The Brains behind the Breakthroughs

The Brains behind the Breakthroughs-image

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A research showcase, “The Brains behind the Breakthroughs”, will be hosted by the NUI Galway Neuro Society at 7pm in the Westwood Hotel on Monday, 9 March. This free public seminar will showcase the depth and scale of brain research being conducted in NUI Galway. Designed specifically for a lay audience, it promises to give an insight to the life of a neuroscientist and the approaches being taken to tackle some of the biggest questions about the brain. Professors, senior research scientists and students will present a variety of perspectives on their current areas of research which range from increasing our understanding of pain and brain pathology to the latest in medical neuroimaging and genetic studies. Professor David Finn will introduce proceedings as head of the Galway Neuroscience Centre which represents the multi-disciplinary research groups focused on neuroscience in NUI Galway. Auditor of the NUI Galway Neuro Society, Michelle Naughton, adds: “This event is for anyone who is curious about the brain and what we have still yet to learn about it. With many exciting new developments in the field of neuroscience, this showcase will demonstrate the substantial research being undertaken in NUI Galway to advance our current knowledge.” As an additional Brain Awareness Week event, on the 11th and 12th March, NUI Galway’s Neuroscience Centre will be holding an exhibition in the Aula Maxima aimed at teaching secondary school students about the brain and disorders of the nervous system. This event is being hosted to celebrate, Brain Awareness Week (9-15 March), which is a global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. It is a worldwide celebration of the brain that grows more successful every year. For more information contact neuro@socs.nuigalway.ie or check out the NeuroSoc NUI Galway facebook page. -ends-

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NUI Galway Announces Opposition to Galway City Transport Project

NUI Galway Announces Opposition to Galway City Transport Project-image

Thursday, 5 March 2015

NUI Galway will this week submit its opposition to proposals in the Galway City Transport Project. The University, which is central to the life of the city and surrounding region, is one of the major employers in the city; it hosts a population of over 20,000 students and staff and has invested €400m over the last decade in capital development. The University believes that what currently makes the NUI Galway campus an attractive location – for Irish and international students and staff – would be irretrievably damaged should proposed routes be accepted. Increases in research activity have seen a surge in the numbers of international staff. International student numbers have grown significantly, to the extent that NUI Galway now has the largest proportion of international students of all the Irish universities. Foreign students are a great benefit to the local economy, supplementing the flow of income generated by the increased number of Irish students. University buildings have expanded, creating high-quality infrastructure for increased student numbers and research activities. The University’s Strategic Plan for 2015-2020 will reflect a drive to maintain the dramatic improvements and enhance its national and international standing. All these developments are under threat. The last decade has seen an investment of €400m in capital development by NUI Galway and this has been undertaken with a purpose: not just to build a successful university, but to continue a lengthy pattern of interaction with Galway and its citizens, providing graduates to support the growth of high-quality local employment and engaging in research activities which connect both with local industry and with the rich culture of Galway city and the region. The physical growth of the University has been carefully planned over many decades. A programme of land acquisition in Dangan has allowed the University to increase the area for new buildings while simultaneously acquiring space for sports facilities. The unified campus is now an educational base for over 17,000 students. The University continues to climb in world rankings, reflecting significant improvements in research activity and overall performance. Its progress would be severely disrupted by the current proposals. If in recent decades the University and the city have grown hand in hand, we are now threatened with the prospect that both would face a future of relative decline. The University is proud of its unified campus which has emerged as a result of decades of planning and forethought. The campus sees teaching and research buildings intermingled, sports facilities readily available to students, and University lands providing a major recreational facility for all. The University will therefore strongly object to current proposals and call for alternative options for the future of Galway transport planning. ENDS OÉ Gaillimh ag cur in aghaidh Thionscadal Iompair Chathair na Gaillimhe Tá Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh le hagóid fhoirmiúil a dhéanamh an tseachtain seo in aghaidh na moltaí atá i dTionscadal Iompair Chathair na Gaillimhe. Tá an Ollscoil ar cheann de na fostóirí is mó sa chathair, agus í i gceartlár shaol na cathrach agus an réigiúin máguaird. Tá os cionn 20,000 duine, idir mhic léinn agus chomhaltaí foirne, ag staidéar nó ag obair ar an gcampas agus €400m infheistithe ag an Ollscoil le deich mbliana anuas i bhforbairtí caipitil. Creideann an Ollscoil gur láthair thar a bheith tarraingteach é campas na hOllscoile faoi láthair do mhic léinn agus comhaltaí foirne as Éirinn agus thar lear, agus go ndéanfaí dochar as cuimse don champas dá nglacfaí le haon cheann de na cúrsaí bealaigh atá molta do Sheachbhóthar na Cathrach. Tá méadú mór tagtha ar líon na gcomhaltaí foirne ón iasacht atá san Ollscoil le tamall de bharr méadú ar an méid taighde atá ar bun. Tá méadú suntasach tagtha ar líon na mac léinn ón iasacht, agus OÉ Gaillimh anois ar an ollscoil Éireannach a bhfuil an sciar is mó de mhic léinn idirnáisiúnta i mbun staidéir inti. Tá an-tairbhe le baint ag an ngeilleagar áitiúil as na mic léinn ón iasacht, agus cuireann siad leis an ioncam a thagann isteach sa chathair ó na mic léinn Éireannacha.  Tá méadú tagtha ar na foirgnimh san Ollscoil agus bonneagar den scoth anois ann le haghaidh na mac léinn agus na ngníomhaíochtaí taighde atá ar bun, agus méadú seasta ag teacht orthu sin. I bPlean Straitéiseach na hOllscoile, 2015-2020, beidh béim ar an rún daingean atá ag an Ollscoil leanúint den dul chun cinn láidir atá sí a dhéanamh agus an seasamh náisiúnta agus idirnáisiúnta atá aici a neartú tuilleadh. Tá contúirt anois ar na forbairtí seo go léir. Le deich mbliana anuas, rinne an Ollscoil infheistíocht €400m i bhforbairtí caipitil agus is le cuspóir soiléir a rinneadh é sin: ollscoil a mbeadh rath uirthi a thógáil, agus lena chois sin leanúint den dlúthcheangal atá ag an Ollscoil le Gaillimh agus muintir na Gaillimhe – céimithe oilte a chur ar fáil ar mhaithe le fostaíocht áitiúil ar ardchaighdeán mar aon le gníomhaíochtaí taighde a chur chun cinn le go mbeadh ceangal ann le tionscail áitiúla agus le cultúr luachmhar chathair na Gaillimhe agus an réigiúin trí chéile. An fás fisiciúil atá tagtha ar an Ollscoil, rinneadh é a phleanáil go mion le cúpla scór bliain anuas. Ceannaíodh talamh in imeacht na mblianta i gceantar an Daingin agus dá thoradh sin bhí a dóthain achar talún ag an Ollscoil i gcomhair foirgnimh nua agus áiseanna spóirt araon. Is lárionad oideachais é an campas comhtháite seo agus os cionn 17,000 mac léinn i mbun a gcuid léinn ann. Tá ardú ag teacht chuile bhliain ar sheasamh na hOllscoile sa rangú domhanda – is toradh é sin ar an bhfeabhas mór atá tagtha ar chúrsaí taighde agus ar fheidhmíocht na hOllscoile trí chéile. Chuirfeadh na moltaí reatha isteach go damanta ar dhul chun cinn na hOllscoile. D'fhás an Ollscoil agus an chathair in éindí le blianta fada anuas, ach tá an baol anois ann gur meath atá i ndán dóibh araon. Tá campas comhtháite ag an Ollscoil mar thoradh ar phleanáil agus fadbhreathnaitheacht le blianta fada, agus í an-bhródúil as an gcampas sin. Tá foirgnimh theagaisc agus thaighde fite fuaite ina chéile ar an gcampas, tá áiseanna spóirt ar fáil do na mic léinn gan stró, agus tailte na hOllscoile ar fáil do chách mar áis mhór áineasa agus caithimh aimsire. Tá rún ag an Ollscoil, dá bhrí sin, agóid láidir a dhéanamh i gcoinne na moltaí reatha agus iarrfaidh sí ar na húdaráis roghanna malartacha a chur chun tosaigh i dtaca le cúrsaí iompair i nGaillimh don aimsir romhainn. CRÍOCH

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Pulmonary Rehabilitation as a non-pharmacological intervention in patients COPD reinforced

Pulmonary Rehabilitation as a non-pharmacological intervention in patients COPD reinforced-image

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Research published in Cochrane Review Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a non- pharmacological intervention for patients with Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease (COPD) and its effectiveness was confirmed in a Cochrane Review which has generated major interest across the world. The review was led by a team from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the National University of Ireland Galway. The team consisted of Bernard McCarthy, Dr Dympna Casey, Professor Declan Devane, Professor Kathy Murphy, Edel Murphy and the internationally renowned Canadian pulmonologist Dr Yves Lacasse. The two-year project brought together the findings of 65 randomised control trials involving 3822 participants for inclusion in the analysis. COPD is a chronic lung disease that causes obstruction in breathing. This results in persistent and progressive breathlessness, productive coughing, fatigue and recurrent chest infection. Worldwide, COPD is a major cause of long term health issues. The World Health Organisation projects that by the year 2030 it will be the third most frequent cause of death globally. There are around 110,000 people in Ireland diagnosed with COPD, but it is estimated that a further 200,000 people living with the disease who have not been diagnosed. COPD affects the quality of peoples’ life but pulmonary rehabilitation can make a difference. Bernard McCarthy, NUI Galway, the lead author explains: “At this time, COPD is an incurable, life-limiting condition that is associated with significant economic costs due to progressive disease severity and frequent hospital admissions and readmissions. Our findings from pooling all the international research demonstrate that pulmonary rehabilitation has a significant positive effect. Pulmonary rehabilitation which includes exercise as a key component and may also include assessment, education, psychological support and dietary advice, has been shown to relieve breathing difficulty and fatigue and improves individuals’ sense of control over their condition. These all lead to a better quality of life for individuals with COPD, facilitating them to re-engage with their normal lives.” The authors concluded that these improvements from Pulmonary Rehabilitation are clinically significant. In addition the volume of evidence is now so convincing that “additional randomised controlled trials are no longer warranted.” What we now need, according to the team, is to investigate the components of pulmonary rehabilitation essential for best outcomes. “It would be good to investigate the ideal programme length and location, the degree of supervision and intensity of training required, or how long treatment effects persist.” The team also found some tentative evidence that “there is a difference between hospital-based and community-based programmes, which now requires further study.” Some authors of the report were previously involved in the PRINCE study which was completed in 2012 in conjunction with Irish general practices. The PRINCE (Pulmonary Rehabilitation in Nurse-led Community Environment) study was funded by the HRB, and consisted of a two-armed randomised cluster trial. In one arm (intervention group), persons with COPD received a structured education pulmonary rehabilitation programme, while the other arm (control group) received usual care. At the time, the study was one of the largest pulmonary rehabilitation trials conducted in primary care. This recent Cochrane Review informs the global community of professionals working in this field about the potential for helping patients with this debilitating illness. Bernard McCarthy added “We must reinforce that prevention is the priority, focusing on measures, such as smoking cessation. Our findings gives hope to those suffering from COPD worldwide who are currently housebound and reluctant to engage in routine activities of living due to the limiting natures of this condition. For them Pulmonary Rehabilitation might be a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.” -ends-

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NUI Galway Conferences to Boost Local Economy by €7m in 2016

NUI Galway Conferences to Boost Local Economy by €7m in 2016-image

Monday, 9 March 2015

Against stiff international competition, NUI Galway has to date secured several conference bids and will host 18 international conferences in 2016 with over 5,000 international delegates confirmed to attend. This is an increase of over 250% on 2014 international conference visitors to the University and is expected to boost the local economy by up to €7m.   In the past year, NUI Galway hosted over 100 events on campus attracting in excess of 12,000 delegates while over 52,000 summer visitors stayed in University residences attending a diverse range of events. A large percentage of conferences which take place on campus are hosted by University Staff in support of Government strategy to attract more international visitors to the country. Conferences can have a significant impact on the local economy with the average spend by an international conference delegate valued at €1,400 according to figures by Fáilte Ireland, more than twice that of a leisure tourist. Speaking about the University’s success in attracting international conferences, Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway said: “The University has built a strong reputation for successfully hosting major international conferences in recent years. The excellent facilities and services available to support world-class events together with our experienced conference team have helped in securing several major International Conferences up to 2020. We look forward to hosting these major events on our campus. The impact of this will be twofold; bringing real academic benefits for the University – networking, reputation and peer review, while also having an enormously important economic benefit to tourism and business in our region.” Dr Browne recently secured the bid to host the 2016 European University Association Conference in Galway, welcoming over 300 University Presidents, Rectors, Vice-Chancellors and senior staff from European universities. Ann Duggan, Manager of Commercial Services at NUI Galway, said: “Conferences and events are now a regular feature of campus life at NUI Galway. World-class conference and meeting spaces, restaurants, accommodation and support services, complemented by a professional and dedicated event team have positioned NUI Galway as a leading destination in the international events marketplace.” For more information on the range of support and services available for international events hosted at NUI Galway, please visit www.nuigalway.ie/events or contact Patricia Walsh by emailing tricia.walsh@nuigalway.ie or calling 091 493467. -Ends-

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Leading Chinese Human Rights Lawyer to Speak at the Irish Centre for Human Rights

Leading Chinese Human Rights Lawyer to Speak at the Irish Centre for Human Rights-image

Monday, 9 March 2015

One of China’s leading human rights lawyers will speak at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway on Monday, 16 March. He is in Ireland on a national speaking tour organised by Front Line Defenders, the international foundation for the protection of human rights defenders. Dr Teng Biao, currently at Harvard University as a Visiting Fellow, has been at the forefront of the human rights movement in China for over a decade. In 2003, Dr Teng helped found the Open Constitution Initiative, an organisation consisting of lawyers and academics that advocates the rule of law and greater constitutional protections in China. He holds a PhD from Peking University Law School and practised law in Beijing prior to the revocation of his law license in 2008. Dr Teng will be speaking about his experience of trying to use the law to defend the rights of ordinary people. The Irish Centre for Human Rights is pleased to host Dr Teng for this public event where he can engage with Galway residents and with the Centre’s thriving human rights community. The organisers look forward to hearing him speak on his work and on the human rights situation in China. The event takes place on Monday 16 March, 5.15pm at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway (opposite the Cathedral). -ends-   

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NUI Galway-based entrepreneur’s new book looks at policing and social media

NUI Galway-based entrepreneur’s new book looks at policing and social media-image

Monday, 9 March 2015

A new book, which takes an in-depth look at the emerging field of policing social media has been published by the Managing Director of Digital Training Institute, based in NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre. Authored by Joanne Sweeney-Burke, Social Media Under Investigation, Law Enforcement and the Social Web takes and in-depth view of An Garda Síochána’s adoption of social media and benchmarks this against international best-practice. Joanne’s knowledge on this emerging niche area has earned her an invitation to speak at the SMILE conference (social media, the Internet and law enforcement) in Phoenix, Arizona in April. The entrepreneur has also launched an online training school for police forces called LEO (law enforcement observer) which will offer officers worldwide the chance to learn from the best. According to Joanne: “The book has taken me 18 months to research and write and I actually really enjoyed the process. The motivation to combine policing and social media came from my background as a broadcast journalist and my skills as a social media and digital marketing practitioner. I am so excited to be able to bring my knowledge to the United States in April and get first-hand knowledge of the experience there. In fact it may even provide research for a second edition of the book.” Joanne has found the support received by NUI Galway and the University’s Ignite Technology Transfer Office invaluable in progressing her ambitions. Media Box was her first business, Digital Training Institute her second. Last year she began work on a dedicated eLearning course for young people called Young Minds Online, which was co-authored by her daughter Sophie, now a first year accountancy and commerce student at NUI Galway. Young Minds Online is part of new edtech startup Webiket, which was formed with fellow entrepreneur Lisa Wright. This company provides a suite of eLearning courses to young people, parents and professionals on how to protect their cyber wellbeing online. Joanne featured as a finalist on TV3’s ‘The Apprentice’ in 2011 and holds a total of 10 academic and professional qualifications, including a Masters in Journalism from NUI Galway. NUI Galway Business Development Manager Fiona Neary said: “The Ignite Technology Transfer Office would like to congratulate Joanne Sweeney-Burke on the launch of her new book. Joanne is a pleasure to work with in the Business Innovation Centre and as a successful entrepreneur she had a great ability to nurture creative thinking, put action-plans in place and get the job done. We look forward to seeing what’s next from Joanne.” -Ends-     

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NUI Galway Hosts Ireland’s Only Harry Potter Convention

NUI Galway Hosts Ireland’s Only Harry Potter Convention-image

Monday, 9 March 2015

NUI Galway’s Harry Potter Society will hold a three-day convention dedicated to Harry Potter fans. PotterFest Galway, Ireland’s only Harry Potter convention, will take place from 13-15 March in Áras na Mac Léinn at NUI Galway.  Visitors of all ages are invited to attend and will have the chance to experience the magic of the Wizarding World here in Ireland. NUI Galway will be transformed into Hogwarts for three days of magical fun, with a huge variety of events such as Potter-themed games, cosplay competitions, panels, classes, role-playing workshops and guest speakers on everything Potter. Guests will be sorted into their perfect Hogwarts House and attend classes in all of Harry’s favourite subjects, from Potions, Transfiguration and Herbology to Defence Against the Dark Arts. The cast and crew of ‘Mudblood and the Book of Spells’, an upcoming original Harry Potter fan film set in Manchester, will be giving a behind-the-scenes sneak peak of what to expect from their movie. Sunday is Mothers’ Day in the Wizarding World too; the occasion will be honoured with a Mums of Potter Panel, as well as a Tea Party with Mrs Weasley. On Sunday there will be a chance to learn and try out playing Quidditch with the Galway Grindylows, Ireland’s first Muggle University team. Pre-registration for PotterFest Galway 2015 is now open on Eventbrite.ie, with standard day tickets costing €10, while full weekend tickets are €15. Special concessions are available for families and children under 12. Tickets will also be available at the door throughout the weekend. For more information please contact Isabella De Luca, PotterFest Galway at potterfestgalway@gmail.com or 087 750 4377, or visit www.potterfestgalway.com. -Ends-  

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Antenna-like structures found on immune cells for first time

Antenna-like structures found on immune cells for first time-image

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A team of NUI Galway scientists have found that cells of the immune system have a previously undescribed ability. In a paper just published Journal of Cell Biology, the scientists describe the presence of primary cilia on immune cells. These antenna-like structures are found on almost all cell types in the body, but since the 1960s, it has been thought that they do not arise in blood cells. Professor Ciaran Morrison of NUI Galway’s Centre for Chromosome Biology, who co-authored the paper with Dr Suzanna Prosser, explains the significance: “The paper is of scientific interest because it provides new information about how ciliation is controlled. Also, we have shown that immune cells do at least have all the material they would need to make primary cilia. The next question is whether the cells make cilia in the body.” Cilia are structures that stick out of cells to sense their local environment. They are very important in monitoring fluid flows, so problems with cilia cause diseases that affect body orientation, development, the eye, the kidney and various other organs. These diseases, which include Joubert syndrome and polycystic kidney disease, are called ciliopathies. The paper describes how a small calcium-binding protein called centrin controls primary cilium formation by removing an inhibitor of ciliation called CP110 from the base of the cilium, allowing it to extend. Professor Morrison and his team discovered this by using gene disruption techniques in cultured retinal cells and in cultured blood cells, where they also found that cell starvation can induce cilia. Active immune system cells, including B- and T-lymphocytes, divide rapidly, so they would not normally have a chance to make cilia. “Cilia have not been described in lymphocytes before, to our knowledge”, explains Professor Morrison. “We starved the cells of nutrients to delay their division cycle, but ciliation still occurred at a very low frequency, in about 5% of cells. It is possible that, even if cilia do exist in the body on certain slow or non-dividing blood cell populations, they may be short-lived, difficult to visualise or rare. What ciliated immune cells might do is an entirely new question. These results, which came from work funded by Science Foundation Ireland, illustrate how surprising findings can emerge from work on unrelated topics.” The 60 scientists led by 11 Principal Investigators at the Centre for Chromosome Biology in NUI Galway are dedicated to understanding many different areas of chromosome biology, such as how cell proliferation is controlled, the structure and maintenance of the genome, precise control of genome duplication and how genes are expressed. Their work is critical to the ongoing scientific battle against cancer and other areas including human reproduction and fertility and genetic diseases such as Huntington’s Disease. -ends-

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NUI Galway Team Retain 'Global Investment Research Challenge' Title

NUI Galway Team Retain 'Global Investment Research Challenge' Title-image

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Competition sees students from Irish universities compete for most professional analysis of a quoted Irish company In front of a panel of leading financial services professionals, a student team from NUI Galway retained the prestigious Chartered Financial Analysts Ireland 'Global Investment Research Challenge' title. Having won the competition in 2014 analysing Ryanair, this year's team took home the trophy with their analysis of Kingspan. The Challenge is an annual global competition that provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis. It offers students a unique hands-on opportunity to learn from industry experts and to compete with peers from the world’s top finance programmes. The NUI Galway team comprised of four students from the Master of Economic Science International Finance programme, Adrian Bushell from Tuam, Co. Galway, Fergal Brennan and Niall Deasy, both from Ennis, Co. Clare, and Sarunas Ramanauskas from Galway City, and Bachelor of Commerce student, Adam Mollen from Tullamore, Co. Offaly. NUI Galway Academic Mentor and Lecturer in Financial Economics, Cian Twomey said: “It’s a fabulous achievement to have retained the title. It speaks volumes as to the high calibre of students taking our programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.” The NUI Galway team now proceeds to the European Middle-East Africa (EMEA) finals in Amsterdam in early April. -Ends-

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First NUI Galway Undergraduate Research Conference

First NUI Galway Undergraduate Research Conference-image

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The public are invited to attend NUI Galway’s first-ever Undergraduate Research Conference on 19 March. Throughout the day, students will present on research topics ranging from biology, to philosophy to sociology. The objective is to provide undergraduates with opportunities to discuss their research for their educational, professional and career development. Organisers expect that such early exposure to research, especially through a conference environment, will spark a growing interest in future research opportunities. The conference is being organised in response to a groundswell of research among undergraduate students. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway explains how: “We are very much a research-led university. There is a vibrant and exciting research ethos among students at undergraduate level, postgraduate and PhD level. This event provides a platform for students to share their work, and for other students and members of the public to learn and explore a number of concepts around research.” A special roundtable discussion format will allow attendees and presenters to share thoughts and ideas during the sessions. With hundreds of delegates expected, a group of transition year students from the Galway city Secondary School transition years will volunteer and attend as conference organisers on the day. “We not only aim to bring the students and staff of NUI Galway closer together but to bring the community of Galway together, by inviting members of the public and community to engage with undergraduate research. The involvement of secondary schools will hopefully sow the seeds of research in the next generation of researchers”, said Lorraine Tansey, Volunteer Coordinator with NUI Galway’s ALIVE Programme. A brainchild of second year Commerce students Ben Coady, Brian Dooley, Jason Carey, Evan Wynne and their NUI Galway staff member, Lorraine Tansey, the conference is funded by EXPLORE, a collaboration between NUI Galway and NUI Galway Students’ Union. The purpose of EXPLORE is to encourage innovation, enterprise and creativity among staff and students. Dr Maria Gallo, St Angela’s College Sligo, partners of the conference said, “Undergraduate students across the University are involved in some interesting and valuable research projects. This conference is a unique opportunity to share their research with their peers as many of them may be considering postgraduate study or a research related career.” To find out more or register to attend visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/undergrad-research/ -ends-

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