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Wise Student Serves Up Cookery Book for End of Year Assignment
Tuesday, 5 June 2012
Galway girl and NUI Galway student Móna Wise will launch her first book The Chef & I this Thursday, 31 May, in Cases Wine Warehouse, Galway. Part memoir, part cookery book, this heartwarming read, which began life as an assignment for Móna’s studies on the BA with Creative Writing Degree at NUI Galway, tells the story of Móna and her American husband, chef Ron, who she met while working in the US in the 1990s . A widely appealing story of love at first sight – and first bite – the book reminds readers to chase their dreams and enjoy delicious food on the journey. 75 pages of autobiography serve as an appetizer for 100 pages of recipes, with enticing images of food, family and fun scattered throughout the text. Parents to four children, Rory, Jack, Sam and Lulu, ranging in age from 10 to 6, the recipes in the book include family favorites such as the recipe for BBQ Ribs and coleslaw and the children's favourite birthday cake ‘Black Magic’. “I have had this story kicking around in my head ever since I saw the Chef’s tattered and torn recipe books, but it was not until I enrolled in my writing course that I felt I might have what it takes to write a book,” said Mona. “I knew, given the schedule and deadlines that if I had the opportunity to ‘live the life of a writer’ while still in college I would give it my best effort,” continued Mona. “Our story appeals to many readers because it is a true story showing how we built our family in a different way and recipes for all the fabulous food we have shared with friends over the years”. Returning from the US in 2008, where Móna and Ron ran a restaurant together, Móna took time out to write and enrolled on the 4-year BA with Creative Writing programme at NUI Galway, studying German and English Literature together with a specialism in Creative Writing. The book is her third-year ‘Independent Writing’ project, for which Eoin Purcell of New Island Press was commissioned as editor-mentor. Commenting on the book, the director of the BA with Creative Writing at NUI Galway, Dr John Kenny, said: “On our programme we are interested in how creative expression in itself can in turn be used to generate professional possibilities, and Móna is a prime example of what can be achieved when the opportunity for supervised self-directed learning is energetically grasped. With still a year to go to graduation, here she is with a weekly column in the Sunday Times, a widely admired blog, and now her first book – it's all a gratifying testament to her good will, hard work and downright gumption.” Móna’s work has recently attracted the attention of the national press and she has commenced writing her own lifestyle and food column for the Sunday Times Sunday Magazine. Móna’s blog wisewords.ie has now become well established and she is a familiar face at foodies’ gatherings. Her site has thousands of followers who log on for her regular restaurant reviews, wine writing, food-book reviews, recipes and child-rearing experiences. In addition to her column in the Sunday Times, readers can catch up with Móna on Twitter @WiseMona, Facebook Móna Wise or WiseWords or follow her Blog www.WiseWords.ie The Chef & I will be available from Kennys.ie from May 31st and retails at €25 and is also available at locally in Galway at Cases Wine Warehouse, Charlie Byrnes Bookshop, McCambridges, Sheridans Cheesemongers and the NUI Galway Bookshop. ENDS
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Lifestyle Survey Says Environmental Attitudes Hit Home
Thursday, 8 March 2012
68% say the re-introduction of a water charge would change their water usage 86% say they were concerned about the environment 89% say ‘I try to reduce the amount of food waste my household produces’ There has been a marked improvement in environmental awareness in Ireland over the past decade reveals the ConsEnSus Lifestyle Survey published today by NUI Galway and funded under the EPA’s STRIVE Research programme. The same survey reported that approximately one fifth of all survey respondents had changed their energy supplier to a renewable energy supplier in the past five years and a large percentage (almost 70%) of respondents stated that the re-introduction of water charges would lead to a change in water usage.The ConsEnSus (Consumption, Environment and Sustainability) Lifestyle Survey was carried out by researchers in the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway with 1,500 households nationwide between 2010 and 2011. The aim of this survey was to obtain an understanding of people’s attitudes and behaviours towards sustainable household consumption and sustainable lifestyles. The survey explored respondents’ household behaviours in the areas of mobility, food, water and energy use. The questionnaire also examined attitudes towards the environment, towards environmental responsibility as well as attitudes towards perceived levels of environmental control and perceptions of quality of life.According to the project manager Dr Frances Fahy, Lecturer in Geography at NUI Galway: “The survey is the first of its kind in the island of Ireland and the results have produced a huge database on public attitudes and actions towards consumption and sustainable lifestyles. The respondents were asked questions that went further than how and when they undertook certain everyday activities – for example transport to work choices, water or energy conservation activities – focussing on why they undertake these activities. The results provide extremely useful data revealing underlying motivations for many consumption activities and lifestyle choices.”The ConsEnSus factsheets released today comprise some of the highlights and key findings from this the first national dataset on attitudes and behaviours towards sustainable household consumption and sustainable lifestyles across the island of Ireland.High levels of environmental concern across all age groupsThis study found encouragingly high levels of reported environmental concern (86% or 1,289 respondents stated that they were concern about the environment). Similar levels of environmental concern were recorded across all age cohorts; with slightly higher levels of concern noted amongst respondents in the 50-65 age category (88%) and also in the 65-79 age group (88%), in comparison to respondents in the younger 18-33 age categories (83%).Over half of the respondents (58%) felt that they needed ‘to behave in a more environmentally friendly way’ and 82% believed that their personal behaviour could make a difference to the environment.Impact of eco-labels on productsIn the Lifestyle Survey approximately two-thirds of all respondents agreed with the statement, ‘I trust eco-labels’. 66% of survey respondents stated that they pay attention to where and how the food they buy is produced.Concern about food wasteWithin the sustainable food movement, a particular concern is the large amount of waste occurring at every stage of the food chain. Many factors contribute to food waste and recent reports estimate that wasted food costs each Irish household approximately €700 annually (EPA, 2011). The findings highlight public attitudes and behaviour towards food waste in Irish households. A significant majority of respondents (89%) agreed with the statement ‘I try to reduce the amount of food waste my household produces’. The most common reasons for throwing food away are: ‘Too much is bought and it expires’ and ‘Food goes off because of a change in plans’. Just over a third of all participants claimed to never throw food away.Awareness of water usage and impact of proposed water charges With the cost of providing clean drinking water escalating, and with the proposed re-introduction of water charges for domestic dwellings, water and water conservation in particular, has become a very important issue for policy makers, businesses and consumers alike. The Lifestyle Survey found that a substantial number of respondents to the survey (40%) stated that they do not pay attention to the amount of water they use in their homes. Over one third of all respondents (34%) reported drinking bottled water on a daily basis.80% of all respondents surveyed across the island stated that there is ‘a need to save water’ with just 10% of respondents believing that there was no need to conserve water.Finally, 68% of survey respondents stated that the re-introduction of a water charge would change their water usage.Recent changeover to renewable energy suppliersJust over one fifth of respondents (21%) had changed to a renewable energy supplier in the past five years. Of these respondents; 65% stated ‘financial reasons’ as their rationale for this behaviour and only 9% reported ‘solely environmental reasons’. Respondents in the 34-49 age group were most likely to have changed to a renewable energy supplier.Public willingness to improve energy efficiency of homes, but little actionThe Lifestyle Survey found that although almost three quarters of all respondents (73%) stated that they would be willing to install insulation in their homes, less than one quarter of respondents (23%) had actually done so in the past five years.Prominence of private car use 71% of respondents who reported commuting to work, school or college stated that they usually drive a car. When respondents were asked what would encourage people to reduce their car journeys, 53% of the sample stated ‘improved, more affordable public transport’, 12% of the people reported ‘financial incentives to encourage walking and cycling’ and a further 12% citied ‘improved bike lanes, footpaths and pedestrian crossings’.Respondents who failed to use available public transport viewed it as ‘too restrictive’ (42%), ‘too unreliable’ (11%) and ‘too expensive’ (7%). 27% of urban dwellers who participated in the survey stated that there was no public transport available at all for their commute to work, school or college. The survey indicates that rural Ireland is particularly affected by gaps in public transport provision. Almost half of all rural respondents reported that there is no public transport for their commute to work, school or college.Marked improvement in environmental awareness over the past 10 years The results of this survey indicated that almost one third of all respondents reported not being well informed about the environmental impact of the products they used. However, this could be viewed as a positive finding when considered in light of the results of a previous national survey on attitudes and actions (Drury Research Study) conducted in Ireland in 2000, which indicated that over three quarters of the respondents were not well informed about environmental issues and stated that they wanted more information. In terms of reported levels of environmental awareness, the island is in line with many European countries; with 59% of the respondents in this study stating that they felt well informed of the environmental impacts of products in comparison to 55% of respondents in a recent Eurobarometer Study of European citizens (2009).In response to the establishment of this national database and launch of the preliminary findings Mr Kevin Woods, EPA said: “The establishment of this national database on sustainable consumption and lifestyles is significant and is an important step in moving towards sustainability in the key areas of water, energy, transport and consumer behaviour.”ENDS
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‘CodeNinjas’ Unmasked in App Competition for Galway Student Developers
Monday, 2 April 2012
Galway’s first app-oriented competition reveals talented coders among the NUI Galway and GMIT student population The winners of CodeNinja, the app development competition for NUI Galway and GMIT students have been announced. First prize in the individual went to GMIT, with NUI Galway scooping first prize in the group category. The competition was designed by local businesses and academics to train and encourage students to be creative in the cultivation of their own tech ideas. Individuals and groups were encouraged to build web and mobile applications, and were given a number of tutorials and workshops along the way. First prize in the individual category went to GMIT student Cathal Mac Donnacha from Rossaveal, creator of ‘iSpeak’. This application allows people with differing native languages to communicate with each other through a Windows Phone 7 Mobile application. One person speaks in their phrase, it is converted to text and sent to a translation service, and the result is spoken to the second person in their native language. The application was selected as the individual winner due to its novel use of both software APIs and hardware elements like the phone’s accelerometer to achieve its aims. Cathal won an iPad for his winning app. The first prize of €500 in the group category was given to the app ‘What’s the Score’, created by NUI Galway students Mike Rockall and Con Crowley, who are both from Oranmore. ‘What’s the Score’ is a mobile application for taking scores during any type of sports game, and for reporting both ongoing and final results through a website to interested parties. In their decision, the judges cited its easy usability for small sports clubs and teams, including Facebook user logon functionality, and also highlighted its strong commercial potential. Runner-up prizes were awarded to the group project ‘Message in a Bottle’, a web app where people cast short messages into a virtual sea and others can choose to read and keep these messages or throw them back in the ocean, and to the individual entry ‘Implexis Adiutor’, a crossword solver application for Android phones. John Breslin, NUI Galway Lecturer in Engineering and Informatics and co-founder of the StreamGlider app for iPad, said: “We were delighted with the high standard of apps developed as part of our inaugural CodeNinja competition. It was great to see a range of areas targeted, from sports to leisure games to language translation. We are hoping that this will be the first in a series of CodeNinja events to raise the level of app development skills amongst Galway’s student population that will then diffuse into industry as our students take on roles in local Galway companies.” Damien Costello, GMIT Lecturer in Software Development, said: “Competitions like CodeNinja are a great initiative. It is an ideal forum for students to showcase their creative abilities and their programming capabilities to their peers and to local industries. It allows our students to take their mobile development skills learned as part of the Software Development course to the next level.” Judging the competition were NUI Galway’s John Breslin, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Dr Jim Duggan, Information Technology, Dr Michael Lang, Business Information Systems, Clodagh Barry, Bright Ideas Initiative, and local company founders Paul Killoran, Ex Ordo, Michael FitzGerald, OnePageCRM and Dave Kelly, BeautyBoss. Professor Chris Curtin, Vice-President for Innovation and Performance at NUI Galway, presented the prizes. GMIT’s Software Development students and lecturers have been working with four client companies specialising in app development in GMIT's Innovation in Business Centre (IiBC). Known as the GMIT App Cluster Group, the four client companies and staff and students hold an App Bash Session every two months with each company presenting their commercial app for review by the other client companies, the students and lecturers. In turn, the students present their apps and have them reviewed by the app cluster group. These sessions have been of great benefit to the GMIT software development students. They also serve as a good sounding board for ideas and as a focus group for testing and feedback on work being done. -ENDS- In CodeNinja, the app development competition for NUI Galway and GMIT students, the runner-up prize in the individual category was ‘Implexis Adiutor’, a crossword solver application for Android phones. Pictured is its creator, GMIT Computer and Software Development Student at GMIT, Carles Sentis, who is originally from Barcelona. In CodeNinja, the app development competition for NUI Galway and GMIT students, the individual winner prize of an iPad went to GMIT student Cathal Mac Donnacha from Rossaveal. The fourth-year Software Development student, created ‘iSpeak’, a Microsoft Windows Phone 7 based application which allows people with differing native languages to communicate with each other. In CodeNinja, the app development competition for NUI Galway and GMIT students, the runner-up prize in the group category went ‘Message in a Bottle’, a web app where people cast short messages into a virtual sea and others can choose to read and keep these messages or throw them back in the ocean. Demonstrating the app are two of its creators Aleksei Lorenz, a first year Computer Science student at NUI Galway who is originally from Belarus, and Yan Chak Or, and Administration & Informations Systems student at GMIT, who is originally from Hong Kong. In CodeNinja, the app development competition for NUI Galway and GMIT students, the first prize of €500 in the group category was given to ‘What’s the Score’, created by NUI Galway students Con Crowley and Mike Rockall, who are both from Oranmore. ‘What’s the Score’ is a mobile application for taking scores during any type of sports game, and for reporting both ongoing and final results through a website to interested parties. Both in their final year, Con is studying Mechanical Engineering, while Mike is studying Sports & Exercise Engineering.
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Biomedical Science Students Showcase their Community Knowledge Initiative Projects
Monday, 2 April 2012
NUI Galway biomedical science students recently held a presentation day, to showcase the projects which they completed as part of the community knowledge initiative (CKI) module. This module introduces students to the concept of service-learning* and aims to link classroom learning and community service to enrich learning experiences and emphasise civic responsibility. The module gives the opportunity for students to learn and develop through active participation in experiences that meet real community needs. The module is integrated into the students’ curriculum to provide structured time to think, talk and report on their activities, while also working as part of a team. The four main projects this academic year included: Off Bio Heart: The development of a smart phone application to deliver video-based footage of curriculum-based biology laboratory practicals to Leaving Certificate students. This project, supervised by NUI Galway’s Dr Lynn O’Connor, Biomedical Science, and Dr Des Chambers, Engineering, was in collaboration with MSc in Software Design and Development postgraduate students Janette Saunders, Mel Reynolds, Karen Staunton and Shane O’Sullivan. Awareness of Hypertension as a Cardiovascular Risk Factor in a Third-Level Educational Institution: This Croí/CKI Health Promotion Initiative was supervised by Dr Ger Flaherty, Medicine Lecturer at NUI Galway, with the group reaching over 150 staff and students at the University. Student Health Connect Mentors: Students acted as mentors both inside the University and in local schools, giving student-centred information about sexual health, alcohol and other drugs, mental health and nutrition. The project was supervised by NUI Galway Lecturer in Medicine, Dr Brian Stewart. Awareness day for the Irish Therapy Dogs Association: This voluntary body provides physical, therapeutic and educational benefit to people in hospitals, nursing homes, day care centres, schools and other places where people may be restricted from having pets and where the presence of dogs, and their handlers, will add comfort and support. The students also researched the growing interest in the use of dogs in medicine focusing on functions distinct from the role of the therapy dogs, producing and distributed a calendar highlighting the current and expanding roles of dogs in diagnostic medicine. At the annual showcase, Dr Lynn O’Connor, module coordinator at NUI Galway, said: “These community experiences bring the curriculum alive to the students and we appreciate the commitment of our community partners for providing these rich learning experiences for our second year students.” Brenda Rickard, Chief Executive of the Irish Therapy Dogs Associates, said: “Irish Therapy Dogs very much appreciate the hard work and commitment shown by the students of NUI Galway in increasing awareness about the benefits of pet therapy and the importance of the work that we do.” Programme Director, Dr Maura Grealy, added: “The programme has surpassed my expectations in promoting student development awareness of community needs, organisational skills and confidence; they have done great work and I am very proud of them.” This is the third year that the module has been offered to students of Biomedical Science and it has become a very positive aspect of the academic programme at NUI Galway. Over 40 degree programmes at NUI Galway include a service learning module. Engineering students find solutions to community problems, Occupational Therapy students roll out essential services to schools and hostels and Maths students work in second level schools and share their knowledge through a creative Maths curriculum. For further information is available at www.nuigalway.ie/cki and www.irishtherapydogs.ie. -ENDS-
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NUI Galway to Hold CAO Information Evening in Roscommon
Monday, 2 April 2012
Secondary school students interested in NUI Galway are invited to a CAO Information Evening in Roscommon on Thursday, 19 April. Parents and guardians are also particularly welcome to the event which runs from 7 to 9pm in The Abbey Hotel, Roscommon Town. The evening will begin with a short presentation on college and student life at NUI Galway and will focus on some of the 60 courses the University offers. There will be a number of career talks focusing on different employment options available to students on completion of their studies. These will include talks on Arts, Science, Business and Law, Engineering, Medicine and Health Sciences. 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 new programmes, developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market, including an Energy Engineering degree and a Maths and Education degree aimed at training Maths teachers. “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 Roscommon, while also providing all the practical information on accommodation, CAO points, fees, scholarships and courses. With so many courses on offer, this event in Roscommon is a perfect opportunity to meet current students and our lecturers to see what degree might be the right fit”, says Caroline Loughnane, Director of Marketing and Communications at NUI Galway. To find out more about the CAO Information Evening in Roscommon, contact NUI Galway's Schools Liaison Office, Gráinne Dunne, Schools Liaison Office on 087 2440858 or email@example.com. -ENDS-
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NUI Galway Lights up Blue for World Autism Awareness Day
Monday, 2 April 2012
NUI Galway lights up The Quadrangle which turned blue last night in advance of World Autism Awareness Day (today) Monday, 2 April, 2012. Lights were turned on as part of the Autism Speaks campaign 'Light it Up Blue' which works with a range of partners to light up major global landmarks in order to draw attention to the issue of autism. The Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research (ICAN) at NUI Galway was officially opened by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins in February. Through scientific research, education and services to the community, ICAN is dedicated to ensuring improvements for individuals with autism and their families. To read Dr Geraldine Leader, Director of the Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research at NUI Galway, opinion piece in the Irish Examiner click here
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National Finals of 2012 Debating Science Issues Announced
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
The 2012 Debating Science Issues All-Ireland Finals will be held on Thursday, 19 April, at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in Dublin. The Finals, co-ordinated by the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, will see four teams of secondary school students from across the country debating their way to be crowned All-Ireland champions. This is the only All-Ireland collaborative science outreach initiative of its kind. A field of 40 schools has been narrowed to just four through 36 provincial rounds of debates held between January and March. The four secondary schools in the final will be: St. Catherine’s Vocational School, Killybegs, Donegal; Clonakilty Community College, Co. Cork; St. Andrews College, Blackrock, Dublin; and Abbey Vocational School, Donegal Town. The first two debates, St. Catherine’s Vocational School against St. Andrews College, and Abbey Vocational School against Clonakilty Community College, will focus on the moral obligation to explore research with embryonic stem cells due to the potential to develop new medical treatments. The winners of the debates will then meet to debate the necessity of animal testing for advancing disease treatment. Debating Science Issues encourages young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. The competition is led by REMEDI at NUI Galway and collaborators include APC at UCC, BDI at DCU, RCSI, CIT, CRANN at Trinity College, W5 in Belfast, Clarity at UCD and the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh. Danielle Nicholson, All-Ireland Co-ordinator of Debating Science Issues (DSI), said: “This project provides a great opportunity for the teachers and students to be exposed to some of the latest developments in biomedical research and also to consider the ethical elements which can be a great hook to interest the public in the scientific topics. Data collected from five cycles of DSI involving more than 3,500 students shows an increase in interest in science as a subject and as a career as a result of participation in the project.” This schools’ biomedical science workshop series and debate competition has been supported by the Wellcome Trust for five consecutive years. Provincial trophies and prizes are provided by Abbott Ireland, Boston Scientific, Merck- Millipore and Pfizer Ireland. Every year the project has evolved and has responded to the feedback gathered continuously throughout the project. This year a new Topic Guide on rare diseases has been introduced and a dedicated website has also been developed, www.debatingscienceissues.com . -ENDS-
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NUI Galway Societies Awards
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
The NUI Galway Society Awards 2012 took place recently in the Radisson Blu Hotel with 26 awards presented to students. The Society Awards celebrate the contribution which over 100 societies make to the University and the wider community. This year, the NUI Galway societies organised almost 4,000 events of educational, cultural, social and humanitarian value. In the last eight years NUI Galway’s societies have contributed over €1.5 million to charity, with the 863 committee members volunteering to the equivalent working hours as 95 full-time workers this year, with a turnover of over €1 million, making a significant financial contribution to the local community. The Business Society picked up three awards including Best Society, Best Online Presence and Best Large Publication. The Drama Society also scooped three awards, Best Poster, Best Photo for Paul O'Mahony from Galway City and Best Fresher for Christopher Moran from Arklow, Co. Wicklow. Best Individual Award went to Lily McGarry from Whitechurch, Co. Dublin, conductor of the Choral Society. Most Improved Society went to the Engineering Society, who reinvented themselves in conjunction with the opening of the new Engineering Building, and in addition to a packed programme of events, the society will send over 30 students to Zambia with Habitat for Humanity in June. Best Society Event went to the Music and Ents Society and Rock Soc for their band competition Witless. Best New Society was presented to the Lotus Society, who made yoga widely accessible to the student population, with the Physics Society picking up the Best Academic Society. Best Civic Contribution went to the Feminist Society, a new society which has made its presence felt on campus this year with a packed programme of awareness raising events. Most Soccesful Society went to the Musical Society, the Phoenix Award to An Cumann Craic and Best Multimedia Award presented to Michael Talty and the Film Society for their work on s:tv|Galway. Best Cultural Contribution went to Traditional Music Society and An Cumann Soisialta won two awards for publications for their Nuachtlitir an Acadaimh, and Chess and Go Society for their monthly publication Knight’s Atari. The Muscailt Awards, presented for contribution to the University Arts Week from the ArtsOffice, went to the Musical Society, Photo Soc and Comic Book Society. Dramsoc won the ALIVE award for volunteering.Special Achievement Awards were presented to: Laura Donnelly, Musical Society; Chemistry Society; Thor McVeigh, Organiser of Witless; Timothy Morrow, Lit & Deb Society; Sean Burke, Accountancy and Finance Society; Robyn Allen, for his contribution to numerous societies; Lisa Grant, Art and Fansci Societies; Ronan Gallagher, Dramsoc; Classics Soceity; FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centre) Society; Michael Slevin, French and Biz Society; and the International Students Society. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Séagh MacSiúrdain from Galway City, and the Society Outstanding Achievement Award went to Nollaig O’Scannlain from Athlone, Co. Westmeath.Riona Hughes, NUI Galway Societies Officer, said: “The gala event is a fitting celebration of the extraordinary dedication and commitment of the students involved in societies. Not only do they make significant contributions to the campus and the wider community, but what they learn as individuals prepares them to take their place in the world as contributing citizens and augurs well for all our futures.” For information on NUI Galway’s Societies visit www.socs.nuigalway.ie. -ENDS-
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Research Project Recruiting Pregnant Women to Combat Gestational Diabetes
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Vitamin D and Lifestyle Interventions to be Trialled Pregnant women are currently being recruited into a new NUI Galway-led clinical trial which hopes to develop effective measures to prevent Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM). Participants will randomly receive either vitamin D or a specific diet or lifestyle intervention, including physical activity by a lifestyle coach or a combination of diet and physical activity. The trial hopes to establish whether any or all of these interventions prevent GDM, which can have serious consequences for mother and baby during the pregnancy and later in life. Vitamin D deficiency is more common in overweight and obese women and is associated with insulin resistance, a precursor of GDM. Leading Consultant Endocrinologist and Head of School of Medicine NUI Galway, Professor Fidelma Dunne is heading up the research: “Gestational diabetes occurs in 12% of pregnancies and carries with it increased risks for both mother and baby. This pan-European study will help inform us of the best strategy to prevent GDM and in doing so also prevent diabetes long-term in mother and infant.” The study is being coordinated through the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway. Women who are less than 12 weeks pregnant and are overweight (BMI>29) and who will give birth at Galway University Hospitals are invited to participate on the study. All participants will be followed from 12 weeks of pregnancy until delivery. Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy and is more common in women who are overweight or obese. Possible complications are oversized babies, birth trauma and even intra-uterine death. Neonatal abnormalities can also occur, including low blood sugar, difficulty breathing and jaundice. The maternal risks include an increased risk of caesarean delivery, pregnancy induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia. Professor Dunne explains: “GDM therefore, is a significant public health concern for women and their babies in Ireland. GDM can also lead to future diabetes in the mother and diabetes and obesity in the offspring. While diabetes is traditionally associated with sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet, the currently observed growth in developed countries is greater than expected from lifestyle changes alone. Evidence is accumulating that GDM is a more important contributor to these epidemics than previously recognised.” The research is part of a large scale, pan-European research project involving 13 partners from 11 countries, and over 800 pregnant women. The DALI project is funded by a European FP7 grant totalling €4 million. Those interested in finding out more about the study should contact Professor Fidelma Dunne or Veronica McInerney, Clinical Manager at the Clinical Research Facility, NUI Galway on 091 495964. -ends-
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Experts Gather to Plan for ‘Gold Rush’ to the Bottom of the Ocean
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
Researchers at NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute are at the centre of conservation efforts in relation to mining for precious minerals at the depths of our oceans. In this new ‘gold rush’, the ecological assessment of the effects of mining operations will be key to sustainably exploiting resources at these very important habitats, according to organisers of a major workshop next week. The Ryan Institute’s Patrick Collins and Dr Bob Kennedy have scheduled a high-level international workshop from 10-12 April with the aim of standardising methods used for assessing the ecological impacts of commercial mineral extraction at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Sometimes called ‘black smokers’ these volcano like structures sit thousands of metres under the sea and produce “seafloor massive sulphides”, sediments that are very rich in copper, zinc, gold and silver. They also support an array of unique life forms. The minerals found at hydrothermal-vents are increasingly in demand, for potential uses in the production of superconductors, precision lasers and other electronics. “We are seeing a gold rush to the bottom of the sea”, says Dr Bob Kennedy, an expert in benthic (sea floor) ecology with the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. “Valuing the goods and services provided by ecosystems is always a difficult compromise. Mining hydrothermal vents involves the removal of the vents and adjacent seafloor massive sulphides using cutting and suction devices to transfer the ore to barges at sea. Where mining occurs, the habitat will be completely removed and there will be substantial disturbance to the adjacent area.” The workshop, VentBase, is supported by the International Seabed Authority and InDeep, the international network for scientific investigations of deep-sea ecosystems. VentBase is set to attract academics and high-profile delegates from all over the world, including delegations from government bodies such as IFREMER in France, JAMSTEC in Japan, KORDI in Korea and NIWA in New Zealand. Commercial mining companies will also attend, with a presentation by Nautilus Minerals, the first company to actually begin mining. At present there is just one site, Solawara 1 near Papua New Guinea, where mining is being actively developed. It has led to many calls in the scientific community and general press for a halt to mining at hydrothermal vent sites because of their high biodiversity value. A biologist with the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, Patrick Collins was part of an expedition last summer which discovered a new hydrothermal vent site in the Atlantic. While actual mining is probably a decade away in the North Atlantic, he believes this is the ideal time for Ireland to take a central role in managing this unique biological resource. He comments: “From a conservation perspective, vents are one of the last remaining wild frontiers. We are only beginning to scratch at the surface of this enormous biotechnological resource. Animals at these sites have adapted to a very harsh, toxic and radioactive environment. Their tissue often has increased regenerative powers and may hold secrets to new medicines and useful materials. Life at these depths is not based on photosynthesis, but on turning energy from the earth’s core directly to biomass. This may be a good model for what life on other planets may be like. We should value giant tubeworms and bizarre blind shrimp for their quasi alien nature, and for reminding us that there is always the possibility of innovation in solving any problem, even if it seems like alchemy at first glance.” Despite there being data available from many cruises to investigate hydro-thermal vents, the information is often collected in a different way by each operator, meaning that it is very hard to compare vent sites to each other and to use evidence to make general statements about important processes at vent sites. The organisers of VentBase hope the event will help to develop protocols for the collection of rigorous and comparable evidence from many hydrothermal vents sites around the world. “The pulse of progress in the deep-oceans quickened after the announcement of James Cameron’s successful solo-expedition to its deepest recess,” says Dr Kennedy. “Cameron was only the third human to touch down and the first to film the 11km depths of the Marianas Trench. To put this in context, four times as many people have walked on the moon and over five hundred people have been into space. The deep sea is largely unknown territory and we must consider many ecological aspects before we throw open the doors to mining.” To listen to Patrick Collins on Radio One click here ENDS
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