NUI Galway will celebrate Irish Traveller Ethnicity Day by hosting the ‘Travellers in Education: Building a Sense of Belonging’ event on Wednesday, 26 February. Irish Traveller Ethnicity Day marks the anniversary of Travellers gaining ethnic status, while celebrating Travellers culture and heritage including music, craft traditions and language. The event will showcase the rich cultural heritage of Irish Travellers through the Traveller Living Exhibition which is open to the public from 10am – 2.30pm outside Áras na Mac Léinn. The exhibition, a vibrant recreation of Traveller life in the 1950s includes a fully restored barrel-top wagon, a traditional tent, a flat cart, a working tinsmith, a storyteller, and a campfire. Irish traditional music and Sean-nós dancing will also feature. Parallel to the showcase, the Access Centre will facilitate workshops to highlight pathways into university, specifically medicine and law, while outlining the multiple supports available to potential students. Imelda Byrne, Head of NUI Galway’s Access Centre, said: “The Access Centre is delighted to collaborate with our student societies, the Office of the Vice-President for Equality and Diversity, and Traveller Organisations across our region in organising this unique event. The first of its kind in any third-level institution in the country the event is core to the University’s strategy, particularly the values of openness and respectfulness delivered through the School of Sanctuary programme. We are proud and excited to host this event.” At 1pm in the Bailey Allen Hall (NUI Galway), there will be panel discussions focusing on the student experience and Travellers in education with: Hannagh McGinley, PhD Student in Education; Owen Ward, Access Centre; Martin Ward, WestTrav; Senator Alice Mary Higgins, Dean of Students Michelle Millar, and others. The panels will also hear from current students and graduates from NUI Galway amongst other higher education institutions about their experience in higher education. NUI Galway’s Owen Ward, Schools of Sanctuary Coordinator at NUI Galway, said: “This event highlights the openness of NUI Galway and participating schools where equality, diversity and inclusion is embedded within all its actions. This creates the opportunity for all students, including Irish Travellers, to commence building their sense of belonging at NUI Galway, while building bridges between all communities.” The event is organised by the NUI Galway’s Access Centre, Mincéirs Whiden Society and in collaboration with local schools participating in the NUI Galway Schools of Sanctuary programme. The participating schools are St. Marys College, Our Lady’s College, Scoil Bhríde Shantalla and Scoil Chroí Íosa. NUI Galway’s Schools of Sanctuary programme aims to empower students to cultivate their sense of belonging within education while enhancing their knowledge of pathways into Higher Education. The programme is an important element of the NUI Galway University of Sanctuary initiative and the University’s Strategic Plan. -Ends-
Friday, 14 February 2020
NUI Galway is exploring the designation ‘Age Friendly Campus’ through a student lead project that will see three initiatives on campus focus on welcoming members of the community to engage through a campus walk, public seminar and computer classes. NUI Galway students from second year Biomedical Science and the Older Persons Council (OPC) have worked together to organise these three events to progress a campaign for an Age Friendly University. The students have aimed to tackle three main areas: to raise awareness of the biodiversity walks on campus, to encourage participation in technology and to discuss the ‘Age Friendly Ireland’ programme. “Welcoming older people to our university is very important as it will encourage us all to engage more in wellness, cultural, social and educational opportunities” said Lorraine Tansey of NUI Galway’s Community Knowledge Initiative. “The main overall goals are to create a more diverse university campus, promoting more intergenerational engagement and helping to challenge stereotypes and combat ageism.” The World Health Organisation has identified aging populations as a major area of focus for cities, hospitals and educational institutions in proactive engagement with increasing diverse needs. The three events are free, open to all and are student-lead. The Age Friendly Walk will be held Monday 17th of February at 11pm. Meeting point at the Cathedral. The Age Friendly Computer Classes will be held Tuesday February 18th, Tuesday March 3rd and Tuesday March 10th from 12pm-12:45pm in the ILAS building on the ground floor G007. The Age Friendly Designation for NUI galway Seminar will be held Tuesday 10th of March at 12pm in the ILAS building on the ground floor G007. The guest speaker Dr. Kieran Walsh, Professor of Ageing and Public Policy will offer an insight into the national Age Friendly initiatives. To book your place on these events please call Lorraine Tansey 091-495346.
Friday, 14 February 2020
Study shows how the jellyfish Hydractinia produces eggs and sperm more flexibly than humans A new study, led by Dr Tim DuBuc and Professor Uri Frank from the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway, has found that Hydractinia, a North Atlantic jellyfish that also lives in Galway Bay, reproduces in a similar way to humans but does so far more flexibly. An article presenting these findings has been published today in the journal Science, with co-authors Dr Andy Baxevanis from the National Human Genome Research Institute of the US National Institutes of Health and Dr Christine Schnitzler from the Whitney Laboratory of Marine Bioscience of the University of Florida. Most animals, including humans, generate germ stem cells – the exclusive progenitors of eggs and sperm – only once in their lifetime. This process occurs during early embryonic development by setting aside (or ‘sequestering’) a small group of cells. All sperm or eggs that we humans produce during our lives are the descendants of those few cells we sequestered as early embryos. Importantly, there is no way for humans to replenish germ cells that were not sequestered during embryonic development or lost in adult life, resulting in sterility. In findings that may have implications for the study of human infertility, this research shows that Hydractinia uses a gene called Tfap2 as a ‘switch’ to commit its adult stem cells to produce gametes – eggs and sperm. Humans also use Tfap2 to commit cells to gamete production but only go through this process once, in a narrow time frame during embryonic development. In contrast, Hydractinia performs this process throughout its adult life. Therefore, the loss of germ cells in Hydractinia has no consequences with respect to fertility as its germ cells can be generated throughout its lifetime. Speaking today, Professor Uri Frank explained: “Looking at the similar, yet more flexible, system of reproduction in Hydractinia broadens our understanding of the issues affecting reproduction in humans. While much of a human’s capacity to reproduce is determined during embryonic development, we see that these jellyfish are far more adaptive and have a much greater capacity to regenerate their reproductive system throughout their adult lives. By looking at these genetically more tractable animals, we hope to understand core processes that control cells’ decisions in development and disease.” The full article is published in Science and available at: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/367/6479/757 ENDS
Tuesday, 11 February 2020
USI runs a Sexual Health Health Awareness campaign and launches a survey on campuses across Ireland Today the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) launched a Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) campaign running from the 10th -14th February. The campaign will include the launch of a ‘Sexual Experiences Survey’ with NUI Galway Active Consent, the distribution of 30,000 ‘SHAG Packs’, as well providing information on sexual health. The theme for this year is Sexual Empowerment amongst students. USI President, Lorna Fitzpatrick says: “The main focus of this campaign is to promote positive attitudes towards sex and raise awareness of all aspects of sexual health. In Ireland, talking about sex can still be considered a taboo subject and USI believes it is important to break through these barriers and encourage people to practice safer sex and to look after their sexual health. The truth is that many young people do not receive adequate relationships and sexual education while in school and for many the first time they learn about their sexual health is when they come to college. The USI continues to lobby for a more inclusive and evidence-based RSE programme for primary and secondary schools to ensure young people have experience of these conversations before going to college. This campaign allows us to directly reach 30,000 students with information about masturbation, consent, abortion information and sexual transmitted infections.” As part of the SHAG 2020 campaign, USI and NUI Galway Active Consent are working together in launching a national online students’ survey for third level students; the Sexual Experiences Survey (SES). The survey is designed to gain an insight on students’ experiences of sexual violence, attitudes towards consent, and perceptions of HEI supportsand responses to sexual misconduct. The Sexual Experiences Survey will help to address the knowledge gap by surveying students across all HEIs in the Republic of Ireland affiliated with USI. Survey findings will be presented in a report later in 2020 that highlights priorities across the HEI sector for prevention, awareness, and skills development. Dr Lorraine Burke, NUI Galway Post-Doctoral Researcher, leading the survey implementation said: “The 2019 Department of Education Consent Framework identified goals for HEIs in supporting students’ positive sexual health and to contend with the problem of sexual harassment and violence. The Sexual Experiences Survey will make sure we get comprehensive, up to date information on our students’ awareness of services, the prevalence of negative experiences, and the positive role of students in supporting a culture of respect”. Dr Pádraig MacNeela, Senior Lecturer in Psychology in NUI Galway and Active Consent programme leader said: “The issue of sexual violence and harassment will only be addressed successfully when all of us join forces and act together. We are delighted to partner with USI to carry out this important survey. Each of us brings important strengths, and through collaboration with third level colleges we aim to get a full picture of positive and negative student experiences. Once we know that information we can use it to help target sexual health education and supports”. USI Vice President for Welfare, Róisín O’Donovan says: “USI is delighted to be launching this survey in collaboration with NUI Galway Active consent on this important topic for students. The last time USI did a national survey on consent was the ‘Say Something’ survey in 2013, so it’s time for more up to date data to be reflective of the student society at the moment in Ireland. We’re looking forward to gaining a better insight into students’ sexual experiences and how we can best move forward with the ‘Consent Framework’”.