Highest Honour for Two NUI Galway Academics

Highest Honour for Two NUI Galway Academics-image

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Two NUI Galway academics have been admitted as Members of the Royal Irish Academy. Election to the Royal Irish Academy is the highest academic honour in Ireland. Professor Nicholas Canny, President of the Royal Irish Academy, said "It is a testament to Ireland's formidable position in the academic world that the Royal Irish Academy is able to honour such a variety of exceptional scholars in the Sciences and Humanities. Ireland can be proud of these brilliant women and men who are universally recognised as leaders in the world of learning." The two new Members are Professor Christopher Dainty and Professor William Spillane. Christopher Dainty is Professor of Applied Physics. In 2007 he was awarded a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) grant to research applied optical techniques, focused on improving diagnostic methods which would lead to early diagnosis of disease in the eye and prevention of blindness in old age. William Spillane is Professor of Chemistry. His research is focused on consumer perceptions of sweet taste in food, how this affects our sensory evaluation of taste, and how to optimise taste. The criterion for election to membership is a significant contribution to scholarly or scientific research as shown in the candidate's published academic work. Membership of the Academy, which is by peer nomination and election, is limited to those scientists and scholars normally resident in Ireland. The Royal Irish Academy is an all-Ireland, independent, academic body that promotes study and excellence in the sciences, humanities and social sciences. It is the principal learned society in Ireland. For 223 years membership of the Royal Irish Academy has been keenly competed for, as it is the highest academic honour in Ireland and a public recognition of academic achievement. There are now 404 Members of the Academy, in disciplines from the sciences, humanities and social sciences. Those elected are entitled to use the designation MRIA after their name. Among the membership of the Academy are many of Ireland s leading scholars, the best known of whom include: Professor Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laureate; Dr Garret FitzGerald, economist and former Taoiseach; Dr. Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway; and Professor William Schabas, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway. The Academy has also more than 50 distinguished honorary Members, who in the past have included J.W. Von Goethe, Maria Edgeworth, Albert Einstein and Max Born. Today the Honorary Members include Nobel Laureates, Murray Gell-Mann, Steven Weinberg and Sir Andrew Huxley. Further information can be found on www.ria.ie -ENDS-

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New Selection Criteria for Undergraduate Entry to Medicine from 2009

New Selection Criteria for Undergraduate Entry to Medicine from 2009-image

Monday, 19 May 2008

The Academic Councils of the four Universities with undergraduate medical schools, NUI Galway, TCD, UCC and UCD together with the RCSI have given their approval for new selection criteria for undergraduate entry to Medicine which adds a new test dimension to the traditional Leaving Certificate entry route. The Minister for Education and Science Batt O'Keefe TD welcomed the introduction of the new arrangements. The admission test for entry in 2009 will take place on Saturday 14 February in test centres in Cork, Dublin, Galway, the North-West and the South-East at a cost of approximately €95 per candidate. An information brochure outlining the details of the new selection criteria is being sent to all secondary schools during May 2008. Further details are available from any of the University or RCSI admissions offices. The new proposals represent the implementation of key recommendations of the Fottrell report which was approved by Government in 2006, for the reform of medical education. Under the new arrangements, students will sit a separate admissions test and their results will be combined with their Leaving Certificate Examination to create a new admission route to undergraduate medicine for 2009. As well as the mandatory subjects, a threshold of 480 points in the same sitting of the Leaving Certificate will be required to be eligible. Leaving Certificate points up to 550 will count as normal and above this level, each band of 5 points will be given 1 point extra only. For example, a student with 555 points will be credited with 551 points, a student with 560 points will be credited with 552 points. The maximum Leaving Certificate point score will translate to 560. The new admissions test is called HPAT- Ireland (Health Professions Admission Test – Ireland). The test will have a maximum score of 300. The students' marks will be combined to a total maximum achievable mark of 860. Commenting, on behalf of the Irish Medical Schools, on the new admission route Professor Bill Powderly, stressed the importance of the design of the new test. "A crucial element of the test is that it measures the student's ability rather than prepared learning and this avoids a situation whereby scores could be improved through repeated testing and grind courses." The HPAT – Ireland test which was chosen through an international tender process will be independently administered by ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research). HPAT- Ireland examines mental ability, reasoning, personal skills and professional attributes. Following the Fottrell Report (2006) Medical Education in Ireland: A New Direction, Report of the Working Group on Undergraduate Medical Education and Training, the cap on undergraduate medical places for EU students was raised from 305 to 480, spread across the four university medical schools and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. When both the undergraduate and graduate entry routes come fully on stream the annual intake to medicine for EU students will be 720. The Universities and RCSI fully support the principles of the reform outlined in the Fottrell Report and the combination of additional places and the new selection criteria for entry is good news for those competing for entry to undergraduate medicine. -ends-

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Explore Part-time Degree Study Options at NUI Galway

Explore Part-time Degree Study Options at NUI Galway-image

Friday, 16 May 2008

Part-time degree programmes at NUI Galway will be showcased at a special information evening on Thursday, 22 May at 7pm, in the J.E. Cairnes Business School, Upper Newcastle Road, Galway. Lecturers involved in delivering the Bachelor of Science in Science and Technology, Bachelor of Arts, and Bachelor of Commerce programmes will be on hand to offer prospective students detailed information about the courses. All three degree programmes are offered on a part-time basis and in the case of the Bachelor of Commerce and in BSc Science and Technology, via blended learning which allows for a more flexible approach to course delivery. NUI Galway has revised its Bachelor of Arts programme to offer an interesting mix of specialist subjects including English, History, French and Information Technology. Delivered by the University's College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, in association with the Adult and Continuing Education Office, the programme is available over four years with classes offered in the evenings. Students are awarded a Diploma in Arts after two years with a Bachelor of Arts conferred on completion of the full four-year cycle. The Bachelor of Commerce programme is also a joint venture between the Adult and Continuing Education Office and the Faculty of Commerce. It can be pursued either to a Diploma in Management over two years, or to a full Bachelor of Commerce degree after four years study. "The BSc Science and Technology is designed for students who cannot afford to leave the workplace to pursue full time education", explains programme co-ordinator Niamh Nolan of NUI Galway's Adult and Continuing Education Office. "The diploma consists of 20 modules that must be completed between two and four years. Following successful completion of the diploma, students can continue to degree level which requires the completion of a further 20 modules that must be completed between two and four years". According to Nuala McGuinn at the Adult and Continuing Education Office, NUI Galway, "The information evening will outline each programme's content, the structure of each course and teaching timetable. There will also be time set aside for a question and answer session in what is an hour-long lecture event. Lecturers will also be available to meet with students following the event to answer any other questions relevant to the programmes". For further details on the Information Evening contact the Adult and Continuing Education Office at NUI Galway on 091 492062 or 091493746 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/adulteducation -ends-

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Funding of €3.5 Million Brings 'Critical Mass' to NUI Galway Cancer Research

Funding of €3.5 Million Brings 'Critical Mass' to NUI Galway Cancer Research-image

Thursday, 15 May 2008

A Science Foundation Ireland Principal Investigator grant of €3.5 million has been awarded to NUI Galway's Professor Noel Lowndes for his research into the biology of cancer. Professor Lowndes is Head of the Department of Biochemistry at NUI Galway and founding Director of the Genome Stability Cluster, which is part of the University's National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES). The Genome Stability Cluster (GSC) is an international assembly of independent cancer biology laboratories, unique within Ireland, all working on basic cellular mechanisms involved in the development of cancer. Currently, it employs more than 40 researchers who are focused on increasing our understanding of cell cycle control and cellular responses to DNA damage. With this most recent award, the GSC has now been funded to the tune of €15 million since 2002. According to Professor Lowndes, this level of funding has followed the rapid establishment of ten independent laboratories within the Genome Stability Cluster at NUI Galway, giving Ireland an international presence in this field, "The Genome Stability Cluster is an NUI Galway initiative that firmly puts Ireland on the map in an area of science of fundamental importance to cancer. We have achieved the essential critical mass to make a real impact in this field and the future promises important strides in our understanding of this major killer." As a disease, cancer is characterised by abnormally elevated levels of genome instability. The latest grant will finance a team of ten researchers on a five-year research programme focusing on the fundamental biological response of genes and proteins to DNA damage. Professor Lowndes continued, "A detailed understanding of the many biochemical pathways that regulate genome stability will significantly enhance our knowledge of cancer and will lead to both better diagnosis of cancer and better prognosis of their outcomes. Importantly, it will also lead to the identification of novel targets for therapeutic interventions and the next generation of cancer therapies that target specific cancers at the molecular level. All cancers have defects in genome stability pathways and knowledge of the status of these pathways in patients will also impact on cancer prevention and pre-emptive treatments." The work will be performed in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Flaus, NCBES, NUI Galway, and world renowned scientists from the USA and Japan, including: Professor Don Hunt, Department of Chemistry, University of Virginia, USA; Professor, Shunichi Takeda, Department of Radiation Genetics, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan; and Professor Eva Nogales, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Berkeley, USA. The establishment of the GSC would not have been possible without funding from Science Foundation Ireland, which has so far awarded major programme grants to six members of the cluster. Significant funding has also been obtained from the Health Research Board, the Higher Education authority and the European Union, with smaller amounts from Cancer Research Ireland, the Wellcome Trust (UK) and the National Institute of Health (USA). The GSC complements two other multidisciplinary research clusters at the NCBES, which are focused on Apoptosis (cell death) and Breast Cancer. All are working to understand the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the initiation and progression of cancer, and to develop new and better cancer therapies. -ends-

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Details of Second John McGahern International Seminar Announced

Details of Second John McGahern International Seminar Announced-image

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) and Leitrim County Council have announced that the second John McGahern International Seminar will take place from 24-26 July, 2008, to commemorate the work and literary achievements of one of Ireland's best known and internationally respected modern writers. The first International Seminar was held in County Leitrim in 2007 and was attended by more than 100 participants from Ireland and overseas. Speakers at the 2008 International Seminar and Summer School will include eminent writers, critics and academics as well as local contributors. The keynote address - John McGahern's Irelands - will be delivered by Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh of NUI Galway. Other speakers will include Professor Christopher Murray, UCD; Professor David Malcolm, University of Gdansk, Poland; Dr Patrick Gilligan, dramatist; Irish writer Claire Keegan; and the Argentinean poet and translator, Gerardo Gambolini, who has just finished translating McGahern's stories into Spanish. As well as appealing to all lovers of McGahern's own work, the International Seminar will be of interest to literary researchers and to book clubs, to readers of contemporary fiction and modern writing, and to all national and international students of Irish literature and culture. In addition to this years Seminar, NUI Galway has organised an intensive one week International Summer School on John McGahern's work and its contexts. This summer programme will form part of the 25th International Summer School in Irish Studies at NUI Galway. The John McGahern International Summer School is designed for advanced level students and researchers who are interested in the writings of John McGahern and his life and times in 20th Century Ireland. The Summer School will take place at the County Library, Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim, the week after the Seminar. Contributors to the Summer School, directed by Dr. John Kenny of NUI Galway, will include Ms Belinda McKeon of Columbia University, New York; Dr James Whyte, author of History, Myth and Ritual in the Fiction of John McGahern; and Dr. Frank Shovlin of the Institute of Irish Studies, Liverpool. Speaking at the announcement of the 2008 International Seminar and Summer School, Damien Brennan, Cathaoirleach of Leitrim County Council, said, "Last year, the first International Seminar was a great success, both in its own right, but also in terms of laying foundations for the future. In this second year, it is wonderful to see the programme develop to incorporate The John McGahern Summer School in Ballinamore. Between the International Seminar and the Summer School, we now have the opportunity to facilitate both academic and general readers to engage richly with the work of John McGahern." John McGahern had a long association with University College Galway, now NUI Galway. For over 30 years he contributed to courses at the University, including the University's International Summer School. He directed the National Writers' Workshop in Galway in 1979 and 1989. His extensive archive is now held in the James Hardiman Library at the University. Speaking at the announcement of the Second International Seminar and Summer School, President of NUI Galway, Dr. James Browne, said, "On behalf of NUI Galway, I am delighted to support the expansion and development of the John McGahern International Seminar and Summer School. Leitrim and the North-West of Ireland form a unique and important backdrop to the McGahern canon. At NUI Galway we share in this geography, and by being the repository for the papers of John McGahern we feel that our University is holding in trust a treasure for the world of literary scholarship." "Through initiatives such as the International Seminar and Summer School we are working to broaden access to the University s literary scholarship and archival treasures, by sharing these with a wider audience in Leitrim and the West of Ireland. I wish the McGahern International Summer School and Seminar every success and I welcome the continued partnership of Leitrim County Council in this culturally important endeavour." This year's Seminar will also see the launch of the first number of The John McGahern Yearbook. Speaking at the announcement of the publication, Dr John Kenny, Editor, said, "In close relation with the Seminar and Summer School, this new annual publication will be a regular testament to NUI Galway's commitment to the work of John McGahern and to the University's McGahern Archive. The Yearbook will link the local, the national and the international in the study of John McGahern and will combine accessibility with serious scholarship". For further details on The John McGahern International Seminar and Summer School contact 091-495442 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/iss ENDS

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Secondary School Students Debate Topical Science Issues

Secondary School Students Debate Topical Science Issues-image

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Secondary school students from all over Ireland participated in the inaugural final of the Debating Science Issues (DSI) competition on Friday, 9 May, at the Science Gallery in Trinity College Dublin. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the debating competition is coordinated by the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway in conjunction with science research and discovery centres throughout Ireland. After several closely fought debates, Ballincollig Community School, Co. Cork, emerged victorious to become the first ever Debating Science Issues winners. Other national finalists included Gort Community College, Co. Galway, St Colman's College Newry, and St Mary's Academy CBS Carlow Town. DSI is a dynamic debating competition, which invites young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. Open to students in the senior cycle of secondary school, the competition provides a great opportunity for students to expand their communication and scientific skills. This All-Ireland competition is unique in involving a number of research centres and secondary schools throughout the country; REMEDI, NUI Galway; Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, UCC; Biomedical Diagnostics Institute, DCU; CRANN in Trinity College Dublin; RCSI, Dublin and W5 in Belfast. Judges on the day included Frank Gannon, SFI; Brian Trench, Head of School of Communications, DCU; Dick Ahlstrom, Science Editor, The Irish Times; Siobhan O' Sullivan, The Irish Council for Bioethics; Tom Kennedy, Editor of Science Spin; Oonagh Meighan, Discover Science and Engineering and Cormac Sheridan, Science Journalist. "We hope that this collaborative outreach competition will be a useful tool in facilitating increased awareness of the important research taking place in Ireland among young people and the Irish public in general", said Professor Frank Barry, Scientific Director of REMEDI. "It is imperative, however, that this is not one-way traffic. While it is important for research centres to communicate to the public, it is equally important for us, as scientists, to listen to what the public, including young people, think of our work. At a time when scientific research itself is taking so many different directions, it is critical that we open the doors for discussion so that we can ensure that everyone has their say on the societal and ethical implications of biomedical research". -ends-

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NUI Galway Celebrates 20 years of Biodiagnostics R&D

NUI Galway Celebrates 20 years of Biodiagnostics R&D-image

Monday, 12 May 2008

NUI Galway will celebrate 20 years of success in biodiagnostics research and development on Saturday, 17 May, with a symposium reflecting on the University's leadership in supporting and collaborating with Ireland's BioIndustry. The University is a world leader in molecular diagnostics for infectious diseases. Molecular diagnostic technologies have been licensed to companies who are market leaders in this area. Recently, NUI Galway launched a four year R&D partnership with Beckman Coulter Inc. to develop molecular diagnostic products for the clinical sector. NUI Galway has worked with industry to develop new, breakthrough biodiagnostic technologies which have successfully entered the marketplace. The University has trained graduates in industry-relevant skills, in particular immunoassay* and molecular diagnostics technologies providing skilled scientists to meet Irish BioIndustry work-force needs. "Over the past 20 years biodiagnostics expertise at NUI Galway has been instrumental in spawning a number of indigenous diagnostics companies and, because of the availability of trained personnel, in the attraction of major multinational diagnostic companies to Ireland," says Dr. Jim Walsh, CEO, Stokes Bio. According to Professor Terry Smith, Director of the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES), "The last 20 years has seen huge advances in the fields of bio-science and biodiagnostics which has been reflected in the growth of the industry in Ireland. The University has kept pace with these advances amassing critically relevant expertise in these areas as well as broadening the R&D base to include new research areas such as glycosciences, biosensors and nanotechnology. NUI Galway will continue to work closely with Ireland's BioIndustry to support and contribute to the development of world-class BioIndustries in Ireland." Special guests at the symposium will include Professor Frank Gannon, Science Foundation Ireland; Dr. Jim Walsh, Stokes Bio; Dr. Patrick Cunningham, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government; and Dr. Bruce Wallace, Beckman Coulter Inc. The meeting will be chaired by Feargal Ó Móráin from Enterprise Ireland who will be addressing issues including the importance of industry and academic collaborative interaction and the role NUI Galway has played in the development of the Irish BioIndustry sector. The event takes place on Saturday at the Salthill Hotel, Galway from 2-5pm, for further information contact Dr. Marian Kane (Tel. 091-492071 or e-mail marian.kane@nuigalway.ie). -ends-

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Information Evening on Courses Offered by NUI Galway in Ennis

Information Evening on Courses Offered by NUI Galway in Ennis-image

Monday, 12 May 2008

An Information Evening about part-time courses offered by NUI Galway takes place on Tuesday, 20 May from 7.30–8.30pm at the Clare Education Centre, Kilrush Road, Ennis. Full details will be available about Diplomas the University delivers in Ennis, and also the range of distance learning courses which combine on-line materials with face-to-face seminars. The four Diplomas which make up the 'Ennis Diploma Series' 2008/09 run on a part-time basis over two years and require class attendance one evening per week. Students can undertake the following courses: Diploma in French; Diploma in German; Diploma in Irish Music Studies; or a Diploma in Irish. For the language courses, even those with no previous knowledge of the language are invited to apply. A tuition fee of €1,025 applies for 2008/09 entry and the deadline for applications is 27 June. Nuala McGuinn of NUI Galway's Adult and Continuing Education Office comments, "Whether you feel passionate about Irish music and language, are keen to improve your French or German, or you just want to take a course for your own interest and enjoyment - it is well worth exploring the Diploma programmes on offer in the Ennis Diploma Series". NUI Galway also offers a range of flexible, part-time distance learning programmes at a variety of tutorial centres in the west of Ireland. These programmes, which can be studied at foundation level through to Masters, are designed so that individuals can study at their own pace. The courses are delivered using a combination of online materials, tutorials and seminars. Courses available through distance learning include: Commerce; Community and Family Studies; Innovation Management; Social Care; Science and Technology Studies; and Software and Information Systems. Tutors for these courses will be available at the information evening to provide further information and answer any questions from prospective students. Nuala McGuinn added, "Our message on 20 May is that NUI Galway is bringing more and more courses to Clare and surrounding counties. We have had huge demand and success in the past with the Ennis Diploma Series. The next step is combining use of the internet with local tutorial centers to literally take third-level education to everyone's doorstep". For further details on the Information Evening or to obtain a copy of the new prospectus from the Adult and Continuing Education Programme, contact 091-492062 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/adulteducation. -ends-

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Research on Obesity and its Effects Among Irish Expectant Mothers

Research on Obesity and its Effects Among Irish Expectant Mothers-image

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Professor John Morrison and his group at NUI Galway have recently published a report pertaining to the incidence of obesity among pregnant Irish women, and the impact it has on their capability to deliver their infants by normal delivery. This study involved a close analysis of 5162 women who delivered their infants at Galway University Hospital. It included both women in their first pregnancy, and those in subsequent pregnancies. The body mass index (BMI) of all women was measured and compared with their outcome in terms of having a normal vaginal delivery, an assisted normal vaginal delivery (using forceps or vacuum) or an emergency caesarean section. According to Professor John Morrison, NUI Galway, "There is emerging evidence in the medical literature that obesity is becoming a major health problem in numerous developed countries. Yet, until now, there has been no published data in relation to obesity and pregnancy in an Irish obstetric population." The women were classified into five international categories: underweight; normal weight; overweight; obese; and morbidly obese. The primary aim of the study was to evaluate the incidence of the categories of overweight, obese and morbidly obese women in this Irish population, and secondly to see what effect it had on their success in having a normal delivery. A remarkably high (48.2%) of women attending the maternity hospital among this group of 5162 women, were either overweight (BMI 26.0 -29.9), or obese (BMI 30), including morbidly obese (overweight 22.8%; obese 19.8% and morbidly obese 5.6%). By international classification, 2.6% of women attending the maternity hospital of this group were underweight and 49.2% were of normal weight. The levels of obesity were marginally lower in first time mothers, in comparison to women in subsequent pregnancies. Morbid obesity (BMI 35), occurred in 5.6% of the women overall and in 4.3% of first time mothers and 6.5% of women in subsequent pregnancies. Professor Morrison continued, "These levels of overweight and obesity are significantly high when compared with the international literature. This level of obesity in pregnancy exerts a significant impact on maternal health, on fetal wellbeing and on ultimate delivery, and these issues are clearly discussed in the publication, in an Irish healthcare context". The second aspect of the study investigated the outcome in relation to the mode of delivery for women who were obese, in comparison to women who were of normal weight. For women in their first pregnancy who were of normal weight, the vaginal delivery rate was 83.1% but for obese primigravida this rate was as low as 55.3%. In other words, obesity conferred a two to three fold increase risk of delivery by emergency caesarean section for both women in their first pregnancy, and those in their subsequent pregnancy. Professor Morrison concluded, "These findings have major implications for health care in Ireland. Obesity in pregnancy has important implications for both maternal wellbeing being during the pregnancy, maternal health long term, infant health and chronic disorders in adulthood." One of the conclusions from this study was that obese women in their first pregnancy should be clearly counselled about the 30% risk of emergency caesarean section in pregnancy. -ends-

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NUI Galway Benefits from Minister Martin Announcement

NUI Galway Benefits from Minister Martin Announcement -image

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin T.D. has announced Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funding totalling almost €3million for four new research projects. The De Brun Centre for Computational Algebra, based at NUI Galway and led by Graham Ellis, Dane Flannery and Goetz Pfeiffer, will receive a grant of €500,000 over four years. Algebraic computation is playing an increasingly widespread role in applied mathematics, statistics, engineering and science. Recent examples of this phenomenon are the emergence of bioinformatics as a cognate discipline of biology, and the use of algebraic topology in image analysis. Three teams of researchers at NUI Galway will examine inter-related areas of computational algebra, focussing on innovative projects with direct relevance to applied mathematics and engineering. The award-winning projects, based at NUI Galway, University College Cork, Dublin City University, and University of Limerick, will be funded as part of SFI's Mathematics Initiative, which aims to facilitate closer links between Ireland's mathematicians and researchers in industry, science, engineering, finance, education and other sectors. Making the announcement, Minister Martin said: "SFI's Mathematics Initiative is a key driver in encouraging and supporting engagement and collaboration between mathematicians and those employed across a range of other disciplines. Such collaboration is essential in ensuring a flourishing environment between the worlds of academia and industry." "This initiative provides ongoing opportunities for innovative research to make a direct impact on enterprise, engineering, education and beyond. I commend those involved in these projects for their dedication and commitment in this regard," the Minister added. Director General of SFI, Prof. Frank Gannon said "The four research projects to successfully secure funding under this latest Mathematics Initiative have each illustrated vision, purpose and foresight in how Mathematics is applied to a variety of research areas. While diverse in their subject matter, the projects have, as a common theme, the enhancement of Ireland's reputation across all fields of mathematics." Science Foundation Ireland received a total of fourteen applications from seven Higher Education Institutions and all applications were assessed by a panel of international expert reviewers. ENDS

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