NUI Galway to Deliver New BA in Children’s Studies

NUI Galway to Deliver New BA in Children’s Studies -image

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

New programme is first of its kind to be offered in Europe NUI Galway has announced details of a new Bachelor of Arts in Children’s Studies degree. This new and unique programme puts NUI Galway in the forefront of the emerging field of Children's Studies, offering a course that currently is not available elsewhere in Europe. The programme, hosted at the University’s School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, is an inter-disciplinary programme delivered by the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies and the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. This unique collaboration ensures that the programme addresses every element of children’s lives, from culture to health. The new degree programme which will study the development and well-being of children across the globe as well as the ways in which childhood and adolescence have been constructed over time, is child-centred and rights based, and it is underpinned by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child The aim of the new degree programme is to prepare graduates for the labour market, and particularly to work with, or for, children; through the development of an inter-disciplinary undergraduate degree, informed by research, and immersed in civic engagement. Dr Lindsay Myers, Director of the BA Connect with Children Studies said: “We are delighted to see the programme shaping into a full degree. Since the Connect programme was introduced seven years ago Children’s Studies has been one of the most popular subjects in the University, and it is great that Irish students can now finally register for a full degree in Children’s Studies, a specialism that was previously only available in the United States and Canada.” Dr Michal Molcho, Co-director of the programme, added: “We are particularly excited to see the commitments from both the College of Arts and the College of Medicine, a collaboration which allows us to offer a truly unique programme.” This newly-established degree programme which is already attracting considerable interest both nationally and internationally will have its first intake of students in the academic year 2016/17.  For further information:  -Ends-

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NUI Galway to Hold Information Evening in Ennis

NUI Galway to Hold Information Evening in Ennis-image

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Secondary school students interested in studying at NUI Galway are invited to an information evening in Ennis on Thursday, 5 November. Parents and guardians are also particularly welcome to the event which runs from 7 to 9pm in the Auburn Lodge Hotel, Ennis, Co. Clare. 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 programmes, developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market. Unique programmes include a suite of Arts degree programmes including Drama, Creative Writing and Human Rights, an Energy Systems Engineering degree which is taught in the University’s new Engineering Building, Ireland’s largest School of Engineering, a Maths and Education degree aimed at training Maths teachers, and a Marine Science degree. Visitors to the information evening will also get information on NUI Galway’s newest degree programmes, a Bachelor of Commerce (Global Experience), Bachelor in Children’s Studies and the new Bachelor of Arts (Joint Honours). Shannon College, who is now a college of NUI Galway, will also be attending the event exhibiting the range of courses they offer. Shannon College holds a 100% employment record since it was founded in 1951. Celine O’Donovan, Senior Marketing Officer at NUI Galway, said: “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 County Clare, while also providing all the practical information on accommodation, CAO points, fees, scholarships and courses. With so many courses on offer, this event in Ennis is a perfect opportunity for prospective students to meet current students and lecturers to see what degree might be the right fit for them.” To find out more about the information evening in Ennis, contact NUI Galway's Schools Liaison Officer, Johanna Walsh on 086 7851730 or -Ends-

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NUI Galway To Host 2nd Annual Frontiers in Healthcare Conference

NUI Galway To Host 2nd Annual Frontiers in Healthcare Conference-image

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

NUI Galway hosted the first Frontiers in Healthcare Conference in 2014, which was attended by over 140 delegates. The second conference in this series, which is jointly organised by the Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group at NUI Galway and Novartis Ireland, will be held at NUI Galway on Tuesday, 3 November. The theme of this year’s conference is Adherence. The issue of adherence is a critical one in a large number of healthcare situations. A relatively simple example is how to ensure that patients adhere to the medication that is prescribed to them. Another example is how medical professionals can be persuaded to adhere to care guidelines. Related to that is the question of how healthcare institutions such as the new hospital groups will adhere to more binding budget constraints in the face of ever increasing demand for healthcare. On a broader public health level, a critical policy issue is how people in general can adhere to good practice as regards diet, exercise, and the consumption of tobacco and alcohol. These topics will be addressed by experts from Ireland, the UK and the US from a variety of disciplines including economics, psychology, medicine, and pharmaceutical science. And will feature a variety of perspectives including academic, health service providers, and private industry. Particular attention will be given to whether new technologies can be used to improve adherence and the ethical considerations that arise from the use of these technologies. The conference is organised by the Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group at NUI Galway. The group, which includes over twenty academics, researchers and PhD students, conducts a wide range of research and has particular expertise in disease areas such as dementia, cancer, diabetes, stroke and mental health. The group works closely with clinical staff in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway and elsewhere, and with leading health economists around the world. The Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group is merely one example of a strategic targeted approach to biomedical research at NUI Galway, which has succeeded in the University establishing itself as a leading player in health related research. Mr Brendan Kennelly from the Health Economics and Policy Analysis Group at NUI Galway said: “The conference will address adherence from many perspectives so that we can all understand better what factors influence this critical issue. No single discipline has all the answers but by combining our expertise we hope we can contribute to healthier outcomes particularly in chronic diseases where adherence to medication and lifestyle change are often less than optimal.” The conference will take place in the Institute for Lifecourse and Society (ILAS) Building on the North Campus at NUI Galway. A limited number of places are still available. To register please visit: Registration is free and is required for logistical purposes. -Ends-   

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NUI Galway Pays Tribute to Maureen O’Hara

NUI Galway Pays Tribute to Maureen O’Hara-image

Thursday, 29 October 2015

It is with sadness that NUI Galway noted the passing of actor, Maureen O’Hara last Saturday (24 October 2015) at the age of 95. Maureen O’Hara starred in over 50 films during her film career and was hailed as Ireland’s first Hollywood star. In 1988 NUI Galway conferred Maureen O’Hara with an honorary degree, a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. The University’s James Hardiman Library, Archives Collection also holds records from O’Hara’s most famous film, The Quiet Man in the Arthur Shields collection. During her conferral ceremony then President of NUI Galway, Dr Colm Ó hEocha, made the following remarks as part of his citation to honour Maureen O’Hara: “Maureen was born Maureen Fitzsimons in Dublin, and for a stage name another West of Ireland surname was chosen for her. The O’Hara’s are a dual sept – O’Hara Buí and O’Hara Riabhach – and no doubt she rightly belongs to the former. After training at the Abbey Theatre’s acting school, Maureen went to London at the invitation of Charles Laughton and made her film debut with him in Jamaica Inn in 1939, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. After its release, she headed west to California, and shortly afterwards, Hollywood columnist Jimmy Fidler presented as his 1939 ‘Best bets’ for stardom – Robert Stack and Maureen O’Hara. And what a good bet the young Maureen turned out to be. Starting with The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Charles Laughton again, she went on to star in over 50 films directed by such as Lewis Milestone, Jean Renoir, Andrew McLaglen and Sam Peckinpah. But the director with whom she is most closely associated with is John Ford, whose father, named Feeney, emigrated to the US from An Spidéal in 1872. Their work together started with How Green Was My Valley (1941), and then Rio Grande (1950) with John Wayne. There followed, after many years’ preparation by director and actors, her first film to be shot, in part, back in Ireland. It was The Quiet Man (1951), based on a story by Maurice Walsh in Green Rushes. Reviewers of The Quiet Man placed particular emphasis on Maureen’s ravishing beauty and glorious red hair. The film also featured much magnificent scenery in the West of Ireland and is still attracting viewers and, consequently, thousands of tourists to the hinterland of this College. John Ford, John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara went on to make other successful films such as The Long Grey Line (1954) and The Wings of Eagles (1956).” President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne paid the following tribute: “We in NUI Galway are honored by our association with the late Maureen O’Hara. Her work as an actor in Hollywood during the 1940’s and 50’s helped to establish Ireland as an important location for film. That legacy lives on, especially here on campus, where the history of the Irish film industry is well-represented in our Archives and Special Collections and where the Huston School of Film and Digital Media and the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance continue to encourage actors, directors and filmmakers of the future.” Patrick Lonergan, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway added: “We at NUI Galway were saddened to learn of the passing of Maureen O'Hara. During her long career, she acted as a tireless champion for Irish theatre, Irish film, and indeed for the country itself. From her early days at the Abbey Theatre to international fame in The Quiet Man and beyond, she gained our affection and admiration in equal measure, as an actress of outstanding talent and intelligence. We are proud to have been able to give her an honorary degree in 1988, and to be able to number her amongst our alumni: she will undoubtedly continue to inspire generations of our students of theatre and film during the years ahead.” The 1988 NUI Galway conferring citation concluded: Looking back on her films, Francis Truffaut described Maureen O’Hara as a “splendid actress” who played “some of the best female roles in American cinema between 1941 and 1957”. John Ford corroborated in a letter to Maureen: “Don’t let anybody bother you, you’re the best actress in Hollywood”. -Ends-

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Could a lectin engineered from bananas fight many deadly viruses? New results show promise

Could a lectin engineered from bananas fight many deadly viruses? New results show promise-image

Friday, 30 October 2015

An international team of scientists including researchers from NUI Galway have found that the substance BanLec, originally found in bananas, through careful modification could fight off a wide range of viruses in the near future. The results from the study were recently published in the international journal Cell. The research focuses on a particular carbohydrate binding protein called banana lectin, or BanLec, that “reads” the sugars on the outside of both viruses and cells by sticking to cell structures, or glycans, containing the simple sugar mannose. When BanLec is modified slightly by scientists, it shows promise as an anti-viral drug. While the natural BanLec fights viruses it also causes inflammation. However the newly engineered BanLec can fight viruses without causing inflammation. A number of Chemistry groups, those of Professor Paul Murphy at the School of Chemistry in NUI Galway, Professor Stefan Oscarson at University College Dublin and Professor René Roy at Université du Québec à Montréal, designed and synthesised mimics of glycans called glycoclusters, which were evaluated by other team members as blockers of both the natural and the newly engineered BanLec. Professor Paul Murphy of NUI Galway said: “The research shows the contribution that chemists make in the design and synthesis of blockers of lectins. The materials prepared helped provide insight into the mechanism of action of the BanLecs, which was part of the wider study.” The natural version of BanLec has one less tiny spot on its surface for sugars to attach. This made it impossible for sugars on the surface of immune system cells called T cells, to attach and trigger inflammation. While the new version of BanLec can still grab on to sugars on the surface of viruses and block them from getting into cells. Professor David Markovitz, co-senior author of the new paper, and Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School said: “What we’ve done is exciting because there is potential for BanLec to develop into a broad spectrum antiviral agent, something that is not clinically available to physicians and patients right now.’’ Professor Hans-Joachim Gabius, of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, an acknowledged expert on lectins and their interactions with sugars (the sugar code), and a major contributor to this research said: “One major advantage of designer lectins lies in the fact that the risk of resistance is lower, because glycans that interact with the BanLecs cannot be altered easily.” The 26 international scientists involved in the study were from Ireland, Germany, Canada, Belgium and the United States. The research was funded by the US and European governments, and by foundations, including Science Foundation Ireland. To view the paper in Cell visit:  -Ends-

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NUI Galway to Launch Sexual Health and Support Initiative

NUI Galway to Launch Sexual Health and Support Initiative -image

Friday, 30 October 2015

NUI Galway will mark the Students’ Union Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) Week with a free showing of the award-winning US documentary, The Hunting Ground, at 6pm on Tuesday, 3 November in the Aula Maxima. The Hunting Ground highlights how student-led activism overcame institutional and cultural resistance to accepting that sexual assault is a major problem in US universities. During the event NUI Galway will also be launching a new initiative, Sexual Health and Support, in response to growing concerns for student safety. In a recent NUI Galway survey, 25 per cent of female students reported that another person had tried or succeeded in having sexual contact with them through the use of force, in comparison to 6 per cent of male students. The survey also found that half of female students reported unwanted sexual advances in the past year due to someone’s drinking. This new initiative aims to provide information on the support services available to students affected by sexual violence, and the University has also created a hashtag campaign, #NUIGsafecampus, to ensure that all students know how and where to get help. NUI Galway is also piloting ‘Smart Consent’ workshops, and is the first campus to lead on this training and are working with other Higher Education Institutes to roll it out nationally. Consent can be a grey area, as it is often sought and communicated indirectly and these workshops will provide students with the opportunity to talk about positive forms of sexual communication. This campaign is relevant as survey results showed 50% of NUI Galway students would not verbalise what they are comfortable with sexually with sexual partners. Dr Pat Morgan, Vice-President for the Student Experience at NUI Galway, said: “It is so important that, as an institution, we are not burying our heads in the sand and saying that sexual assault does not happen to our students. We are listening to the research findings and working with our Students’ Union colleagues to support student safety and positive sexual health.” The screening of The Hunting Ground will be followed by a panel and audience discussion featuring University staff, students and community partners. Information will also be provided regarding the ‘Smart Consent’ workshops. More information can be found at -Ends-

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Research Report on New Irish Speakers launched at Oireachtas na Samhna 2015

Research Report on New Irish Speakers launched at Oireachtas na Samhna 2015-image

Friday, 30 October 2015

Report prepared by NUI Galway and Heriot-Watt University presents the results of research on the background, practice and ideologies of 'new speakers' of Irish The Language Commissioner, Rónán Ó Domhnaill, has launched Research Report on New Irish Speakers, prepared by Dr John Walsh at NUI Galway, Professor Bernadette O’Rourke, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, and Dr Hugh Rowland, University of Ulster, for Foras na Gaeilge, today (Friday, 30 October) at Oireachtas na Samhna in Citywest, Dublin. This report is a joint venture between NUI Galway and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, presenting the results of research on the background, practice and ideologies of ‘new speakers’ of Irish. ‘New speakers’ are those who regularly use a language who are not traditional native speakers of that language. New speakers usually acquire the target language through the education system or through immersion education or, depending on the sociolinguistic context, the acquisition may take place as a result of language revitalisation programmes. The report is based on research conducted in recent years by a network of European researchers titled New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities and Challenges under the auspices of COST (European Co-operation in Science and Technology). There are 50 researchers from 27 European countries in this network and the authors of this report are engaged in research on new speakers of Irish. Dr John Walsh, Senior Lecturer of Irish in the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at NUI Galway said: “Above all, this research demonstrates that anyone can become a new speaker, regardless of their language background. One of the interesting results is that of the role of the Irish teacher in an ordinary English-medium school. Many new speakers referred to inspirational teachers they had at school who fostered an interest in Irish, which encouraged them to use it as a social language after school. The new speakers believe that the Gaeltacht is important but some of them have social anxiety trying to speak Irish with Gaeltacht natives. People need more support to become new speakers and we have made some policy recommendations which will help people make that transition if implemented. These include proper investment in a wide range of physical spaces in which Irish could be spoken socially and Irish language awareness campaigns in social media.” Professor Bernadette O’Rourke of Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, one of the report’s authors said: “The findings of our research on Irish have many parallels with other languages in Europe including Basque, Catalan, Breton, Galician, Welsh and Scottish Gaelic, and this report will provide invaluable insights into the broader opportunities and challenges that new speakers bring to a multilingual Europe. The recommendations we have made in relation to new speakers of Irish will feed into a broader set of recommendations at EU level and help identify a common framework of understanding and policy implications at European level.” Ferdie Mac an Fhailigh, Chief Executive of Foras na Gaeilge welcomed the report and said: “Foras na Gaeilge caters to a broad range of Irish speakers nationwide, north and south, as well as within and outside the Gaeltacht. We recognise that new speakers are of great importance and we welcome this positive research revealing their aspirations and needs. We look forward to discussing the recommendations in the report to determine how best we can provide additional support to new speakers in the future.” A copy of the report is available on the Foras na Gaeilge website at or -Ends- Tuarascáil Taighde ar Nuachainteoirí na Gaeilge seolta ag Oireachtas na Samhna 2015 Sheol an Coimisinéir Teanga, Rónán Ó Domhnaill, Tuarascáil Taighde ar Nuachainteoirí na Gaeilge, a d’ullmhaigh an Dr. John Walsh, Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh, An tOllamh Bernadette O’Rourke, Ollscoil Heriot-Watt, Dún Éideann, agus an Dr. Hugh Rowland, Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh, d’Fhoras na Gaeilge ar an Aoine, an 30 Deireadh Fómhair ag Oireachtas na Samhna in Citywest, Baile Átha Cliath. Is comhfhiontar an tuarascáil seo idir Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh agus Ollscoil Heriot-Watt, Dún Éideann ina gcuirtear torthaí taighde ar chúlra, ar chleachtais agus ar idé-eolaíochtaí ‘nuachainteoirí’ na Gaeilge i láthair. Tugtar ‘nuachainteoirí’ ar dhaoine a bhaineann úsáid rialta as teanga áirithe ach nach cainteoirí dúchais traidisiúnta de chuid na teanga sin iad. De ghnáth is tríd an gcóras oideachais nó tríd an tumoideachas a shealbhaíonn nuachainteoirí an sprioctheanga, nó, ag brath ar an gcomhthéacs sochtheangeolaíochta, d’fhéadfadh an sealbhú tarlú mar thoradh ar chláir athneartaithe teanga. Tá an tuarascáil bunaithe ar thaighde atá á dhéanamh le blianta beaga anuas ag gréasán taighdeoirí Eorpacha dar teideal New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities andChallenges faoi scáth na heagraíochta COST (European Co-operation in Science and Technology). Tá 50 taighdeoir ó 27 dtír Eorpacha páirteach sa ghréasán sin agus tá údair na tuarascála seo i mbun taighde ar nuachainteoirí na Gaeilge. ‘Thar aon rud eile, léiríonn an tuarascáil seo gur féidir le héinne nuachainteoir a dhéanamh de nó di féin, beag beann ar an gcúlra teanga atá aige nó aici,’ a dúirt an Dr. John Walsh, Léachtóir Sinsearach le Gaeilge in Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh. ‘Ar cheann de na torthaí suimiúla, tá ról an mhúinteora Gaeilge i ngnáthscoil Bhéarla: thagair go leor nuachainteoirí do mhúinteoirí inspioráideacha a bhí acu ar scoil a chothaigh suim sa Ghaeilge, rud a spreag iad chun í a úsáid mar theanga shóisialta tar éis na scoile. Creideann na nuachainteoirí go bhfuil an Ghaeltacht tábhachtach ach bíonn imní shóisialta ar chuid acu agus iad ag iarraidh an Ghaeilge a labhairt le muintir na Gaeltachta. Teastaíonn breis tacaíochta ó dhaoine chun iompú ina nuachainteoirí agus tá roinnt moltaí polasaí déanta againn a chabhródh le daoine an t-aistriú sin a dhéanamh dá gcuirfí i bhfeidhm iad. Ina measc sin, tá infheistíocht cheart in raon leathan spásanna fisiciúla ina bhféadfaí an Ghaeilge a labhairt go sóisialta agus feachtais feasachta faoin nGaeilge sna meáin shóisialta.’  ‘Tá macasamhail thorthaí ár dtaighde féin maidir leis an nGaeilge le feiceáil i dtaca lena lán teangacha eile san Eoraip, ar a n-áirítear an Bhascais, an Chatalóinis, an Bhriotáinis, an Ghailísis, an Bhreatnais agus Gaeilge na hAlban, agus tabharfaidh an taighde seo léargais luachmhara ar na deiseanna ginearálta agus na dúshláin a thugann nuachainteoirí leo in Eoraip ilteangach. Beidh na moltaí atá déanta againn maidir le nuachainteoirí Gaeilge mar chuid de raon níos leithne moltaí ar leibhéal AE agus cuideoidh siad comhchreat a dhéanamh amach maidir le tuiscint agus impleachtaí polasaí ar leibhéal Eorpach’, arsa an tOll. Bernadette O’Rourke ó Ollscoil Heriot-Watt in Albain, duine d’údair na tuarascála. D’fháiltigh Príomhfheidhmeannach Fhoras na Gaeilge, Ferdie Mac an Fhailigh roimh an tuarascáil inniu nuair a dúirt sé "Bíonn Foras na Gaeilge ag freastal ar raon leathan cainteoirí Gaeilge ó cheann ceann na tíre, thuaidh agus theas, sa Ghaeltacht agus taobh amuigh di. Aithnímid gur dream iontach tábhachtach iad na nuachainteoirí dúinn agus fáiltímid roimh an taighde dearfach seo a chaitheann solas ar na mianta agus ar na riachtanais atá acu. Beimid ag súil le moltaí na tuarascála seo a phlé agus amharc ar an bhealach inar féidir linn tacaíocht bhreise a thabhairt do na nuachainteoirí amach anseo". Tá cóip den tuarascáil ar fáil ar shuíomh gréasáin Fhoras na Gaeilge ar -Críoch-      

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September 2015

Canadian Astronaut Announced as Guest Judge for Novel NUI Galway Science Competition

Canadian Astronaut Announced as Guest Judge for Novel NUI Galway Science Competition-image

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The science video competition, ReelLIFE SCIENCE, is open to all primary and secondary schools in Ireland Commander Chris Hadfield, Canadian Astronaut, has been announced as guest judge for NUI Galway’s ReelLIFE SCIENCE 2015 competition. The University is challenging all primary and secondary school students across Ireland to produce engaging and informative short videos communicating a scientific topic for the this year’s competition. Supported by the Science Foundation Ireland Discover programme and the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, ReelLIFE SCIENCE will award €3,000 directly to the winning schools for science promotion. Joining Commander Hadfield on the judging panel is: Trinity College Dublin Professor of Molecular Evolution, Professor Aoife McLysaght; and BT Young Scientist and Technologists of the Year 2015, Ian O'Sullivan and Eimear Murphy from Coláiste Treasa, Kanturk, Co. Cork. Speaking ahead of the competition, Commander Hadfield said: “I am very much looking forward to seeing the science videos that Irish students will be making! Discovery and creativity, turned loose by imagination. A great project that I am proud to be a part of.” Secondary school topics include ‘Incredible Life’ and ‘Heroines of Science’, while primary school students can choose from ‘Science in Space’, ‘The Soil is Alive!’ and ‘Design your Future’, among others. Closing date for submissions is Friday, 16 October. The winning schools will be announced on Monday, 9 November during Science Week 2015, when they will be invited to attend a public screening and awards ceremony during the Galway Science and Technology Festival on 22 November. ReelLIFE SCIENCE is organised by Dr Enda O’Connell and a team of science communication enthusiasts from NUI Galway, in collaboration with the Cell EXPLORERS outreach programme from the University’s School of Natural Sciences. The competition has been running since 2013 and previous year’s videos, made with cameras, tablets and smartphones, have tens of thousands of views in over 100 countries. In 2014, the ReelLIFE SCIENCE challenge was taken up by thousands of students in 24 counties around Ireland, producing hundreds of three-minute science videos for the competition, in both English and Irish. Last year’s judge Dr. Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin said: “I was astounded by the calibre of the videos from both the primary and secondary schools. It is wonderful to see the thought, preparation, fun, and learning that went into all of the videos and it is very encouraging to see students enjoying and communicating science.” The 2014 primary school category winners were Sooey National School, Co. Sligo, with Leaving Certificate student Julien Torrades from Summerhill College, Sligo taking first place at secondary school level. For further information about the 2015 competition visit and previous year’s videos can be found at -Ends-

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Economic and Environmental Sustainability: A Burning platform or Ireland’s Opportunity?

Economic and Environmental Sustainability: A Burning platform or Ireland’s Opportunity?-image

Thursday, 3 September 2015

European bioeconomy employs an estimated 21.5 million people, with a market worth approximately €2 trillion - NUI Galway’s TCBB will identify 8 key opportunities for Ireland The BioÉire consortium involving NUI Galway’s Technlogy Centre for Biorefining & Bioenergy (TCBB) will host its first seminar in the Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture, National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin today (3 September) to present some of the context shaping its current research activities and to provide input for its market development project. Outcomes of this workshop will ultimately feed into the process of developing a coherent, national bioeconomy strategy for Ireland. Bart Bonsall, Technology Leader at the Technology Centre for Biorefining & Bioenergy (TCBB) at NUI Galway, notes the further potential that exists to utilise resources from the Irish agricultural sector beyond the food industry to explore new biochemical and biomaterial opportunities. Speaking of the need to emulate advances seen in other EU member states, Mr Bonsall highlights that: “The EU is transitioning its petro-chemical complex away from fossil-fuel based to biobased raw materials. Ireland has an opportunity to use its agricultural might to supply these enormous markets, over time matching or surpassing the value of its food outputs.” “When you see now a global household name like Coca-Cola using patented technology to convert natural sugars from plants into renewable plastic bottles, then you have to ask yourself what should Ireland be looking at to generate new economic opportunities for biobased materials and products? Should Ireland produce renewable plastics and renewable chemicals from sugar beet or other agricultural, forestry or marine outputs?” Mr Bonsall continued. Escalating challenges related to economic sustainability, climate change, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity, food security and growing populations highlight the need to transition to more sustainable, low-carbon ways of living. The bioeconomy concept offers one way to address these challenges, harnessing the optimal use of renewable biological resources and reducing dependence on fossil-fuel based resources, whilst still achieving economic growth. At the European level, the bioeconomy is estimated to employ some 21.5 million people, with a market worth approximately €2 trillion. These lucrative markets and sustainable, bioeconomic opportunities are only just beginning to be exploited, including in the Irish context. “This strategy is needed to help us to review and ultimately change, how we produce, process and recover biological feedstocks” according to Dr Maeve Henchion, BioÉire project coordinator at Teagasc. The development of a bioeconomy in Ireland producing biofuels, biofertilisers, biochemicals and bioplastics is particularly plausible given its abundant natural resources, thriving agriculture and marine sectors, growing forestry development, well-respected food industry and renowned research and development capabilities. Speaking in advance of the workshop, Dr Maria Hayes, Research Officer at Teagasc, reflects on the opportunities that are readily available in the marine sector in Ireland, a topic that she will explore in a keynote presentation. Commenting on the abundant marine resources around the Irish coastline, Dr Hayes states that: “The seas around Ireland contain a number of underutilised species, including seaweeds and Boarfish that at present are not being exploited to their full potential. These species are potentially a huge reservoir for novel protein ingredients and functional foods compounds that may be health beneficial and can provide an alternative to dairy, meat and plant proteins. Furthermore, with the clever use of biotechnological processes, marine discards can be considered ideal candidates for generation of natural bioactive materials such as chitin and chitosan that have huge commercial appeal.” These, and other opportunities, will form the heart of the discussion at the BioÉire workshop that aims to act as a platform for determining which opportunities merit further investigation in an Irish context. Eight key commercial opportunities will be recommended by the project to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The workshop will be attended by representatives across policy, academic, state and semi-state organisations. BioÉire is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Ireland’s national Technology Centre for Biorefining and Bioenergy (TCBB) is one of a number of competence centres established and led by industry, and initially funded by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland. TCBB is co-hosted by 4 Irish universities, NUI Galway, University of Limerick, University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin. The BioÉire consortium comprises TCBB, Teagasc, Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and University College Dublin (UCD). For further information on the seminar please contact Pádraic Ó hUiginn, Communications Programme Manager, TCBB, NUI Galway on 087 905 3806 or e-mail -Ends-

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Huston School of Film and Digital Media to Launch Community Filmmaking Project

Huston School of Film and Digital Media to Launch Community Filmmaking Project-image

Monday, 7 September 2015

NUI Galway’s Huston School of Film and Digital Media will launch ‘The Home Project’ on Friday, 11 September at 7pm. ‘The Home Project’ will begin with a special screening of three short films produced by participants from COPE Galway, Youth Advocacy Programme Ireland and the Oranmore Liveable Communities Group. ‘The Home Project’ is an ongoing collaboration between the Huston School and local community groups to produce short documentaries on the theme of ‘home’. “The importance of a secure and stable home to people’s physical and mental wellbeing has never been more evident as we witness daily news stories about the problems of homelessness in Ireland as well the sacrifices endured by those around the world who are forced to flee their homes due to war or persecution,” said Dr Conn Holohan of the University’s Huston School of Film and Digital Media, who developed and coordinates the project. “The aim of this project is to provide groups within the Galway community with the training and facilities necessary to produce short films about their experiences of home and its significance in their lives. By giving people the tools to communicate what home means to them, the hope is that we might generate meaningful debate about the significance of home collectively in our society,” Dr Holohan continued. Over the months of July and August, participants from COPE Galway, Youth Advocacy Programme Ireland and the Oranmore Liveable Communities Group all worked with experienced industry professionals to produce three ten-minute documentaries on the theme of home. The stories which these films unearth include those of a family which spent years living in an active courthouse in Co. Galway, as well as the building of a swan sanctuary by the community of Oranmore to enable two of the towns most well-known inhabitants finally find a family home. The evening will also see the launch of ‘The Home Project’ website, where visitors can see the finished films as well as contribute their own memories of or reflections on a place called home. The project is funded by the Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme. - Ends -

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