Monday, 5 December 2011

NUI Galway recently presented 85 certificates to students for successful completion of the Access courses during the academic year 2010/2011, both on campus and in Outreach Centres in Clifden and Ballinasloe.   Also receiving awards were 55 Access students who graduated with degrees in Arts, Commerce, Law, Engineering and Nursing in 2011. A further 18 students who received post-graduate diplomas in Education, Health, Arts and Business Studies and post-graduate degrees in Marketing, Social Work, Community Development and Law were also acknowledged.  In addition, eight students who received postgraduate diplomas and degrees in 2010 were acknowledged at the ceremony.   In the last ten years, 390 graduates and 133 post-graduates have been admitted to NUI Galway through its Access Programme.  The ceremony was to mark the achievement of those inspirational students and to commend all on their perseverance, dedication and hard work.    The function of the NUI Galway Access Programme is to address and respond appropriately to the issues of equality of access, equity of life long opportunities and responding to the issues of rural (and to a lesser extent, urban) social exclusion in the Border, Midland and Western Region and County Clare. All elements of the access programmes have important initiatives designed to give everyone a chance to benefit from third level education.    -ENDS-

Thursday, 1 December 2011

James Kofi Annan was sold into slavery in Ghana when he was six years old. He comes to NUI Galway on Wednesday, 7 December, to share his story and continue his campaign against child slavery. He will deliver a public talk at 1pm at an event organised by the University’s Irish Centre for Human Rights and the organisation Frontline Defenders. Like most of his other 11 siblings James was sold as a slave, at the tender age of six. He was sent to work in the fishing industry on Lake Volta in Ghana where small children are used to do heavy work with the nets and are sent down to free the nets if they become snagged. He recalls being beaten every day. After seven years he managed to set himself free but he wasn’t welcome back either in his family or in his village, where he was seen to have disobeyed his father. From then on he was on his own. James educated himself by becoming friendly with the children who were attending the local kindergarden school and used their books to teach himself to read and write. James eventually was able to complete his university education and got himself a job with Barclay's Bank. However he could not leave his memories of slavery behind and set up a new organisation called Challenging Heights to help other child slaves like him. “James’s story is compelling and his campaigning and support for child slaves is outstanding. Estimates of a staggering 27 million people in slavery today, many of whom are children, should give us all pause for thought. The blatant disregard for human rights and humanity shown by modern day slavery or human trafficking, must be challenged around the world”, said Professor Ray Murphy of NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights. Because James challenges the very profitable status quo he is vilified and attacked and receives death threats on a daily basis by email, text and by phone. Despite the threats and the danger, James Kofi Annan refuses to cease his work to free the victims of child slavery and to end the practice in Ghana. Asked why he chooses to do this dangerous work he replies, “I had nothing left to lose – I had already lost everything I had to lose as a child.” James’s organisation Challenging Heights helps children escape slavery and rebuild their lives by providing them with shelter, rehabilitation and education. All are welcome to this free event at 1pm on Wednesday, 7 December, in the Huston School of Film at NUI Galway (opposite the Cathedral).   -ends-

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Mohit Agrawal, an NUI Galway economics student, has been awarded one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world, a Rhodes Scholarship to study economics at Oxford University. Mohit is currently studying for an MA in Economic Policy Evaluation and Planning at NUI Galway and plans to begin his studies in Oxford in September 2012. Born and raised in West Lafayette, Indiana, in the US, Mohit enrolled in NUI Galway during September 2011, after being awarded a George J. Mitchell Scholarship, allowing him to do a postgraduate degree at any university on the island of Ireland. Mohit chose the NUI Galway programme because he said it enabled him to further his major career goal, to combine a background in mathematics and politics to help craft economic policy. Mohit completed his undergraduate degree in mathematics and computer science at Princeton University in the United States. Mohit’s interests and achievements extend well beyond the classroom. At Princeton, for example, he was a prominent member of ‘Engineers Without Borders’ and served as the manager of a project to build a library in Ghana. He is interested in politics and has contributed to debates at the Literary and Debating Society in NUI Galway and has also written several articles for the student newspaper SIN including some insightful pieces on the recent Presidential election. The Head of the Economics Discipline at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, Professor John McHale, described Mohit’s achievement at winning a Rhodes Scholarship as a fantastic testimony to his outstanding intellectual ability: “We were very pleased that Mohit chose the economic policy evaluation programme at NUI Galway for his Mitchell Scholarship. Mohit has been a wonderful addition to the economics discipline at this University where he has helped countless undergraduate students as a tutor for one of our main undergraduate courses as well as contributing in lectures and seminars. I have no doubt that Mohit will do extraordinary well in his future career and I am especially pleased that Mohit had decided to focus his career on economics with a special emphasis on economic policy.” ENDS

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

NUI Galway and UCC recently celebrated the first intake of Malaysian students on a twinned medical degree programme. The medical programme is offered by both universities in partnership with the Allianze University College of Medical Sciences (AUCMS), Kapala Batas, in northern Malaysia.   2011 sees the first intake of 100 students, 50 studying at NUI Galway and 50 at UCC. The students will study medicine for the first two and a half years of their degree in Ireland and then go on to complete the remainder of their five-year degree in Malaysia. The partners will deliver a five-year medical programme, under the approval of medical councils in each country. On successful completion, those students who commenced their studies in Galway will be awarded the NUI Galway degree of MB, BAO, BCh*.   NUI Galway and UCC each have a strong tradition of Malaysian students coming to completing their full medical degree over five years. The new partnership however is the outcome of discussions which began in 2005 when the Ministry of Health in Malaysia approached the Irish universities, seeking to develop sustainable Malaysia-based medical education capacity into the future. The Cooperation Agreement which underpins the partnership, was signed in Penang in January 2009. This initiative shifts the clinical training of the students to their home country. However they will still obtain an Irish medical qualification to be approved and accredited by the professional accrediting authorities of Ireland and Malaysia.   The recent Foundation Day event in UCC was officially launched by the Minister of State for Training and Skills, Ciaran Cannon, and attended by the Irish and Malaysian partners, dignitaries from both counties and by the NUI Galway and UCC students.   Speaking at the launch in UCC, Professor Gerard Loftus, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “The programme is a very exciting augmentation of the strong tradition we have in the education of Malaysian medical students over the years.  The Malaysian Government recognises that our Malaysian students achieve high clinical standards. I am particularly pleased also that the many very able and committed people who have worked on this project from the outset back in 2005 are here today, when all their efforts come to fruition.”   Current NUI Galway student, Mohamad Sharifudin Dzulkefli said: “Studying in two institutes of higher learning in Ireland and Malaysia really gives us a lot of advantages in terms of knowledge as well as experience. NUI Galway has a lot to offer for the AUCMS students. Gaining basic medical knowledge in Ireland and applying it during the clinical years back in Malaysia gives us the upper hand in the medical field.”   -ENDS-

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Beidh Ceolchoirm am lóin ar siúl ar an Luan, 5 Nollaig, ón 1-2i.n. i dTéatar Uí Chearbhalláin in Áras na Gaeilge in OÉ Gaillimh. Is mic léinn ón gcúrsa Dioplóma sna Dána: Cóiriú agus Stáitsiú an Cheoil Thraidisiúnta a chuirfidh an ceolchoirm speisialta seo i láthair.  Tá an cúrsa á reáchtáil sa Spidéal ag Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge i gcomhar le Stiúideo Cuan. Meascán spéisiúil a bheas ann a chlúdóidh réimse leathan ceoil, idir seoidíní traidisiúnta, ceol nua-chumtha, amhránaíocht agus, dár ndóigh, ríleanna, poirt agus pólcaí spleodracha, spraoiúla.   Is ó chian agus ó chóngar a tháinig na ceoltóirí agus na hamhránaithe seo le chéile mar aon ghrúpa amháin agus dá réir snítear tionchair agus stíleanna éagsúla lena chéile ina gcuid ceoil. Tá roinnt mhaith ceolchoirmeacha déanta acu mar ghrúpa. Ó thosaigh siad le chéile i mí Meán Fómhair i mbliana rinne siad ceolchoirm lóin in Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge ar an gCeathrú Rua agus i seanscoil Shailearna. Ní le ceol amháin a bhíonn siad ag plé ar an gcúrsa seo, áfach, mar go mbíonn siad ag tabhairt faoi ghnéithe teicniúla an cheoil chomh maith. Chuige sin rinne siad clár raidió a thaifead sa stiúideo.  Is é Seán Ó Flatharta, Oifigeach Teanga agus Cultúir, OÉ Gaillimh, atá ag eagrú na hocáide seo i gcomhar le Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Riarthóir Aonad na dTaibhealaíon.  Ní bheidh aon táille ar an doras. Tuilleadh eolais le fáil ó: Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, OÉ Gaillimh ag 087 9080194 nó marianne.nichinneide@oegaillimh.ie, nó Seán Ó Flatharta, Oifigeach Teanga agus Cultúir, ag 091 493518 nó s.oflatharta2@nuigalway.ie. -Críoch-

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A new clinical study has opened in Ireland for a rare but devastating type of bone marrow cancer. Irish patients with advanced myelofibrosis will have access to a new study of combined oral medications for their disease.  Frank Giles, Professor of Cancer Therapeutics at NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin, is leading the study with Eibhlin Conneally, Consultant Haematologist at St James’s Hospital, Dublin. The Irish study is being run in conjunction with centers in France, Italy, and the UK and patients may be enrolled at either Galway University Hospitals or St James’s Hospital.  The study involves a combination of Ruxolitinib, manufactured by Novartis, along with another pill that also targets the abnormal pathways that drive myelofibrosis. This news comes within weeks of Ruxolitinib becoming the first and only product approved for this disease by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Myelofibrosis is a life-threatening cancer of the bone marrow that results in bone marrow failure because the normal spaces in which blood cells are formed become progressively filled with fibrous tissue. In an attempt to maintain normal blood cell counts, the body then begins to make these cells in abnormal sites including the liver and spleen. In turn, these can then become enlarged and painful. Patients not alone are at risk from marrow failure, but in some patients, myelofibrosis changes into a particularly aggressive form of acute leukemia.  According to Professor Frank Giles, who is also Director of the HRB Clinical Research Facility Galway, a joint venture between Galway University Hospitals and NUI Galway: “We are delighted to finally have our first effective therapy for patients suffering from advanced myelofibrosis. This is a significant positive advance in treatment for these patients. We are very pleased to be able to offer this study to patients here in Ireland, especially as Ruxolitinib has just been approved in the US. We hope that approval in Europe will happen soon but in the interim we have an opportunity to build on this, our first broadly effective therapy for a very debilitating illness, and hopefully offer even better therapy with a combination of medications in the near future.” Ruxolitinib is specifically directed at an abnormally active enzyme or kinase that has been recently defined as a key driver of myelofibrosis. “This kinase, called Jak-2, has emerged as a key target for therapy in myelofibrosis”, said Dr Conneally. “It is a central driver of the disease and inhibiting its function with Ruxolitinib directly improves many patients’ symptoms and reduces their spleen swelling. It is the latest big success in our move away from non-specific cell-killing drugs towards safer, more targeted drugs that are really directed at the fundamental drivers of cancer.” Professor Giles, who has been involved with the development of both of the drugs  being combined in the study, said: “Success in anti-cancer therapies are increasingly driven by a continuous process which involves pre-clinical scientists unlocking the puzzles of what actually makes a cancer cell behave differently from its normal counterpart. Once you have mapped the cancer process, you can define a cancer cell’s key vulnerabilities which leads you to relatively selective targets. Next steps are the creation and testing of drugs or other approaches directed at these targets that will  alter cancer cell behaviour in terms of either killing it or forcing it to behave more like a normal cell. Once these approaches are available to our patients, we return to pre-clinical science to refine and improve anti-cancer therapy, for example, by combining agents with different targets as we are doing on this study.” He concluded: This ‘bench-to-bedside-to-bench’ process has allowed not only the development of Ruxolitinib but allowed us to develop logical ‘next-wave’ potential therapies for patients with myelofibrosis. Collaborations over the last decade between scientists around the world have led to Ruxolitinib being available. Collaborations within Ireland and with our European colleagues have allowed us to offer this study in such a timely manner to Irish patients – a very encouraging template for future success.” -ends-

Monday, 28 November 2011

The 2011 Galway Science and Technology Festival Exhibition, part of Discover Science’s National Science Week, was held on the NUI Galway campus last Sunday and attracted 24,000 visitors. The event was officially opened by the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and guest speakers included Dr James Browne, President of NUI Galway, Mayor of Galway City Cllr Hildegarde Naughton and Mr Tom Hyland, Festival Chairman. The European Commissioner commented, “It is a great pleasure for me to welcome everyone to the 2011 Galway Science & Technology Festival Exhibition. The foundation and nurtuing of this festival took vision and dedication and its existence is thanks to the vision of Noel Treacey whose brain-child it is. His work and that of strong supporters like Dr Jim Browne and Tom Hyland as well as many of the companies, educational institutes and researchers, have made this a festival of which to be very proud. For the past two weeks over thousands of young people have taken part in the Festival and engaged with scientists and researchers, asking questions and really getting in touch with science and technology. These young people are the scientists and innovators of tomorrow, and events like this festival are very important in stimulating their curiousity. As a former teacher, I know very well the importance of capturing a child’s imagination at an early age. This is especially important in the case of science and technology, since they pervade almost every aspect of modern life. In today’s economic climate it is more important than ever to ensure that young people are equipped with the skills that they need to succeed. And we need science and technology to get our economy back on track.” The event ran extremely well with up to 100 volunteers, which included students from the Dominican College Secondary School, NUI Galway and members of the public, who provided information and directions to families attending the 80 interactive exhibition stands and the various shows and workshops throughout the University campus. Families and children enjoyed an array of colourful stands including Medtronic who demonstrated how blood pumps around the body, Boston Scientific’s amazing stand with a large stent for children to examine, SAP provided a First Lego League, Hewlett Packard with the help of sixth class students from Briarhill School explained Cloud Computing while other amazing stands were hosted by CISCO, Covidien Avaya and Lake Region. The Galway Enterprise Board stand included local company Starlight and a new App “Ireland: Are we there Yet” by local developer Ann Brehony.  The stands allowed children and adults alike to participate in experiments, watch demonstrations and discuss ideas with researchers. Lots more interatactive exhibitions took place from NUI Galway, GMIT, Marine Institute and many more. A lego competition sponsored by Smyth’s Toys Superstore was in huge demand and accommodated over 300 eager technic lego builders while the 5ft tall Buzz Light Year made of Lego was on loan from Smyth’s for the day was a huge hit with hundreds of children. Sue McGrath’s Chemistry Show was seen by 1,000 people, the Mad Scientist entertained and excited young children about science while Robert Hill explained the Outerworld in his own amazing and engaging way. The RCX Mindstorm lego workshop was in huge demand and Magic Mathworks demonstrated a great way of engaging with maths.  Kitchen Chemistry ran shows throughout the day and educated visitors on how to conduct experiments in the kitchen using regular household products while Bubble Magic had the audience screaming with excitement creating huge bubbles and filling them with smoke. One of the major successes of the Exhibition was a total of 18 Primary and Secondary Schools encompassing 350 students exhibiting their own brilliant science and technology projects while many other students took part by participating with the international companies and helped them demonstrate their products. The opportunity for these young people to attend and work at the Exhibition and engage with the public is of enormous experience for them. Festival Chairman, Tom Hyland commented, “Special thanks must go to the Volunteers who helped in running the event so smoothly and allowing families enjoy their day out. The prebooking system of shows worked wonderfully and really helped people plan their day and those without tickets were also accommodated. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our main sponsor Medtronic and all other sponsors and the multi-national companies who have agreed to take part in our Mentoring Program where 11 different companies participating in this initiative will visit schools over the next few months and talk to the students about their subject choices, give practical career advice and share their work experience. I would also like to thank NUI Galway for providing the campus facilities to host this truly wonderful event.” Mr Hyland also presented special awards on behalf of the Festival Committee to Brother Niall of the Patrician Brothers with the 2011 Galway Science & Technology Person of the Year Award for his commitment to the Festival over the 14 years and an award to 12-year old sixth class whizz kid Harry Moran from Westport on becoming the world’s youngest app developer of Pizzabot based on a pizza shooting red sauce at slices of salami which he developed in one month. Visit www.galwayscience.ie to view some of the photos and videos captured during the Festival Exhibition.ends

Monday, 28 November 2011

Come rain or shine, a new website showing the current weather conditions in Galway is now available to the general public. The site uses real-time data collected by a weather station at NUI Galway to show temperature, humidity, pressure, wind, rain and sunshine.   Behind the project is the Informatics Research Unit for Sustainable Energy (IRUSE) at NUI Galway, under the leadership of Dr Marcus Keane. IRUSE focuses on achieving the goal of energy efficient buildings. In order to support ongoing and future research activity, IRUSE installed an automated weather station at NUI Galway.   Information from the weather station now appears in real-time on a website http://weather.nuigalway.ie/ thanks to students of the HDip / MSc in Software Design and Development. Colin Divily from Corofin, Co Galway and Naomi Ono, originally from Japan, implemented the website through a collaboration with the Discipline of Information Technology. They were supported by Johann Ott, Magdalena Hajdukiewicz and other members of the IRUSE group.   Dr Marcus Keane explains: “The website displays the live weather data, as well as 12-hour and monthly trends and provides essential data for the research carried out at the University. With the weather being such a constant topic of conversation for everyone in this country, we thought it only right to share this data with the general public.”   The weather station was installed in June 2010 on the roof of the Concourse building on campus. The data loads to the new website every minute from all of the sensors, except for rainfall which is reported hourly.   As well as for IRUSE’s research, the weather station is also used as part of teaching for the Energy Systems Engineering degree programme at NUI Galway.   -ends-

Thursday, 24 November 2011

BioInnovate Ireland is now seeking Expressions of Interest for its medical device innovation Fellowship programme. This programme is modelled on the prestigious and internationally-recognised Biodesign programme offered at Stanford University, California.  The recruitment of eight Fellows to work in two elite multidisciplinary teams is now underway. These two teams will focus on a specific clinical area, identifying unmet needs, inventing solutions to meet those needs and implementing the solutions, and mapping a route to commercialisation to enable these solutions to enhance patient care. The Fellowship teams will complete an intensive five week training period, commencing in August 2012, before spending two months of clinical immersion working with top surgeons and medical staff in numerous hospitals around Ireland. The Fellowship teams will then focus on inventing and implementing solutions to address specific problems for the remainder of this 10 month programme. According to BioInnovate Ireland Programme Director, Dr Mark Bruzzi from NUI Galway: “The BioInnovate Ireland Programme offers a unique opportunity for individuals to come together to work in teams to develop novel solutions that impact patient care, and gain access to a network of industry, academic and clinical leaders to guide their solutions from concept to commercialisation.” The Fellowship Programme is full-time, stipend supported and the next programme will commence on 1 August, 2012. In addition to the Fellowship Programme, there are two BioInnovate classes open to postgraduate students of the BioInnovate Academic Partners which include NUI Galway, University of Limerick, Dublin City University, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland and University College Cork.  The BioInnovate class will be mentored by, and work with the Fellows on the newly identified clinical needs.  Marie Travers, a current Galway BioInnovate Fellow, said: “The experience so far is exciting. I feel very privileged to have been able to access experts, patients and clinicians as part of the research. I see great potential for identifying innovations for patient care.” The BioInnovate Fellowship teams are multi-disciplinary and eligible applicants should have a background in medicine, engineering, technology or business. Applicants with a postgraduate degree or relevant professional experience are particularly welcome.  Medical and surgical registrars or specialist registrars with an interest in innovation and improving patient care through technological advancements are also encouraged to apply for the Fellowship. Candidates will be assessed for their leadership potential, interest in technology innovation, demonstrated potential for creativity and invention, and ability to work in a team. For an Expression of Interest form or further details contact Clodagh Barry, BioInnovate Programme Manager at NUI Galway, on 091 494212 or clodagh.barry@nuigalway.ie                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -ENDS-

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

For years, doctors have warned that too much salt is bad for your heart. Now a new study co-led by an NUI Galway clinical researcher suggests that both high and low levels of salt intake may put people with heart disease or diabetes at increased risk of cardiovascular complications.   The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that moderate salt intake is associated with the lowest risk of cardiovascular events, whereas higher intake of sodium was associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular events while low intake was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalisation for congestive heart failure.   The research was co-led by Professor Martin O’Donnell, Professor of Translational Medicine, NUI Galway and Dr Salim Yusuf, Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) at McMaster University in Canada and Hamilton Health Sciences. Professor O’Donnell is also Associate Director of the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway and University Hospital Galway.   “This research addresses an important population health issue – the association between sodium (salt) intake and cardiovascular disease,” said NUI Galway’s Professor O’Donnell. “This area has become topical again, with the recent publication of another paper in JAMA reporting an association between low-sodium intake and cardiac death. In general, previous observational studies have either reported a positive association, no association or an inverse association between sodium intake and heart disease and stroke. This has resulted in a lot of controversy. Our study is the first to report a J-shaped association between sodium intake and cardiovascular disease, which may explain why previous studies have found different results.”   Compared with moderate sodium excretion (between 4 to 5.99 grams per day), the researchers found that sodium excretion of greater than 6-7 grams per day was associated with an increased risk of all cardiovascular events, and sodium excretion of less than 3 grams per day was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalisation for congestive heart failure.   The findings call into question current guidelines for salt intake, which recommend less than 2.3 grams (or 2,300 mg) per day. The guidelines are mostly based on previous clinical trials that found blood pressure is lowered modestly when sodium intake is reduced to these levels (which was also found in the present study), but there are no large studies looking at whether such low levels of sodium intake reduce the incidence of heart attacks and stroke. Clarifying the optimal daily intake of sodium is particularly important in patients with established heart disease, as they may be especially vulnerable to the cardiovascular effects of very high- and low-salt intake and are most likely to receive recommendations on restricting sodium in their diets, the authors concluded.   “Our research confirms the association between high sodium intake and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, which emphasizes the importance of salt reduction in those consuming high-sodium diets (over 6-7g per day) and the importance of efforts to reduce sodium content of many high-salt manufactured foods. However, our study, together with other recent studies, raises uncertainty about whether those with moderate/average sodium intake should reduce their intake further. The only way to resolve this uncertainty is with a large randomized controlled trial that determines whether reducing moderate sodium intake to lower levels results in lower rates of heart disease and stroke. While we accept there are challenges to conducting such trials, they are required urgently given their public health implications’ said Professor O’Donnell.   For the observational study, the researchers examined 28,880 people at increased risk of heart disease from the ONTARGET and TRANSCEND trials, which were conducted from 2001-2008. The researchers estimated 24-hour urinary sodium and potassium excretion from a morning fasting urine sample. During follow-up, over 4,500 cardiovascular events occurred making this the most powerful study examining the relationship between sodium excretion (which is a surrogate measure of sodium consumption), as well as potassium excretion and cardiovascular events. Extensive and careful statistical analytic methods were used to determine the association of urinary sodium and potassium with cardiovascular events – heart attack, stroke, hospitalisation for congestive heart failure and death.   In addition to the sodium findings, the researchers found higher urinary potassium excretion was associated with lower stroke risk. They concluded this is a potential intervention that merits further evaluation for stroke prevention.   -ends-

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Global Women's Studies Programme at NUI Galway will host a series of public lectures a part of the international 16 Days campaign against Gender Violence. NUI Galway joins over 3,700 organisations, in over 164 different countries, to pay recognition to the ongoing problem of violence against women. This year, the 16 Days campaign runs from 25 November to 10 December. The campaign provides an opportunity to reflect on violence against women as one of the most pervasive human rights abuses worldwide, and to consider the particular challenges faced in ensuring women's rights in Ireland and abroad. This year's programme links the national to the international with presentations on domestic violence and the recession, the experiences of Refugee and Asylum seeking women in Ireland, the establishment of the Galway Sexual Assault Treatment Unit and the experiences of Iranian women's rights activists. On Tuesday, 29 November, Sheelan Yousefidezah, Women's Right's Activists at Trinity Community Initiative Fund and Secretary of Amnesty Iran group at Amnesty International Ireland, will host a lecture entitled ‘Keeping Iran's Heart Beating - documenting the experiences of Iranian Women's Rights Activists’. The lecture will take place at 12pm in MY129, Áras Moyola. Niamh Bonner, Galway Sexual Assault Treatment Unit, will deliver a lecture on ‘Sexual Assault Treatment Services in Ireland’ on Thursday, 1 December, in MY123 - Seminar Room 1, Áras Moyola at 1pm. This seminar is supported by the NUI Galway Feminist Society. State Violence Against Refugee and Asylum Seeking Women and Community Responses in a local Irish context will be the focus for the third lecture. Delivered by participants from the Galway Refugee Support Group, the lecture will take place on Thursday, 8 December, in CA101 - Lecture Hall 2, Cairnes Building, from 1-2pm. This seminar is also supported by the NUI Galway Feminist Society. The final lecture in this series, ‘Just Another Day - Responding to domestic violence in the Recession’ will take place on Friday, 9 December. Sharon O'Halloran, Director of SAFE Ireland, will deliver the lecture in CA101 - Lecture Hall 2, Cairnes Building, at 1pm. Following this lecture, The European Women's Studies Class will show their photographic exhibition on 'Gender and Poverty in Galway'. All the lectures are open to the public. For more information contact Dr Stacey Scriver in NUI Galway’s School of Political Science and Sociology, at 091 494116 or stacey.scriver@nuigalway.ie. Further information is also available at http://www.facebook.com/pages/16-Days-of-Activism-to-End-Violence-Against-Women-at-NUIG/280584008649176?v=info   -Ends-

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Documents highlighting the secrecy and tension involved in communication and negotiation between the British government and the IRA throughout ‘the Troubles’ were today (Tuesday, 22 November) unveiled in NUI Galway at the launch of the Brendan Duddy Archive on campus.   The selected documents include Brendan Duddy’s hand written records of negotiations during the hunger strike and a letter from the IRA to the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.   Speaking at the launch and on behalf of the Duddy family, Larry Duddy, said: “The family are delighted that the private papers have been donated to NUI Galway. They hope that analysis of these papers will assist current and future generations to understand however complex and how ever long a conflict has gone on with the dedication and commitment shown by Brendan Duddy a resolution can always be found.”   The symposium Negotiating Peace, organised in association with the launch of the private papers of Brendan Duddy, brought together prominent figures from the worlds of academia and diplomacy to explore key questions surrounding the negotiated settlement of violent conflicts, drawing in particular on the experience of negotiation in the Irish peace process.   Symposium speakers inlcuded Seán Ó hUiginn, former senior Irish diplomat who was deeply involved in the Irish government contribution to the peace process; former senior British government official Michael Oatley, a key British official involved in back-channel communication with the Republican leadership over many years; and Professor Paul Arthur, Honorary Associate at the International Conflict Research Centre (INCORE), former Professor of Politics and Director of the Graduate Programme in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Ulster.   Speaking at NUI Galway, Michael Oatley emphasised the need to understand and differentiate between the motivation for differing instances of political violence, and the importance of seeking to establish dialogue. He applauded Brendan Duddy's work as an extraordinary example of what could be achieved by a brave and determined private individual.   The archive holds documents from the three main periods during which Brendan Duddy secretly acted as an intermediary between the British government and the IRA. The first was in the early and mid 1970s when Duddy acted as intermediary during a series of contacts over the release of hostages and the ending of hunger strikes. This contact culminated in the long IRA ceasefire of 1975 during which British government and Provisional Republican representatives held a series of formal meetings in Duddy’s house in Derry. The archive includes his diaries of negotiation in 1975 and 1976 as well as many handwritten and typed messages exchanged between the two sides.   In 1980 and 1981 Duddy acted again as intermediary during the Republican hunger strikes. In July 1981 he began to record these contacts, conducted mainly by telephone, in a red hardbound notebook, the ‘Red book’. The handwritten formal messages that were dictated to Duddy over the phone are interspersed with sparse personal comments and notations indicating how these contacts sometimes stretched through the night and indicating the intensity of the tensions at this negotiating intersection.   Between 1990 and 1993 Duddy was again active at this intersection after a new Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Sir Peter Brooke, made the decision to try to incorporate the Provisionals in a political settlement, an effort continued by his successor Sir Patrick Mayhew. Duddy was called upon again to take up the role of intermediary and his archive includes the messages passed between the two sides as well as his own contemporary ‘narrative’ of the intense contacts of 1993.   Dr Niall Ó Dochartaigh, Lecturer in Politics at NUI Galway explained: “These papers add significantly to our understanding of this crucial interface between the British state and the IRA. The papers show Brendan Duddy’s persistence and determination in pursuing the goal of a peace settlement and an end to the violence over a period of decades.”   Deposited at NUI Galway in 2009, the archive contains over 700 descriptive items of paper and sound archives which have been catalogued by the Library's Special Collections staff and will be available to scholars and bona fide researchers from January 2012.  The archive includes coded diaries of contact as well as messages exchanged between the British Government and the Provisional Republican leadership.   The Duddy papers are directly related to the papers of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, former President of Sinn Féin, which are also held in the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway. Together these archives constitute one of the most important sources for understanding the attempts to resolve conflict in Ireland that culminated in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.   President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “We all remember the horror of so much of the news emanating from Northern Ireland throughout the 1970s, '80s and '90s.  All through that difficult period Brendan Duddy maintained a steadfast conviction that the conflict could only be ended through a negotiated settlement. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for that steadfast commitment to peace.  I would especially like to thank him, on behalf of NUI Galway, for making his Archive available to scholarship, so that others might be inspired and encouraged in the unrelenting work of peace-building, in similar situations internationally."   Research on the papers involves collaboration between NUI Galway’s School of Political Science and Sociology and the University of Ulster’s International Conflict Research Centre (INCORE) and both institutions will collaborate to make a selection of primary documents from the collection freely available online through CAIN (the University of Ulster¹s Conflict Archive on the Internet) and NUI Galway’s library website.   John Cox, Librarian at NUI Galway: "Clearly this is a collection with huge research potential and I can see us welcoming scholars from far and wide to Galway to work on the archive."   The donation will be held in the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway, home to a range of theatre, literary, historical and political archives. Collections include the archives of the Druid and Lyric Players theatres and of Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe; the literary papers of John McGahern and Thomas Kilroy; the Huston Archive and original documents relating to the foundation of the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Northern Ireland 'Troubles'.   ENDS

Monday, 21 November 2011

Over 1,600 students will graduate from across the five colleges at NUI Galway at the University's winter conferring ceremonies, which take place from 23 to 25 November. Liam Ferrie will also be conferred with an honorary Master of Commerce degree.   A native of Scotland, Liam is now living in Menlo, Co. Galway. In 1987 he founded the Irish Emigrant, a weekly online newsletter covering Irish news, and has been working as Editor and writer of the publication since then. He is also Founder of Irish Emigrant Publications, Ireland's longest-established Internet publishing company, producing online publications such as Professional Ireland, BookView Ireland, Arts Ireland and Sports Ireland.   Speaking in advance of the ceremonies, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “NUI Galway is fortunate to be associated with many outstanding honorary graduates throughout its history. Today we are proud to honour Liam Ferrie for his contribution to the Irish diaspora. As founder and publisher of the Irish Emigrant he has fostered a sense of community among the global Irish diaspora, by delivering news from Ireland through his weekly online publication, the Irish Emigrant newsletter.”    In addition, degrees, higher diplomas, Masters and PhDs will be awarded to students graduating over the three days from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences; College of Engineering and Informatics; College of Business, Public Policy and Law; College of Science; and the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies.   -ENDS-

Monday, 21 November 2011

Secondary school students interested in NUI Galway are invited to an information evening in Cork on Thursday, 1 December. Parents and guardians are also particularly welcome to the event which runs from 7 to 9pm in the Silver Spring Moran Hotel in Cork City.   The evening will begin with short talks about NUI Galway and some of the 60 courses it offers. Afterwards, current students and NUI Galway staff will be on hand at information stands to answer any individual questions in relation to courses offered by the University and about practical issues like accommodation, fees and scholarships, and the wide range of support services available to our students.   The ever-increasing popularity of NUI Galway is in part due to a suite of innovative new programmes, developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market, including an Energy Engineering degree and a Maths and Education degree aimed at training Maths teachers.   Visitors to the information evening will also get information on NUI Galway’s newest degree programme, a BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies which is brand new for 2012.   “NUI Galway has a great deal to offer. Our own students tell us our lecturers are inspirational and challenge them to achieve their full potential. The student experience in Galway is second to none, and we want to bring a taste of that to Cork, while also providing all the practical information on accommodation, CAO points, fees, scholarships and courses. With so many courses on offer, this event in Cork is a perfect opportunity to meet current students and our lecturers to see what degree might be the right fit”, says Caroline Loughnane, Director of Marketing and Communications at NUI Galway.   To find out more about the information evening in Cork, contact NUI Celine O’Donovan, Schools Liaison Office at NUI Galway, on 087 239 1219 or celine.odonovan@nuigalway.ie.   -Ends-

Monday, 21 November 2011

The College of Science at NUI Galway recently showcased PhD research in its various disciplines in a ‘Research Horizons’ evening.  Invited speakers from Queen’s University Belfast, Oxford University and University College Dublin gave detailed talks on their work and with students from all Schools in the College of Science presenting their work in a competition that was judged by the three invited speakers.   The winner of the competition was Claire Concannon, a Biochemistry student from Tralee, Co. Kerry, who spoke on ‘The role of the proteasome in triplet repeat DNA expansions’.  Second place was presented toPharmacology and Therapeutics student Sandra O’Brien from Galway City, who spoke on ‘Early life fluoxetine exposure: Behavioural effects in adulthood’. Third place was awarded to Biochemistry student, Lynda O’Leary from Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo, who described her work on ‘An alternative TRAIL to killing cancer’.   The external speakers included: Professor A.P. de Silva, Queen's University Belfast who delivered a talk on ‘2011: A small space odyssey with luminescent molecules’; Professor Alain Goriely, Oxford University, spoke on ‘The mathematical mind of Professor Moriarty: all the mathematics you will not see in the new Sherlock Holmes movie’; and Dr Emma Teeling, University College Dublin, who described ‘What bats can tell us about the evolution of sensory perception in mammals’.   The ‘Research Horizons’ event presented a broad and exciting range of cutting-edge research at NUI Galway and should help inspire other students to consider a career in scientific research.   -ENDS-

Monday, 21 November 2011

Sentencing: Towards a Coherent System by Tom O’Malley, a Senior Lecturer in Law at NUI Galway, has just been published by leading law publishers, Thomson Reuters.   As prison populations in Ireland and elsewhere reach record levels, governments are being forced to rethink many of the policies which held sway in recent decades, especially in regard to the use of mandatory sentences and rigid sentencing guidelines.   This book provides a detailed analysis of the nature of judicial discretion and claims that a just and effective sentencing system can be devised by retaining this discretion provided it is accompanied by various judicial support systems. It includes a survey of measures adopted internationally since the early 1980s to structure judicial sentencing discretion and argues that, in small jurisdictions in particular, a reasonable balance between flexibility and consistency can be achieved without resort to some of the more drastic measures introduced in the United States and elsewhere.   The book also includes a substantial foreword by Chief Justice Susan Denham who, prior to her appointment as Chief Justice, had chaired the Irish Sentencing Information system project (of which Mr O’Malley was a member) and also the committee which recommended the establishment of a permanent Court of Appeal. In her foreword she notes that a permanent court of appeal would be required if some of the recommendations made in this book were to be implemented.   The author, NUI Galway’s Tom O’Malley, said: “This book is not intended as an analysis of existing sentencing law. Instead, it treats sentencing as an important aspect of public policy which carries heavy social and economic costs. In many cases, those costs are justified but we must always strive to develop and refine policies which will make the system as socially productive and cost-effective as possible. Our School of Law is now part of the College of Business, Public Policy and Law, and I hope that this book will enhance our contribution to public policy discourse, nationally and internationally.”   Mr O’Malley is already the author of leading Irish treatises on criminal law, criminal procedure and sentencing law, and he has recently been invited to deliver a postgraduate course on comparative criminology at the University of Leiden Law School in the Netherlands in spring 2012.    -ends-

Monday, 21 November 2011

The 14th annual Galway Science and Technology Festival which is part of National Science Week will run until Sunday, 27 November. The two-week free event has provided shows, demonstrations and activities to 130 primary and secondary schools encompassing 22,000 students and will culminate with a fantastic family day out at the Festival Exhibition on Sunday, 27 November at NUI Galway. The Festival aims to increase the uptake and popularity of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects among young people by taking shows to primary and secondary schools throughoutGalwaycity and county. The free Festival Exhibition on Sunday, 27 November, will be attended by the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and will take place from 10am-6pm at the Bailey Allen Hall, Orbsen and IT Buildings at NUI Galway and other campus venues. There will be hundreds of scientists, engineers and business innovators showcasing their work at 78 interactive stands representing areas including research, education, industry and the environment and visitors will be able to participate in experiments, watch demonstrations and discuss ideas with researchers. Different exhibits will allow the public to learn more about topics such as life-saving medical devices, renewable energy, a Cloud Computing presentation by 6th class students fromBriarhillSchool, IT in the future, Kitchen Chemistry, and much more. NUI Galway’s museums will all be open on the day, and the popular 3D Tour of the Universe makes a welcome return. Visitors can experience 78 exciting interactive exhibition stands from severalGalwaybased science and technology companies. A free Park and Ride service atCorribVillage,Newcastle,Galwaywill be in operation on the day. This year a booking system is in place through www.galwayscience.eventbrite.com to help people plan their day. Festival Chairman, Tom Hyland commented: “The Festival Exhibition has become a calendar highlight for families and educators with over 20,000 visitors to last year’s exhibition. We are very thankful to NUI Galway for providing facilities on campus to host the 78 interactive exhibitions this year. The Board of Galway Science and Technology Festival would also like to express their gratitude to main sponsor Medtronic and to all of the other sponsors including The Galway Enterprise Board, Discover Science & Engineering and Boston Scientific – Avaya, SAP, GMIT, Cisco, IDA Ireland, HP, Covidien, Merit Medical,LakeRegion,EnterpriseIreland, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Marine Institute and Transitions Optical. All of these companies in their own way help bring excitement and fun to science and technology for children and families across the city and county.” Last week students enjoyed school shows like the K’NEX Roadshow which fosters an interest in science and robotics, an explosive Dr Thompson’s Laboratory and the Mad Science Air Blast Show. This week schools can look forward to shows like Magic Mathworks, Sue McGrath’s Chemistry Show, Cosmic Explorer’s with Robert Hill, Blackrock Castle Observatory’s StarDome and Mr Bug with Matt Lewis. Gerard Kilcommins, VP Global Operations & General Manager Medtronic commented: “In 2001, Medtronic became the main sponsor of the Galway Science and Technology Festival and, while we had no doubt in our minds about the importance of the initiative locally, we could not have imagined it would develop into such a successful event and highlight in the calendars of the educational and science communities. Now, more than ever, harnessing the power of science and technology, and engaging our younger generation in this area so that we can produce high-calibre scientists and engineers in the future, is pivotal toIreland's economic destiny.” NUI Galway is running many interesting shows and events to stimulate the mind including Computer Game Programming with Kinect, an invitation to Senior Cycle Physics Students to the newEngineeringBuildingand a talk for students, parents and teachers on Cyberbullying.  The Zoology andGeologyMuseumwill be open for tours along withIreland’s onlyComputer & CommunicationsMuseum.  President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, commented: “For many years, Galway Science and Technology Festival has generated real excitement for young people about the wonders of science and technology. As a University, NUI Galway shares this belief in the importance of making science and technology attractive to the next generation. Why? Because never before has Irish industry and society depended so much on bright, talented graduates to buildIreland's capacity in technology, research and innovation.  We are delighted to work closely with the Festival as it gives us in the University a chance to open our doors, so that we can share the boundless possibilities and the sheer fun of science!” GMIT will host tours of all facilities including science, technology and engineering laboratories. There are also various interesting workshops for students including Modern Medicines, The Chemistry of Smoking Addiction and NicotinePatches and a Forensic Investigation. This year a Mentoring Program by local engineers is available to senior cycle students looking for career advice. Galway Senior Hurler and Enginner at Medtronic, Damien Joyce is one such mentor. Engineers from over 11 different companies participating in this initiative will visit schools and talk to the students about their subject choices, give practical career advice and share their work experience. To book shows visit galwayscience.events@gmail.com. The 2011 Programme of events and School Booking Forms are available at www.galwayscience.ie   -ends-

Friday, 18 November 2011

The Centre for Irish Studies at NUI Galway is delighted to announce the appointment of Róisín Ní Mhainín, a native of Rosmuc, as Sean-nós Dancer in Residence for 2012.  Recognised as one of the first generation of female sean-nós dancers to gain widespread popularity, Róisín has developed a distinctive style of dancing and is acknowledged by her peers as a leading exponent of sean-nós dance in the new millennium.  Her success at An tOireachtas further demonstrates her leading role among sean-nós dancers and within the wider traditional arts community.  Róisín has performed extensively in stage productions such as ‘Between the Jigs and the Reels’ and ‘The Well’ in Vicar St and further afield at the Milwaukee Festival.  At the reception to mark her appointment, Róisín captivated family, friends and admirers with her performance. Treasa Ní Mhiolláin, the outgoing Sean-nós Singer in Residence for 2011 described the first time that she saw Róisín perform as a skilful young dancer, and was particularly pleased to pass on the artist in residency baton to Róisín for 2012.  In announcing her appointment, Professor Gearóid Denvir observed that Róisín drew from the wellspring of traditional culture in Connemara through her steps and her appointment as Sean-nós Dancer in Residence emphasises the University’s commitment to, and recognition of, the value of that tradition. As part of her residency, Róisín will participate in a series of performances throughout the year and also importantly, will give a series of sean-nós dance workshops at NUI Galway. The workshops will be open to the public and commence in January 2012. In addition to the Centre for Irish Studies, this scheme is supported by Ealaín na Gaeltachta, Údarás na Gaeltachta and An Chomhairle Ealaíon. ENDS

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Wellcome Trust, the largest independent charity in the United Kingdom, has announced that it will support the Debating Science Issues (DSI) project for a fifth consecutive year.  Co-ordinated by Danielle Nicholson, Outreach Officer with REMEDI at NUI Galway, this All-Ireland competition encourages young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. Schools taking part initially receive a three-hour biomedical, bioethical workshop to facilitate discussion on the ethical issues raised by stem cell research, genetically modified food, nanotechnology, health and self-testing kits or flu vaccinations. School students then carry out research further in preparation for the debate. DSI is a cross border schools science debating competition involving nine collaborating partners:  the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway; W5 in Belfast; Biomedical Diagnostics Institute at DCU; Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland; CRANN at TCD; CLARITY at UCD; the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh; Cork Institute of Technology; and Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at UCC.  Commenting on the announcement, NUI Galway’s Danielle Nicholson said: “Next year 48 schools will be involved and organisers will create a new topic surrounding the funding allocation made to develop treatments and research rare diseases.  A new dedicated DSI website is also being developed.” Boston Scientific, Abbott Ireland, Merck-Millipore and Pfizer Ireland are sponsors of the provincial trophies and prizes.    -ENDS-

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

From 24-26 of November, NUI Galway’s Dramsoc are performing Tom Murphy's The Morning After Optimism in the Druid Lane Theatre. The performance is being facilitated as part of the NUI Galway partnership with Druid Theatre Co. Three of four members of the cast are currently studying on the BA CONNECT Theatre & Performance programme at NUI Galway, while the production team includes engineering, maths, creative writing and Irish language students. Darren Coppinger, an engineering PhD student in NUI Galway, directs the production. He says: “The producer and I discovered this play about two years ago, in the Abbey Theatre bookshop. It jumped out at me immediately and I wanted to put it on. The play had its first run last year, in the Bank of Ireland Theatre, NUI Galway. Thereafter, we felt the play had a huge amount to offer and we are lucky enough to be able to stage it in Druid – home of Tom Murphy - for a second run this year.” He continues, “It’s a play about James and Rosie – the pimp and the whore. In the course of the play, they discover their better selves, as well as idealized lovers in Edmund and Anastasia, a prince and a maiden. It’s a play of opposites: on one side you have the sinners and on the other, the saints. Murphy places them in a surreal forest, as a means of exploring these contrasts and assessing whether they can survive in the one space. In the play, James, the pimp talks about his indoctrination in the form and the language of fairytale. To me, the play is a dialogue about false hopes. It looks at the demise of our childhood illusions, which tend to inhibit us from dealing with harsh reality. The work has universal appeal and although first performed in 1971, it feels contemporary. The concept of fairytales of the past clashing with the cold reality of modernity corresponds, I think to conflicting feelings about where we are as a society. Like James and Rosie, we are asked to confront our illusions and decide where we want to go next.” The play is heavily influenced by on the music of Berlioz (Symphonie Fantastique). It deploys dashes of colour, unusual props, expressive gesture and movement to create its own unique world. Unlike most of Murphy’s works, The Morning After Optimism uses little Irish dialect. He concocts a new vernacular of storybook clichés, rediscovered vocabulary, proverbs, manic imagery and phrases from songs. Thomas Kilroy wrote of it that it ‘exists between the rabid, spilling language of the streets and the language of fairytale. Great lunatic monologues in which these two realities clash and mix and outrage one another’. This production is the second occasion on which NUI Galway Dramsoc has performed in Druid Lane Theatre. Last year, the society hosted the Irish Student Drama Association (ISDA) Festival, and used the theatre as one of its main venues. The Festival itself went on to win the prestigious title of ‘Event of the Year’ in NUI Galway, winning Dramsoc the title of ‘Society of the Year’ at the NUI Galway Society Awards. Darren continues: “The University and Druid formalized their relationship by means of an academic partnership last year. This production, we hope will be the first of many Dramsoc plays to be performed in this iconic theatre. The society is one of the largest on campus, and produces more than 25 productions annually. It is great to see Druid supporting Dramsoc and NUI Galway – already, students are benefitting from the relationship and long may it continue.” The NUI Galway Dramsoc’s production of the play, The Morning After Optimism, by Tom Murphy runs in Druid Lane Theatre from November 24-26. Shows start at 8pm, and tickets are €5/€8, from the Socs Box in Áras na Mac Léinn. Reservations can also be made by emailing themorningafteroptimismnuig@gmail.com or phoning 086 1632868.   -ends-

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Many common infections that were once a scourge, such as typhoid and cholera, have been almost forgotten in Europe.  This is largely because of improved water supply and sanitation but also because we have had safe antibiotic treatments that work to treat serious infections for the last 50 years. A lot of this progress is at risk now because bacteria that can resist antibiotic treatment are becoming more common, according to Martin Cormican, Professor of Bacteriology at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine. Friday, 18 November, is European Antibiotic Awareness Day. It is a reminder of how much the discovery of antibiotics has helped us all to live longer and healthier lives, but also of how much is at stake if we do not act to save antibiotics.  According to Professor Cormican: “As bacteria become resistant to all the older antibiotics, we know that drug companies are finding very few new antibiotics. If we do not have antibiotics that work, certain types of surgery and cancer treatments will become almost impossible do safely because the risk of infection in patients will be too great.”   NUI Galway scientists and doctors in the School of Medicine are working with others in Ireland and Europe to track the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria in Ireland and on finding better ways to cut down on overuse of antibiotics. “Our work at NUI Galway shows that bacteria can change their genes and even swap genes with other bacteria very quickly. Some genes can give bacteria the power to smash the antibiotics into pieces before they have a chance to work. The more often we use antibiotics, the better the chance that a bacteria with a gene that breaks down the antibiotic will develop and spread. Every time drug companies manufacture a new antibiotic we see the same thing happen within months or years. Right now we are working with people around the country to track the latest big antibiotic-resistant problem which is called CPE. These CPE bacteria have now been found in seven different labs in Ireland – there are many different kinds of CPE and many of these bacteria are resistant to almost all of the antibiotics that we have to treat infection.” For Professor Cormican, there are some very simple things that can be done to slow down the advance of resistant bacteria. “We need to use less antibiotics, and we can do this safely if we all stop using antibiotics when there is no need for them. Antibiotics are prescribed by a doctor and so part of our research with the Discipline of General Practice and funded by the Health Research Board is to look at ways to help doctors use antibiotics in better ways.” He also points out that many people still think that they should get antibiotics from the doctors for colds, coughs and sore throats and other minor infections. Many minor infections do not need antibiotics and many are caused by a virus and antibiotics do not help even a little bit for infection with virus. However, it is also important to know that taking antibiotics you don’t need, will kill your good bacteria and can cause diarrhoea and thrush. “So keep your good bacteria safe by taking antibiotics only when you really need them,” says Professor Cormican. The Environmental Protection Agency has also supported the work at NUI Galway, which found that some antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria escape from places including hospitals into the environment. “We do not know yet how much this adds to our problems but there is reason to believe it could make things worse”, explains Professor Cormican. “We also need to be careful if we have left-over antibiotics. Do not pour them down the sink or the toilet, do not put them in the bin as they might eventually get back into rivers, lakes and drinking water. We can only dispose of them safely by taking them back to the pharmacy.” Professor Cormican concluded: “If we all work together on this we can help to keep antibiotics that work for our children and grandchildren.” -ends-

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Dr Michael Keeney, a PhD graduate of NUI Galway, has been awarded the prestigious European Doctoral Award for his PhD studies. The award is made annually by the European Society for Biomaterials and confers added value to the Doctoral Degree already gained by Dr Keeney, who is originally from Donegal Town.  The award is complementary to the PhD degree, and recognises the European or international dimension of work, acting as a proof of quality.  The award also acknowledges the PhD supervisor, in Michael’s case, Professor Abhay Pandit of the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB), NUI Galway, proving the integration of their research at an international level. This is the first European Doctoral Award in the field of Biomaterials won by an Irish student or University. Michael completed his Doctoral Degree at NUI Galway having graduated in 2010. His research, funded by IRCSET and SFI, was undertaken at the NFB and involved tissue regeneration of bone defects; the thesis was entitled “Design and Functionalisation of Collagen/Calcium Phosphate Scaffolds for Non-Viral Gene Delivery in Bone Tissue Engineering”. In order to qualify for the award, Michael spent time at the Jansen Laboratory, at Radboud University in the Netherlands, where he performed in-vivo studies on bone formation, a placement that was supported by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. After a brief period working as a research assistant at NUI Galway, Michael was offered a postdoctoral research fellowship at Stanford University in the United States.  At Stanford, Michael currently works on tissue engineering and drug delivery in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Speaking about his receipt of this award, Michael said: “It is an honour to receive such a prestigious award from the European Society of Biomaterials and it is a credit to all the hard work being performed at the NFB.” -ends-

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

An information evening for prospective mature students will take place at NUI Galway on Thursday, 24 November. The event will take place from 7 to 9pm in the Colm O’hEocha Theatre, Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway. The information evening is designed for people aged 23 and over who are considering embarking on full-time undergraduate degree programmes in NUI Galway in the 2012/2013 academic year. Information will be provided at this session on the programmes available to mature students across each of the University’s five Colleges: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies; College of Business, Public Policy and Law; College of Science; College of Engineering and Informatics; and College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies. Sessions will also cover topics such as entry requirements, application and selection procedures, financial queries and other support systems available within NUI Galway.  NUI Galway’s Mature Students Officer, Trish Hoare, said: “NUI Galway is very proud of our mature students and all of their accomplishments. We value their experience and dedication to their studies.” Applications for third-level are done mostly through the CAO, which has a deadline of the 1 February, 2012.  To qualify as a mature student you must be 23, or over, on or before 1 January, 2012. Mature applicants for programmes in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies degrees at NUI Galway are also required to register prior to 1 February, 2012, for the Mature Students Admissions Pathway (MSAP) exam which takes place on Saturday, 18 February, 2012. For more information on the information evening contact Trish Hoare at 091 492695 or email maturestudents@nuigalway.ie.  A Mature Students Guidebook is also available with further information at www.nuigalway.ie/mature.   -ENDS-

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Dr Zoë Popper, a lecturer in Botany and Plant Science at NUI Galway, is the national organiser for the first ever European Fascination of Plants Day which will be held on 18 May, 2012. Plants, by accumulating sunlight into sugars, are the primary producers of biomass providing animals and mankind with food and feed. Having the ability to directly synthesise their own food has enabled plants to successfully colonise, adapt to, and diversify within almost every niche on the planet and biologists estimate the total number of plant species to be about 250,000. Launched under the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO - www.epsoweb.org),Brussels, a special day for plants shall take place on 18 May, 2012. This coordinated activity will plant virtual and constantly germinating seeds in the collective mind of the European and World Public recalling that plant science is of critical significance to the social, environmental and economic landscape now and into the future. The ‘Fascination of Plants Day’ has been already adopted by more than 25 countries worldwide and the number is growing. All information about this initiative can be accessed via www.plantday12.eu and is supported by a network of national coordinators who volunteer their time to promote and disseminate the activity within their countries. More than 60 scientific institutions, universities, botanical gardens, and museums, together with farmers and companies, have already announced that they will open their doors, with a variety of plant-based events for all interested people from toddlers to grandparents. Anyone who would like to contribute to the Fascination of Plants Day is welcome to join in. For more information regarding events at a Global, European and national level please visit the website www.plantday12.eu.     -ends-

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The next talk in the NUI Galway public talk series on ‘Sports Technology’ will take place on Tuesday, 22 November, at 6pm. The talk is entitled ‘Competitive Cycling – Pushing the Boundaries of Engineering’. Cycling is a sport which pushes not only athletes but also engineers to the limit. From accommodating increasingly complex, lightweight yet strong gearing systems to the development of new battery technology to enable electronic gear shifters; from leading developments in human power measurement and engineering smart responsive clothing materials, to developing methods for monitoring human performance in real-time and with wireless data transfer. The talk will be delivered by Dr Eoghan Clifford, a lecturer in Civil Engineering at NUI Galway. His main areas of research are sustainable technology development in environmental engineering, water and wastewater treatment, sustainable transport and sustainability in the built environment. According to Dr Clifford: “When describing new and exciting developments in engineering, the term ‘Space Age Engineering’ is often used. However, it can be argued that in some ways Space Age Engineering takes its lead from engineering in bicycling. The modern professional cyclist rides a carbon fibre bicycle frame often weighing less than 1kg, attached to a pair of wheels weighing as little as 1.3kg. These aerodynamic, lightweight frames and wheels slip through the air, minimising resistance, yet are capable of supporting cyclists weighing up to 90kg travelling at 60kph over cobblestones. Meanwhile, helmets weighing 200g can save a cyclists life, be aerodynamic and also allow adequate air flow for cooling.” In addition to his academic career and achievements, Dr Clifford has a distinguished record in competitive cycling and for a number of years has been racing as an A1 level cyclist, (the top category in Ireland when not a full time professional). His first competitive cycling results came with a second placing in the intervarsity’s road race in 2001 and since then he has competed extensively in Ireland and internationally. He has successfully competed in most of the major stage and one day races in Ireland. He was Connacht Road Race Champion in 2008 and 2009 and has competed in countries including France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Norway.   The series of Sports Technology talks are organised by Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin, Course Director of NUI Galway’s degree programme in Sports & Exercise Engineering. This degree programme enables students with the skills and expertise to design innovative sports systems and devices. This talk will take place in ENG-2003 in the Engineering Building at NUI Galway and is open to the public. For more information on the Sports Technology talks, which are supported by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, visit www.ExerciseEngineering.com or call 091 492728.   -ENDS-

Monday, 14 November 2011

Secondary school students interested in NUI Galway are invited to an information evening in Donegal on Thursday, 24 November. Parents and guardians are also particularly welcome to the event which runs from 7 to 9pm in the Radisson Hotel, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. The evening will begin with short talks about NUI Galway and some of the 60 courses it offers. Afterwards, current students and NUI Galway staff will be on hand at information stands to answer any individual questions in relation to courses offered by the University and about practical issues like accommodation, fees and scholarships, and the wide range of support services available to our students. The ever-increasing popularity of NUI Galway is in part due to a suite of innovative new programmes, developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market, including an Energy Engineering degree and a Maths and Education degree aimed at training Maths teachers. Visitors to the information evening will also get information on NUI Galway’s newest degree programme, a BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies which is brand new for 2012. “NUI Galway has a great deal to offer. Our own students tell us our lecturers are inspirational and challenge them to achieve their full potential. The student experience in Galway is second to none, and we want to bring a taste of that to Donegal, while also providing all the practical information on accommodation, CAO points, fees, scholarships and courses. With so many courses on offer, this event in Letterkenny is a perfect opportunity to meet current students and our lecturers to see what degree might be the right fit”, says Caroline Loughnane, Director of Marketing and Communications at NUI Galway. To find out more about the information evening in Donegal, contact Gráinne Dunne, Schools Liaison Office at NUI Galway, on 087 2440858 or grainne.dunne@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Monday, 14 November 2011

NUI Galway Lecturer in English and Vice-Dean (Learning and Assessment), Dr Frances McCormack, was among give third-level teachers recognised as exemplifying excellence in teaching at the annual National Academy for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (NAIRTL) awards ceremony in Dublin recently. At a time when Higher Education Institutions are being challenged to achieve ever higher standards, the National Awards for Excellence in Teaching symbolise the outstanding quality of teaching which many Irish students already experience. In particular, these awards value and celebrate successful efforts at integrating research, teaching and learning. The five winners represent disciplines as diverse as anatomy, Education, English and Law and were nominated by senior staff in their institution to go forward for the highly competitive award. Minister Ruairí Quinn presented the awards at this prestigious ceremony and noted that the awardees were “Teachers who never cease in their own learning, cultivating the potential in their students, making each and every student feel recognised and valued.” John Hennessy, Chairman of the HEA, stressed the benefit of a national awards scheme stating that “The award recipients bear testimony to the quality of imagination and commitment that characterises the Higher Education community.” The NAIRTL Awards recognise higher education teachers who demonstrate outstanding dedication to their teaching and have made an exceptional impact on student learning and the five winners are: Dr Frances McCormack, Lecturer and Vice-Dean (Learning and Assessment), NUI Galway. Dr Thomas Farrell, Anatomy Department, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Dr Kathleen Horgan, Lecturer and Coordinator of Microteaching, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick Dr Marion Palmer, Head of Department of Learning Sciences, Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology Jennifer Schweppe, School of Law, University of Limerick Regardless of disciplinary background, these teachers show a common purpose and mastery of teaching. This award ceremony recognises their subject based expertise as well as their passion and interest in cultivating the potential in their students. NAIRTL was established in 2007, and its vision is one where research and teaching go hand in hand. This is the fourth year of the Awards for Excellence in Teaching and the award winners were chosen from thirty-six detailed submissions from seventeen different HEIs across Ireland. They will each receive a €5,000 award which can be used to support their teaching and research activities.    -Ends

Monday, 14 November 2011

Irish cinema has enjoyed unprecedented commercial and critical success over the past ten years, including Oscar nominated and winning films and box office hits internationally. A new book, Contemporary Irish Film: New Perspectives on a National Cinema, co-edited by Seán Crosson of the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway with Werner Huber of the University of Austria, brings together scholars from Ireland and abroad to provide insiders’ as well as outsiders’ perspectives on the situation of Irish film in a period of a socio-economic sea change: the years of the so-called Celtic Tiger.   According to Seán Crosson: “The unprecedented economic growth and immigration that Ireland experienced between 1995 and 2007 did not only challenge national but also ethnic, social and gender identities. The contributions to this volume explore how films tackle these challenges and help to make sense of Ireland’s altered position in a globalised world.”   Included in the collection are contributions from leading and emerging researchers of Irish film, including: Ruth Barton, TCD; Tony Tracy, Huston School of Film & Digital Media; NUI Galway, Díóg O’Connell, Institute of Art, Design, Technology, Dun Laoghaire; and Eduardo Barros Grela University A Coruña, Galicia, Spain. The book is completed by an interview with award-winning director Lenny Abrahamson, and his collaborator, screenwriter and actor Mark O’Halloran.   Among the films discussed in the publication are some of the most successful Irish films of recent years, from Oscar winning and box office success Once (2006), to critically acclaimed works such as Adam & Paul (2004), Garage (2007), and The Secret of Kells (2009). The volume also includes a consideration of the work of Oscar-winning director and writer Neil Jordan.   Contemporary Irish Film: New Perspectives on a National Cinema will be launched by Lenny Abrahamson and Mark O’Halloran on Thursday, 24 November at 5pm in the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway, and all are welcome.   ENDS

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Launch of the Brendan Duddy Collection and Symposium on ‘Negotiating Peace’ During three extended periods between 1973 and 1993 the British government was involved in intensive secret contact with the IRA leadership through the same intermediary, Brendan Duddy, a businessman from Derry. During the first period Duddy’s home was the venue for a series of secret meetings in 1975 between the IRA leadership and senior British officials. During the second period, in 1980-81, Duddy was at the centre of intricate negotiations aimed at resolving the hunger strikes, and between 1990 and 1993 he was intensely active in contacts between the British government and the IRA. The launch of the Brendan Duddy Archive will take place on Tuesday, 22 November at NUI Galway following a half-day symposium Negotiating Peace.   Deposited at NUI Galway in 2009, the papers of Brendan Duddy provide a unique insight into the resolution of the ‘Troubles’. The archive includes coded diaries of contact as well as messages exchanged between the British Government and the Provisional Republican leadership.   The Duddy papers are directly related to the papers of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, former President of Sinn Féin, which are also held in the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway. Together these archives constitute one of the most important sources for understanding the attempts to resolve conflict in Ireland that culminated in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.   Speaking about the Brendan Duddy Collection, Dr Niall Ó Dochartaigh, Lecturer in Politics at NUI Galway, said: “The papers of Brendan Duddy provide a unique insight into the resolution of the 'Troubles'. At a time when there is intense public debate on the value of negotiation with armed opponents in situations such as Afghanistan and Israel/Palestine, the Duddy papers provide a rare insight into the dynamics of back-channel negotiation that can help us to understand the role of secret negotiation in efforts to resolve conflict in other situations.”   The archive also includes several hours of filmed footage of interviews with Brendan Duddy by Dr Niall Ó Dochartaigh. The interviews cover the key historical events in which Brendan Duddy was involved. A series of articles published recently by Dr Ó Dochartaigh analyse the character of this secret communication and illustrate how the Duddy papers shed new light on key events in the Northern Ireland conflict and the peace process. They include articles recently published or shortly to be published in international academic journals including the Journal of Peace Research, International Journal of Conflict Management and Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict as well as the Field Day Review of Irish Studies.   Dr Ó Dochartaigh added: “The papers illustrate the extraordinary pressures operating at this pivotal intersection between the British Government and the Provisional Republican leadership. They show the remarkable persistence and consistency of Brendan Duddy’s conviction that the conflict could only be ended through a negotiated settlement that included the Provisionals. From the early 1970s Brendan Duddy worked determinedly and in complete secrecy to try to draw the two sides closer together, a lifetime’s work that eventually came to fruition in the negotiated settlement of the late 1990s.”   The symposium Negotiating Peace, organised in association with the launch of the private papers of Brendan Duddy, brings together prominent figures from the worlds of academia, diplomacy and the media to explore key questions surrounding the negotiated settlement of violent conflicts, drawing in particular on the experience of negotiation in the Irish peace process.   Speaking at the symposium will be BBC investigative reporter Peter Taylor, one of the most experienced and respected journalists to have reported on Northern Ireland; Seán Ó hUiginn, a former senior Irish diplomat who was deeply involved in the Irish government contribution to the peace process; former senior British government official Michael Oatley, a central figure involved in attempts to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the Northern Ireland conflict; and Professor Paul Arthur, Honorary Associate at the International Conflict Research Centre (INCORE), former Professor of Politics and Director of the Graduate Programme in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Ulster.   Research on the papers involves collaboration between NUI Galway’s School of Political Science and Sociology and the University of Ulster’s International Conflict Research Centre (INCORE) and both institutions will collaborate to make a selection of primary documents from the collection freely available online through CAIN (the University of Ulster’s Conflict Archive on the Internet) and NUI Galway’s library website.   John Cox, University Librarian at NUI Galway, commented: “The deposit of the papers at NUI Galway is thanks to the generosity and kindness of Brendan Duddy and his family who placed a great deal of trust in the University and its archive services to take care of the papers. This is a very significant addition to our archival collections and we are delighted to make it available to researchers following a detailed process to organise and list the collection. We will ensure the safe keeping of Brendan Duddy’s papers for future generations of scholars and researchers.”   The donation will be held in the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway, home to a range of theatre, literary, historical and political archives. Collections include the archives of the Druid and Lyric Players theatres and of Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe; the literary papers of John McGahern and Thomas Kilroy; the Huston Archive and original documents relating to the foundation of the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Northern Ireland 'Troubles'.   To register for the symposium see www.conference.ie     ENDS

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

RTÉ Broadcaster Sean O’Rourke and NUI Galway have joined forces for a new University initiative to re-establish contact with its graduates.  The University is using a novel combination of web video and text messaging to reach out to its alumni and highlight the benefits of keeping in touch.  O’Rourke has recorded a short web video appeal which will feature on www.nuigalway.ie/alumni-friends/get-in-touch explaining how easy it is to get back in touch with the University, and asking those who see it to pass on the message.  Graduates, he explains, are simply being asked to text the word GRAD, followed by a space, and the year of their graduation, to 51000.  “The Alumni office in NUI Galway”, says O’Rourke, “will then get in touch and re-establish contact.” A native of Portlaoise who grew up in Galway, Seán completed a BA in English, History and Legal Science at NUI Galway, graduating in 1977. 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. 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. He was Radio Journalist of the Year in 1997 and won PPI Awards for News Broadcaster of the year in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Seán was also conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) earlier this year by NUI Galway. O’Rourke himself believes maintaining contact with the college is worthwhile, “I am involved with the Dublin branch of the NUI Galway Alumni” he said, “and it is a terrific way to stay connected.  We have different events, talks, evenings at the theatre, concerts, and we would simply like as many people as possible to enjoy the wonderful sense of connection and camaraderie that involvement with the Alumni association brings.”  O’Rourke explained that there are Alumni branches around the country as well as abroad and that graduates of all ages are made welcome. He added that those who spread the word would be entered into a draw the win the latest iPad on offer or a weekend away at the g Hotel.   ENDS