2017 Conference Programme

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Abstracts 2017


Recombinant Expression of cp19 barnacle cement protein in E. coli

Joanne Duffy, College of Science

Barnacle glue is a biological adhesive, and undergoes its curing process in the marine environment at varying levels of submersion in water. It has the ability to adhere to a plethora of surfaces; both those found in the natural environment of the barnacle and synthetic surfaces. Although barnacle fouling presents an economic problem which proves difficult to overcome (Chandramouli et al., 2015), the tenacity and steadfastness of the adhesive has the potential to be exploited for biomedical purposes. This study sought to express a 19 kDa protein dubbed cp19k from the barnacle species Pollicipes pollicipes in recombinant form using Escherichia coli BL21 as a host. The genetic construct of the protein to be expressed includes a leader sequence ompA and a poly-histidine tag which is cleavable by a tev site. The construct was inserted to a pIG6 vector which contains a gene for ampicillin resistance and places the construct under the control of the lac operon. The study illustrated the improvements in expression of the target protein when using trigger factor, a molecular chaperone, as compared with solitary expression. The protein in its purified form was used to perform adhesion assays based on the work of Liang et al. (2015). The assays performed did not show adhesive capabilities of cp19k, which is thought to be due to the low concentration of protein obtained following extraction and purification. The project also engaged in science communication.

Glial cells implications as a cause of long term exposure to antidepressants

Gertruda Ceburnyte

1)My research aims to look at the way that psychiatric disorders are treated and the way that the medications can cause more serious problems than they are trying to solve. There is a series of interrelated events that occur from taking antidepressants to them causing further psychiatric disorders in the future of the patient.
2)There is very little research done to show that specific antidepressants show a decrease or alteration in glial cells.
3)My project doesn't show a direct correlation but a causation from one event to the next.
4)I have examined what brain cells of affected patients look like with neuro imaging. I have done research in the type of medication used to treat depression and how it causes a glucocorticoid increase in the body. Furthermore I looked at experiments to see how these increased levels of glucocorticoids effect glial cell populations in the brain.
5)Is it possible that people who take antidepressants for chronic depression can develop schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other major mood disorders later on in their life.
6)Can antidepressants cause further psychiatric disorders?


The Clonbrock Photographic Collection: Anglo-Irish identity and the Dillon family of Galway

M. Úna Kavanagh

This project examines the Clonbrock Photographic Collection of the Dillon family, Clonbrock, Ahascragh, Co. Galway. It explores a rural Anglo-Irish cultural identity and its representation through the medium of photography. Clonbrock Photographic Collection extends over three generations of the Dillon family and dates from 1860 to 1930, a revolutionary period in Irish history. This project focuses on two particular decades: 1863- 1873, which observes the emergence of photography in Ireland and 1900-1910, the first decade of the twentieth century. Through critically selected images from 1863-1873 family life at the Big House is interrogated. The first decade of the new century sees a wider representation of Anglo-Irish culture beyond the Big House. How the dual identity of the Dillon family is evidenced through flags present in certain photographs will be explored. Lady Augusta Dillon is a central figure in the Clonbrock Photographic Collection and a key character in both periods.

To develop a screening method and form a preliminary assessment of the extent of dissemination of linezolid resistant Enterococcus faecalis in routine rectal screens– Is optrA prevalent in Galway patient populations?

Byrne, Ní Riain, Cormican

A recent publication described an emerging mechanism of resistance to linezolid in E. faecalis from three Irish isolates via the resistance gene optrA1, 2,3.
One of the isolates was referred from University Hospital Galway. The prevalence of linezolid resistant E.faecalis in Galway patient populations is unknown.
We developed a screening method to determine the prevalence of linezolid resistant E.faecalis in rectal swabs routinely submitted for screening for other antimicrobial resistant organisms. Mechanism of resistance was established for any linezolid resistant isolates to determine if the optrA mechanism was implicated.
Over a 3-week period, June 2016, all rectal swabs (N=182) received in the microbiology department of University Hospital Galway for routine ESBL and VRE screening were also screened for linezolid resistant E. fecalis.
Swabs were plated onto Slanetz and Bartley agar, an Enterococcus selective medium. A 10µg linezolid disk was added, plates incubated at 37 °C and reviewed at 24 and 48 hours for bacterial growth.
Colonies displaying growth within 21mm of the linezolid disk at 24 or 48h were identified by Matrix-assisted laser desorbtion/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF). An eTEST® was performed on any E. fecalis identified to establish the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) value. Samples with a MIC >4mg/L, indicating linezolid resistance, were sent to a reference laboratory for confirmation and identification of resistance mechanisms.
2 (1%) of 182 swabs yielded E.faecalis with a linezolid MIC >4mg/L. 1 (0.5%) of these was confirmed by the reference laboratory as linezolid resistant with resistance conferred by the OptrA gene.
Consideration should be given to including screening for linezolid resistant E.faecalis along with routine screening of rectal swabs for ESBL and VRE.

Aneurin Bevan: father of the British health service

John Cunningham

Links to SDGs: (3) Good Health

This work follows the life of Aneurin Bevan,from his early days as a child miner in Wales, overcoming personal disabilities and his rise to Cabinet in the post war Labour government, his dual ministry in housing and health, and his successes in both at the very challenging time of a post war Britain. The establishment of a health service that today is the envy of the world, all which commenced at midnight on 12th August 1948 and changed from a fee paying health service to a free service, available to all.

Complex Topologies in Particle Swarm Optimization

David Newell

Small problems can be solved using exact mathematical methods but as the problem space increases exact solutions require more computational time and effort. Many real-world problems are very complex and non-linear in nature meaning that they cannot be solved in any reasonable amount of time. Optimization algorithms are widely used in computer science to solve real-world problems by providing estimate solutions in an appropriate amount of time. The applicable problems are wide-ranging in nature and include image recognition, managing investment portfolios and coordinating generators to minimize fuel costs. Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) is just one such optimization algorithm. It is modeled off the flight of a bird flock. The algorithm operates by deploying a number of particles to the problem space. It is desired that particles first carry out rough exploration of the problem space before exploiting promising areas to produce the best results. Particles are setup to communicate in certain patterns that influence the ability of the swarm to explore or exploit.
This thesis analyzed variants of the PSO algorithm that changes the way particles are connected over time. The aim was to understand the exploration versus exploitation tendencies of the swarm over time. The communication connections between particles were modeled as a graph and the application of graph theory to describe the communication of swarm particles was investigated. It was found that the operation of the swarm could be effectively described. From this new insight, flaws were identified that were improved upon to produce favourable results.

The integration of Syrian refugees into German society

Laura Kelly

Links to SDGs: (1) No Poverty, (4) Quality Education, (10) Reduced Inequalities, (16) Peace and Justice

Millions of refugees crossed into Europe from war- torn areas such as Syria and Iraq in the past five years. Between the years of 2014 and 2016 we saw European countries struggling to cope with the influx, and creating division in the EU over how best to deal with resettling people. My research deals specifically with the integration of Syrian refugees into German society. Germany has taken in an incredible of amount of refugees since the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011 and my research deals with how the German government along with the German citizens aim to integrate these refugees into German society. Many of these refugees are children and my research conveys the problems that have arisen and how they aimed to be fixed in Germany. The research focuses on the different aspects relating to these children such as education, healthcare and the different approaches Germany as a nation need to consider in order to offer the incoming refugees safety and a place they can call home without constantly living in fear.

 Nicole Sylver

College of Arts, Social Sciences, & Celtic Studies

Predictors of change detection and eyewitness identification accuracy

Eyewitness memory errors are a major cause of false imprisonment. Change blindness may give rise to an instance of unconscious transference whereby the eyewitness infers that the innocent person and the perpetrator are the same person during encoding and subsequently misidentifies the innocent person. Several studies have confirmed that face processing ability is linked to eyewitness identification accuracy. It has been suggested that competence in face processing is reflective of general proficiency in visual processing. Therefore, it is possible that visual processing ability is also linked to eyewitness identification accuracy. Perhaps enhanced change detection mediates this relationship. Affective states associated with personality traits regulate attentional breadth. Positive affect, which is associated with extraversion, has been shown to broaden attentional scope. The first aim of this study is to assess whether visual processing ability and extraversion predict change detection. The second aim of this study is to assess whether those who detect a change are more accurate in their eyewitness identification than those who do not detect a change. Depending on the results of this study, the legal system may benefit from introducing visual processing ability and extraversion assessments for eyewitnesses to determine the weight that should be given to their testimonies.