Going to College’ Initiative Welcomes Collaboration with Community Partners

Going to College’ Initiative Welcomes Collaboration with Community Partners-image

Monday, 8 July 2013

NUI Galway recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with representatives from the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies and intellectual disability service providers including Ability West, Brothers of Charity Services Galway, Brothers of Charity Services Roscommon and Western Care. The Memorandum of Understanding outlines the partner’s strong commitment to the ‘Going to College’ initiative at NUI Galway and their agreement to provide direct funding for the coming academic year.  ‘Going to College’ is a pioneering higher education initiative, supporting the full inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities at NUI Galway. Students are registered full-time students and are fully included in all class activities. Students also have opportunities to undertake meaningful work placement and volunteering opportunities that will enrich their lives into the future.   Aiming to support each student to develop the vision, knowledge and transferrable skills to live a more independent, inclusive life after university, the ‘Going to College’ initiative is underpinned by a rights base and recognises the strengths and potential of each student to achieve in a mainstream higher education environment. Consistent with UNESCO’s principles for inclusion in education and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it promotes citizenship, inclusion and participation, with a focus on the will and preferences of each individual student.  Professor Pat Dolan, Director, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway, said: “This is a significant development for NUI Galway and for students with intellectual disabilities and their families. We warmly welcome the strong university/community partnership forged with intellectual disability service providers today. Our aim is to provide each student with opportunities to engage in the full college experience here at NUI Galway, to broaden their social networks and undertake meaningful work placement and volunteering opportunities that will enrich their lives into the future. This partnership with our community partners will provide a very strong foundation in achieving this aim.”   Anne Geraghty, Director of Services with Brothers of Charity Galway, said: “Just like many people of their age, young people with intellectual disability have hopes and dreams about going to college, learning new things, making new friends and becoming part of the whole college experience. The ‘Going to College’ project supports this to happen, and the Brothers of Charity Services Galway is delighted to partner with NUI Galway.”  Breda Crehan-Roche, Chief Executive with Ability West, said: “We are delighted to support the ‘Going to College’ project.  This project is unique in that it is fully integrated in the college as students with intellectual disability are recognised as students and they are supported and encouraged to take part in all mainstream college activities.” For further information on the Going to College initiative contact Breda Casey, Going to College Co-ordinator, NUI Galway, at breda.casey@nuigalway.ie. -ENDS-

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Maths Summer Camp at NUI Galway

Maths Summer Camp at NUI Galway -image

Monday, 8 July 2013

This summer, a group of student teachers at NUI Galway will hold a four-day maths summer camp for sixth class primary pupils. Those attending MATH (Making Awesome Things Happen) will have the opportunity to learn maths and social skills in preparation for the transition to second-level. Running from 19-22 August, students will experience a range of maths activities, such as pop math, introduction to triangles, the fun circle and more. In previous years, those attending found the camp to be a great help in their transition to second-level, both through learning about maths and meeting new friends. Dr Máire Ní Ríordáin, Lecturer on the BA in Mathematics and Education programme at NUI Galway, said: “This Maths Summer Camp provides meaningful, stimulating, challenging, and engaging activities for primary pupils. It gives an opportunity for all pupils, irrespective of their ability, to participate successfully in maths activities, gaining a sense of pride in their learning and improving attitudes towards maths. The success of this is due to our enthusiastic student teachers and their commitment to providing positive experiences of maths for their pupils.” The programme is open to any student who will be commencing their first year in secondary school in September 2013. The fee for the four-day camp is €30 and materials such as calculators, pens and stationery will be provided. Early registration is advisable as places are limited. Further details on the camp including registration details may be found at www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=230  or by contacting Meighan on 0876242071. -ENDS-

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NUI Galway’s School of Physics Receives Recognition for Gender Equality

NUI Galway’s School of Physics Receives Recognition for Gender Equality-image

Monday, 8 July 2013

First University in Ireland to Achieve Practitioner Award NUI Galway’s School of Physics’ work in promoting equal opportunities in science has been rewarded by the Institute of Physics. The School has been made a Practitioner under the Institute’s Juno Project, the first university in Ireland to achieve this status.  The Juno Project, established by the Institute of Physics in 2007, aspires to redress the long-standing issue of the under-representation of women at the highest levels of physics academia in the UK and Ireland. The aim of Juno is to recognise and reward departments that can demonstrate that action has been taken to address the under-representation of women in university physics and to encourage better practice for both women and men. While women make up 20% of physics undergraduates across Ireland and the UK, this number drops to 7% further along academia at the level of university professor, suggesting female physicists are less likely than their male counterparts to progress into the most senior positions in physics. The Juno principles improve working culture for all departmental staff, creating, for example, flexible working arrangements, provision for childcare and a more transparent organisational structure. The potential for improvement has driven high levels of engagement amongst Irish and UK physics departments.  Dr Miriam Byrne, Co-ordinator of the Juno project in NUI Galway, said: “Whilst this is a significant achievement within NUI Galway, the first university in Ireland to attain this status, it must also be acknowledged that both nationally and internationally, women at every level in physical science are under-represented. We have a reasonable proportion of women in our undergraduate cohort but at postgraduate and senior academic staff level there are far fewer women. This is a concern if female undergraduates do not see role models to encourage them to take up careers in science.” Professor Andy Shearer, Head of the School of Physics, NUI Galway, said: “The School of Physics is committed to increasing the number of women taking Physics courses and our participation in the Juno project is part of this. We hope that in future years this will increase the number of female graduates coming out NUI Galway with a Physics degree.” -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Release Local Weather App for iPhone

NUI Galway Release Local Weather App for iPhone -image

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Last year, NUI Galway released an Android weather app to keep Galwegians up-to-date on local weather and weather trends. Due to popular demand, the University has now released an iPhone version. The app development was carried out by Ronan Everiss, an NUI Galway Bachelor of Science in Information Technology graduate under the supervision of Dr Hugh Melvin. The weather data is provided by the Informatics Research Unit for Sustainable Engineering (IRUSE) research group at NUI Galway led by Dr Marcus Keane, Lecturer in Energy Systems Engineering at the University. Dr Hugh Melvin, Lecturer in Information Technology at NUI Galway, said: “Local weather data is used on campus across a range of research projects, from renewable energy to plant growth to climate change but we feel it is also important to provide such data to the general public, and after all, 'The Weather' provides the greatest source of conversation in Ireland. When we launched the android app last year, we were delighted with the positive feedback and level of interest, and recognised the need to create a similar app for iPhone users.” The app is free and can be found by searching ‘NUIG Weather’ in the Apple app store. The app provides live weather data (such as temperature, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall and atmospheric pressure) as well as graphs of archived data so that you can review trends in weather over last day or month. The weather data is also available via web browser from http://weather.nuigalway.ie. -ENDS-

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Helping Teenagers Through a Mother’s Illness

Helping Teenagers Through a Mother’s Illness-image

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Teenagers of women with breast cancer are invited to participate in a new study at NUI Galway which seeks to understand and help adolescent adjustment to maternal illness.  The importance of family support for a person with cancer is now well accepted but also there is increasing recognition that when someone in the family gets cancer other members also need help. The study at NUI Galway is focusing in particular on the impact of maternal breast cancer on sons and daughters aged 14-19 years. The study, AMBC - Adolescent Adjustment to Maternal Breast Cancer, is being carried out under the direction of Dr AnnMarie Groarke, School of Psychology and Professor Pat Dolan, Director Child and Family Research Centre, UNESCO Chair in Children Youth and Civic Engagement. The research will examine the psychological impact of a mother’s breast cancer on teenage children and the benefits of an online skills based programme designed to help adolescents cope with this situation. Dr Groarke, who has recently published work showing benefits for stress management programmes with Irish women with breast cancer emphasises: “The crucial need for additional information on how a cancer diagnosis affects the entire family. Paying attention to adolescent response to parental illness can help us to identify the kind of support needed and enable the design of programmes targeting their needs.” Professor Dolan, who has considerable research experience in child and family support affirms that: “Many families are affected by breast cancer and their support needs are unspoken. This study is an opportunity for young people to discuss concerns and needs for reassurance for their families and themselves.” The researchers are keen to hear from women who might be interested in their adolescent son or daughter taking part in the programme. Ideally, from mothers who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the last 12 months and who have an adolescent son or daughter between 14 and 19 years of age. Participation involves completing an online survey exploring adolescent needs and experiences and completing an online programme of approximately eight sessions.  The online programme covers themes such as communication, stress management and social skills /social support. The online intervention allows adolescents participate in their own time and at their own pace. Those interested should contact researcher Leonor Rodriguez at the School of Psychology on 091- 493454 or email l.rodriguez2@nuigalway.ie. Website:http://ambcstudy.wordpress.com/ -ends-

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NUI Galway Provide Free Courses under Government Up-skilling Initiative

NUI Galway Provide Free Courses under Government Up-skilling Initiative -image

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

NUI Galway is offering a number of free places on five part-time courses under the Government’s Springboard initiative, addressing skills needs in the areas of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Medical Device Science, and Lean and Quality Systems. These courses are aimed at unemployed persons who wish to up-skill or re-skill into sectors which are growing within the regional and national economy. The courses are provided in a modular, flexible format and can be taken via distance or blended learning for students who are unable to attend the campus on a regular basis. In spite of the recession, the ICT industry has steadily continued to expand in Ireland, with major international hubs now established in Galway and Dublin. There is currently a shortfall in skilled ICT graduates so with these needs in mind NUI Galway is offering three specialist diplomas in e-Business Analysis, Business Analytics, and Software Engineering. Also under the Springboard initiative are specialist diplomas in Medical Device Science and Lean and Quality Systems. Michael Lang, Head of Business Information Systems at NUI Galway, said: “There is strong demand for graduates with skills in areas such as data analytics, business systems analysis, programming, database development, and cloud computing. Our courses have been designed in consultation with industry partners such as Hewlett-Packard, Accenture, and SAP to specifically meet their needs.” “The Specialist Diploma in Medical Device Science, and the Specialist Diploma Lean and Quality Systems are designed for those with a diploma or degree in science or engineering who want to change sector, specialise, or move into cross-team roles”, said Dr Brian Ó Donnchadha, Coordinator of the programmes in Science and Technology at NUI Galway. Further information on all courses and eligibility criteria can be obtained at http://www.SpringboardCourses.ie or by contacting the NUI Galway Adult Education Office at 091 492144.  The application deadline is Friday, 26 July, with further applications welcome thereafter if places remain available. -ENDS-

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Hunt is on for Sleepy Dormouse

Hunt is on for Sleepy Dormouse-image

Monday, 15 July 2013

NUI Galway researchers are on the hunt for a tiny, nocturnal mammal, which can spend up to three-quarters of its life asleep. The hazel, or common, dormouse is not native to Ireland but a number of confirmed sightings have been made in County Kildare. A Facebook campaign has been launched by researchers at the University’s Ryan Institute to enlist the public’s help in monitoring sightings of the rodent. “It is not known how the dormouse got to Ireland,” explains Dr Colin Lawton of the Mammal Ecology Group in NUI Galway. “It is very unlikely they have been here for a long time unnoticed. It is much more probable that they were introduced, possibly by accident while hibernating in hay. Introduced animals which spread quickly and cause such difficulties are often described as ‘invasive’. However, it is unlikely that the dormouse will be an invasive species, given the low numbers and difficulties they are experiencing elsewhere in their range in the UK and Europe. However they need to be monitored and assessed so we can observe any influence they have on the environment.” Dormice are woodland animals, who nest in shrubs and hedgerows, particularly those containing hazel (as their name suggests) or brambles. They like to eat fruit, nuts, flowers or insects depending on what is available. As many people know, they like to sleep as well, hibernating for over half the year from October to as late as April or May (hence the sleepy dormouse at the Mad Hatter's tea party in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). Often they are seen in the summer feeding at bird tables, particularly those close to suitable woodland. Dormice are about the same size as a mouse, usually weighing less than 20g, although they can be twice that weight just before hibernating. They have large black eyes (they are mostly active at night) and a thick furry tail quite unlike that of a mouse. The Mammal Ecology group in NUI Galway have launched a Dormouse Survey, to collect records of this new animal to Ireland. If you have come across one, particularly if you have a photo or a precise location of the sighting please contact the survey team at dormouseireland@gmail.com, or on 086 0660208 or visit Dormouse Survey Ireland on Facebook. -ends-

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Six From NUI Galway Scoop Prestigious Fulbright Award

Six From NUI Galway Scoop Prestigious Fulbright Award-image

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Thirty-seven Fulbright Awardees were officially announced at an event on MS The World, which was sponsored by a U.S. Fulbright alumnus, Dr. Jack Pinkowski and his wife, Mrs. Monica Pinkowski, as part of The Gathering on Friday, 12 July. Since 1957, the Fulbright Awards are given annually by the Irish and U.S. governments and provide Irish students, scholars, and professionals with the opportunity to study, lecture, and research at top universities and institutions throughout the United States. Among the 37 awardees were six winners from the NUI Galway: Sharon Ansboro is a PhD candidate in Regenerative Medicine at the NUI Galway. While on her Fulbright Student Award Sharon will research alternative cell therapy approaches for the treatment of osteoarthritis at the University of Rochester. Maeve Clancy is a secondary school teacher at St. Andrew’s College in Booterstown and a graduate of University College Cork with a postgraduate diploma in Education from NUI Galway. Originally from Oughterard, Maeve will be a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. Dr Louis De Paor is the Director of the Centre for Irish Studies at the NUI Galway. As the Fulbright Irish Language Scholar, Louis will work on a bilingual anthology of twentieth-century Irish poetry at New York University and the University of California, Berkeley. Dr Frances Fahy is the Fulbright-Environmental Protection Agency Scholar Awardee. She is a lecturer in Geography at NUI Galway. While at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Frances will research the experiences of academics involved in policy-relevant research in the field of sustainability. Fiona Griffin is a PhD candidate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway. She will undertake research on osteogenic cell mechanobiology at Georgia Institute of Technology as part of her Fulbright Student Award. Dr Triona McGrath is the Fulbright-Marine Institute Scholar Awardee and a graduate of NUI Galway. Triona will go to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego to research ocean acidification in coastal water environments. This year’s other Fulbright Awardees, from fourteen Irish higher educational institutions, will travel to the four corners of America on their awards, from Rice University in Texas to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. to Oregon State University. Speaking at the launch of this year’s Fulbright Awards, Patrick McDermott, Chair of the Fulbright Commission Board, said, “Year after year, the Fulbright Awards attract Ireland’s top researchers, professionals, and graduates. With the breadth and expertise seen in this year’s winners I know that these current and future leaders will gain invaluable experience that they can share upon their return to Ireland.” McDermott continued, “I am especially delighted to see the Fulbright Awardees’ very topical areas of research that they will examine during their year in the U.S. For instance, two Fulbright-Environmental Protection Agency awardees will explore innovative ways to encourage sustainability in Ireland. I know that their contributions to the future of Irish environmental policy will be informed by their time in the U.S.” A number of other agencies sponsor Fulbright Awards including CRH plc, Enterprise Ireland, the Marine Institute, and Teagasc. As well as the sponsored awards, the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht and the National Lottery support the Irish Language Awards for scholars and teachers. Speaking about the diverse nature of the awardees, Ms Colleen Dube, Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission, said, “The Fulbright Awards continue to reflect the diversity and depth of Irish academia. Although this year’s awardees have a definite science and technology angle, the arts also feature prominently, with awardees going to the School for Improvisational Music in Brooklyn, New York and the California Institute of the Arts. I look forward to seeing, and hearing, the wonderful outputs from each of these 37 awardees at the end of 2014.” Dube continued, “In this Gathering year we are especially delighted with the Fulbrighters’ role as cultural ambassadors while in the U.S. With 37 Irish awardees going to the U.S. and 13 Americans coming to Ireland this autumn, we are thrilled to be a part of the ongoing cultural and educational exchange between the two countries.” The next round of applications for Irish Fulbright Awardees will open on Wednesday, 28 August.  Interested applicants in all disciplines are encouraged to visit the Fulbright Commission’s website, www.fulbright.ie, for more information. All applications for the 2014-2015 academic year will be due on Wednesday, 13 November.

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Can music enhance wellbeing in older-age?

Can music enhance wellbeing in older-age?-image

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The power of music to enhance wellbeing is being explored by researchers at NUI Galway. Jenny Groarke, a musician and PhD student at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway, is seeking volunteers for her research project on the benefits of music listening. Jenny is seeking participants aged 18-30 years and 60-85 years to join focus group sessions. Volunteers will spend 2-3 hours in small groups discussing the reasons they listen to music, and then vote for what they believe is most beneficial for well-being. Jenny explains: “We hope to understand how we can use listening to music to improve well-being, which will certainly benefit younger and older adults in the future.” These focus group sessions are ongoing at NUI Galway and emerging evidence suggests that people listen to music for a wide range of reasons, but their reasons for listening are primarily emotional. “Music has long been known to give rise to positive feelings, memories and emotions”, explains Jenny. “People of all ages listen to music to cope with the stresses of everyday life, they listen to music to connect with others in social situations, and those who are isolated say they often listen to music to reduce feelings of loneliness.” Through her research, Jenny has already discovered some differences in music listening between younger and older adults. Unsurprisingly, young adults are more likely to listen to music to attract potential love interests and older adults often listen to music to remind them of dear friends and relatives now departed. Jenny adds, “Galway is a city filled with music and musicians, so we anticipated that music would be an important part of people’s lives. Music seems to increase in importance in older age and this is something we didn’t expect. One music-lover, aged 70, went as far as to say that “Jazz has given me a new life, a second chance”. The Galway native was inspired to study the link between music and well-being in older adults by her late grandfather Jimmy Dooley, who sang in the Augustinian choir for more than 65 years and played the drums in the Galway Bay Jazz band in Busker Brownes every Sunday. She has also set up a business, Sing-Bang Music Workshops, which brings music workshops to nursing homes to improve memory ability, happiness, and quality of life in elderly adults through group music making. For more information on volunteering for the research please visit adaptivefunctionsofmusic.wordpress.com, email jenny.groarke@gmail.com or phone 086 0333 033. -ENDS-

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Cautious Welcome for the Assisted Decision-Making Bill

Cautious Welcome for the Assisted Decision-Making Bill-image

Thursday, 18 July 2013

NUI Galway’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy welcomes the publication of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013 today. Professor Gerard Quinn, Director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, said: “This is a landmark moment in the process of disability law reform in Ireland. Once enacted Ireland should be able to ratify the UN disability treaty. The Minister is to be congratulated for moving beyond traditional guardianship to enable people take charge of their own lives. In particular, as the changed title of the Bill suggests, it innovates by putting into place supports where needed to assist people make their own decisions and chart their own life choices. In the period ahead we will be making many suggested improvements to make this profound shift a reality in people’s daily lives. The Bill retains a limited form of guardianship. Obviously the Minister and her officials believe this to be compatible with the UN disability treaty.  Time will tell.  But for the moment we laud the major step forward in the provisions dealing with supported decision making and will do our part to come forward with constructive suggestions for refinements and improvements.” He added: “The process for getting to this point deserves particular praise. The Oireachtas Justice Committee held a series of important and indeed historic hearings with civil society and made sure their voice was heard.  Officials from Government Departments responsible for drafting the legislation also listened. And the Minister was a very active listener. This demonstrates the success of concerted efforts from a large range of civil society organisations across disability, mental health, and ageing sectors, who put forward positive ideas for reform in the Essential Principles for Legal Capacity Law.” Dr Eilionóir Flynn, Senior Research Fellow with the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, said: “Among the areas for improvement in the Bill are the following: First, we welcome the inclusion in the Bill’s General Principles of the requirement that decision-makers must give effect, wherever possible to the ‘will and preferences’ of the person, as it ensures respect for the basic human rights of persons with disabilities.  We will be making suggestions to ensure the primacy of this principle throughout the Act to ensure respect for human rights. Secondly, it is crucial that the Government provides a timeline for the reform of other areas of law affected by legal capacity but currently exempted under this Bill, for example, the Mental Health Act 2001, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993, and the Juries Act 1976, among others. Thirdly, there is a need for some sort of infrastructure to encourage and develop good practice in supported decision-making. In the Bill this role is given to the Office of Public Guardian. The title of the office suggests that a more protective, rather than empowering approach will be take. An Office for Assisted Decision-Making may be more appropriate. Fourthly, some process for active learning must be put in place. The Bill contains a provision for a review of the functioning of the Act within a five-year timeframe. We believe that a more robust review provision is required, given the rate at which new thinking on legal capacity and supported decision-making is advancing. A review of the ‘functioning’ of the Act could be limited in scope, especially if relatively few provisions of the Act have been commenced within that five-year timeframe. This needs improvement.” Charles O’Mahony, Lecturer in Public Law at NUI Galway, said: “Much of the capacity Bill is framed positively and a greater premium is being placed on the respect for the decision-making of persons. The Mental Health Act 2001 is currently undergoing review and it is essential the mental health legislation and new legal capacity legislation interface in a consistent way reflecting Ireland obligations under international human rights law.” Professor Quinn concluded: “This will replace Victorian legislation which the early Irish Free State pledged to remove. We are finally catching up with the ideals of our founders. With improvements this Bill could finally hand back power to the people and position us again in the first rank of nations dedicated to the rights of persons with disabilities.” -ENDS-

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