Friday, 17 February 2017

New formula to help scientists advance artificial muscles, soft robotics – and Batman’s bat cape

NUI Galway publish new mathematical formula on soft ‘dielectric’ membranes Applied mathematicians from NUI Galway have today published a formula which will be of huge benefit to materials scientists and soft robotics engineers. The team have worked out how much voltage and deformation soft ‘dielectric’ membranes can take before they break. Soft ‘dielectric’ membranes are used on the cutting edge of science to develop artificial muscles, soft robotics, energy harvesters and ‘smart clothes’. These lightweight soft materials deploy and stiffen when put under high voltage, but until now, there has been a big challenge in knowing what the breaking point of these membranes is.  Professor Michel Destrade, at the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics in NUI Galway explains: “If you can remember the scene in Batman Begins where this huge bat cape emerges from a tiny folded piece of material, that’s the kind of technology which is being developed currently in some labs around the world, especially in Harvard University and in China. It’s the electric voltage that allows these special membranes to expand. Until now it was not fully understood how much voltage these membranes could sustain. Some are a millimetre thick, but if they thin out too much when they stretch with the voltage, it can lead to a short-circuit and a catastrophic breakdown. We hope our mathematical formula will help advance science in this area.” Dr Giuseppe Zurlo of NUI Galway, co-author of the study, adds: “The very near and real applications for these materials are artificial human muscles, or soft robots which can help organs function.” Together with collaborators at Politecnico di Bari in Italy, the mathematicians worked out a simple formula to link the physical properties of the membrane to the breakdown amount of stretch. “The final equation is very compact”, says Dr Zurlo, “and it will provide most useful safety guidelines for future experiments on these fascinating materials.” The problem had stumped material scientists for years and its solution is published today in the prestigious Physical Review Letters. Professor Destrade and Dr Zurlo are now working on experiments with engineering colleagues at Xi’an Jiaotong University in China. To view the full paper in Physical Review Letters visit: or  Video link of a membrane deforming under a voltage:  -Ends-

News Archive

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Anderson was first Professor of German at the University, Mozart & Beethoven expert, and OBE awardee. She also received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany A ceremony to mark the official naming of the Emily Anderson Concert Hall will take place in the Aula Maxima Upper at NUI Galway on Thursday, 23 February 2017. Emily Anderson was NUI Galway’s first Professor of German and to this day is internationally recognised for her achievements in translating the letters of Mozart and Beethoven into English and in so doing offering invaluable insights into their work.  She is also distinguished for her intelligence work with the British Government during World War II. Professor Anne Scott, Vice President for Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway said in advance of the ceremony: “We are delighted to honour Emily Anderson, one of our eminent female alumni, in this visible and tangible way. Our concert hall, the Emily Anderson Concert Hall, is an important link to Galway, to music and to the cultural life of our community.” Emily Anderson was born on 17 March 1891 in Galway and in 1911 graduated from Queen’s College Galway with a First-Class Honours BA in Modern Languages. In 1917, following further studies and work abroad, Anderson was appointed the first Professor of German in University College Galway. She joined the growing number of women holding academic positions, particularly in arts, though also in Science and Medicine. In 1920 Anderson resigned her position in Galway and moved to London. By 1923, she was among the first women to be offered posts in the British Foreign office. During the Second World War, she was seconded to the War office and was awarded an OBE. A published writer since the early 1920s, Anderson earned an international reputation as an authority on Mozart and Beethoven, whose correspondence she edited and translated. The critically acclaimed three-volume edition, The Letters of Mozart & His Family, first published in 1938, has remained a classic reference. Later, following retirement, she published the three-volume edition Letters to Beethoven (1961). Once more, Anderson won official recognition and she was awarded an order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Emily Anderson died at the age of 71 in, 1962, in London. She left her estate to support benevolent funds and the Royal Philharmonic Society awards the international Emily Anderson Prize to young violinists annually. NUI Galway, along with Music for Galway hold an annual concert in her memory. As part of their programme, Music for Galway will host a concert to celebrate the occasion will take place on Friday, 25 February. The Emily Anderson Memorial Concert will be broadcast live by Lyric FM and is open to the public. Tickets and further details are available at ENDS

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Two NUI Galway graduates, who were among the 2016 Highly Commended Entrants at the Undergraduate Awards (UA), presented their papers at the recent UPresent: Island of Ireland 2017. The event saw students and recent graduates from all around Ireland and Northern Ireland gather to present their innovative research in under three minutes to their peers, lecturers and notable academics from various institutions on the island. Law graduate Mahmoud Abukhadir from Drogheda, Co. Louth presented his paper The Case for the Establishment of an International Patent System, which was Highly Commended in the Law category in the 2016 Undergraduate Awards. Bachelor of Science graduate Claire Dooley presented her paper Targeting Fibrinogen as a Factor Contributing to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Originally from Bouladuff, Co. Tipperary, Claire’s paper was the highest ranked paper from the Island of Ireland in the Life Sciences category in the Undergraduate Awards. The Highly Commended Entrants are students and recent graduate who were placed in the top 10% of their field globally in The Undergraduate Awards 2016. Keynote speaker at UPresent: Island of Ireland, Professor Ellen Hazelkorn, Policy Advisor to the Higher Education Authority (HEA), spoke on the topic of ‘The Role of Higher Education in the Age of Populism’. She has worked as higher education policy consultant and specialist with international organisations and governments for over 15 years. -Ends-

Friday, 3 February 2017

Acmhainn Nua Oideachais do Bhéaltriail Ghaeilge na hArdteistiméireachta. Tá TG4 i gcomhar le hOllscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh tar éis suíomh nua físe a chur ar fáil ar do dhaltaí iar-bhunscoile atá ag ullmhú do Bhéaltriail Ghaeilge na hArdteistiméireachta. Beidh an file clúiteach as Dún na nGall, Pádraig Mac Suibhne (‘Colscaradh’), ag seoladh an tsuímh go hoifigiúil an 02 Féabhra 2017 ag 1.30 in Áras na Gaeilge in Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh, i gcuideachta daltaí Ardteiste ó Choláiste na Coiribe, Gaillimh.  Is acmhainn nua oideachais closamhairc TG4 Foghlaim, atá curtha in oiriúint do riachtanais dhaltaí na hArdteistiméireachta, ach is féidir le foghlaimeoirí ar leibhéal ar bith an t-ábhar seo a úsáid lena gcuid scileanna Gaeilge a fhorbairt. Tá an acmhainn seo ar fáil saor in aisce do dhaltaí agus d’fhoghlaimeoirí eile in Éirinn agus ar fud an domhain. Is furasta an suíomh gréasáin nua seo a úsáid agus beidh ábhar nua á chur ar fáil ann go leanúnach; ag tús gach seachtaine i rith na scoilbhliana, cuirfear cleachtaí nua in airde ann atá bunaithe ar mhíreanna físe ó scoth na gclár ar TG4. Tá na ceachtanna féin bunaithe ar thopaicí an tSiollabais Ardteistiméireachta agus ar fáil saor in aisce. Lena chois sin, beidh léiriú físe ar fáil ar TG4 Foghlaim ar bhrí liteartha agus ar bhrí mheafarach na ndánta atá ar an Siollabas, mar aon le próifíl iomlán ar na filí agus cur síos ar chúlra na ndánta. Is comhpháirtíocht idir TG4 agus Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh an togra seo agus táthar ag súil go rachaidh sé chun tairbhe do dhaltaí agus do mhúinteoirí araon. Deir Leascheannasaí TG4, Pádhraic Ó Ciardha, go bhfuil an togra seo curtha le chéile mar thoradh ar iarratais go leor atá déanta ag múinteoirí (agus a gcuid daltaí) ar an gcainéal le beagán blianta: “Is cóir agus is deas linn togra oideachasúil mar seo a sheoladh mar chruthúnas breise ar an leas poiblí a dhéanann TG4 ag cur na Gaeilge chun cinn ar fud na cruinne.” Leagann Príomhfheidhmeannach Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, Dónall Ó Braonáin, béim ar thábhacht an togra: “Is iontach go bhfuil taighde ceannródaíoch ar an sealbhú teanga á roinnt ar mhúinteoirí agus mic léinn ardteistiméireachta a bhuíochas d’acmhainní foghlama den chéad scoth.” Tuilleadh eolais ó nó 091 505050. -Críoch- TG4 FOGHLAIM Oral Irish Leaving Certificate Examination Resource TG4 has teamed up with NUI Galway to create TG4 Foghlaim, an innovative and attractive  new audiovisual resource website that will prove of great assistance to postprimary students preparing for the Oral Irish Leaving Certificate Examination. Renowned poet, Pádraig Mac Suibhne, whose poem ‘Colscaradh’ features on the Irish Leaving Certificate Syllabus, will launch the site officially on Thursday the 2nd of February at 1.30 in Áras na Gaeilge in NUI Galway. Pádraig will be joined by TG4 presenter Fiona Ní Fhlatharta and TG4’s Deputy CEO, Pádhraic Ó Ciardha. Dónall Ó Braonáin, CEO of Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge will also be present together with Leaving Certificate students from Coláiste na Coiribe, Gaillimh. TG4 Foghlaim aims to ensure that students are well-informed on topics relevant to the Oral Irish exam, which is worth 40% of the overall subject grade. Other learners of all levels and ages, both nationally and internationally, are also encouraged to avail of the website free of charge to improve their oral Irish fluency.  The free, user-friendly site encourages both teachers and students alike to engage with audiovisual content and downloadable lesson plans. TG4 Foghlaim has been careful to maintain a balance between the three major dialects that are represented in its content. This has been extracted from popular TG4 programmes or created exclusively for TG4 Foghlaim. The new aid also offers visual interpretations of the poetry set for the Oral Exam. These interpretations not only explore the literal and metaphorical meanings of the poems, but also feature video profiles of the five poets who composed the works in question. This new project is the latest is a series of partnerships between TG4 and NUI Galway for the benefit of both students and teachers alike. TG4’s Deputy CEO,Pádhraic Ó Ciardha, has revealed that this project has been the result of regular and increasing feedback from  both teachers and students  over recent years: “We are delighted to launch this important and highly visual project which illustrates the importance that TG4 places on the development of Irish throughout the world.” CEO of Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, Dónall Ó Braonáin, points to the relevance of the project: “It is terrific that Leaving Certificate students and teachers will benefit directly from leading research in language acquisition through first-class learning resources.” More information from or 091 505050  -Ends-

Events Calendar

Upcoming Events Time / Date Location
NUI Galway Theatre Week Monday,
20 February 2017
NUI Galway Campus
Seminar: Concussion in Sport and the Law 18.00 Tuesday,
21 February 2017
Áras Moyola

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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The public are invited to a fascinating public lecture of a winter expedition with the German icebreaker “Polarstern” to Antarctica. The talk will be delivered by Professor Peter Lemke of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz-Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Germany on Wednesday, 14 September, at 7.30pm in the Colm O’hEocha Theatre in the Arts Millenium Building at NUI Galway. Professor Lemke has participated in nine polar expeditions with the German research icebreaker “Polarstern”, and has collections of stunning photographs depicting the Antarctic landscape and intriguing experiences to share. He is visiting Galway to participate in the Atlantic Ocean Climate Scholars Programme which is a week-long intensive, accredited workshop examining how climate and oceans interact, with particular examples from the Atlantic Ocean and higher latitudes. The lecture is open to members of the public and is part of a workshop organised by Dr Pauhla McGrane of the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART) being held in Galway, from 12-19 September,offered to international postgraduate students of marine, atmosphere and climate-related sciences. “Polar regions play an important role for our climate, but direct observations are difficult to obtain and can only be achieved with greatest effort. This is especially true in wintertime” said Professor Lemke. “Severe blizzards, being trapped between thick ice floes and forced to drift with the ice, the darkness of the polar night and temperatures around minus 30°C. This presentation will take you along on an extraordinary winter expedition into the Antarctic Ocean. It shows the beauty of the frozen ocean, presents some insight into polar and climate research, and demonstrates everyday life on a research icebreaker,” he continued. High latitudes have received attention recently because of significant changes in the atmosphere, sea ice, and ocean, and on land, especially in the Arctic. The surface air temperature in the Arctic has increased about twice as fast as the global air temperature. The Arctic sea-ice extent in summer has decreased by 35% since 1979, and the sea-ice thickness during late summer has declined in the Central Arctic by about 40% since 1958. A warming has also been observed at depth in the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean. But surprisingly there is no negative trend observed in the Antarctic sea ice. Both, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass, and the sea level is rising. Most of these observed trends are in agreement with warming scenarios performed with coupled climate models, which indicate an amplified response in high latitudes to increased greenhouse gas concentrations. But details of the complex interaction between atmosphere, sea ice and ocean, and the impacts on the ecosystem and the human society are still only marginally understood. Results will be shown from the latest Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and from a winter expedition the speaker has lead into the ice-covered Weddell Sea (Antarctica). Dr Pauhla McGrane, coordinator of SMART said: “We are delighted that Proffessor Lemke has agreed to provide his unique insight into carrying out climate research in hostile polar environments, particulaly when accompanied by such beautiful stark images. This is especially relevant as this year we will run the second North South Atlantic Training Transect on-board the RV Polarstern from Germany to South Africa which will train 24 postgraduate students, including seven Irish students, in researching climate, ocean and atmospheric interactions at sea. These innovative offshore international collaboarations, developed with AWI, the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) and funded by the Nippon foundation are essential in developing excellent climate and ocean scientists to measure and understand our changing planet”. Professor Lemke continues to work on the observation of climate processes in atmosphere, sea ice and ocean and their simulation in numerical models for the polar components of the climate system. On six expeditions on Polarstern he acted as chief scientist.  For more than 30 years he served on many national and international committees on polar and climate research. He was the Coordinating Lead Author for Chapter 4 (Observations: Changes in Snow, Ice and Frozen Ground) of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007. The IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with Al Gore in 2007. For the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC published in 2013 Proffessor Lemke worked as Review Editor of Chapter 4 and as Lead Author of the Technical Summary. All members of the public are welcome and refreshments will be served afterwards. The Atlantic Ocean Climate Scholars Programme is a collaboaration between SMART, NUI Galway, AWI and the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) that is funded by the Nippon foundation under NF POGO Regional Training fund.  -ends-