is the co-ordinating body for ESA in Ireland. The project, which uses satellites and forecast models to detect ash clouds and forecast their movements, came about following the 2010 Icelandic volcano eruption, which resulted in more than 100,000 flights being cancelled, affecting 10 million passenger journeys during the first week of the eruption alone.  Announcing the investment, Minister Sherlock said; “The Action Plan for Jobs 2012 puts innovation and technology at the heart of enterprise and jobs policies and working with the European Space Agency is an integral part of driving innovation and research in Ireland.” “NUI Galway’s commitment to developing new environmental monitoring techniques is impressive. This is a significant win for NUI Galway and clearly indicates that Irish Research Institutes have the capability and expertise to significantly contribute to these pan European projects.” The Minister added 'Ireland's membership of the European Space Agency is having a direct and positive impact for the research and SME community. There are over 40 Irish companies that are active in ESA programmes. These companies, through their involvement with ESA Earth observation programmes, are also directly impacting on global threats such as climate change, ozone depletion, maritime surveillance, flooding and forest fires'. In addition to ash detection via satellite platforms, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), in collaboration with NUI Galway, is deploying an ash cloud detection network composed of four ground-based LIDARS (dust or haze RADARs) located strategically at north, south, east and west perimeters in Ireland. ESA have invested in NUI Galway’s School of Physics and Centre for Climate & Air Pollution studies to use the LIDAR data for ash detection. In total, ESA have invested €2.1 million in the Volcanic Ash Strategic-initiative Team (VAST). VAST is a consortium led by NILU and comprises teams from Finland, Austria and Ireland with NUI Galway being awarded €500,000 to further develop and evaluate their ash forecast model, to develop real-time ash detection software and techniques for the LIDAR network, and to conduct the validation of the detection and forecasting aspects of the project.  Professor Colin O’Dowd, the Director of the Centre for Climate & Air Pollution Studies, based in the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “The VAST detection and forecasting system is especially designed to facilitate the aviation industry and represents a major technological step forward in combing space-borne and ground-based remote-sensing platforms with sophisticated ash forecasting models and will put Europe in poll position in terms of ash cloud detection and forecasting.” He went on to say “ESA’s investment in NUI Galway’s research and research support staff for the IAA’s LIDAR network is a reflection of how important ESA views the Irish contribution to ash cloud detection and prediction. The initiative will provide more accurate information to the aviation industry which is expected to result in reduced disruption of air travel as ‘fly’ or ‘no-fly’ decisions will be based on more accurate predictions of ash plume location and density.” Dr Barry Fennell of Enterprise Ireland and National Delegate to ESA’s Earth Observation Programme Board said “Ireland’s unique geographical position on the western fringes of Europe makes it an ideal and much sought after international partner when developing early detection environmental warning systems whether focused on the atmosphere, on land or on the marine environment.  Many more business opportunities for Irish Industry will become available over the coming years through increased availability and access to data collected in-situ and from Earth Observation satellites.”  “Ireland’s recent renewal of its membership to the ESA Earth Observation programme with a subscription of €5 million will secure the position of our SME’s, Academic and Public Sector institutes at the heart of the latest technological developments in this rapid advancing area of service development.” ENDS

Thursday, 20 December 2012

NUI Galway has officially launched a new Masters Programme in Rural Sustainability. The full-time, one year postgraduate programme is being co-ordinated by the Discipline of Geography within the School of Geography and Archaeology, and it already has a full complement of students in place for the first year of its operation. The MA in Rural Sustainability has been devised in response to increasing attention nationally and internationally on the role and function of rural economies and societies. NUI Galway holds a distinguished tradition of rural research and teaching. As a European university that is itself situated in a rural and peripheral location, it seeks to continue its leadership role in rural affairs through providing a postgraduate career path in rural studies. The programme was officially launched by Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc. This association with Teagasc, particularly with its own strong leadership in rural research, is an important component of the programme as it unites expertise in rural theory, research and practice, ultimately benefiting the student experience and future employability.     Speaking at the launch, Professor Boyle said: “I congratulate NUI Galway’s Discipline of Geography on this timely and appropriate Postgraduate programme. The programme is a clear response in a positive and proactive way by Geographers in NUI Galway to calls emanating regionally, nationally and internationally, which place rural issues high on current political agendas.  This MA also allows for greater collaboration between NUI Galway and Teagasc and I am also delighted to announce, as part of this MA programme, the Teagasc sponsorship of the Dr Patrick Commins Rural Research Award.” The event also included the launch of the Dr Patrick Commins Rural Research Award for the best overall MA student performance. Sponsored by Teagasc, this award is valued at €3,000 per annum. The late Dr Commins was a leading academic and researcher in rural issues and had a long and distinguished career with Teagasc. His reputation as an expert on rural affairs extended well beyond Ireland, and his knowledge and experience was regarded as key to informing EU and wider international academic and policy debates. -ENDS-

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Professor Donal O’Regan of NUI Galway, who was honoured last year by being elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, has just written his 1,000th peer-reviewed mathematical article. He is now one of the most prolific authors in the history of Mathematics in the world. “The quality of his research is as impressive as the quantity”, says his colleague at NUI Galway, Professor Graham Ellis. “His publications appear in some of the world’s top ranking mathematics journals.” Professor O’Regan has been publishing an average of one mathematics paper per week and one mathematics book a year since he joined NUI Galway in 1990. “I’m not surprised Donal has managed to reach the millennium”, says Dr Ray Ryan, Head of the School of Mathematics. "He might very well beat the record of Paul Erdös (1913-96) who wrote around 1,525 articles over a 60-year career. O’Regan is still a relative freshman with his 22 years of publishing.” “Donal is truly amazing”, says colleague and fellow mathematician Professor Michel Destrade. “His sheer output is unbelievable by any standard. He has also written twenty books. And he does it all on a 25 year old computer!” Over the 2002-2006 period, O’Regan authored an average of 56 articles per year according to MathSciNet, the most extensive database of mathematical works worldwide. To put this number in perspective, during that same period the whole Island of Ireland produced an average of 142 mathematical articles per year, according to the Forfás bibliometric report (Research Strengths in Ireland), putting his contribution at nearly 40% of the entire Irish output. “We are very privileged to have such a world-class academic on campus”, says Dr Ryan. “He is a one-man powerhouse.” -ends-

Friday, 2 November 2012

A start-up medical device company that has been spun out from an NUI Galway research laboratory has begun an expansion that should see it double in size by the end of the year. Vornia Limited was established by Professor Abhay Pandit and Drs Dimitrios Zeugolis and Wenxin Wang as a spin out from the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) – an NUI Galway based research cluster. Vornia’s goal is to bring superior and consistently high-quality biodegradable biomaterial products to the market. As a medical device company, Vornia also uses its own superior grade materials to develop and scale up products in niche clinical targets including tendon regeneration, soft tissue repair and spinal cord repair.    Vornia’s Managing Director, Dr Colm O’Dowd, has initiated a robust R&D programme and has been ramping for the past eight months. “In a market in which between 70 and 80% of start-up companies fail, Vornia has secured funding for the next four years and we are looking forward to a bright future in biomaterials development for the medical technology markets.” Established with private, EU FP7, and Enterprise Ireland funding, Vornia Ltd has recently secured grants in partnership with both private companies and the NFB-based at NUI Galway to work on semi-organic devices for the treatment ischemic heart conditions, spinal cord repair and for stent development amongst others. It is involved, for example, in a €1.2 million EU project which aims to reduce the re-narrowing of arteries and the need for further interventions, through the development of novel cardiovascular stent materials. Dr Colm O’Dowd added: “We have just come through an intense ramping-up phase, with six researchers from as far afield as the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and as close to home as GMIT. By the end of the year, we hope to have recruited a further six scientists and biomedical engineers. We need people to work on process design and development of a diverse range of medical device products using biomaterials developed by NFB.” The Vornia R&D laboratory has expanded to occupy a space in the BioInnovation Centre on the NUI Galway campus where it benefits from business support and training from the team there and is also supported by the Innovation in Business Centre based at GMIT supported by funding from Enterprise Ireland. Vornia Ltd operates under an international standard for medical device manufacturers (ISO 13485) and will soon be recognised by the certification body for their quality management systems. They are also seeking recognition as a high potential start-up (HPSU) status from Enterprise Ireland which provides funding and support for start-up businesses with the potential to develop an innovative product or service for sale in international markets and the potential to create 10 jobs and €1 million in sales within 3-4 years of starting up. -ends-

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

NUI Galway is to be part of Ireland’s first Geography Awareness Week, which takes place from 11-17 November. The week-long celebration of geography is a part global event organised to inform students and the wider public about the opportunities and diversity of topics available when studying geography. Throughout Geography Awareness Week, some 600 first-year undergraduate Bachelor of Arts students at NUI Galway will take to the streets, waterways and beaches of Galway participating in fieldtrips led by academics from the University’s School of Geography and Archaeology. Students from post-primary schools around Galway will visit the University during the week for tours of the laboratories and hear about the research taking place on campus. On Wednesday, 14 November, a Table Quiz will be held in Kelly’s Bar in Galway City at 7.30pm with all proceeds from the event going to COPE. Dr Frances Fahy, Lecturer in Geography at NUI Galway and President of the Geographical Society of Ireland, said: “It is a common misconception to narrowly associate geography simply with knowledge about capital cities of the world and facts regarding counties, wine regions and lakes. Geography is about so much more. It helps us understand how the world works with geographers exploring different systems such as human, physical, biological systems, through space and time. Geography is something employers across all sectors value, because of the wide-ranging research, analytical, practical and computer skills that geography students offer, as well as their extensive knowledge about human and physical processes. Geography Awareness Week is organised by Geographical Society of Ireland (GSI), in conjunction with the Association of Geography Teachers in Ireland (AGTI). 50 years of Geography at NUI Galway 2012 also marks the 50th anniversary of Geography at NUI Galway. Since 1962 Geography at NUI Galway has built a strong reputation for research and teaching excellence. Marking this milestone, the School of Geography and Archaeology will hold a number of events throughout the academic year 2012-13. These events will celebrate the work and scholarship of Geography’s students and staff and provide an opportunity for the public to engage with some of the key debates and research in the discipline. The first such event is a symposium during Geography Awareness Week, showcasing the research of the School of Geography and Archaeology’s Planning and Sustainability Cluster. This cluster unites research interests that relate to the analysis of social and environmental problems arising within the context of an increasingly globalised world. The symposium will include overviews of current research which spans topical issues including planning for sustainable food futures, imagining new urban design, marine spatial policy and planning and exploring the potential of the arts and creativity sector to rural and Gaeltacht communities. A panel of geographers and planners from around Ireland will also discuss potential impacts of recent amendments to the local and regional planning regulations in Ireland. The symposium takes place on Friday, 16 November in the Moore Institute Seminar Room, NUI Galway. For further information on NUI Galway’s Discipline of Geography’s upcoming events visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/geography/news.html. -ENDS-