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

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Only two tattered copies remain of the original Zoology Museum catalogue, published in 1911 by UCG, now known as NUI Galway. One hundred years later, Éamon de Buitléar has officially launched a completely new version of the booklet at a special ceremony on campus.   The Zoology and Marine Biology Museum is housed in the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, and currently has over 500 specimens on display from a broad range of animal groups. Specimens include native animals as well as more exotic creatures, including stuffed monkeys, koalas, kiwis and the intriguing kangaroo rat.   The museum’s origins go back to the formation of the University in 1849, with many of the specimens coming from the Zoological Society of London. By 1899 it was among the best working museums of its kind to be found in any university of the time. The previous information booklet, called ‘A Catalogue of the Specimens’ was produced by Professor R. J. Anderson in 1911.   Speaking at the special ceremony on campus this week, the well-known wildlife filmmaker, Éamon de Buitléar, said: “To see this fine museum and launch this booklet is an absolute pleasure.  For many of us, the way we lead our lives today means we are getting further and further away from nature. This museum is a valuable resource and portal into our past, and an introduction into the wonders of nature.” One of the highlights of the museum is its possession of four genuine Charles Darwin specimens that were purchased from the Zoological Society of London. These consist of three mammal specimens: a grison, a cavy and an Azara’s fox; and one bird specimen, a guira cuckoo. All four specimens are native South American species and were collected on Charles Darwin’s trip aboard HMS Beagle from 1831-1836. Another special collection housed in the museum consists of over 100 ‘Blaschka models’. The father-and-son team of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka produced beautiful, intricate glass representations of marine animals, originally developed as educational models. They are now considered to be works of art, with a value that makes them irreplaceable. “Our museum is a time capsule taking us back to the days of Darwin and other great adventurers who travelled the world collecting exotic species” said Wallace Arthur, Professor of Zoology. “This museum is part of the University, but also belongs very much to Galway and the public. We welcome visitors and encourage them to spend as much time as they wish studying the specimens in whatever way is appropriate for their needs – very different needs for different groups, for example biologists, artists and laypeople.” Free and open to the public daily, the museum attracts large numbers of visitors, ranging from the general public to school parties to visiting researchers and academics.   The museum collection is used extensively in practical classes for Zoology students. The material allows the students to examine characteristic features of species and broader taxonomic groupings at first hand.   -ends-

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Highest international standards for business and management education    NUI Galway has been awarded EPAS* accreditation for its Business and Information Systems Programme. Awarded by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), this accreditation confirms that the BSc in Business Information Systems (BIS) meets the highest international standards for business and management education.  Achieving the accreditation is a major feat for the course, being only one of eight European undergraduate programmes to receive the five-year award.   Speaking at the formal launch of the EPAS accreditation in the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, President of the NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “This is a tremendous endorsement of the activities of our Business School.  As one of only eight European universities to receive this quality mark, we in NUI Galway are proud of this acknowledgement of the quality of our business education programmes, and in particular the BIS degree programme.”   Business Information Systems is a four-year undergraduate degree that explores the use of technology in the modern business environment.  Incorporating skills development in technology, business and technology management through individual, team and virtual team project work combined with global learning and industry engagement initiatives.  Martin Hughes, Programme Director of the BSc BIS highlighted: “The BSc. BIS degree provides students with the ideal platform for a successful career in business - over 70% of the 2011 class were in career employment by graduation.”   Dr Chris Coughlan, Head of Cloud Computing Innovation Centre, Hewlett-Packard Galway, in welcoming the five-year accreditation, said: “The input of industry into the development and design of the programme has really paid off and the interaction between local and national employers and the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics was particularly well received by the international peer review team. The practical effect of this interaction with industry and business is that it ensures that BIS at NUIG is ahead of the curve not only meeting their current needs but anticipating their future needs.”   NUI Galway staff, students and various industry figures attended the EPAS launch, recognising that the award signifies the quality of BIS programme graduates and their career progression globally.  The accreditation now recognises and reinforces, on an international stage, the strength of the programme and the esteem with which it is held in industry.   ENDS

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The School of Law in association with the Employment Law Association of Ireland will host the inaugural conference for the new LLM in International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy, entitled ‘Employment Law and Mental Health’, on Saturday, 12 November.    The conference, organised by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy and the Clinical Legal Education programme in conjunction with the Employment Lawyers Association of Ireland will address the issue of Employment Law and Mental Health in Ireland while also addressing the topic from a legal and medical perspective.    Shivaun Quinlivan, Director of the LLM in International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy, says: “This interdisciplinary approach will assist each discipline in gaining a broader understanding of the important issues that need to be addressed, which is indicative of the holistic philosophy at the core of this new LLM programme.”   The conference is aimed at legal practitioners, medical practitioners, academics, researchers, NGO’s and those involved in mental health and disability issues.    Mental Health can cover numerous issues from work related stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, or mental health problems including, for example, depression.  Employers have legal obligations and requirements in respect of these employees, and it is important to understand the various issues, both legal and medical that arise in this context.   The conference will be chaired by Dr Mary Keys of the School of Law, NUI Galway, who is the public representative on the Mental Health Commission. The conference will bring together nationally renowned experts in their respective fields, including Marguerite Bolger Senior Counsel, and Dr Ann Jeffers Consultant psychiatrist.     The conference will take place in MY243 Theatre, Áras Moyola, NUI Galway and will commence at 10am. There will be Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points available to those who are eligible and a Certificate of Attendance will be provided after the Conference.   For further information, including the conference programme, registration and a list of speakers, see www.nuigalway.ie/cdlp/events.html.   ENDS  

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Secondary school students interested in NUI Galway are invited to an information evening in Tipperary on Thursday, 17 November. Parents and guardians are also particularly welcome to the event which runs from 7 to 9pm in the Anner Hotel, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. 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 Tipperary, while also providing all the practical information on accommodation, CAO points, fees, scholarships and courses. With so many courses on offer, this event in Thurles 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 Tipperary, contact NUI Galway's Schools Liaison Office, Siobhán Dorman, Schools Liaison Office on 086 042 1591 or siobhan.dorman@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

NUI Galway Applied Mathematics student, Fionnuala Connolly, was recently awarded a 2011 Hamilton Award in Mathematics by the Royal Irish Academy (RIA). Awards were presented to students of Mathematics in nine of the higher education institutions in Ireland. Fionnuala from Knocknackarra, Galway, is currently in her final year of study for the Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics and was assessed along with all third-year students in all mathematical degrees taught in NUI Galway. She was judged to be the most outstanding candidate, based on her examination results in her mathematics courses. Congratulating Fionnuala on the award, Professor Michel Destrade, Head of Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted that Fionnuala won the Award this year. It was well deserved because she was indeed an exceptional student, not only in Applied Maths but also in Pure Maths. We were also impressed that seven of the nine Hamilton awardees were female students. This reflects well on studies which show that in general girls perform better than boys in secondary school Maths, although only a minority of them choose to pursue a Degree in Mathematics, Physics, or Engineering.” The recipients of the Hamilton Award in Mathematics received a scroll presented by Fields Medallist Professor Howard Witten from the Princeton Institute of Advanced Studies, who then delivered the 2011 Hamilton Lecture. The announcement of the awards formed part of Hamilton Day activities at the RIA which celebrate Hamilton's life and contribution to mathematics, on the day after the anniversary of his famed ‘Quaternion walk’.   -Ends-

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

At a special ceremony in the University last night (Monday, 7 November), 32 new recipients of NUI Galway student Sports Scholarships were presented by President, Dr Jim Browne.  This brings the total number of students receiving sports scholarships at NUI Galway to 60. Recipients this year include Jennifer Byrne who was part of the Irish Women’s soccer team that reached the quarter finals of the FIFA World Cup this summer in Trinidad and Tobago. Mervue United Goalkeeper, Gerard Hanley is among those to receive a Soccer Scholarship. Gerard was recently called up the Irish U21 squad, and his sister Marion is a past recipient of a Tennis Scholarship at NUI Galway. Dean Higgins and Billy Lane, members of the Galway All-Ireland Minor Hurling winning team, were among those presented with hurling Scholarships, while Joss Moore was part of the U21 Football Galway team that took this years All-Ireland title. European Junior Silver medallist in Kickboxing, Desmond Leonard will be preparing for the World Championships later this year, while Heather Cary will be lining out for the Connacht and NUI Galway Ladies Rugby teams. A number of the new scholarship holders will be targeting the 2016 and 2020 Olympics in their careers such as Kevin McGlade and Ruairí McGeever from Swimming, Freddie Timmins, Hockey and Archer Darren Wallace. Also presented at the ceremony were two Gaelic Football Scholarships sponsored by Cadbury’s for outstanding U21 Footballers as part of their sponsorship of the U21 Football Championship.  This year’s recipients are Gary Sweeney and Éinne Ó hEochaidh. NUI Galway Elite Sports Development Officer, former Olympic Sprinter and former Director of Coaching for Athletics Ireland, Gary Ryan, said:  “The NUI Galway Sports Scholarship scheme has a broad range of extremely talented young athletes and over the past number of years we have put in place excellent supports that have helped many of our students improve their performance significantly and to attain enormous success both in their sporting career and at the same time receiving an excellent education. Receiving this scholarship is a fantastic opportunity for these students as they will have access to some of the best people working in sport in Ireland.” Scholarship benefits include a subsistence grant, coaching, medical and physiotherapy support, performance nutrition and performance psychology, strength and conditioning as well as performance planning and mentoring.  Each Scholarship is built around the individuals needs and their chosen sport. NUI Galway Sports Scholarships awardees: Rugby: Heather Cary from Ontario, Canada Soccer: Gerard Cheevers from Carnmore, Co. Galway Soccer: Jennifer Byrne from Athlone, Co. Westmeath Soccer: Gerard Hanley from Barna, Co. Galway Soccer: Joe Woods from Ballinasloe, Co. Galway Soccer: Brian Gaffney from Salthill, Galway city Soccer: Cian McBrien from Knocknacarra, Galway city Soccer: Cian Fadden from Knocknacarra, Galway city Gaelic Football: Eilish Ward from Mountcharles, Co. Donegal Golf: Enda Cradock from Gort, Co. Galway Hockey: Freddie Timmins from Circular Road, Galway city Kickboxing: Desmond Leonard from Riverstown, Co. Sligo Swimming: Kevin McGlade from Knocknacarra, Galway city Swimming: Ruairí McGeever from Derrycastle, Co. Tipperary Basketball: James Brophy from Knocknacarra, Galway city Basketball: Kenneth Hansberry from Tuam, Co. Galway Basketball: Eabhnait Scanlon from Listowel, Co. Kerry Camogie: Chloe Morey from Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare Gaelic Football: Jason Doherty from Newport, Co. Mayo Gaelic Football: Greg Higgins from Tuam, Co. Galway Gaelic Football: Joss Moore from Mountbellew, Co. Galway Gaelic Football: Sean Moran from Claregalway, Co. Galway Hurling: Gerard O’Donoghue from Gort, Co. Galway Hurling: Colm Galvin from Clonlara, Co. Clare Hurling: Dean Higgins from Castlegar, Co. Galway Hurling: Billy Lane from Kilcolgan, Co. Galway Rowing: Sean O’Connor from Daingean, Co. Offaly Rowing: Cliona Hurst from Ballinasloe, Co. Galway Rowing: Richard Bennett from Renmore, Galway city Archery: Darren Wallace from Portlaoise, Co. Laois Cadburys/ GAA U21 Football Scholarship Gary Sweeney from Ballinasloe, Co. Galway Éinne Ó hEochaidh from Spiddal, Co. Galway   -ENDS-

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Volunteers are being sought to support the 14thannual Galway Science and Technology Festival Exhibition, a free, family-oriented event taking place at NUI Galway on Sunday, 27 November. The organising committee and NUI Galway are looking for 100 volunteers to help out on the day. At the event, hundreds of scientists, engineers and business innovators will showcase their work at over 60 interactive stands representing areas including research, education, industry and the environment. Visitors to the Exhibition will be able to participate in experiments, watch demonstrations, and discuss ideas with researchers from NUI Galway and GMIT as well as industry representatives from the festival’s main sponsor Medtronic and others such as Boston Scientific, CISCO, Hewlett Packard, Avaya, Covidien, SAP, Lake Region and Creganna. Different exhibits will allow the public to learn more about topics such as life-saving medical devices, renewable energy, IT in the future, kitchen chemistry, and much, 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. Dean of Science at NUI Galway, Professor Tom Sherry, commented: “We are delighted to have the Galway Science and Technology Festival Exhibition returning to the grounds of NUI Galway for the second year in a row. Last year’s event was a huge success, and this year the main area that we have been working hard on improving is in better dealing with the large numbers of visitors that we are expecting. For this purpose, we are inviting anyone who is interested to volunteer some of their time on the 27th, to help us get people around to all of the different activities that will be spread across the NUI Galway campus.” “We eagerly look forward to the active participation of the NUI Galway volunteers force to making this an outstanding success again”, said Tom Hyland Galway Science and Technology Festival Chairman. A science and technology background is not required to volunteer as information and training will be given in advance of the event. To sign up for volunteering please contact william.brennan@nuigalway.ie . For general information on the Festival see www.galwayscience.ie and to pre-book the shows for the Exhibition visit www.galwayscience.eventbrite.com Ends

Monday, 7 November 2011

Recent flooding events in Dublin will form a significant part of an ongoing research project in Geography, at NUI Galway. The research project entitled ‘Flood Risk Management in Ireland: The role of public participation’, is an ongoing project which started in September 2009 and is due to be completed in September 2013.   The research is based on two main case studies in Gort, Co. Galway and the River Dodder Catchment area in Dublin. The project is currently being undertaken by PhD student Alexandra Revez and supervised by NUI Galway’s Dr Marie Mahon and Dr Frances Fahy. The main aims of the study are to provide a unique detailed study of flood management in Ireland from a social science perspective and explore the potential benefits of enhancing the role of public participation in this area. The research hopes to contribute to the development of institutional capacities in order to meet the growing challenges of flood management in Ireland and the increased vulnerability of communities both in urban and rural Ireland. The studies seek to engage with the many stakeholders implicated in flood management in order to unearth the different experiences and understandings of flooding in Ireland and identify the localised political and contextual influences guiding the management of floods in Ireland. It also aims to improve our understanding of the social and political implications of flood management strategies. To date, the research has produced an original study of flood management in Ireland which, according to Alexandra Revez: “Explores the knowledge frameworks chosen to devise national and local management strategies, and it is also unique in providing alternative approaches which look at the potential benefits of public participation.”   The research is funded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS). If anyone is interested in any further information about the study or wishes to share their different experiences of flooding events please contact a.limarevez1@nuigalway.ie   -ends-

Monday, 7 November 2011

The NUI Galway campus will be alive with music during the Societies Office dedicated music week running from 14 to 18 November. Music Week is a showcase of all the musical talent on the University campus, along with special guests.  There are a variety of concerts and sessions throughout the week as well as many music based events.   Organised by the NUI Galway Societies Office, Music Week will be launched with musical Munchie Monday which combines an international food fair with performances from the Orchestra Society, Music and Entertainment Society, Dansoc, DJ Soc and GUMS Musical Society. The launch will take place in the Bailey Allen Hall, Áras na Mac Léinn, on Monday 14 November at 6pm.   Highlights include the final of NUI Galway’s Got Talent on Tuesday, 15 November, in the Bailey Allen Hall, with €1,000 prize for the winner. The Student Union session, also on Tuesday, features Gavin James and the Problematics an up and coming original three piece Dublin based band.    On Thursday, 17 November, the Juggling Society will present Gentleman Juggler Oliver Caignart who, in addition to mesmerising us with his manipulation of everyday objects, will tell the history of juggling. Choral Soc, Trad Soc and Rock Soc will team up with a concert to display their various musical skills. Two ‘Arts in Action’ lunchtime concerts will also feature. Tower of Song featuring Jimmy Monaghan of ‘Dead Birds’ joined by Cian Finn and Rory Bowens will take place on Thursday and on Friday in the Bailey Allen Hall, a traditional concert with Frankie Gavin, Máirtin O’Connor and Carl Hession will be held supported by NUI Galway Traditional Music Society.   Music  Bingo, Blind Date, Open Mic, JPop/J Rock, DJ Birthday party, movies and a Dramsoc play ‘Rewind’ told through music will also feature throughout the week. On campus busking for Voices for Galway and a musical themed photographic exhibition will take place in Áras na Mac Léinn.    Most events are free and open to the public. For full information on all the events are available at www.socs.nuigalway.ie. Information available at 091 492088, socsbox@socs.nuigalway.ie. Tickets available from the SocsBox in Áras na Mac Léinn, NUI Galway.   -Ends-

Monday, 7 November 2011

Legume genome sequence to improve livelihoods of poorer smallholder farmers in the dryland tropics in Africa and Asia A global scientific team, including Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded scientists from the Plant and AgriBiosciences Centre (PABC) at NUI Galway, have succeeded in sequencing the entire DNA genome of a legume crop of the poor called pigeonpea.   Pigeonpea is a staple food for millions of the world’s poorest people who live in semi-arid regions where only drought-tolerant crops such as pigeonpea can be cultivated. Pigeonpea, grown on about 5 million hectares in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South-Central America, is known as the ‘poor people’s meat’ because of its high protein content, it provides a well-balanced diet when accompanied with cereals. An improved understanding of the pigeonpea genome will have a major impact on improved crop productivity, tackling pests and disease constraints in production, and improved resistance to harsh environments and the future variable climate.   The international initiative to sequence the pigeonpea genome was led by Dr Rajeev Varshney from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and harnessed the research capacity of research labs from India, China, USA and Ireland. Professor Charles Spillane, Dr Mark Donoghue and PhD student Reetu Tuteja from the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosicences Centre (PABC) were scientific partners involved in the international initiative leading to the research breakthrough.   Professor Charles Spillane, Head of Botany and Plant Science at NUI Galway, highlights that: “Pigeonpea is a staple food crop of millions of poorer smallholder farmers in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. While crops such as pigeonpea are essential to food and livelihood security in developing countries, such crops of the world’s poorest peoples are considered orphan crops as there is limited scientific research applied to the development of improved higher productivity varieties due to a lack of commercial incentives. Crop improvement research on such crops is predominantly financed as a public good, through the efforts of non-profit humanitarian scientific institutions such as ICRISAT. Here in the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosicences Centre we are working closely with ICRISAT, and a range of other agricultural research for development partners, to help advance pro-poor plant and agribiosciences research.  Our activities aim to support the goals of Irish Aid in relation to the Hunger Task Force recommendations to improve smallholder productivity and reduce malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa.”   Professor Spillane, further adds that: “Plant and agribiosciences research for sustainable development will play an increasingly important role in helping to meet future food and livelihood security needs of the ‘bottom billion’ currently suffering from undernutrition and fragile livelihoods. Of the 7 billion people currently on the planet, the food security needs of over 1 billion people are not being met.  Rapidly increasing demand for food and other agriculture derived resources will necessitate major increases in crop productivity (yield per unit hectare) if food production is to double by 2050 to meet projected demand. This will require increased and accelerated public-sector investment in pro-poor crop improvement research to meet the needs of the 1 billion poor whose livelihoods are dependent on staple crops such as pigeonpea.”   The completed genome sequence of pigeonpea is being published in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology, which is the highest ranked international journal in the area of biotechnology. The paper provides an overview of the structure and function of all of the 48,860 genes that define what makes a pigeonpea plant. It also reveals valuable clues on how the genome sequence can be harnessed to accelerate crop improvement for sustainable food production particularly in the marginal environments of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. For instance, a couple of hundred of these genes were found to be unique to the crop in terms of drought tolerance, an important trait that can be harnessed for other similar legume crops like soybean, cowpea or common bean. At present, it can take 6-10 years of crop genetics research to breed a new variety of pigeonpea. With the use of this new genome sequence data, in the future, it should be possible to develop improved pigeonpea varieties for smallholder farmers within 3 years.   NUI Galway has recently entered into a Research Alliance with ICRISAT to combine efforts, expertise and capacity in order to advance Plant and AgriBiosciences research for poverty reduction in developing countries in the semi-arid tropics (particularly in sub-Saharan Africa). Covering 6.5 million square kilometers of land across 55 countries, the semi-arid tropics has over 2 billion people, and 644 million of these are the poorest of the poor. ICRISAT and its partners help empower these poor people to overcome poverty, hunger and a degraded environment through crop and agricultural research.   “The mapping of the pigeonpea genome is a breakthrough that could not have come at a better time. Now that the world is faced with hunger and famine particularly in the Horn of Africa brought about by the worst drought of the decades, science-based, sustainable agricultural development solutions are vital in extricating vulnerable dryland communities out of poverty and hunger for good,” says ICRISAT Director General William D. Dar, who visited Galway earlier this year to meet with the President of NUI Galway Dr Jim Browne.   “Modern crop improvement technologies for smallholder farmer crops such as pigeonpea will be crucial to speed up the development of improved varieties that can provide high yields and improved livelihoods, and at the same time meet the challenges of marginal environments and the threat of climate change and scarce natural resources," adds Dar.   Pigeonpea is the first ‘orphan crop’, the first ‘non-industrial crop’ and the second food legume (after soybean) for which plant scientists have succeeded in sequencing the genome. The sequencing was accomplished by a global research partnership, the International Initiative for Pigeonpea Genomics (IIPG), led by ICRISAT with plant genome research partners such as BGI – Shenzhen (China), the National University of Ireland Galway, US research laboratories like University of Georgia, University of California-Davis, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and National Centre for Genome Resources, and also support from the CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme based in Mexico.   -ends-

Monday, 7 November 2011

Five original performers will bring their fusion of music, song, sean-nós singing and contemporary dance for a special one-off free performance at lunch time in NUI Galway this week.   On Friday, 11 November, from 1-2pm, five performers, two of which are original Riverdance musicians, will perform in the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway. This is a unique occasion as these performers come from diverse backgrounds and will fuse their amazing talents together to bring a show worthy of national acclaim.   Piper Ronan Browne, contemporary dancer Cindy Cummings, singer Seán Tyrrell, sean-nós singer Róisín Elsafty and bodhrán player Tommy Hayes will grace the stage of the Bailey Allen for the next instalment of great music on Friday November 11. This performance is part of Arts in Action, NUI Galway’s concert series which brings a wealth of new and established acts to the campus during the term. So far this year, multi award winning pianist Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and emerging new writer Kevin Barry are just two of the acts that have wowed audiences. Ronan Browne is the original piper with Riverdance. Since his rise to international stages across the globe, he has composed for film and television, has seen huge success with the groups Elsafty Armstrong Browne and Tyrrell Glackin Browne. As well as uilleann pipes, he plays concert flute, whistle and sings.   Róisín Elsafty comes from Connemara, and also grew up in a musical family. Her mother, well-known singer Treasa Ní Cheannabháin, inspired Róisín to learn ‘old-style singing’ from an early age. Róisín has travelled widely with her art, performing, demonstrating and teaching sean-nós.   American born contemporary dancer Cindy Cummings studied Dance and Theatre at the University of Oregon, and in New York City. As a choreographer, performer and improviser, her work is an adventurous mix of contemporary and traditional dance techniques from around the world, the majority of which are collaborations in a diverse range of mediums and settings.   Seán Tyrrell’s musical journey is truly noteworthy and charts the success of a singer whose talents came to the surface after singing in the US. In 1999 he released his much anticipated album, ‘The Orchard’. The album was met with critical acclaim, as Seán was voted Best Overall Folk Act and the album was voted Best Folk Album by the readers of Irish Music Magazine.   Making up the quintet is Tommy Hayes who has been at the forefront of traditional Irish music for over 30 years. He was a member of Stockton’s Wing from the band’s inception in 1977 to 1983. He then moved to the United States where he toured for five years and recorded one album on Windham Hill Records. Returning to Ireland in 1989, Tommy was the original percussionist for Riverdance and performed with the shows in Dublin, London, Washington DC and Belfast.   With such fine musical minds coming together for a one off event, NUI Galway’s Arts in Action has managed to bring something very special to audiences both on and off campus. The event is free and the concert will kick off at 1pm on Friday, 11 November. For further information, contact 091 493958.  -ends-

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway will co-host a conference with the Burton Blatt Institute entitled ‘Genetic Discrimination – Transatlantic Perspectives on the Case for a European Level Legal Response’. The one-day conference will take place on Saturday, 19 November, in Áras Moyola, NUI Galway. The purpose of this conference is to examine the case for a European level legal and policy response to protect the privacy of genetic information and to prevent genetic discrimination, particularly in the employment and insurance contexts.  The science of genetic testing and related technology is in the process of advancing.  Among other things, genetic testing technology may well offer the prospect of being able to detect the onset of future disabilities.  The technology is becoming more prevalent and is being used increasingly in both the employment context and the insurance context. If insufficient protections are not in place to prohibit the misuse or discriminatory use of that information by third parties like employers, insurance companies, educational facilities, then such a legislative and policy vacuum could further setback the inclusion of persons with disabilities and older people into the community.  To date, there is no European level regulation protecting the privacy of such information or protecting against the discriminatory use of such information. Professor Gerard Quinn, Director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, said: “This conference is exciting because it looks forward and not backward.  It looks to the positive potential of new genetic information technology in detecting future disabilities.  And it also looks at the need for appropriate regulation to ensure personal genetic information is not misused.  It seeks to learn from good transatlantic developments in the US and seeks ways of ensuring that information privacy is respected in Europe and Ireland.  I recommend it to anyone interested in new technology and disability.” For further information, or to register, contact Aisling de Paor in the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at 091 494017 or aisling.depaor@nuigalway.ie.   -ENDS-

Friday, 4 November 2011

Graduates and students of NUI Galway featured prominently at the annual NUI Awards ceremony which took place this week in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham taking home an impressive 34 awards. Five NUI Travelling Studentships in the Humanities and the Social Sciences and in the Sciences were awarded to NUI Galway graduates: Bríd Ní Ghráinne, Law; Fiona Morrissey, Law; Ciara Kyne, Chemistry; Eimear Dolan, Engineering; and Niamh Fahy, Orthobiology/Regenerative Medicine. Other scholarships and awards include the Dr Mary L Thornton NUI Scholarship in Education which was awarded to NUI Galway’s Hannagh McGinley. The Dr Henry Hutchinson Stewart Literary scholarships and prizes were awarded to: Niall Culligan, English; Síle Dolan, Gaeilge; John Mooney, German; Shaun Murphy, Latin; and Rebecca, Spanish. The French Government Medal and NUI Prize for Proficiency in French was awarded to Philip Morrow. The scoláireacht agus Duais Chiste Theach an Ardmhéara/Mansion House Fund Scholarship and prizes went to Dara Folan, for a Scoláireacht Gaeilge and an Irish History prize and to Colm Ó Cuaig for a Gaeilge prize.A total of nineteen Dr Henry Hutchinson Stewart Medical Scholarships and Prizes were awarded to NUI Galway’s School of Medicine. The award recipients were Cillian McNamara and Karen McNamara, Biochemistry; Danielle Anstett and Julianne O’Shea, General Practice; Larissa Higgins and Teresa O’Dowd, Gynaecology and Obstetrics; Cliona Small, Medical Microbiology; Siobhan Eccles, Midwifery; Ester Afolalu and Laura M Coyne, Nursing; Orla Ní Ghríofa and Mairead Crowley, Occupational Therapy;  Larissa Higgins, Paediatrics; Miroslawa Gorecka, Pathology; Elaine Fallon, Public Health; Laura Tobin, Speech and Language Therapy; Yasir Loai, Pharmacology; Matthew Smyth, Physiology; and Gerard Healy MB BCH BAO Hons, Surgery. Speaking on the success of NUI Galway students and graduates, President Jim Browne, said: “This clearly highlights the high calibre of students studying on NUI Galway programmes and follows previous successes in these annual awards. I congratulate each of the Award recipients on their achievement, which will add to their academic reputation. I commend the Award recipients and I pay tribute to their teachers for their work in supporting students and helping them to achieve such high standards.” At the ceremony, the Chancellor, Dr Maurice Manning presented Travelling Studentships, scholarships and other awards to over one hundred students and graduates of the NUI Constituent Universities and Recognised Colleges. The total value of NUI Awards in 2011 was almost €700,000. In 2011, over one hundred students and graduates from the constituent universities and recognised colleges of the federal university received awards. UCD, UCC, NUI Maynooth, NUI Galway, RCSI and NCAD were represented in the award winners. Ends

Friday, 4 November 2011

Interactive Policy Simulators for Urban Dynamics, Web Visualisation of Weather Station Data, Smartphone systems to help you get your morning or afternoon coffee without queues! These are just some of the new technologies that graduates of the Information Technology discipline at NUI Galway have won awards for this week. Prizes were awarded to students who excelled in their projects, which span a wide range of topics, reflecting the diversity of research and career opportunities for graduates of Information Technology.  Terry Lyons from Circular Road, Galway, a graduate of the BSc in Computer Science and Information Technology developed a software system that involved the design and implementation of a computer game to model an urban environment. The key contributions included a mathematical modelling engine encompassing continuous and Markov equations and a Game Engine architecture based on Microsoft XNA technology. Terry was awarded the Best Project in the BSc in Computer Science and Information Technology, sponsored by Cisco Systems. On a completely different type of application, Colin Divily from Corofin, Co Galway and Naomi Ono, originally from Japan, both students of the HDip / MSc in Software Design and Development, implemented a website visualising the current weather conditions in Galway using real-time weather data collected by a weather station setup by the Informatics Research Unit for Sustainable Energy (IRUSE) who were collaborators on the project. The two students were awarded the Best Project in the HDip / MSc in Software Design and Development, also sponsored by Cisco Systems. For those with an interest in classical and vintage cars, Patrick O’Toole from Moycullen, Co. Galway and Mark Shaw from Tuam, Co. Galway, both graduates of the BA in Information Technology created a Classic Car website. This includes a database that provides information on various manufacturers of classic cars and the various models available. In addition, users can place cars for sale and view cars already available on the website. Information Technology is central to the development of the Smart Economy in Ireland. It is a breeding ground for entrepreneurs and attracts the kind of creative people who want to invent and promote technology based products and services.  At NUI Galway, students of the BSc in Information Technology study professional skills and business planning as part of their core academic work. Each year a special Entrepreneurship Prize is awarded for the students who produce the best business plan. These plans are evaluated by external business experts from WestBIC. This year the prize was awarded to John Farrell from Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, Luke Potter from Abbeyknockmoy, Co. Galway and Ernestas Lisauska from Galway, for their “Hey Expresso” system. This system comprises a smartphone application and related server that allows users to pre-order and pre-pay for their morning coffee and therefore avoid the queues! Gerry Lyons, Professor of Information Technology and Dean of the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway welcomed Cisco Systems as the corporate sponsor for Best Projects in the Information Technology degree programmes: “We believe this is a strong endorsement of the commercial relevance of our degree programmes, and underlines our commitment to innovation, professionalism and research at NUI Galway. We place a huge emphasis on final year project work. These projects are a proving-ground for research and commercial business opportunities. Partnering with a blue-chip global company like Cisco gives students the added motivation and ambition to deliver excellent work.” ENDS

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

NUI Galway is pleased to announce a series of public talks on Sports Technology, commencing on Tuesday, 8 November at 6pm. In recent years a clear trend has developed in sport toward the increased use of technology to monitor and enhance elite sports performance. The series of talks, which are free and open to the general public, will cover a broad range of sports from elite cycling, running, swimming, to Gaelic games, as well as referring to the casual exerciser. The first event, which takes place in room 2002 of the new Engineering Building, is called ‘The Age of the Virtual Trainer’. NUI Galway’s Shane Lowe will focus on the emergence of new exercise monitoring technologies in the world of exercise and fitness. Whether the goal is to manage weight, maintain health or to improve fitness or sport performance, increasing physical activity has multiple health benefits. A significant challenge for most people is to adhere to an exercise regime. Keeping track of how well you are progressing with your exercise programme is one way to increase adherence to the programme and to also enhance the outcomes. Shane Lowe is currently in the third year of his PhD studies in the Bioelectronics research cluster of the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science at NUI Galway. The focus of his research is on the development of wearable electronics for the monitoring of everyday physical activity and specifically its application with older adults. “In the past, detailed monitoring of exercise performance was reserved for those who obtained the services of a personal trainer. However, with the availability of smart phones and low cost sensing technologies, a new era in exercise monitoring has begun. Exercise technologies now allow close monitoring of performance including changes in heart rate, running speed, adherence to your recommended training zone etc.” The range of these technologies now available will be discussed and compared and Shane Lowe will comment on how he sees these systems evolving in the future.The series of Sports Technology talks is being organised by Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin, Course Director of NUI Galway’s degree programme in Sports & Exercise Engineering. His students are being given the skills and expertise to design innovative sports systems and devices. According to Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin: “Sport plays a central role in Irish life - it brings joy to us as we celebrate our teams’ success and perhaps brings despair at their failings! Sport brings communities together, can galvanise a nation to overcome its difficulties and provides endless material for lengthy discussion and debate. A new wave of technologies is transforming sports performance, training and preparation. We welcome all with an interest in these developments to come to our series of talks to learn more.” For more information on the Sports Technology talks, which are supported by the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers, visit www.ExerciseEngineering.com or call 091 492728.   -ends-

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) at NUI Galway, has recently returned from Taiwan, where he delivered a plenary lecture at the 2011 International Symposium on Recent Advances in Pluripotent Stem Cells. The lecture took place at Taipei Medical University, and coincided with the 7thAnnual Meeting of the Taiwan Society for Stem Cell Research.  Professor Pandit’s wealth of experience and international reputation in functionalised biomaterials, particularly in delivery of stem cells, led to the invitation from the Taiwan Society for Stem Cell Research. Speaking at the opening session of the symposium, Professor Pandit’s lecture, entitled ‘A functionalised scaffold for modulation of inflammation to permit stem cell survival in myocardial infarction’ drew on his research results achieved at the NFB, NUI Galway.  The NFB is an SFI-funded Strategic Research Cluster, focused on developing the next generation of biomaterials while developing collaborations with industrial partners at a regional, national and international level. These collaborations have now placed NFB research in a global context.  Speaking about the invitation, Professor Pandit said “I was very pleased to receive the invitation to give a plenary lecture in Taiwan. Asia is the major emerging market in the biomedical sector, so all opportunities to showcase Irish research there should be welcomed.”   -ends-

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

NUI Galway student, Trevor Glavey, has been named as one of the 23 winners of the Undergraduate Awards, an awards programme open to undergraduate students on the island of Ireland and, recently, the USA. Trevor, originally from Dunblaney, Dunmore,  Co. Galway, was awarded the Oscar Wilde Gold Medal for academic excellence by Guest of Honour, President Mary McAleese, at the Undergraduate Awards Ceremony that was held at Dublin Castle on Friday, 28 October. As the winner of the Undergraduate Awards Law category, Trevor was awarded for his essay entitled “Enforcement of EU Competition Law and Respect for Human Rights”. Having graduated top in his class from Corporate Law at NUI Galway, Trevor credited his lecturer, Dr Laurent Pech, from the School of Law for his Undergraduate Award win and cited the University as “a fantastic place to study, full of great people doing tremendous work.” There were 2,381 submissions to the 2011 Undergraduate Awards programme, of which 237 were shortlisted. Of these 237, 23 winners were selected.  NUI Galway had 11 students in the shortlist.   --ENDS—

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Mayor of Galway, Hildgarde Naughton, will officially launch ‘Zambian Perspectives’ photographic exhibition in Áras Moyola, NUI Galway on Wednesday, 23 November at 6.30pm. The images on display are part of a collection taken by Research Fellow with the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, Sheila McArdle, as part of her research study.  The study contributes to the ongoing work of the UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement held by Professor Pat Dolan.   In 2009, Sheila travelled to Zambia, Central Africa, to complete research fieldwork in six different communities. Photographs of everyday scenes were taken to provide a visual backdrop to the information provided by young people (12-14 year olds) and adults (18 years plus).  The exhibition images provide an opportunity to glimpse at the reality of Zambian daily life. The images are accompanied by direct quotes from some of the participants to provide a sense of what Zambian young people want for the future.     Whilst in Zambia, Sheila became seriously ill and was cared for by a Tipperary nun, Sister Molly Moloney, a qualified nurse who has lived and worked in Kaoma, Zambia for over thirty years.  Sister Moloney, with her team, operates a number of enterprise projects and orphanages, which care for infants, children and teenagers and are invaluable in the community. The team are hoping to establish a dairy farm in the community which will create employment, provide fresh milk for the orphanages and contribute to the sustainability of the community.  Contributions from the exhibition will go to Sister Moloney and her team to continue their work in Zambia.   The exhibition contributes to the UNESCO Chair partnership endeavours with Foróige and The Alan Kearns African Projects to promote positive child and youth outcomes.  The exhibition should appeal to a wide audience anyone interested in youth, gender issues, anthropology, photography, or a desire to assist projects to support young people, families and communities to become sustainable are sure to enjoy the event.   Tickets for this event are €10 per person, including light refreshments and entertainment.  Further information is available from Sheila McArdle at s.mcardle3@nuigalway.ie or 087 918 7224.   -Ends-