Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Researchers at NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute are at the centre of conservation efforts in relation to mining for precious minerals at the depths of our oceans. In this new ‘gold rush’, the ecological assessment of the effects of mining operations will be key to sustainably exploiting resources at these very important habitats, according to organisers of a major workshop next week. The Ryan Institute’s Patrick Collins and Dr Bob Kennedy have scheduled a high-level international workshop from 10-12 April with the aim of standardising methods used for assessing the ecological impacts of commercial mineral extraction at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Sometimes called ‘black smokers’ these volcano like structures sit thousands of metres under the sea and produce “seafloor massive sulphides”, sediments that are very rich in copper, zinc, gold and silver. They also support an array of unique life forms. The minerals found at hydrothermal-vents are increasingly in demand, for potential uses in the production of superconductors, precision lasers and other electronics. “We are seeing a gold rush to the bottom of the sea”, says Dr Bob Kennedy, an expert in benthic (sea floor) ecology with the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. “Valuing the goods and services provided by ecosystems is always a difficult compromise. Mining hydrothermal vents involves the removal of the vents and adjacent seafloor massive sulphides using cutting and suction devices to transfer the ore to barges at sea. Where mining occurs, the habitat will be completely removed and there will be substantial disturbance to the adjacent area.” The workshop, VentBase, is supported by the International Seabed Authority and InDeep, the international network for scientific investigations of deep-sea ecosystems. VentBase is set to attract academics and high-profile delegates from all over the world, including delegations from government bodies such as IFREMER in France, JAMSTEC in Japan, KORDI in Korea and NIWA in New Zealand. Commercial mining companies will also attend, with a presentation by Nautilus Minerals, the first company to actually begin mining. At present there is just one site, Solawara 1 near Papua New Guinea, where mining is being actively developed. It has led to many calls in the scientific community and general press for a halt to mining at hydrothermal vent sites because of their high biodiversity value.   A biologist with the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, Patrick Collins was part of an expedition last summer which discovered a new hydrothermal vent site in the Atlantic. While actual mining is probably a decade away in the North Atlantic, he believes this is the ideal time for Ireland to take a central role in managing this unique biological resource. He comments: “From a conservation perspective, vents are one of the last remaining wild frontiers. We are only beginning to scratch at the surface of this enormous biotechnological resource. Animals at these sites have adapted to a very harsh, toxic and radioactive environment. Their tissue often has increased regenerative powers and may hold secrets to new medicines and useful materials. Life at these depths is not based on photosynthesis, but on turning energy from the earth’s core directly to biomass. This may be a good model for what life on other planets may be like. We should value giant tubeworms and bizarre blind shrimp for their quasi alien nature, and for reminding us that there is always the possibility of innovation in solving any problem, even if it seems like alchemy at first glance.” Despite there being data available from many cruises to investigate hydro-thermal vents, the information is often collected in a different way by each operator, meaning that it is very hard to compare vent sites to each other and to use evidence to make general statements about important processes at vent sites. The organisers of VentBase hope the event will help to develop protocols for the collection of rigorous and comparable evidence from many hydrothermal vents sites around the world. “The pulse of progress in the deep-oceans quickened after the announcement of James Cameron’s successful solo-expedition to its deepest recess,” says Dr Kennedy. “Cameron was only the third human to touch down and the first to film the 11km depths of the Marianas Trench. To put this in context, four times as many people have walked on the moon and over five hundred people have been into space. The deep sea is largely unknown territory and we must consider many ecological aspects before we throw open the doors to mining.” To listen to Patrick Collins on Radio One click here ENDS  

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

BioInnovate Ireland is delighted to announce the recruitment of the next elite, multidisciplinary teams for the start of the 2012 Fellowship Programme which commences in August this year.  Now in its second year, BioInnovate is a specialist training programme modelled on the Biodesign programme offered at Stanford University. The BioInnovate Ireland Fellowship Programme was developed in 2010 and delivered by a consortium of Higher Education Institutions with the overall aim being the training of graduates to support the creation of new, cost-effective medical devices that improve patient care through a collaborative approach that focuses on the needs of patients, physicians and the health care industry as a whole. The two new Fellowship teams, each consisting of eight fellows, will be immersed in a medical device innovation microclimate and connected to biomedical engineering, product design, clinical, finance and business expertise. The Clinical focus for the 2012 Fellowship programme is Urology and Radiation Therapy with both NUI Galway and the University of Limerick hosting the 2012 teams.  Dr Mark Bruzzi, Programme Director based at NUI Galway, commented: “The standard of applications and competition for the Fellowship teams this year was very high with interest expressed from as far as India and China which demonstrates the excitement and appetite that exists amongst the Irish and international med tech environment for this type of programme.”  The impetus for the development of this specialist training programme emerged from the 2010 Innovation Taskforce Report. The new programme aims to hot-house, in the space of 10 months, talented individuals with multidisciplinary backgrounds to explore and develop in teams, opportunities for innovative medical devices. Professor Tim McGloughlin from UL added: "We are delighted to host a BioInnovate Fellowship Team at the University of Limerick.  This programme can transform the product development process in medical device technology while creating exciting new business opportunities by linking the academic and clinical environment to one of Ireland's most vibrant industrial sectors." It is envisaged that the BioInnovate Ireland Fellowship Programme will act as a catalyst for enhancing innovation in medical device development within Ireland. The successful recruitment of eight Fellows to work in two elite multidisciplinary teams is now complete and these two teams will focus on Urology and Radiation Therapy, identifying unmet needs, inventing solutions to meet those needs and implementing the solutions the Fellows will then map a route to commercialisation to enable these solutions to enhance patient care. Professor Frank Sullivan, Director of the Prostate Cancer Institute, NUI Galway, and Lead Clinician, Department of Radiation Oncology, Galway University Hospitals, welcomed the recruitment of this year’s teams. “The ability to look at the clinical problems we face on a daily basis, with a fresh perspective, is highly appealing. The prospects for novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches have never been greater in both the fields of surgery and radiation oncology.  We hope to focus the 2012 BioInnovate Fellows on the opportunity of developing exciting new therapies for prostate cancer. Ireland has the highest incidence of prostate cancer in Europe, and GUH in partnership with the PCI, are very excited to have individuals of such high calibre to work with.” The current Fellowship teams, due to complete the inaugural BioInnovate Progamme, are progressing their output of the 2011-12 programme with both the NUI Galway and the DCU teams focusing on developing and commercialising their concepts by summer 2012.  Dr Bruzzi added: “BioInnovate Ireland will have achieved its primary output with the next generation of specially trained Fellows and skill graduates emerging this summer.   This wealth of Med Tech BioInnovate talent will add value to the med tech market place over the coming months and we look forward to sharing the commercial opportunities and proposals as a result of the current Fellowship programme in May 2012.”  ENDS

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

NUI Galway and CPL Announced as Official Partners More than 500 volunteers have signed up to help out when the Volvo Ocean Race – the largest sporting event to hit Ireland this year and watched by 2 billion viewers worldwide – crosses the finish line in Galway in July.  But, there is still time to step up as a total of 2,000 volunteers need to be signed up over the next few weeks. Latest figures were revealed at the launch of the partnership of Volvo Ocean Race Galway with educational partners NUI Galway and recruitment partners CPL which took place durign Easter. Key speaker at the launch was Mayor of Galway City, Cllr Hildegarde Naughton who said that the support that NUI Galway and CPL provided made the made the festival possible and make it a very successful event. CPL have joined as the  recruitment partner  to take on the mammoth task of facilitating and coordinating the Volunteers that sign up, whilst  NUI Galway as education partners will bring its considerable experience in the field of volunteering. Both organisations will to work with non-profit event organiser Let’s Do It Global to help recruit and train over 1200 volunteers required to run the 9-day festival.  And, it seems that Galway is keen to offer a céad míle fáilte to the 700,000 expected visitors to its environs from June 30 to July 8 as people of all ages queued up at the launch for several hours on Wednesday evening to register their support. The volunteers are needed to help run the eight day festival organized by Lets Do It Global to celebrate the ending of the Volvo Ocean Race and will embrace everything from concerts, entertainment, arts, food, ice rinks and everything else in between. The festival has been created to embrace both consumer likes and business demands. A huge variety of sporting, kids, music and cultural events will be taking place in the Race Village. And a business expo, bringing together the best Irish companies and leaders with international financiers and potential partners in the areas of Green, Food and Marine, will take place during the festival in the Global Village. The majority of volunteers will be stewarding the Race Village and the Global Village car parks.  Other volunteers will man the numerous Information and merchandising stands across the festival site. And volunteers who don’t mind getting wet and are qualified in areas such as sailing, first aid and/or are senior sailing instructors will assist on water. President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne said: “NUI Galway is delighted to be on board with the Volunteering Programme for the second time. As Ireland’s leading University for student volunteering, we will bring our considerable expertise in the field of volunteering to bear in helping to mobilise and train the small army of volunteers required to ensure the smooth running of the 2012 Race. “Volunteers were key to the success of the Galway Stopover in 2009. They were the face of the event to visitors, and were really the heart and soul of the two-week festival. This time round I have no doubt the volunteers will make the same impact and will make a huge contribution to the overall success of the Race.” Last time the racing yachts from the contest came to town was in 2009 when Galway was a stopover point. Some 650,000 people visited the Race Village and 10,000 people lined the harbour walls at 3am on the morning of May 24 to welcome the Volvo Ocean Race fleet into Ireland. The Volvo Ocean Race is known as the ‘Everest of Sailing’ and is a nine-month marathon of the seas passing through four oceans and five continents covering 39,270 nautical miles. All volunteers will be invited to the Wrap-Up Gala and there will be prizes and surprises along the way.  Further information sessions will take place throughout April and May at various locations around Galway. Applicants will be matched to roles in early June.  For more details, visit www.volvooceanracegalway.com  ENDS

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Over 3,000 prospective students and their parents from across Ireland are expected to attend NUI Galway's Spring Open Day on Saturday, 28 April. Tailored towards Leaving Certificate and mature students interested in studying at NUI Galway, the Open Day will give the opportunity for students, along with their parents and families, to sample university life at NUI Galway. Taster sessions will run throughout the day, designed to give a real insight into studying at NUI Galway, with hands-on interactive Science Experience workshops and tours of the campus. New for 2012 is ‘Your Career with an Arts Degree’ - a specialised talk on the Bachelor of Arts providing an insight into the diverse range of careers from an Arts degree. Tours of the campus will feature the state-of the-art sports complex and gym, and the new Engineering Building. Tours of student accommodation will also be available to visitors on the day. Popular highlights for parents will be the talks, 'Focus on Your Career' and 'A Parent's Guide to University'. With a packed programme of events for all ages, including entertainment for younger children, the event is an ideal family day out. This year, all counties in Ireland will be represented by a team of 'student ambassadors', answering questions on specific courses and all aspects of university life. Lecturers and support staff will also be available at over 80 stands to deal with any queries about degrees, accommodation, finances and much more. Caroline Loughnane, Director of Marketing and Communications at NUI Galway, said: "Choosing a university is one of the most important decisions a student will ever make and parents play a key role in supporting students as they take this important next step. Open Day is the perfect opportunity for parents to ensure they have access to all of the information they need to support sons and daughters through their university career. We are encouraging anyone with an interest in studying at NUI Galway to come along, talk to our lecturers and current students, find out about the courses, check out the facilities and decide for yourself whether NUI Galway feels right for you. Spring Open Day has proved invaluable in the past to many students, particularly those considering their options before the CAO change of mind deadline of 1 July.” NUI Galway is an internationally recognised university with a distinguished reputation for teaching excellence and research. The University was recently awarded the top rating of stars in the latest QS Stars rating system for its exceptional developments in education, securing five stars for its teaching and facilities. The University is one of the top universities for student retention and graduate employment. NUI Galway recognises the academic excellence of its Undergraduate students annually with the presentations of such awards as Entrance Scholarships, Sports Scholarships, Scoláireachtaí na Gaeltachta and the Dr James Massey Keegan Scholarship. The University also awards ten scholarships for Medical students who perform exceptionally well in the Leaving Certificate and the Admissions Test (H-PAT Ireland). The NUI Galway Spring Open Day will run from 10am to 3pm and visitors can book a place and receive a programme in advance by logging on to www.nuigalway.ie/opendays, calling 091 494145 or emailing visit@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-   Lá don Teaghlach ag Lá Oscailte an Earraigh in OÉ Gaillimh  Táthar ag súil le breis agus 3,000 duine agus a dtuismitheoirí as gach contae in Éirinn freastal ar Lá Oscailte an Earraigh in OÉ Gaillimh Dé Sathairn, an 28 Aibreán. Tá an Lá Oscailte dírithe ar dhaltaí na hArdteistiméireachta agus ar dhaltaí lánfhásta a bhfuil spéis acu staidéar in OÉ Gaillimh. Beidh an deis ag daltaí agus ag a dtuismitheoirí agus a dteaghlaigh blaiseadh a fháil de shaol na hOllscoile in OÉ Gaillimh. Beidh seisiúin eolais ar siúl ar feadh an lae chun léargas a thabhairt ar shaol na hOllscoile in OÉ Gaillimh. Beidh ceardlanna praiticiúla idirghníomhacha Eolaíochta ar siúl chomh maith le turais den champas. Den chéad uair i mbliana beidh ‘Your Career with an Arts Degree’ - caint speisialta ar an mBaitsiléir sna Dána - ar siúl. Gheobhaidh éisteoirí blaiseadh den réimse gairmeacha atá ar fáil le céim sna Dána. Ar thurais den champas, taispeánfar an t-ionad spóirt le giomnáisiam den scoth mar aon leis an bhFoirgneamh nua Innealtóireachta. Beidh turais de lóistín na mac léinn ar fáil do chuairteoirí ar an lá chomh maith. Cuirfidh tuismitheoirí suim sna cainteanna, 'Focus on Your Career' agus 'A Parent's Guide to University'. Tá clár imeachtaí den scoth beartaithe don uile dhuine, siamsaíocht do ghasúir óga san áireamh - is cinnte gur iontach an lá a bheas ann don teaghlach ar fad. I mbliana, beidh ionadaíocht ag gach contae sa tír ag an ócáid le foireann ‘ambasadóirí na mac léinn', a fhreagróidh ceisteanna faoi chúrsaí ar leith agus faoi aon ghné de shaol na hOllscoile. Beidh léachtóirí agus an fhoireann tacaíochta ar fáil chomh maith ag breis agus 80 seastán chun ceisteanna faoi chéimeanna, lóistín, maoiniú agus go leor eile a fhreagairt. Dúirt Caroline Loughnane, an Stiúrthóir Margaíochta agus Cumarsáide in OÉ Gaillimh: “Ceann de na cinntí is tábhachtaí a dhéanfaidh mac léinn go brách an ollscoil a fhreastalóidh sé/sí uirthi a roghnú. Tá ról tábhachtach ag tuismitheoirí tacú le mic léinn agus iad i mbun an cinneadh sin a dhéanamh. Is é an Lá Oscailte an deis is fearr do thuismitheoirí a chinntiú go bhfuil an t-eolas ar fad acu chun tacú le mac nó le hiníon ag an ollscoil. Molaimid do dhuine ar bith a bhfuil suim acu staidéar in OÉ Gaillimh teacht chuig an Lá Oscailte, labhairt leis na léachtóirí agus leis na mic léinn reatha, eolas a fháil faoi chúrsaí, breathnú ar na háiseanna agus a fháil amach duit féin an bhfeileann OÉ Gaillimh duitse. Bhain go leor mac léinn leas as Lá Oscailte an Earraigh sna blianta roimhe seo go háirithe má bhí rún acu athrú intinne an CAO a úsáid roimh an spriocdháta an 1 Iúil.” Tá aitheantas idirnáisiúnta ag OÉ Gaillimh a bhfuil cáil an teagaisc agus an taighde uirthi. Bhain an Ollscoil na marcanna ab airde amach i gcóras rátála QS Stars le gairid as forbairtí den scoth in oideachas agus bhaineamar cúig réalta amach sa teagasc agus sna háiseanna chomh maith. Tá an Ollscoil ar cheann de na hollscoileanna is fearr ó thaobh mic léinn a choinneáil agus fostaíocht na gcéimithe. Tugann OÉ Gaillimh aitheantas d’fheabhas acadúil na bhFochéimithe gach bliain le gradaim cosúil le Scoláireachtaí Iontrála, Scoláireachtaí Spóirt, Scoláireachtaí na Gaeltachta agus Scoláireacht an Dr James Massey Keegan. Bronnann an Ollscoil deich scoláireacht freisin ar mhic léinn Leighis a dhéanann thar barr san Ardteistiméireacht agus sa Tástáil Iontrála (H-PAT Ireland). Beidh Lá Oscailte an Earraigh ar siúl idir 10am agus 3pm agus féadfaidh cuairteoirí áit a chur in áirithe agus clár imeachtaí a fháil roimh ré ach logáil isteach ar www.nuigalway.ie/opendays, glao ar 091 494145 nó ríomhphost a sheoladh chuig visit@nuigalway.ie. -Críoch-

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Niall O’Connor, an MSc student in Enterprise Systems at NUI Galway from Sligo, has scooped the top prize of €10,000 at the NUI Galway Student Enterprise Awards held recently for his Smart conferencing technology package SonorPlex. The creator of SonorPlex was presented with his prize by Dragon’s Den star Bobby Kerr, NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne and NUI Galway Students’ Union President, Emmet Connolly. Niall’s product SonorPlex seeks to deliver services which enhance the learning and interactive experience of delegates at conferences, using 'smart' devices such as tablets and smartphones. SonorPlex will unify these services using a cloud-based system to store, and manage access to conference content and data. Judges were greatly impressed with SonorPlex and its potential to draw investment to the domestic economy. Eight teams contested the final of the NUI Galway Students’ Union Enterprise Awards in anticipation of securing an investment of €10,000 for the winning project. The competition is the initiative of the NUI Galway Students’ Union, with the support of NUI Galway and has the goal of fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship amongst the students of the University. The competition successfully attracted entrants from across all of the colleges and schools of the University, from which eight ideas were chosen to progress to the final stage. The two runner-up prizes of €5,000 were awarded to Tunes in the Church and An Mheitheal Rothar. Cormac Ó Beaglaoich, hails from a traditional musical family in West-Kerry and is currently in his final year of a PhD in Psychology.  His project, Tunes in the Church, presents traditional Irish music concerts in churches around the country and has already been run in St. Nicholas Church in Galway. An Mheitheal Rothar (The Bicycle Gang) team hopes to set up a free, student-run bicycle workshop at NUI Galway to promote and support the benefits of bicycling. An Mheitheal Rothar is Paul O' Donnell an Arts Student from Galway, Mary Green a Geography Student also from Galway, Sarit O'Donovan, Environmental Science Student from Kerry and Senan Mac Aoidh an Arts Student from Monaghan. As part of the final assessment of their entries, students received an investment of €500 for their projects, and also received the assistance of specialised workshops from a team of experts, which was comprised of a combination of members of the academic staff of the University and members of the local business community. Bobby Kerr from RTÉ1 show Dragon’s Den, who presented the winning team with their prize said: “The drive, determination and enthusiasm of the students is fantastic. It is heartening to see that within NUI Galway the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. I would also like to congratulate the University and the Students’ Union for their vision in fostering the talents of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.” NUI Galway Students’ Union President, Emmet Connolly said: “We have been overwhelmed by the number and standard of entries to the NUI Galway Students’ Union Enterprise Awards. The entrants are testament to the exceptional initiative and creativity of students in social and business enterprise. They show that students are both able and willing to create the big ideas that will help fuel our recovery. The Students’ Union is delighted to be in a position to facilitate some of these ideas as they take their first steps. I have no doubt but that we are working with the leaders of the future.” ENDS

Friday, 13 April 2012

A team of Scientists led by Dr. Louise Allcock, NUI Galway set sail onboard the RV Celtic Explorer 13th April 2012 to investigate biodiversity on the Whittard Canyon System. Whittard Canyon is a huge canyon system that spans Irish, UK and French waters along the Atlantic margin. This survey will take place in the Irish territory where the Continental shelf drops down to depths beyond 3000 m. The Marine Institute’s  Holland 1  Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) will be deployed to explore the steep canyon walls where biodiversity is greatest because of the fast currents there. Whittard has been explored before, but the system is so vast that some areas are still unsurveyed. The multidisciplinary team on board will be looking for corals and sponges, which can be found in extensive reefs at some depths.  A feature of species growing attached to the seafloor is the production of chemicals, thought to deter grazing and overgrowth by other animals.  There is significant scientific and commercial interest in the novelty of these chemicals for medical applications. Material previously collected for the Irish Marine Biodiscovery Programme has shown activity against some cancer cell lines, the first step in potentially developing new treatments. Material collected on this cruise will be examined in antibacterial and anti-cancer assays as part of the National Marine Biodiscovery Programme in NUI Galway, UCC and the Marine Institute. The survey will also carry out detailed surveys of the canyon system in collaboration with onboard taxonomists from across Europe, who are experts in identifying deep sea marine organisms. Biogeochemists from Trinity College Dublin will study the processing of material in the benthic ecosystem, with oceanographers from Galway following the transport of sediment and planktonic production to deeper waters. These studies will improve the understanding of the canyon ecosystem and the links between surface and deep waters. The scientists will be blogging throughout the survey and you can follow their progress at http://scientistsatsea.blogspot.com This research survey and the Beaufort Marine Research Award are carried out under the Sea Change strategy with the support of the Marine Institute and the Marine Research Sub-programme of the National Development Plan 2007–2013. The Beaufort award in Marine Biodiscovery is a consortium between NUI Galway, UCC and Queen’s University Belfast. The Ship-Time Programme provides access to the National Research Vessels (Celtic Explorer / Celtic Voyager) for research organisations based in Ireland. Ends.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

NUI Galway is delighted to announce the launch of an online Diploma in Italian. Organised by the Discipline of Italian Studies at NUI Galway this unique programme is the first of its kind in Ireland and will be begin in September 2012. The Diploma is specifically tailored to suit the requirements of students who need flexibility in their time and mode of study and are not available to attend lecturers on campus. The course concentrates on all four main language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) and provides a gradual introduction to the structures and functions of the language. In addition, a module on oral and intercultural skills will introduce various aspects of Italian life from an intercultural perspective. Professor Paolo Bartoloni, Head of Italian, NUI Galway, said: “The online Diploma in Italian is a groundbreaking experience employing the latest skills in e-learning and will enable learners to study Italian in their own time, wherever they are, and as part of a community of e-learners.” Dr Laura McLoughlin, Applied Language Teacher with Italian Studies at NUI Galway, who coordinates the new initiative in collaboration with E-Learning expert, NUI Galway’s Dr Silvia Bernabei, said: “Unlike many distance learning programmes designed for independent learning, the diploma course is based on a collaborative, communicative approach and students are encouraged to participate in virtual class activities with their peers and e-tutors.” In order to facilitate interaction and create a supportive learning environment, face-to-face on campus sessions will take place as part of the course. A practical introductory session in the use of computers will also be given at the beginning of the course to ensure that all students have basic computer skills. The Diploma in Italian is open to everybody and is designed for those who have no previous knowledge of the language. Closing date for applications is Friday, 13 July and full details is available at www.nuigalway.ie/italian/onlinediploma.html. Further information is available from Dr Laura McLoughlin at 091 492240 or laura.mcloughlin@nuigalway.ie. -ENDS-  

Monday, 16 April 2012

A crew of NUI Galway students and graduates are, for the first time ever, entering this year’s Round Ireland sailing race. The race is a 1400km non-stop circumnaviagtion of Ireland by sea. The NUI Galway crew, ten in total, is one of the youngest teams to ever compete in the event. The Round Ireland race is held every two years and considered one of Europe’s top offshore races.  This year, the start gun goes at 12:00 on Sunday, 24 June and the boats will finish from four to six days later, depending on weather conditions. The race begins and ends in Wicklow Bay. The NUI Galway crew is made up of students and graduates from various disciplines including engineering, science and commerce. Sailing together in the NUI Galway sailing club over the past few years has built up the trust and camaraderie which will be relied upon during the race. The team have chartered a 38-ft racing yacht for the race. Pat Morgan, Vice-President for the Student Experience at NUI Galway, said: “The University actively promotes leadership and team building skills and is delighted to support this crew to further develop these attributes as they compete in the Round Ireland Race. Their determination and drive, especially given that they are one of the youngest crews is to be admired. We wish them fair winds and following seas.” One of the main aims of this project is to promote the home-grown sailing talent in Galway. Boat skipper, Cathal Clarke says: “The vision of this project is to prove the wealth of sailing talent here on the west coast and to encourage the next generation of Volvo Ocean Race sailors to get out there and get sailing. We aim to inspire other sailors from the region to undertake such projects in the future.” Cathal added: “A busy few months lie ahead for us, with training on and off the water, safety courses and coaching lined up. But the aims of this campaign are high, with a lot of experienced sailors on board, we will certainly be looking for good results.” Encouraging the students was Cillian McGovern, project manager of Green Dragon who says: "The camaraderie and team work displayed by this young team is to be admired. What an opportunity to freshen up the sailing circuit in Ireland.” ENDS

Monday, 16 April 2012

NUI Galway has announced details of an upcoming traditional music and dancing conference and festival. Based on the Rambling House, or cuairteoireacht, tradition in which neighbours used to gather at a local house for music, dancing and merriment, the event will take this weekend, 19-21 April. The international conference, entitled Mapping Spectral Traces V, and the festival, Dancing Days, will explore the connections between how we inhabit such everyday spaces and how the traces of the past have shaped and moulded the places in which we live today. Highlights of the weekend will be launched at 7pm Thursday, 19 April at the Black Box Theatre and will be followed by the world premiere of Galway Dancer-in-Residence, Ríonach Ní Néill’s FRAME, produced by Richard Wakely.  Irish and international dancers, visual artists, writers, musicians and academics will gather in Galway throughout the weekend of specially commissioned performances and academic sessions that are free and open to the public. There will also be a pop-up art exhibition in the Black Box Theatre and the launch of a new essay collection, Irish Contemporary Landscapes in Literature and the Arts, in Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop. Traditional artforms will include the Straw Boys, a house céilí and sean-nós dance, who will join traditional with contemporary, site-specific dance works, installations and artworks to create a night in which the audience members are vital players. The audience for the final event will be ferried from Galway city centre to a mystery location in Connemara by bus to experience a cuairteoireacht of the past but that is housed very much in the present moment. This particular event seeks to open up discussions as to how Ireland’s landscape changed from being the ‘céilí at the crossroads’ to the ‘chaos at the crossroads’ in recent years. Dr Nessa Cronin, Lecturer with the Centre for Irish Studies at NUI Galway, said: “This is an exciting line-up of free events and public lectures by Irish and international artists, dancers, musicians, architects and scholars who are all concerned with re-thinking how our lives are shaped by the spaces in which we live today. From an Irish perspective in particular, the construction and de-construction of places has been in the fore with discussions of NAMA and Ghost Estates in recent times, and issues such as these will be discussed over the course of the three days in Galway.” The event is organised by Dr Nessa Cronin and Tim Collins based at NUI Galway’s Centre for Irish Studies, Dr Karen Till of NUI Maynooth, and Galway Dancer-in-Residence, Ríonach Ní Neill. Mapping Spectral Traces V is supported by the IRCHSS, NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth and the Mapping Spectral Traces International Network. Dancing Days is supported by Ealaín na Gaeltachta, the Arts Council, Galway County and City Councils, and the Town Hall Theatre, Galway. Conference events at NUI Galway are free and open to the public, and tickets for Dancing Days are available from the Town Hall Theatre at www.tht.ie  and 091 569 777. For further information contact irishstudies@nuigalway.ie and www.nuigalway.ie/centre_irish_studies.   ENDS

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

NUI Galway has announced it will host the sixth Irish Human Computer Interaction (iHCI) Conference in June, 2012. The conference theme ‘Poetics of Design, Narratives of Use’will focus on the role that different artefacts, perspectives, methods and tools play in the design of new technologies. 2012 marks the sixth year of the iHCI conference, and the first time it will be hosted in the west of Ireland. The particular emphasis of this year’s conference will be to look at the broad range of methods used to design, implement and evaluate technology, and to share stories of the design, deployment and evaluation of computing in context. Keynote speaker will be Professor Rod Stoneman, Director of the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, NUI Galway. Dr Tony Hall, School of Education and Programme Co-Chair iHCI 2012, said: “The iHCI Conference brings together researchers, technologists, academics, designers, artists and those with an interest in the development of technology for use by people. The conference invites submissions - papers, posters, demos and showcases – on a diverse array of technologies and topics ranging from mobile and smart telephony, and Cloud Computing and social networking, to wearable computers, novel sensors and computer-augmented educational, living and work environments. Dr Hall added: “In 2012, as we mark the sad passing of Steve Jobs, the da Vinci of the Digital Age, and celebrate Alan Turing Year, commemorating one of the pioneers of the modern computer, the conference promises to be an exciting event showcasing the design of personal and social technologies for today’s highly mediated and networked world.” iHCI 2012: ‘Poetics of Design, Narratives of Use’ will take place at NUI Galway on Wednesday, 20 and Thursday, 21 June. For further information please visit http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=180 ENDS

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

For the third consecutive year the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway has partnered with local businesses to provide students with the opportunity to learn real-life business through an 'Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise’(ICE) initiative. ICE is a module available to all final year students of Commerce and Business Information Systems programmes.  As part of their final year of studies, over 400 students are given the opportunity to innovate in all aspects of business and community enterprise with the support of 30 mentors from local business and community leaders.  The students engage in group-based projects requiring them to devise a unique enterprising idea.  Each of the mentors are assigned a project group and in turn required to advise the students with the development of each idea. Michael Campion, ICE Module Director at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics said: "The overall objective of the Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise course is to encourage self-confidence in students of business in their ability to be creative and innovative in whatever future business and/or community settings that they are working in." As a competitive part of the module, groups of students were required to present the innovation projects to mentors through a number of judging stages, resulting in the selection of five finalist groups who competed for a prize fund of €4,000, sponsored by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). The overall winners were Bruce Brady, Oranmore, Co. Galway; Gerard Harlow, Roscommon; Leszek Majewski, Galway and Kevin Moylan, Galway.  Their project 'On Time System’ – is a new mobile software application that alerts users to impending library fines. Commenting after the final, Norman Black of JFC Manufacturing and one of the final adjudicators, said:  “The calibre of presentations, research, innovation, entrepreneurial ability and presentation of business plans far exceeded my expectations.  Different teams excelled in presentations, market research, product concept and idea generation.  As a result it made the task of judging very difficult as there was so little to separate all of the finalists.” The Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise module is part of a wider initiative within the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, supported by funding from the NUI Galway Students Projects Fund, to focus on student personal development planning, and employability skill development. ENDS

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A new Youth Academy begins at NUI Galway this weekend, giving a taste of university life to high ability primary school children. The aim of the academy is to support the children’s learning and academic development by providing them with new learning opportunities. Some 60 local children will study every Saturday morning until June, with their interest and enthusiasm for learning being fostered through a variety of new subjects. Subject choices include Italian, Philosophy, Psychology, Environmental Studies and Climate Studies. Welcoming the initiative, Lorraine McIlrath, who heads up NUI Galway’s Community Knowledge Initiative, said: “The Youth Academy is an important development which allows us to welcome children and their families into the University and enhances links with local schools.” The Youth Academy aims to inspire entry into third-level by introducing children and their families to University life. The Youth Academy is a collaboration between NUI Galway’s Mary Dempsey, School of Engineering & Informatics, Dr Caroline Heary, School of Psychology, and Lorraine McIlrath, Community Knowledge Initiative, along with Dr Colm O’ Reilly, Centre for Talented Youth Ireland, DCU. The pilot project was successful in receiving funding from the Bright Ideas Initiative and was launched by the Vice-President for Performance and Innovation at NUI Galway, Professor Chris Curtin. -ends-

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Lifecourse Institute at NUI Galway will host a public lecture featuring community living guru Dr Michael Kendrick. Entitled “Living Real Lives in the Community - Innovation in Services for Persons with Disabilities and Lessons for Families and Older Persons”, the lecture will take place on Thursday, 19 April, at 7pm, in room AC201 on the Concourse, NUI Galway. Dr Kendrick has worked with individuals, families and organisations in the fields of disability, mental health and older people across the globe to develop models of leadership, innovation and change.  Professor Gerard Quinn, Director of the Centre for the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at the School of Law, said: “We are very privileged to have Dr Kendrick come and speak at the University. He is globally regarded as a pioneer in the field of community living.” Registration is required for this free public lecture and can be done by contacting Elaine at info.cdlp@nuigalway.ie or 091 494270. The venue is accessible for wheelchair users but please give advance notice of further accessibility requirements. -ENDS-

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

RTÉ news broadcaster Seán O’Rourke presented two awards to NUI Galway journalism graduates at the University today (Tuesday, 17 April) in the Huston School of Film and Digital Media. The Fifth Annual Donna Ferguson Memorial Award and the Connacht Tribune Medal were presented to the top achieving students in the MA Journalism class of 2011. Carla O’Brien received the Donna Ferguson Award for achieving the highest mark in the broadcasting module of the MA programme. The Connacht Tribune Medal was presented to Lisa Jackson who achieved the highest overall mark in the MA in Journalism at NUI Galway. Donna Ferguson was posthumously conferred with an MA in Journalism at NUI Galway, following her untimely death in a car accident in December 2006. The Donna Ferguson Memorial Award was initiated by her family and community in Belleek, Co. Fermanagh, and commemorates Donna’s achievements while she was a student on the journalism programme in 2006. The Connacht Tribune Medal is an important recognition of student achievement at NUI Galway from one of Ireland’s premier regional newspapers. Its award will have a special poignancy this year as the paper’s former editor, John Cunningham, who was closely involved with the University’s MA in Journalism, passed away just recently.Seán O’Rourke graduated from what was then UCG in 1977 with a BA in English, History and Legal Science. Seán was awarded the 2006 NUI Galway Alumni AIB Award for Literature, Communications and the Arts, and is the founding chairperson of the Alumni Association’s Dublin Club. Seán was also conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) in 2011 by NUI Galway.He first joined RTÉ in 1982 as presenter/reporter in Radio News features. He was Political correspondent with the Irish Press between 1984 and 1989, when he returned to RTÉ as Programme Editor/Presenter, working on the News at One, Morning Ireland and This Week. Since 1995, Seán has been presenter of the News at One. In 2003, Seán began presenting The Week in Politics, a weekly review of political events on RTÉ One. Carla O’Brien is a native of Caledon, Co. Tyrone, and is now presenting and reporting for RTÉ news2day – a news programme for younger viewers.  Carla graduated from the MA in Journalism with first class honours. Lisa Jackson is from Ballina, Co. Mayo and studied Law in NUI Galway from 2001 to 2004. She also graduated with first class honours from the MA in Journalism and now works as a publishing assistant with publishing house Liberties Press in Dublin. Commenting on the awards, Dr John Kenny, Acting Director of the MA in Journalism at NUI Galway, said: “At a time when journalism is rapidly transforming, these awards are a testimony to the commitment and energy our students can bring to the profession. Their achievements since graduating further underline how important new skills and training are in meeting the challenge of change.” Ends

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Dr James Reilly TD, Minister for Health has launched the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Survey 2010. The HBSC is a cross-sectional study conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe. The survey runs every four years and in 2010 there were 43 participating countries and regions. The 2010 Irish HBSC survey, carried out by the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway is the fourth round of data collection. The study aims to increase our understanding of young people’s health and well-being, health behaviours and their social context.   A total of 16,060 children aged 9-18 from 256 schools across Ireland participated in the survey. Overall, 67% of invited schools and 85% of invited children participated.   In welcoming the report, Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly stated: “While I am encouraged by the reduction in smoking, alcohol and drug use and a decrease in injuries among school going children, much remains to be done. I am, however, very concerned at the statistics around exercise and physical activity and the number of children who still remain hungry either going to school or going to bed at night. I will be in discussion with my colleague the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald in relation to further examination of this and actions requires to address same.”   Commenting on the findings, Dr Colette Kelly of the Health Promotion Research Centre, NUI Galway, said: “This report brings some good news about the health behaviours of children in Ireland with a decrease in smoking and alcohol use for example. Yet still more needs to be done to improve their health, in particular around nutrition and physical activity. Importantly, the majority of children in Ireland report to having high life satisfaction and being happy, a fundamental aspect of childhood, that we need to ensure continues.”   Food and Dietary Behaviour   Food consumption Overall, 20% of children report that they consume fruit more than once a day (19% in 2006) and 20% report eating vegetables more than once a day (18% in 2006). The proportion of children who report eating sweets daily or more often (37% in 2010 vs. 39% in 2006), and who report soft drink consumption daily or more often (21% in 2010 vs. 26% in 2006) have decreased from 2006.   Food behaviours Reports of never having breakfast on weekdays have not changed from 2006 (13% in 2010 vs. 14% in 2006). Children were asked to report how often they go to school or to bed hungry because there was not enough food at home. Overall, 21% of children report ever going to school or to bed hungry, an increase from 2006 (17%).   Exercise and physical activity There has been little change in reported frequency of exercise, physical activity and inactivity in HBSC 2010. Overall 51% of children report exercising four or more times a week.   General Findings   General Health The proportion of children who report excellent health (33%), feeling very happy (50%) and high life satisfaction (76%) remains stable from HBSC 2006.   Sexual Behaviour Overall, 27% of 15-17 year olds report that they have ever had sex. Of those who report ever having had sex, 93% report using a condom the last time they had sex and 59% report that they had used the birth control pill.   Substance use Overall, there is a decrease from 2006 in reports of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use among school children in Ireland.   ENDS

Thursday, 19 April 2012

NUI Galway’s societies have been awarded four national awards at the Board of Irish College Societies (BICS) National Society Awards held recently in Enfield. Over 300 students from 17 third-level colleges from across Ireland came together to celebrate the achievements of students. Presentations were made to 16 award winners, from nine different categories. NUI Galway were awarded more prizes than any other college in attendance. The Feminist Society at NUI Galway was awarded the best Civic Contribution for their outstanding work in highlighting violence against women. The award for Best Society Individual was won by NUI Galway student, Lily McGarry from Whitechurch, Co. Dublin, for her dedication as conductor to the Choral society and her all round volunteering spirit. Lily this year has also won an NUI Galway Performance Bursary to attend a choral conducting summer school.   Best Society Fresher in Ireland went to Christopher Moran, a first year BA Connect Theatre and Performance student from Arklow, Co. Wicklow, for his contribution to NUI Galway’s Dramsoc, Musical Society and the Writers Society. Christopher has been involved in numerous productions during the year and was also very involved in promoting creative writing on campus. NUI Galway's final award of the evening was the Best Poster, which was presented to Dramsoc for their poster for the Hamlet production. The poster was designed by Matt Burke from Galway City. Since BICS was formed in 1999, NUI Galway has won more national society awards than any other college in Ireland and tops the leader board at 30 trophies. According to NUI Galway Societies Officer and BICS Executive member, Riona Hughes: “The two-day event was a major success and it was all about celebration. All of the societies who attended had achieved a very high standard in their own institutions and the judges were very impressed with all the nominees. The BICS Awards are the highlight of the Societies calendar and afford them a fantastic opportunity to network and share ideas, we expect great things from them all again next year.  The enthusiasm, talent, generosity and vision of all the students present augur well for the future of our country.” Full details of the BICS Awards is available at www.bics.ie ENDS

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Burren College of Art today (Wednesday, 18 April) reached a milestone in its development with the first conferring of a PhD in Studio Art by NUI Galway.  The recipient, Eileen Hutton, produced a body of work entitled ‘Being In the Land: A Sculptural Investigation of Ecology’ comprised of an exhibition of art work, supported by written material critically reviewing the field of enquiry and the process of the research project. The awarding of the first PhD in Studio Art at Burren College of Art is not only a significant achievement for the recipient Eileen Hutton, but also for the college itself.  The location of the college has been integral to the focus of Eileen’s work, investigating reciprocal relationships between artists and the natural environment.  Her sculptural collaborations with the blue tits and honeybees in the Burren has not only strengthened their natural habitats but has provided valuable insight into the positive ways environmental art can impact on its surroundings.  President of the Burren College of Art, Mary Hawkes Greene said: “We are delighted that the first PhD studies conducted at the College have focused so specifically and benefitted immeasurably from the Burren itself, the very reason for the college’s existence.  The conferring of this award by the NUI Galway, underlines the academic rigour pursued at the College and further strengthens the important ties between these two academic institutions.” The PhD in Studio Art is one example of the so-called “practice-based” doctorates that began to emerge in art schools and university art departments twenty years ago.  They began in the UK, where Burren College of Art’s Dean was a pioneer.  All PhD projects lead to the development of new knowledge or a significant contribution to understanding in a particular subject, resulting from a process of enquiry, and in the case of Art this is achieved through studio-based creative process.  The significance of these PhDs for the larger world of higher education is that they require artists to develop an explicit rationale for their creativity and thereby dispel the mystique that often surrounds creative process. This clarity about creativity can enable the transfer of knowledge from art to PhD students in other disciplines.  Burren College of Art now provides courses in “creative difference” to PhD students at NUI Galway in disciplines ranging from Biochemistry to Law and Mathematics, as well as to the Executive MBA of the University.  At Burren College of Art PhDs are examined on the basis of the exhibition of a body of art work, supported by written material critically reviewing the field of enquiry and the process of the research project. In this respect the Burren PhD differs from many UK PhDs in prioritising the art over the text, a model that is fast gaining ground acrossEurope. Also receiving their degrees from NUI Galway in today’s ceremony were Master of Fine Art students Angelalynn Dunlop, Arianna Garcia Fialdini and Haynes Goodsell, while Andrew Nielsen receives his Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art. ENDS

Friday, 20 April 2012

In a further drive to progress Ireland’s science research agenda, Minister for Research and Innovation, Mr Séan Sherlock TD, has today announced Government funding of €12.3 million for early-career scientific researchers to carry out pioneering work in Ireland. Administered through the Government’s science agency, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the ‘Starting Investigator Research Grant’ (SIRG) programme will support a total of 22 researchers, with three of those based at NUI Galway. Each SIRG award also encompasses funding for a postgraduate student who will provide an additional layer of support and facilitation towards excellence. The three award winners from NUI Galway are: Dr Manus Biggs works with NUI Galway’s Network for Functional Biomaterials, which pioneers new technologies to deliver therapeutic genes and other biomolecules to target specific sites within the body. His research focuses on engineering neuroelectrodes for deep brain stimulation through biomimetic conducting polymers.   Dr Cindy Smith works with NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, which advances environmental, marine and energy research. Her research focuses on the molecular microbial ecology of ammonia oxidation in coastal bay sediments.   Dr Martin O’Halloran is a postdoctoral researcher and adjunct lecturer with Electrical and Electronic Engineering at NUI Galway. His research work involves microwave imaging for the detection and classification of early-stage breast cancer.   Professor Terry Smith, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, praised the three award winners: “All three are strong examples of the innovative thinking our researchers are applying to science, to overcome real world scientific challenges. From tackling breast cancer with electronic engineering, to improving brain function using biomaterials, to better understanding our planet through by analyzing tiny microbes, Cindy, Manus and Martin are pushing the frontiers of science.”   Announcing the investment, Minister Sherlock said: “We are determined as a Government to ensure that the very best young scientific talent is given compelling reasons to either stay in Ireland or come from abroad and conduct research here. The SIRG Programme provides an opportunity for researchers at a pivotal juncture in their careers to propel themselves to the next level and realise their potential in their respective fields.”   The Minister added: ‘This round of SIRG awards marks the first co-funding arrangement with the international Marie Curie COFUND scheme, which aims to expand national research programmes and encourage greater transnational mobility. Such a partnership exemplifies the increasingly collaborative and international nature of research activity in Ireland today.”   Welcoming Minister Sherlock’s announcement, Dr Stephen Simpson, Director of Life Sciences at Science Foundation Ireland, said: “The SIRG programme illustrates a strong and sustained commitment to nurturing the leading researchers of tomorrow. A dedicated ‘early intervention’ scheme such as this helps to pave the way for growing Irish-based, world-class research groups and progression towards commercialisation of ideas at a later stage in the researchers’ careers.” -ends-

Monday, 23 April 2012

Marine Biologist conservationist, media producer and National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Dr Tierney Thys, will speak at NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute on Thursday, 26 April at 1 pm, as part of the US Embassy’s Science Programme.  After receiving her PhD studying fish biomechanics, Dr Thys became enthralled with the power of film to teach science and convey conservation messages, and spent more than ten years making films for National Geographic Television. Leading and serving as an expert on numerous expeditions around the world from Alaska to Antarctica, Bali to Baja, Taiwan to South Africa, she is also the Founder of the Adopt a Sunfish Project, dedicated to researching and conserving the giant ocean sunfishes. Dr Thys’ work has been featured in numerous documentaries by National Geographic, NHK, BBC and German Television. Professor Mark Johnson, Deputy Director of the Ryan Institute and Leader of the Institute’s Biodiversity and Bioresources Research Cluster, said: “In the context of the demands and pressures on marine ecosystems, understanding marine biodiversity is now more important than ever.  In fact, right at this moment several of the Ryan Institute’s marine scientists are in the North Atlantic on a research cruise to describe the ecosystems of the continental margin (200 – 4000m deep). We are seeking to balance the potential economic benefits of prospecting for new drugs with the need to conserve our natural resources. Dr Thys is a scientist and communicator, committed to understanding and conserving the marine environment. She was a part of the global network working on the Census of Marine Life and has carried out fascinating work on the mysterious ocean sunfish. To hear from her about her research and experiences is a great opportunity for anyone working in, or interested in, the marine environment.” Dr Thys will give a short talk on her work for the Global Census of Marine Life, with a particular focus on the modern technologies for tagging and tracking marine wildlife such as the giant ocean sunfish.  The talk will be followed by a Q&A session. All are welcome to this free event which will take place in the Martin Ryan Annex Lecture Theatre. For more information please contact sarah.knight@nuigalway.ie. -ENDS-

Monday, 23 April 2012

Future career routes is the focus of a careers evening for Leaving Certificate students, parents and guardians, in the new Engineering Building at NUI Galway on Wednesday, 9 May at 6pm. On completion of the Bachelor of Arts, a high proportion of NUI Galway graduates choose to specialise in a variety of professions by a doing a one-year Masters degree. Many of the University’s Arts graduates have gone on to careers in areas such as Business, Journalism, Social Work, Computer Science, Education and Law. John Hannon, Head of the Career Development Centre at NUI Galway, said: “In the current economic environment, one of the key attractions of studying Arts is the opportunity for students to choose their own unique combination of subjects, allowing them build a foundation for their future career, without limiting themselves to a particular field. Students can choose to continue studying subjects they enjoyed at school and/or take on new subject areas such as psychology, archaeology or economics. This a great opportunity for students and parents to get a better understanding of the career options possible from different degree programmes and to hear directly from graduates who are working in different industries.” Leaving Certificate students studying STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) in secondary school would especially have an interest in the Engineering section of the career evening. The evening will include presentations from the Dean of Engineering and Informatics, Professor Gerry Lyons, who will explore opportunities for future NUI Galway Engineering students. Industry representatives will also be on hand to direct students on how a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) from NUI Galway is the qualification to get you that job post-graduation. Professor Gerry Lyons, Dean of Engineering and Informatics, said: “Engineering affects almost everything we do in modern society. From the phones and automobiles we use to the medical devices and treatment methods we depend on and graduates with STEM qualifications are highly valued by employers across the world. A degree in Engineering or IT is a platform for career development in areas as diverse as Consulting, Management, Design, Creative Industries and Finance. It provides a professional recognised qualification and the flexibility to pursue many different career opportunities. This free event will give interested students an opportunity to learn about career opportunities in the field of engineering.” The career evening will feature a number of NUI Galway Arts and Engineering graduates giving an overview of their career path since graduating. They will also talk about how skills and knowledge gained in their degree programmes has benefited them in their careers. There will also be a Q&A session at the end of the evening and an opportunity to speak to staff and graduates on a one-to-one basis over refreshments. Visitors can just turn up on the night, arriving at the new Engineering Building for 6pm. There is no need to register in advance for this free event. For more information call 091 482814 or 495788. ENDS

Monday, 23 April 2012

Scientists have explained why eating ice cream too quickly can cause a painful headache, commonly known as brain freeze. It is hoped the discovery can be used to develop new treatments for migraine. In experiments carried by researchers at Harvard Medical School and NUI Galway, a team of 13 healthy volunteers deliberately induced the brain freeze so the headache effects associated with it could be studied. It was found that the headache pain was brought on by a rapid increase in blood flow through a major blood vessel in the brain, the anterior cerebral artery. The ache subsided again once blood flow was restricted. The experimental work, led by Professor Jorge Serrador and carried out at the Cardiovascular Electronics Laboratory in the School of Engineering & Informatics at NUI Galway, enabled brain blood flow to be measured during the controlled onset and offset of a headache. The controlled ‘production’ of a headache was achieved by the volunteers drinking iced water. Using this technique, the researchers were able to study a headache from beginning to end, without the need for drugs that would mask the causes and symptoms of the pain. The volunteers drank iced water through a straw that was pressed against their palate and then followed by drinking water at room temperature. Blood flow in the brain was monitored using a hand held device. It was found that the anterior cerebral artery dilated rapidly and flooded the brain with blood when the volunteers felt the painful headache, soon after this dilation occurred, the same vessel constricted reducing blood flow, corresponding to the volunteers’ pain receding. The findings were presented at the meeting Experimental Biology 2012 in San Diego yesterday (Sunday, 22 April, 2012). Presenting the findings, lead-author Professor Jorge Serrador, Adjunct Professor of Cardiovascular Electronics at NUI Galway, and also of the Harvard Medical School and the War Related Illness and Injury Study Centre of the Veterans Affairs New Jersey Health Care System, said: “The brain is fairly sensitive to temperature, so vasodilatation might be moving warm blood inside tissue to make sure the brain stays warm.”Dr Serrador explained that because the skull is a closed structure, the sudden influx of blood could raise pressure and induce pain. By constricting the blood vessel again the body could be acting to reduce the pressure before it reaches dangerous levels. Similar alterations in blood flow could be at work in migraines, post traumatic headaches, and other headache types.If further research confirms these suspicions, then finding ways to control blood flow could offer new treatments for these conditions. Drugs that block sudden vasodilatation or target channels involved specifically in the vasodilatation of headaches could be one way of changing headaches’ course. -ENDS-

Monday, 23 April 2012

NUI Galway’s Adult and Continuing Education Office will hold an information evening for students interested in broadening their horizons or defining a new career path. With a wide range of part-time study opportunities available, all of the programmes offer flexible study routes and accreditation at certificate and diploma level, while a large number of programmes are now available to degree and masters level. The information evening will take place on Thursday, 3May from 6pm in the Orbsen Building at NUI Galway. Degree courses on offer, beginning in September 2012, include: Bachelor of Commerce; Bachelor of Arts in Community and Family Studies; Bachelor of Science; Bachelor of Arts in Training and Education; and a Bachelor of Arts with specialist combinations in History, English, French and Sociological and Political Studies.  One of the newer part-time courses on offer at the University is the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Studies and Practice, which focuses on the training needs of childcare practitioners and provides a formal professional education programme for workers in this sector. Nuala McGuinn, Acting Director of NUI Galway’s Adult and Continuing Education, said: “Courses on offer are delivered either by classroom-based teaching mode or through blended and online learning, offering flexibility and choice to students. For those not necessarily interested in pursuing a course to degree level, there is also a range of two-year diploma programmes available.” Diploma programmes include Business, Science and Technology Studies, Social Gerontology (the study of ageing), Psychology of Counselling and programmes in the area of Scientific Studies such as Geology.  Diploma options are also available in traditional subjects such as French, German, Italian, English Literature, Gaeilge, Spanish, History and Archaeology.  These two-year programmes offer students an opportunity to up-skill in an area of personal and professional interest over a manageable timeframe and require attendance at class on one evening per week. With a focus on employability and the emerging skills needs of the workplace, a range of one-year diplomas are also available, such as Medical Device Science, Lean and Quality Systems, Innovation Management, Software Engineering, International Business and many others.  These programmes are designed with adaptability in mind, are offered via blended learning and allow students to fit study around their busy working lives. They are equally suitable for students who are actively seeking employment, but require a part-time programme which allows them to combine study and job seeking in a flexible manner. For further details and closing dates for application contact the Adult & Continuing Education Office on 091 492062 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/adulteducation. -ENDS-  

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

‘What can my generation contribute to the future of Ireland?’ The key question arising from the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012 Family is a central, and in some cases, the most important shock absorber for those affected by the recession according to findings from a new research study entitled Changing Generations. Interest group members from throughout Ireland gathered in Galway today to attend the Changing Generations seminar to discuss how solidarity between generations helps in coping with and overcoming the recession. Facilitated by Dr Gemma Carney, NUI Galway and Dr Catherine Conlon, Trinity College Dublin, the event brings to the public domain insights from interviews with 100 ordinary people, from all walks of life and every age group. This two-year study highlights that: - There is strong solidarity between the younger and the older generations in Irish society. Older research participants advocate enhanced supports for younger people, especially educational investment into children from disadvantaged backgrounds and better access to health care for families. Younger participants are strongly supportive of maintaining or even enhancing supports for older people. - Family is a central, and in some cases the most important, shock absorber for those affected by the recession. For instance, the project data gives insights into practices of 'quick loans' between family members. Three-generational households and adult children moving back into parental homes also feature in project data.  Those without a family network find imagining a positive future for themselves more difficult. - There is widespread distrust in the ability of Irish policy-makers to rectify unfairness in how resources are currently allocated. There is a widely shared perception that 'insiders' and politicians are out-of-touch with the lives of ordinary people in Ireland. An informed public discussion on the importance of solidarity between the generations to the future of Ireland is long overdue. This event offers citizens from all walks of life and of all ages an opportunity to engage with a positive programme of work for Ireland’s future. Leading expert Professor Virpi Timonen, Director of the Social Policy and Ageing Research Centre at Trinity College Dublin, commented: “This event is of great importance in initiating a future-oriented discussion on what sustains us in this deep recession, and what will get us out of it. For most people, family is the central resource that helps them to cope. This is a strength of Irish society, but it also places people in very different positions as some families are under huge pressure, while others are better resourced to give support in the form of time, advice and money. This reliance on the family is therefore also a source of inequality in Irish society”. The project data corroborates and gives in-depth illustration of many of the findings from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), which has provided evidence on extensive exchanges of help and support  between older and younger family members in Ireland. The Changing Generations research project is part of an increasingly important area of scientific research that explores relations between Ireland’s generations. Designed as a longitudinal study, the research aims to build the evidence base necessary to inform public opinion on solidarity between the generations. Professor Tom Scharf of NUI Galway is an expert on ageing and the social policy of later life. His work takes a life-course perspective, which calls on policy-makers to start planning now for the future needs of children born today, and to consider the past experiences of older people when legislating for today’s ageing populations. “The preliminary findings from this research show that we need to start thinking about how policy can be developed with inter-generational transfers in mind, taking account of the role of family and community in providing social protection throughout our lives” said Professor Scharf. As part of our commitment to raise public awareness around solidarity between generations, the Changing Generations research team has invited all members of Irish society with a stake in its future to take part in a citizen deliberation in NUI Galway today (Tuesday, 24 April). Participants include Youthwork Ireland, National Youth Council of Ireland, Active Retirement Ireland, Living Scenes intergenerational project, Irish Senior Citizens Parliament and many others who are not representing any organisation but who wish to take part in this important discussion. The guest speaker is Vicki Titterington, from the Beth Johnson Foundation, UK-based organisation that has been leading the way in promoting intergenerational practice for forty years (http://www.bjf.org.uk/). Vicki runs the Linking Generations project in Northern Ireland and will speak about the importance of intergenerational work before the deliberations begin. The event will take place in the Aula Maxima, NUI Galway, between 12pm and 4pm. The event is free. Registration is open from 11.30am when a light lunch will be served. To find out more about the Changing Generations event log onto http://www.sparc.tcd.ie/generations/   ENDS

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Secondary school students from all ofIreland participated in the fifth All-Ireland Final of the Debating Science Issues (DSI) competition. The final took place on Thursday, 19 April, in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin. After several closely contested debates, Clonakilty Community College, Co.Cork emerged victorious to become the 2012 Debating Science Issues winners, with St. Catherine’s Vocational School, Killybegs, Co. Donegal awarded second place. Other 2012 finalists included AbbeyVocational School,Donegal Town and St. Andrew’s College, Blackrock, Co.Dublin. DSI is a dynamic, cross border debating competition which invites young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. Open to students in the senior cycle of secondary school, the competition provides an opportunity for students to expand their research, communication and scientific skills with forty schools initially entered in the competition. Through preliminary debates about stem cell research, nanotechnology, immunology practices, self-diagnostic tests, rare disease research funding, and genetically modified foods, the field narrowed to the four schools represented at the finals. Danielle Nicholson, DSI Coordinator and Outreach Officer with REMEDI at NUI Galway, said: “We hope that this collaborative outreach project is a useful tool in facilitating increased awareness of the important research taking place inIrelandamong young people and the Irish public in general. It is imperative that dialogue surrounding advances in science occurs and continues. While it is important for research centres to communicate to the public, it is equally important for researchers and academics to listen to what the public, including young people, think of this work. At a time when scientific research itself is taking so many different directions, it is critical that the doors for discussion remain open so that we can ensure that everyone has their say on the societal and ethical implications of biomedical research.” Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the workshop series and debating competition is coordinated by the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway in conjunction with eight science research and discovery centres throughout Ireland including: REMEDI, NUI Galway; Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, UCC; Biomedical Diagnostics Institute, DCU; CRANN in Trinity College Dublin; Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; W5 in Belfast; Clarity at UCD; Centre for Cross Border Studies, Armagh; and Cork Institute of Technology. Judges for the final included: Cynthia Coleman, REMEDI, NUI Galway; Heike Felzmann, NUI Galway; Marion Boland, SFI; Sylvia Leatham, Scibernia; Dónal O’Mathúna, DCU; Terry McWade, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; Janice Murtagh, SFI; Danielle Barron, Irish Medical News; and Sally Montgomery of W5. Full information on the DSI competition is available at www.debatingscienceissues.com, or contact Danielle Nicholson, Outreach officer, REMEDI at NUI Galway, on 091 49 5259 or danielle.nicholson@nuigalway.ie. -ENDS-

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has announced the appointment of eight members to the Board of TG4 including a new chairperson for the Board. Among the appointees is Press & Information Officer at NUI Galway, Michelle Ní Chróinín. TG4 is the national Irish language television service, a public service broadcaster, established by statute and publicly funded to deliver a full range of high quality Irish language content to audiences at home and abroad. Originally from the West Cork Gaeltacht of Baile Bhuirne, Michelle is also an elected representative of NUI Galway’s Governing Authority since 2009. Michelle has over 15 years experience in communications, project management, event management, public administration as well as working with the media and in public relations. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Music from UCC; a Higher Diploma in Arts Administration from NUI Galway; and a Higher Diploma in Public Relations from the PRII. She most recently completed a Masters degree in Irish Media Studies from UL/Mary Immaculate College. Michelle is also trained in Television and Video production and has produced and broadcast her own documentary for TG4 in 1998 entitled Bess Mo Shin Sheanmháthair. Commenting on the appointments, Minister Rabbitte said that the Government was committed to continuing its support of the Irish language broadcasting sector and was extremely happy with the calibre of and credentials of those who have accepted appointment. “With Digital Switchover due to take place in six months time, I would like to take this opportunity to wish the new board every success with the opportunities and challenges ahead,” the Minister added. In nominating the successful candidates, the Minister also had regard to the recommended nominees of the Joint Oireachtas Committee (JOC). Joe Connolly has been re-appointed to the Board and will continue to serve with Pól Ó Gallchóir, Concubhar Ó Liatháin and Rónán Ó Coisdealbha. The Minister is awaiting one further nominee from the Joint Oireachtas Committee. The Minister also expressed his thanks to the outgoing chairman and Board members, whose term of office has expired, for their contribution. The newly appointed Board members of TG4, whose term will be for five years, are as follows: Siún Ní Raghallaigh (Chair) Des Geraghty Michelle Ní Chróinín Micheál Seoighe Mairéad Ní Cheoinín Andréa Ní hÉalaithe Mairéad Nic Suibhne ENDS Comhaltaí Boird Nua TG4 Fógartha ag an Aire Ó Coinín D’fhógair an tAire Cumarsáide, Pádraic Ó Coinín go bhfuil ochtar comhaltaí ceaptha ar Bhord TG4, lena n-áirítear cathaoirleach nua ar an mBord. San áireamh tá Michelle Ní Chróinín, Oifigeach Preasa & Faisnéise in Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh. Craoltóir seirbhíse poiblí is ea TG4, an tseirbhís náisiúnta teilifíse Ghaeilge, a bunaíodh le reacht agus a mhaoinítear le hairgead poiblí d’fhonn raon leathan ábhair ardchaighdeáin a sholáthar i nGaeilge don lucht féachana in Éirinn agus thar lear. Tagann Michelle ó Bhaile Bhuirne i nGaeltacht Mhúscraí ó dhúchas agus ó 2009, tá Michelle mar bhall tofa ar Údarás na hOllscoile, OÉ Gaillimh. Tá taithí breis is 15 bliain ag Michelle ar bhainistíocht imeachtaí agus tionscadal, i riarachán poiblí agus ar ndóigh i gcaidreamh poiblí agus ag déileáil leis na meáin. Is céimí de chuid Ollscoil Chorcaí sa cheol í Michelle agus bhain sí Ard-Dioplóma i Riarachán na nEalaíon amach in OÉ Gaillimh. Chomh maith leis sin tá Ard-Dioplóma i gCaidreamh Poiblí ó Acadamh Caidrimh Phoiblí na hÉireann bainte amach aici agus le déanaí Máistreacht sna Meáin Éireannacha ó Ollscoil Luimnigh agus Coláiste Mhuire gan Smál. Tá Michelle cáilithe freisin mar chúntóir léiriúcháin teilifíse agus rinne sí a léiriúchán féin i 1998 le coimisiúin bronnta uirthi ó TG4, Bess Mo Shin sheanmháthair. Agus é ag tagairt do na ceapacháin, dúirt an tAire Ó Coinín go raibh an Rialtas tiomanta leanúint leis an tacaíocht atá á tabhairt d’earnáil na craoltóireachta Gaeilge agus go raibh sé féin an-sásta ar fad le caighdeán agus dintiúir na ndaoine sin a ghlac lena gceapacháin. “Agus an t-athrú go dtí an tSeirbhís Dhigiteach le tarlú i gceann sé mhí, ba mhaith liom an deis seo a thapú chun gach rath a ghuí ar an mbord nua maidir leis na deiseanna agus na dúshláin atá amach rompu”, a dúirt an tAire. Agus na hiarratasóirí rathúla á n-ainmniú aige, bhí aird ag an Aire freisin ar ainmnithigh an Chomhchoiste Oireachtais (CCO). Tá Joe Connolly athcheaptha chun an bhoird agus leanfaidh sé de bheith ag fónamh mar aon le Pól Ó Gallchóir, Conchubhar Ó Liatháin agus Rónán Ó Coisdealbha. Tá an tAire ag fanacht le hainmniúchán amháin eile a fháil ón gComhchoiste Oireachtais.   Ghabh an tAire buíochas freisin leis an iar-chathaoirleach agus na comhaltaí Boird a bhfuil a dtéarma oifige istigh, agus atá ag dul as oifig, as a gcion a dhéanamh. Is iad seo a leanas comhaltaí Boird nuacheaptha TG4, a chuirfidh téarma oifige cúig bliana isteach: Siún Ní Raghallaigh (an Cathaoirleach) Des Geraghty Michelle Ní Chróinín Micheál Seoighe Mairéad Ní Cheoinín Andréa Ní Éalaithe Mairéad Nic Suibhne

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The general public is being invited to engage with scientists at NUI Galway to provide their opinions on stem cells and gene therapy. Scientists hope to explore public opinion on these and other cutting-edge biomedical solutions under development, and learn what the public’s point of view is. As part of the EU-funded GAMBA project, the University is specifically looking for people who would like to learn about adult stem cell and gene therapy approaches, and who are willing to evaluate theses approaches from a lay person’s point of view. No technical or scientific knowledge is needed, just a willingness to participate over two weekends in May and June 2012. Ideally, participants should be resident in Galway or the neighbouring counties and must be at least 18 years old. The closing date for application is Friday, 4 May. The specific focus of the research associated with this project is osteoarthritis and the opinion of the people suffering from this debilitating disease was already sought in a very successful patient panel which was held in March this year. For the public consultation project, which is organised by the Institute for Regenerative Medicine (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, participants will be introduced to the topics of innovative basic research into a novel osteoarthritis therapy based on gene therapy, stem cell research and nanomedicine. “We are really hoping to engage with people who are broadly interested in stem cell or gene therapy generally and the potential use of these technologies for treating diseases in the future. What risks and ethical aspects are associated with such visions? How should such therapies be regulated? Should these therapies be available in Ireland? These are just some of the questions we want to discuss”, said Dr Mary Murphy, REMEDI, NUI Galway. Dr Murphy added: “New therapy approaches usually don’t come to the attention of patients and society until they are tested in clinical trials or once the products are launched on the market. This project is taking a very innovative approach by involving the general public at a very early stage. We as scientists need to stop and listen to what the everyday person has to say, and we can learn from their insights. We learnt so much from our earlier session with arthritis suffers and I hope members of the general public will be able to help this time round by giving of their time.” All the sessions will be supported by an experienced team of moderators, who will ensure that the information supplied is comprehensible. Importantly, the reports generated by the patients and citizens themselves at the end of the four-day process will be published and disseminated to the relevant authorities, researchers and politicians. As part of the GAMBA project (Gene Activated Matrices for Bone and Cartilage Regeneration in Arthritis) researchers at REMEDI are involved in developing new methods for the treatment of osteoarthritis. In collaboration with nine partner institutions from Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland, researchers in REMEDI hope it might be possible to heal diseased joints in 10 to 20 years. This would be done by introducing a combination of biomaterials, stem cells harvested from the patient, gene vectors and nanoparticles directly into the diseased tissue. “Our hope is”, explains Dr Murphy, “that these enriched biomaterials could make a regeneration of the joints possible.” Participants will be given a gratuity of €50 and are invited to apply before Friday, 4 May. The application form and further information are available online http://www.gamba-project.eu/panels  or can be requested on 091 494276.  The main website for the project is http://gamba-project.eu   ENDS

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

NUI Galway and Leitrim County Council have announced that the sixth International John McGahern Seminar, commemorating the work of the renowned Irish writer, will take place from 24-26 May in Co. Leitrim. “The literary, historical and environmental aspects of McGahern’s work will be the focus this year, and the keynote lecture will be given by Diarmaid Ferriter, Professor of Modern Irish History at University College Dublin and a regular broadcaster on RTÉ television and radio,” explains NUI Galway’s Dr John Kenny, Academic Director of the Seminar. The Seminar includes a rich variety of lectures, open discussions, readings, tours and book launches. The Chinese-American writer, Yiyun Li, will talk about McGahern’s work and will discuss and read from her own fiction. Winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award in 2005, Li made a special recording of one of McGahern’s masterpiece stories, ‘The Wine Breath’, for The New Yorker in 2009, a podcast of which can be listened to at www.newyorker.com. Other speakers at the event will include Professor Joe Cleary of NUI Maynooth and Yale University, Professor Eamonn Wall of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and author and former Irish Times journalist, Paddy Woodworth, who will give a talk about McGahern and the relationship between landscape and literature.   The preeminent scholar of McGahern’s work, Denis Sampson, will be giving a public interview about his new book, Young John McGahern: Becoming a Novelist, recently published by Oxford University Press, and another established McGahern scholar, Dr Stanley van der Ziel, will be providing the talk for the Seminar launch of the book. Dr Frank Shovlin of the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool will give a lecture about the influence of James Joyce on John McGahern and will also be launching his new book, Journey Westward: Joyce, Dubliners and the Literary Revival, for which Professor Emeritus in History at NUI Galway, Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, will provide the talk. The Seminar will also include a feature discussion by Cormac O’Malley about his father, Ernie O’Malley, whose writing was much admired by McGahern. There will be visits, guided by local historian Dr Frank Brennan, to places around Aughawillan, Ballinamore and Mohill important to the author’s life and works, and also a boat trip to Cootehall in Co. Roscommon where writers and readers groups from the region will give public readings from McGahern’s autobiography, Memoir. The archaeologist Chris Read will follow his talk about the landscape around Fenagh, where McGahern lived, with a field trip to a number of significant archaeological sites in South Leitrim. 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 world of literary scholarship, for the Irish nation and most especially for this region which we have served for more than 160 years. I wish the 2012 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 2012 programme, Leitrim County Manager, Jackie Maguire, said: “Leitrim County Council views the John McGahern 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 sixth 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. NUI Galway is providing five Scholarships to assist students to attend the Seminar and visit the McGahern Archive, which is held at the University in the James Hardiman Library. Scholarships are valued at €500 each and interested students should apply directly to the Academic Director, Dr John Kenny, at john.kenny@nuigalway.ie. For further details and to book for the 2012 International John McGahern Seminar contact Christine at 071 9621694, email arts@leitrimcoco.ie or visit www.leitrimarts.ie ENDS

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

New technology being developed in NUI Galway could help enhance pedestrian safety by allowing them to be ‘seen’ by cars – thus avoiding collisions and saving lives. NUI Galway researcher Anthony Winterlich has been awarded a Gold Medal at the Young European Arena of Research 2012 competition by the EU Commission for his work on systems for pedestrian identification, a key challenge to enhance road safety. The award was presented at the Transport Research Arena (TRA) conference which is taking place this week in Athens.  The competition, supported by the European Union, provides visibility to promising young researchers specialising in surface transport (road, rail, waterborne). Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science awarded Anthony and five others for their outstanding work. The winners represent universities from France, UK, Ireland, Italy and Switzerland. Anthony carries out his work with the Connaught Automotive Research (CAR) Group (www.car.nuigalway.ie) in the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, which is focused on pursuing research in several areas of driver assistance and communications in the automotive environment. This research builds on several years of existing research within the CAR Group in the area of automotive vision systems development, much of it sponsored by Valeo Vision Systems in Tuam, Co. Galway, a world leader in this area. According to Anthony, who is a native of Tuam, County Galway: “My research involves the development of mathematical techniques which can be used to measure the quality of images produced by the various safety-related cameras found in the majority of modern cars. Once we can describe image and video quality by means of a ‘number’ we can then develop and evaluate techniques which will improve image quality by compensating for distortions that occur due to slight imperfections in the cameras or due to compression of the video images as they are being transported around the vehicle. This is a topic of increasing importance in the automotive industry due to the growing use of car-mounted camera systems for driver assistance and other applications such as automatic pedestrian detection, and the results of my research will have a significant impact on the development of automotive camera products in the coming years.” Financial support for Anthony’s research is provided by Valeo Vision Systems and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) through the Enterprise Partnership Scheme. His work is supervised by Edward Jones, Martin Glavin and Liam Kilmartin within the Electrical & Electronic Engineering discipline at NUI Galway. ENDS

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Agencies in the US Government have adopted a set of web tools and standards developed in Ireland by researchers at NUI Galway’s Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI). DERI’s technologies are being utilised by Data.gov, a portal developed to bring an unprecedented level of transparency to the US Government. DERI’s research, which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, focuses on enabling networked knowledge, using the latest Semantic Web and Linked Data technologies. Its technologies allow related data that was not previously linked to be connected together, so that a person or computer can see the bigger picture through interlinked datasets. Data.gov allows the linking of open government data from agency publishers to contributions from other public and private organisations. DERI’s Dr John Breslin, who also lectures in Electronic Engineering at NUI Galway, explains: “I recently saw a universal toy adaptor that allowed you to connect plastic building blocks to wooden construction sets. Linked Data is a bit like that – it’s based on a universal data format that allows you to bring datasets from different realms together, making them more useful as a whole. Your planning applications could be linked to your broadband penetration rates or your traffic congestion data to help identify issues and trends.” Among the DERI outputs being used by Data.gov and the related Healthdata.gov site are Neologism and the GRefine RDF Extension. Neologism is a new tool which allows for the easy creation of ‘vocabularies’ needed to link data and is built on the powerful open source content management platform Drupal. One such vocabulary that is listed in vocab.data.gov is the Vocabulary of Interlinked Datasets (VOID), which was co-created by DERI researchers. The second technology in use, the RDF Extension for Google Refine, is a graphical user interface for exporting data from Google Refine (a tool for working with messy data) as interlinked Semantic Web data. George Thomas, Enterprise Architect with the US Health and Human Services Administration, has said: “More behind the scenes work that routinely benefits from substantial DERI engagement includes an ongoing contribution to the creation and promulgation of open standards related to open government data catalogs and communities. But DERI doesn’t stop there, they put these new standards into practice through enhancements to Drupal 7 core, helping make it an even more powerful publishing and visualization tool for the emerging Web of Data.” He added: “We hope to leverage all of these features and capabilities in our current and ongoing Healthdata.gov modernization efforts. They also create lots of other useful tools and pen helpful blog posts that promote the proper use and integration of standards. Furthermore, DERI folks are active in many other efforts to promote structured data using open standards and help to clarify best practices that will ultimately lead to better integration of international government statistics.” Joint work between DERI and Mr. Thomas’ team on Patient Controlled Privacy (using Linked Health Data) will be presented at the Semantic Technologies Conference in San Francisco in June, that makes use of the Privacy Preference Ontology and related privacy management web applications from DERI’s Social Software Unit. Data.gov is part of a global initiative referred to as the Open Data movement, with the goal to motivate governments to make public information freely available and easily accessible online. Others examples include data.gov.uk and data.london.gov.uk from the UK, and data.fingal.ie and dublinked.ie from Ireland. Researchers at DERI in NUI Galway are in the vanguard of this new technology space. The largest research organisation of its kind in the world, DERI with its 140 researchers, it is collaborating with industry and governments to revolutionise the utilisation of data. Today, more than 200 regions and countries are publishing their government data online. Three years ago, DERI announced the adoption of its SIOC data format by a website in the Obama administration. The SIOC format is one of the Open Data formats being produced by a number of US Government websites that use the latest Drupal platform, including energy.gov (the US Energy Department), policy.house.gov (the Republican Policy committee), lsc.gov (the civil legal aid program), and oag.ca.gov (the California Attorney General). The DCAT vocabulary from DERI is also used by various government sites for describing government datasets and data catalogs. DERI also collaborates with the European Commission on common semantic vocabularies, such as the Asset Description Metadata Schema (ADMS). Professor Stefan Decker, Director of DERI at NUI Galway, says that while we are seeing Open Data being used to improve public services and promote more transparent and effective government - that is only part of the story. “Open Data has been described recently by the UK’s Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude as the raw material of a ‘new industrial revolution’. Making more data freely available is resulting in people using it to build new businesses and grow existing ones, creating jobs. In Ireland, the Open Data movement is being pioneered by the likes of Fingal County Council, the Dublinked consortium and the National Cross-Industry Working Group on Open Data. DERI participates at a national and international level through the provision of best practices, standards and technologies. Open Data is key to supporting a truly transparent and participatory democratic system.” In Ireland, DERI collaborates closely with local and the Local Government Computer Services Board, as well as the National Cross-Industry Working Group on Open Data to promote Open Data. Professor Decker concluded: “These are exciting times and a true spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship is engulfing the IT world as networked knowledge begins to come into its own. Undoubtedly, ten years from now when we look back, we will wonder how we managed with the volumes of unconnected data we have now.” DERI was founded in 2003 at NUI Galway with support from the Irish Government’s Science Foundation Ireland, as part of a strategic investment in Semantic Web research and business development. -ends-

Monday, 30 April 2012

NUI Galway is offering secondary school students the choice of four separate Summer Schools in May and June, across the disciplines of Nursing, Computing, Engineering and Science. Aimed at students in transition, fifth and sixth year, the summer schools are specially designed to give interested students a real taste of University life through a wide range of hands-on practical and interactive activities. On Tuesday, 29 May, the first NUI Galway Nursing Summer School will take place. This pilot initiative is open to Transition Year students, who will be given 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 IT and Computing Summer Camp introduces computing in a novel, fun and interactive way. Students, from first to sixth year, will have the opportunity to explore and experiment with a range of digitally-inspired topics including Digital Media, Games, Robotics, Programming and Animation. Participants will have the opportunity to use leading-edge technologies, from constructing and controlling robots that can interact with their environment, to directing a virtual 'mini-movie' that can be uploaded to a website and shared with friends. Due to popular demand, NUI Galway will hold two of the week-long sessions to facilitate the numbers interested, 11 to 15 June, or 18 to 22 June. Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. From Thursday 21 to Friday 22 June, the Science Experience Summer Event will offer students two whole 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 gain a closer view of the research facilities with tours, to take part in lab experiments and demonstrations and to speak to the lecturers and the scientists at NUI Galway about the latest discoveries and inventions. Registration deadline for this particular Summer School is 20 May. Students interested in the Engineering Summer School have a choice of two different days to participate, Thursday, 28 June, or Friday, 29 June. Housed in the University’s new Engineering Building, the Summer School will offer a taste of experiences as wide-ranging as 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. The closing date for applications for the Engineering Summer School is Thursday, 31 May. Caroline Loughnane, Director for Marketing and Communications at NUI Galway, says: “This is our third year of summer schools and they are proving hugely popular. Not only are summer schools a great opportunity to experience University life, but they also help participants to really find out what subjects and courses they will be best suited to in college. We recommend that secondary school students choose subjects they enjoy for their CAO options, and these summer schools are a great way of helping students to discover where their interests lie.” Spaces for all Summer Schools are limited so early booking is advised. To find out more about the NUI Galway Summer Schools or for applications visit www.nuigalway.ie/summer-schools. -ENDS-