Explore Galway’s Natural History with the new NUI Galway Guidebook!

Explore Galway’s Natural History with the new NUI Galway Guidebook!-image

Monday, 19 May 2014

A new guidebook has been published by NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences to help people explore the natural history of the Galway area. The booklet was produced as part of NUI Galway’s EXPLORE initiative that promotes and sponsors innovation through student and staff collaboration. Entitled Self Guided Fieldtrip – Galway Area, the booklet was compiled by Alina Wieczorek, a third year undergraduate student with the School of Natural Sciences, and Professor Martin Feely, Earth and Ocean Science at NUI Galway. The tour includes a visit to the James Mitchell Museum, in NUI Galway’s Quadrangle Building, to introduce the rocks, minerals and fossils of the Galway area and from around the globe. The guide highlights the natural history of the coastal zone stretching from Galway city westwards to Salthill and beyond. The reader can explore that history using the map and the many field illustrations of bedrock geology, as well as the flora and fauna that live on the bedrock; highlighting the many links between the Natural Sciences of Geology, Botany and Zoology. Those who use the guide are encouraged to share and discuss their discoveries through the webpage, www.exploregalway.npage.eu. A downloadable version of the guide is also available on this webpage. A hard copy is available from NUI Galway’s James Mitchell Museum in the Quadrangle Building, or the Zoology Museum in NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, or the Earth and Ocean Sciences office on the second floor of NUI Galway’s Quadrangle. The museums are open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. -Ends-

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Risks for psychosis could be identified through tell-tale signs in IQ, memory or social intelligence tests

Risks for psychosis could be identified through tell-tale signs in IQ, memory or social intelligence tests-image

Monday, 19 May 2014

The study’s findings, led by NUI Galway Professor Gary Donohoe, have been published in the leading international peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry A new study has revealed that genetic variants associated with risk for schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are also associated with performance on measures of IQ, memory and social cognition. The discovery was made by NUI Galway Professor of Psychology Gary Donohue, in association with colleagues from Trinity College, Dublin and has just been published in leading journal, JAMA psychiatry. Professor Gary Donohoe said: “These findings support the view that the genetics of schizophrenia and cognition overlap. The findings also raise the possibility that the risk of developing schizophrenia may be identified by changes in cognitive ability; tell-tale signs found in IQ, memory or social intelligence tests. These cognitive deficits often appear before the emergence of clinical symptoms and go on to predict individual levels of disability. Understanding how genetic variants contribute to this aspect of disability, both individually and interaction, is an important step towards understanding the underlying biology and developing better and more personalized treatments.” Schizophrenia or bipolar disorder affects about one in 50 Irish adults. Treatments are available, but the successful treatment rates vary. It is as yet unknown what causes or triggers schizophrenia. Disability in these disorders is significantly affected by difficulties with a wide range of neuropsychological problems, including general cognitive ability, memory function, and cognitive abilities relevant to engaging and dealing with others. Dr. April Hargreaves and Dr. Kristen Nicodemus were joint first authors on the paper. The study also included contributions from a broad network of collaborators in Europe and the US. Co-first author Dr. Hargreaves said ‘what is perhaps most novel about the study is the move from focusing on single genetic variants to considering the effects of multiple, related risk variants at the same time. The fact that we were able to account for a greater proportion of the variance in cognitive performance by looking at multiple variants, suggests that this approach represents an important next step in modeling the genetic complexity of cognition and identifying risk factors for psychosis’. The study, which was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Health Research Board, assessed performance on a number of cognitive functions known to be affected in psychosis. A total of 424 patients participated in the study, including 340 with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, and 83 with bipolar or major depressive disorder with psychotic features. Patients were given individual scores based on their loading for genetic variants interacting with ZNF804A, the first genome wide significant variant to be identified for schizophrenia. Across patient groups, higher scores on this ZNF804A interaction pathway were associated with poorer performance on multiple cognitive measures, including both general cognitive ability and a measure social cognition, often popularly referred to as social intelligence. -ends-

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Medical Device Week at NUI Galway

Medical Device Week at NUI Galway-image

Monday, 19 May 2014

Week designed to educate the public about medical devices in creative ways The Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) at NUI Galway will be celebrating Medical Device Week from 3-6 June. The Week is designed to educate the public about medical device research in unique ways, with each day assigned a different theme for various topics. The week kicks off on Tuesday with the theme of ‘New Foundations’ which involves a seminar series entitled ‘Engineering the Nanobiointerface’ at the new Biosciences Building. Invited speakers include: Professor Joachim Spatz from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Germany; Professor Laura Ballerini from the University of Trieste, Italy; and Dr Matteo Palma from Queen Mary University of London, UK. Tuesday’s activities will end with a wine reception to celebrate “Chimera: Art of Exploration”, an exhibition which will be open to the public from 12-4pm, Wednesday to Friday. The exhibition is of art work by professional artists Paul Maye, Siobhan McGibbon, and Marie Connole. Additionally, the exhibition will present works by students of the Centre for Creative Arts and Media, GMIT, who are participating in a short research project to create works in response to what they have seen and experienced in the NFB research laboratories. Medical devices from local companies including Boston Scientific, Vornia, Aerogen, and Osteoanchor will be displayed as well as artwork from staff in the Biosciences building inspired by their research. The week continues on Wednesday with”Reaching Out” entailing a public lecture at 1:00 at the Galway City Museum. During this lecture NFB PhD students will give an informal talk about the future of medical devices with regard to hernias, cardiovascular problems, orthopedics, and Parkinson's disease. Also on Wednesday, NFB researchers will visit local primary schools to present to children concepts of the anatomy, physiology, and disease of the heart through a series of hands-on activities. A link to the outreach activity can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrv_wx27qwQ Thursday is “Translation” involving a seminar series, ‘Medical Devices and Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products – Challenges and Opportunities in the Post Recession Era’, at the Biosciences Building. Invited speakers from the medical device industry will be presenting from companies such as Covidien, DSM, and Orbsen Therapeutics. The week concludes Friday with “Meet the Curator” encompassing guided tours of the Chimera art exhibition. For further details and a full programme please go to www.nfb.ie or call 091 495833. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Alumni Annual Golf Outing

NUI Galway Alumni Annual Golf Outing            -image

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

NUI Galway’s Alumni Association will hold its annual golf outing in Galway Golf Club, Salthill on Friday, 6 June.                          According to NUI Galway Alumni Board Chairman, Sean O’Rourke, “this is a great opportunity for alumni and friends to get together for an afternoon of friendly competition. It also affords graduates the potential to reminisce on their time spent at NUI Galway, hear about developments on campus and catch up with former classmates and friends old and new.” The entry fee of €30 includes green fees and prizes and is open to all graduates and friends of NUI Galway. Bookings can be made singly, in doubles, threesomes or foursomes.                                                                                                                                      For further details and booking information, contact Alumni Office on 091 493750 or book online at www.nuigalway.ie/alumni. -Ends-

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Winners announced for the First All-Ireland Apps Competition

Winners announced for the First All-Ireland Apps Competition -image

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The results of the first ever All-Ireland apps competition were announced this week. The initiative, Apps4Gaps, was launched by the Minister of State Brian Hayes T.D. in October 2013. The aim of the competition was to develop ideas and create applications (apps) that would provide innovative and fresh ways of exploiting the Open Data available from the 2011 Census, and which could benefit society in such areas as transport, housing, planning, education, communications and health. The judges, drawn from the public, business and education sectors, included Soheila Dehghanzadeh of Insight at NUI Galway, Michael Meagher of Microsoft, Shawn Day of Digital Humanities at University College Cork, Enzo Lieghio of Hewlett Packard, and Kevin Healy and Fiona O'Callaghan, both of the Central Statistics Office.  The results of the final judges’ deliberations for the four were: Best Working App (Student) with a prize fund of €1,500 and judged overall winner of the Alice Perry medal was “Some1LikeMe”, created by Jack O’Sullivan and Peter Roe from Kilkenny College in Castlecomer. Best Concept entry (Student) was “The Relocator” from  Conor Mulcahy, Eoin Hayes and Robert Fitzgerald of Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom, Co. Limerick Best Working App (Open) was the “Census Explorer” created by Gavin McCardle, Thomas Holz and Jennifer Treanor from Dublin. Best Concept entry (Open) was the “Attack of the Nearly Dead” from Barry and Katie Kennedy of CoderDojo Limerick. Apps4Gaps is co-organised by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway, with sponsorship from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). Partners for Apps4Gaps included the Department of Education and Skills, as well as the Department of Education Northern Ireland. The Apps4Gaps prizes will be presented during Maths Week in October 2014. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Celebrate Societies Success at Special Ceremony

NUI Galway Celebrate Societies Success at Special Ceremony-image

Thursday, 22 May 2014

NUI Galway has won more BICS national society awards than any other college in Ireland Galway’s President, Dr Jim Brown recently hosted an event for the Societies to congratulate them on their successes this year. Present at the ceremony were the societies who won University Awards and those who represented NUI Galway at the recent Board of Irish College Societies (BICS) National Society Awards in Belfast. The two societies who won at the BICS, Astronomy Society won the Best New Society Award and the Rovers Society who won in the Best Photo category, were presented with their national trophies by Dr Browne. Since BICS inauguration in 1999 NUI Galway has won more national society awards than any other college in Ireland and tops the leader board at 35 trophies, with the next competitor standing at 24. Also receiving awards from Dr Browne were representatives from the Drama Society who won two awards at the national Drama Awards ISDA. Joe Power from County Down won best supporting actor for his role in Calisto 5, which also won the Award for Best Sound. The production was directed by Emily Murray from Cork. NUI Galway’s Choral Society gave a special performance at the ceremony, celebrating their success at Galway Choir Factor which they won recently. In his remarks Dr Browne congratulated the societies on their contribution to campus life and the over 900 students on committees who work tirelessly to enhance the learning opportunities for the students on the campus. Riona Hughes, Societies Officer said: “I would like to thank the University for its commitment to the students and the cultural life of the University by its support of the societies with exceptional facilities and resources.” -Ends-

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NUI Galway Raises Awareness on Child to Parent Violence with International Conference

NUI Galway Raises Awareness on Child to Parent Violence with International Conference -image

Monday, 26 May 2014

NUI Galway will host the Child to Parent Violence: Innovations in Practice, Policy and Research conference, bringing together a variety of national and international speakers. The conference, which will take place from12-13 June, aims to raise awareness and to share information about best practice when it comes to responding to the problem of child to parent violence. Parents living with child to parent violence (where a son or daughter under the age of 18 years uses violence and controlling behaviour towards parents) often feel alone, frightened, ashamed and do not know where to turn for help. Practitioners, researchers and policy makers are often uncertain about how best to respond to the emerging problem of child to parent violence. The conference is part of the EU funded DAPHNE programme across five countries called the Responding to Child to Parent Violence (RCPV) project. The RCPV project team consists of a team of international academics and practitioners led by Dr Paula Wilcox at the University of Brighton. The RCPV aims to reflect a wide range of expertise on intervening with child to parent violence, (CPV) as well as geographical and cultural diversity across Europe. Dr Paula Wilcox will be one of the keynote speakers at the conference, which will also include: Peter Jakob, Partnership Projects, UK; Eddie Gallagher, Who’s in Charge, Australia; Michelle Pooley, Brighton and Hove City Council; Rita O’ Reilly, Parentline; Dr John Sharry, Parents Plus; and Norah Gibbons, Chairperson of Tusla – the Child and Family Agency. The conference is booked out with 200 practitioners, academics and policy makers scheduled to attend. Declan Coogan, lecturer in social work in the School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway is the RCPV Project Leader for Ireland. Waterside House COPE Galway, the Domestic Violence Refuge and Centre in Galway, is also part of the project as a local community partner. Mr Coogan said, “More and more parents are talking about child to parent violence which has been a hidden but growing social problem in Ireland and across Europe. Practitioners working with families in Ireland are increasingly hearing parents describing their experiences of child to parent violence. The conference will assist Social Workers, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Juvenile Justice Practitioners and others working with children and families across a range of services increase their awareness and skills development when faced with child to parent violence. The conference is also aimed at academics, researchers and policy makers as we try to better understand and respond to this problem throughout Europe.” One of the responses to CPV in Ireland is the Non Violent Resistance programme adapted for use in Ireland by Declan Coogan. This intervention is being used by a number of agencies in one to one and group settings with two day training in the programme being rolled out since last year. The Non Violent Resistance Handbook for Practitioners will also be launched at the end of the conference. With financial support from the DAPHNE programme of the European Union. -Ends-

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Donegal Native Awarded Avaya Prize for Best Final Year Engineering Project in NUI Galway

Donegal Native Awarded Avaya Prize for Best Final Year Engineering Project in NUI Galway -image

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Kevin McGlinchey, a final year student in the Electronic & Computer Engineering degree programme at NUI Galway, has been awarded the Avaya Prize for the Best Final Year Project in Electrical & Electronic Engineering in the College of Engineering at NUI Galway. Originally from Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Kevin's project was in the area of collaborative robotics and involved developing a system which allowed a miniature quadcopter equipped with a camera to fly autonomously, while also guiding a ground based robot vehicle to a destination location using information extracted from the camera’s video feed.    Liam Kilmartin, the lecturer in NUI Galway who supervised Kevin’s project, said: “Kevin completed a very impressive project which required him to build some quite complex electronic systems for the quadcopter and ground robot. In addition, Kevin also developed some extremely advanced and sophisticated software which allowed the quadcopter to interpret the video coming from its camera in order to identify the location of a ground robot and guide that vehicle to its destination without any human help. This type of technology has potentially numerous commercial applications into the future ranging from self navigating aerial and ground vehicles to autonomous search and rescue systems.” Dr Michael Keane, Senior Manager with Avaya in Galway added: “As part of our ongoing commitment to encouraging and supporting students in the Electrical & Electronic Engineering discipline in NUI Galway, we were delighted to extend our sponsorship of this prize into its 13th year. Avaya, who employ 400 people in Galway with 200 in high technology R&D positions, are dedicated to encouraging high quality students such as Kevin into degree programmes in the areas of computer engineering and ICT in order to fill the many open graduate positions in Irish based companies like ourselves.” -Ends-

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NUI Galway Biofuel Researchers Present 6 Books Published in 1 Year to Hardiman Library

NUI Galway Biofuel Researchers Present 6 Books Published in 1 Year to Hardiman Library-image

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Three NUI Galway Biofuel researchers have collaborated on a remarkable output of 6 leading text books on biofuel, enzyme and fungal technologies in a little over one year. Dr Maria G Tuohy, Dr Vijai K Gupta and Dr Anthonia O’Donovan of NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences and Ireland’s national Technology Centre for Biorefining & Bioenergy (TCBB) have authored and co-edited the texts and presented them to NUI Galway’s Hardiman Library. Registrar and Deputy-President of NUI Galway, Prof Pól Ó Dochartaigh, accepted the textbooks on behalf of NUI Galway’s James Hardiman Library and commended Dr Tuohy, Dr Gupta and Dr O’Donovan on their work in the areas of biofuels, enzyme and fungal technologies. Biochemist Dr Maria Tuohy outlined the environmental and industrial benefits of the research carried out by her team. “In practical terms, from the kind of fungi that are found on mouldy bread we have developed enzyme technologies that speed up the process of producing biogas fuel. In fact, brown-bin type wastes in themselves, such as kitchen waste and vegetable peelings can be a very valuable source of biofuel production rather than it going to landfill.” These enzyme technologies can pre-treat and break down more quickly a number of organic wastes ranging from brown-bin waste to dairy and farm wastes. This speeds up the process of biomethane production for transport.  Such developments offer significant potential for biofuels, given EU and global emission and renewable energy targets. Dr Tuohy paid tribute to her colleagues Dr Gupta, Dr O’Donovan, the Molecular Glycobiotechnology Group team, Dr Michael Carty (Head of Biochemistry), Prof Vincent O’Flaherty (Head of School) and colleagues from the School of Natural Sciences and the National Technology Centre for Biorefining & Bioenergy. (TCBB) Enterprise Ireland and other funding agencies supported the research group’s work. As authors and editors, the team thanked international colleagues and co-editors and their publishers, Springer, Springer Science + Business Media, Springer-Verlag, Elsevier, CRC Press, and Nova Science Publishers Inc.  One of the textbooks, Biofuel Technologies: Recent Developments (2013) edited by Dr Tuohy and Dr Gupta will soon be published in Chinese. Springer, the publisher of two of the texts has approached Dr Tuohy and Dr Gupta to edit a series of books in both areas over the coming years. -Ends-

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Fieldwork, Practical and Experiential Learning Focus of NUI Galway Symposium on Higher Education

Fieldwork, Practical and Experiential Learning Focus of NUI Galway Symposium on Higher Education-image

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The 12th Galway Symposium on Higher Education will take place at NUI Galway on Friday, 6 June in Áras Moyola. Presentations, demonstrations, exhibits and discussions will focus on the key role that fieldwork, laboratory experiments, projects and other forms of active engagement have in enhancing the student learning experience.  Participants will have an excellent opportunity to discover the many forms of learning across all the subject areas of a university today. The symposium will also show how it is possible to strengthen the links between undergraduate teaching & learning and the research interests of academic staff. These forms of learning allow students to actively contribute to scholarship immerse themselves in professional practices and ethos of their chosen area. Examples include field trips to post-conflict cities exploring politics and identity in situ rather than just learning from texts; students mapping the geology, flora and fauna of parts of Ireland and beyond; of archaeological digs; going to sea on ocean-going research vessels; living and studying abroad to develop language and cultural knowledge & skills; working in science communication with children and the public; performance and drama; renewal of laboratory teaching to focus on projects and challenges. The event will be opened by a keynote presentation from Dr Helen Walkington, previous head of Geography, Earth & Environmental Studies at the UK's Higher Education Academy, on how students can participate in, and learn from, research. Then, academics from across the disciplines will share some of their passion and enthusiasm for working with students in these deeper, more immersive modes of learning. The afternoon session will consist of a series of workshops and open forum sessions, along with some practical demonstrations and exhibits. The event will close with a 'mystery tour' of interesting, and perhaps, little known locations around the NUI Galway campus. Dr Iain Mac Labhrainn, Director of the Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching, said “This will be a wonderful opportunity for all of us to discover just how much fascinating work is taking place in many academic disciplines and how enthusiastic commitment to research areas can spill over into teaching and the student experience. In a sense, the participants will be taking a 'field trip' through a university that is committed to teaching, research and public engagement. I'm sure that not only will it be enlightening but also fun.” Registration is required, but is free of charge. http://celt14.splashthat.com/ -Ends-

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