Success at Undergraduate Awards of Ireland for NUI Galway Students

Success at Undergraduate Awards of Ireland for NUI Galway Students-image

Monday, 2 November 2009

President Mary McAleese presented six inaugural Undergraduate Awards of Ireland to NUI Galway students on 20 October in the Royal Irish Academy where 41 of Ireland's most outstanding undergraduates received awards. Over 1,600 submissions were received and the winners were selected through an academic review process by 33 separate panels. The Undergraduate Awards of Ireland were established to recognise and reward Ireland's most innovative young knowledge creators, to catalyse the development of the brightest undergraduates, and to inspire all undergraduates to achieve. In congratulating these students on their success in the Undergraduate Awards of Ireland programme, NUI Galway President Dr James J. Browne commended them on receiving this distinction by a body which recognizes Ireland's brightest undergraduates. "Their success will undoubtedly add lustre to the students' academic development, as well as underscore NUI Galway s increasing profile as a centre of world-class research and teaching". He continued by wishing them continued success in their academic endeavours. NUI Galway winners and essay titles: Philomena Ní Fhlatharta - Irish "Cillíní Páistí: briseadh croí faoi rún" Russell Ó Ríagáin - Archaeology "The rectilinear houses of the Irish early neolithic: the introduction of new identities, ideologies and economies" Kayla Reed - Irish "Innéacs de bhailiúchán amhrán a rinne Cosslett Ó Cuinn i nGabhla, i dToraigh agus in Árainn Mhór" Geraldine Galand - Nursing and Midwifery "Define nursing and discuss what you consider to be the key components of nursing care" Caroline Maritin - Earth & Ocean Sciences "Early human settlement in the British Isles as a function of retreat and advance of Northern Hemisphere glaciations: Comparisons with other mammal fauns" Linda O'Connor - Chemistry "Catalytic Methods for the Destruction of Chemical Warfare Agents under Ambient Conditions" The awards are open to undergraduates across the island of Ireland's nine Universities. Submissions are drawn from the outstanding papers, essays and dissertations produced as a normal part of course work during each academic year. In addition to receiving a gold medal for their submissions each students winning essay will be published in an annual journal. -ends-

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NUI Galway Engineering Students Volunteer in Africa

NUI Galway Engineering Students Volunteer in Africa-image

Monday, 2 November 2009

The College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway has initiated a programme that gives students the opportunity to work in developing countries. Through the Service Learning programme, undergraduate civil engineering students can undertake community-based learning as part of their academic courses. Students will work on projects such as house building, research activities, engineering and science workshops, and literacy programmes. As part of the programme NUI Galway is investigating innovative sustainable construction technology in Zambia, through collaboration with University of Zambia, Good Earth Trust, and the Alan Kerins African Projects. The initial phase of this project entitled 'Cost-effective Sustainable Construction Technology for Zambia' was completed in June by four third-year civil engineering students. With the assistance of the University of Zambia, an extensive literature review and laboratory tests were carried out using interlocking compressed earth blocks, also known as stabilised soil blocks, that replicated those currently used in Western Zambia. If adopted, these blocks can make a significant contribution to poverty reduction, improving the local environment and reducing carbon emissions. The project also saw NUI Galway students, together with two qualified engineers, travel to Western Zambia in August on a 'fact-finding mission'. This visit was used to gather further information on materials available locally that could be used in the manufacture of cost-effective sustainable construction techniques. Further tests to develop innovative composite materials will involve two research projects at NUI Galway which will run in parallel until April 2010. NUI Galway engineering students also ran workshops for orphan children in the remote village of Kaoma. The workshops were developed in collaboration with the Irish engineering professional body, Engineers Ireland, and were designed to encourage the children to explore the world of science and engineering. Speaking on the new initiative Dr Jamie Goggins, Lecturer in the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway said: "Working in developing countries is a great way to improve your technical skills, broaden your horizons and gain invaluable working experience. Getting a job in communities less fortunate than your own can be a very fulfilling experience. It is extremely rewarding to know that your efforts are helping others to help themselves and working towards alleviating inequality and poverty". NUI Galway Engineering students have also taken part in other volunteering projects in Africa. Over the summer, nine final-year engineering students volunteered for two months in Bahir Dar, in the north of Ethiopia, working on a house building project and helping with a literacy programme. -ends-

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Major Study Highlights Community Needs in East Galway City Areas

Major Study Highlights Community Needs in East Galway City Areas-image

Monday, 2 November 2009

- Doughiska, Roscam and Ardaun - A new report to be launched today (Monday, 2 November) looks at the future of a part of Galway City which, in recent years, has seen the highest population growth of any district outside of Dublin. The study was commissioned by a local community group, the Doughiska, Roscam and Ardaun Planning and Strategy Committee. This major report into the communities of Doughiska, Roscam and Ardaun was undertaken by NUI Galway's Adult and Continuing Education Office. The 'Profile, Needs Analysis and Action Plan' study highlights a number of very distinct traits of the area and points to developments which are urgently required to pave the way for the future. According to the report, a combination of facilities and development supports is crucial, given the area's youth, its multi-cultural mix, its high degree of transience and a perceptible rise in unemployment. In the past decade, the Doughiska, Roscam and Ardaun (DRA) area in the East of Galway City has witnessed phenomenal population growth. The population has grown from around 200 people in the year 2000, to its present day figure of 7,280. The area is also notable for the exceptional youth of its population, more than a quarter of the area's population (26.6%) are children aged 15 or younger. In total, there are almost 2000 children living in the DRA area who are obliged to travel outside of the area in order to attend school, until new schools approved for the area open in 2012. Among much needed developments identified in the study, the most important are considered to be: the opening of the two approved schools; the development of a multi-purpose Neighbourhood Centre; an expansion of youth services; and the delivery of community development supports. More than two in five households (41.5%) are living in private rented accommodation in the DRA area, which is four times higher than the national average. The area is also markedly multi-cultural, with at least 33 different nationalities living in the area, with one in three (33.4%) of all residents being non-Irish nationals. Commenting about the Report, Seamus O'Grady, Director of Adult and Continuing Education, NUI Galway, said: "The report highlights the importance of local community action and collaboration with development agencies. It documents significant priority developments that need to be addressed in the Doughiska, Roscam and Ardaun areas. As a city, Galway has seen massive change over the last decade and elements of society need to come together to shape a successful future for our young people. The University is delighted to have played a role in progressing local needs through this research report. NUI Galway will continue to work in cooperation with DRA, Galway City Council and other local development interests in furthering the development capacity of the East side of Galway City". The report was funded by NUI Galway, Galway City Council, the Galway Diocese and McInerney's Properties. -ends-

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December 2009

NUI Galway Offers Observatory Open Nights

NUI Galway Offers Observatory Open Nights-image

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

In 2010 NUI Galway's Centre of Astronomy will continue its programme of open evenings at its Imbusch Astronomical Observatory. The Observatory provides state-of-the-art observing facilities for NUI Galway's Astrophysics students and the Open evenings are an opportunity for the general public to come in and visit. At 7pm on 20 January and 17 February, weather permitting, an informative hour-long lecture will be followed by a hands-on viewing of the sky by night. Numbers are limited to two per person and admission is strictly by ticket only, allocated on a first come first served basis. Bookings are by email and those interested should send requests to tara.shanahan@nuigalway.ie. NUI Galway's Centre of Astronomy and School of Physics has also announced details of the next talk in their series of public lectures. Tickets are not limited for this free lecture, which will focus on Applied Physics. The lecture takes place at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 13 January, in the McMunn Theatre, Arts & Science Building, NUI Galway. This lecture, presented by Dr Mark Foley, Lecturer with the NUI Galway School of Physics, will focus Medical and Laser Physics. Medical Physics is one of the fastest-growing areas of physics today, involving the application of physics and physical methods to problems in medicine. Medical physicists play an essential role in fields such as diagnostic imaging, radiotherapy, nuclear medicine and radiological safety. This lecture will focus on cutting-edge clinical technology and also on the fundamental principles behind the technologies used to diagnose and treat cancer patients. The second part of the lecture will be given by Dr Gerard O'Connor, also from the School of Physics, and will focus on Laser Physics. The lecture will introduce the concept of laser light, describe the applications of laser technology and look at the future of laser light. Commenting on the importance of Laser Physics, Dr O'Connor said: "Lasers are just 50 years old but their discovery has already transformed the way we live, work and play. From the application of laser technology in enabling the internet, creating new methods for manufacturing, developing new healthcare, new measurements and new entertainments, the photonics revolution based on laser technology is only beginning". After the lecture a tour will be given of the research facilities in the NUI Galway School of Physics. Although the lectures will be aimed at second level students, they will be of interest and open to the general public. More details of all the talks can be found on http://astro.nuigalway.ie/outreach.php. -ends-

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New York Acting Experts Take to the Stage at NUI Galway

New York Acting Experts Take to the Stage at NUI Galway-image

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Acting teachers from around the world will visit NUI Galway in January as the University hosts a five-day workshop by the New York-based Michael Chekhov Association (MICHA). Michael Chekhov was the nephew of the playwright Anton Chekhov and was widely recognised as one of the greatest actors of the 20th century. He went on to teach the likes of Gary Cooper, Marilyn Monroe, Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal, Clint Eastwood, Anthony Quinn, Ingrid Bergman, Jack Palance and Yul Brynner. MICHA is training a new generation of practitioners in Michael Chekhov's acting technique, which is based in a psycho-physical approach to acting. Joanna Merlin and Fern Sloan, two master teachers, will lead classes at the workshop. Joanna, who is President of MICHA, studied with Michael Chekhov during the last five years of his life. She made her Broadway debut opposite Laurence Olivier in Becket and created the role of Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof. Her film credits include Invasion, staring Nicole Kidman and co-starring roles in City of Angles with Dennis Franz, Class Action with Gene Hackman, Mystic Pizza with Julia Roberts, Fame, All That Jazz and The Killing Fields. Joanna was most recently on screen in The Wackness and has a recurring role as Judge Lena Petrovsky on Law and Order, Special Victims Unit. This is MICHA's first visit to Ireland and the workshop takes place from 4-8 January. -ends-

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Irish Breast Cancer Research Well Received at Global Meeting of Experts

Irish Breast Cancer Research Well Received at Global Meeting of Experts-image

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

At the recent annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, ground breaking research from the Breast Cancer Research Group in NUI Galway was well received. The meeting is the biggest Breast Cancer Meeting in the world with more than 12,000 delegates and is a key step in the introduction of novel and new initiatives in breast cancer. The research from NUI Galway came from the National Breast Cancer Research Institute (NBCRI) funded Surgery programme on the role of MicroRNAs in breast cancer. For the first time, the work shows that MicroRNAs are measurable in the blood of breast cancer patients and the levels of mir95 in particular, suggests that it is a breast cancer specific tumour marker. The work was led by NUI Galway's Professor Michael Kerin, presented by Dr Helen Heneghan and co-authored by Dr Nicola Miller and Dr John Newell Dr Heneghan who is a Health Research Board funded Clinical Research Fellow, is currently two years into her PhD programme. Her work shows that microRNAs are measurable in the blood of breast cancer patients, that levels of certain miRNAs drop after breast tumours are surgically removed and that mir195 is likely to be a breast cancer specific tumour marker. The novelty involves a modification of standard techniques allowing these little molecules to be reliably measured in blood from breast cancer patients for the first time. Professor Kerin, Head of Surgery at NUI Galway, said that this work opens up many corridors of scientific questioning: "In particular, we may be able to trace tumour activity in breast cancer using these markers and a combination of microRNAs may function as screening tests for breast cancer allowing early detection to become the norm. This early work suggests that a combination of mir195 and Let7a are sensitive markers for the presence of breast cancer in over 90% of cases. This raises the possibility of their use in screening for breast cancer". Professor Kerin warned of the possibility of reading too much into this discovery as it is still 'early days': "Our initial work centres on 83 breast cancer patients and 44 controls. While it is clear that we can now measure microRNAs in blood, much more work has to be done. We have received amazing feedback however, from the major Breast Cancer Research Centres around the world and they want to collaborate with us to answer these questions. The fact that microRNAs are small, robust and act on multiple genes suggest that they may be very powerful factors in breast cancer propagation and development. In addition, we may be able to interfere with them and manipulate their expression which may allow cancers which are refractory to standard therapy to be made sensitive. This work is part of the ongoing Breast Cancer Research Programme in Surgery at NUI Galway which also looks at the role of stem cells in breast cancer. "We have some very exciting projects ongoing here and have several national and international partners. We receive funding from the Health Research Board, Molecular Medicine Ireland, the Royal College of Surgeons, the Irish Cancer Society as well as some European Funding", continued Professor Kerin. However, we could not manage without the help of the NCBRI, which is a voluntary body and over the years has raised more than €7 million to fund and equip the laboratory here. This research shows that we have the opportunity to deliver international-standard cancer research and give our world class medical students and junior doctors the opportunity to train and develop. I would like to thank the NBCRI volunteers and particularly our patients who have so kindly agreed to take part in the Research Programme". -ends-

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PhD Student Participates in a US Department of Homeland Security Study

PhD Student Participates in a US Department of Homeland Security Study-image

Monday, 21 December 2009

NUI Galway PhD student in the School of Physics, Ann McDonagh, has just returned from participating in a US Department of Homeland Security study on the spread of airborne contaminants released in subway systems. The study measured the flow of gas and particles through tunnels and cars in the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) system. Ann's PhD work is supervised by Dr Miriam Byrne, Lecturer with the School of Physics at NUI Galway, and funded by the Radiological Institute of Ireland. Her work aims to develop a better understanding of how contaminant particles, especially those of a radioactive nature, might become redistributed in the environment, if a person or population group were contaminated during an accidental or terrorist-motivated release. Ann developed a relationship with scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) through a visit funded under the NUI Galway/University of California Travel Scheme earlier this year. She has also been asked to participate as a LBNL guest scientist in two scientific missions, in Washington and Boston. This latest study ran from 5-11 December, and involved the release of common, harmless tracer gases used for indoor and outdoor air testing; an inert particle tracer tagged with a biologically inert, non-toxic organic dye used in medical imaging applications; and a common chemical often used as a brightening agent in laundry detergents and paper manufacturing. Particle and gas concentrations were sampled in more than 20 stations and in subway cars, but normal MBTA operations were not disrupted by the activities of the researchers. Regarding the study, Dr Miriam Byrne says: "It is a great achievement for Ann to be selected as a member of the international team for this high profile scientific mission. The results obtained will complement her PhD research, and advance our general understanding of toxic air pollution transport. As well as having applications in the control of accidental and terrorist releases, our knowledge of the spread mechanisms of airborne infectious diseases will also be enhanced". Joining LBNL scientists in the MBTA study were scientists from Argonne National Laboratory, ICx Technologies of Arlington, Virginia, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory of the United Kingdom, and the Chemistry Centre of Australia. -ends-

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Aer Arann Chairman Appointed Adjunct Professor to NUI Galway

Aer Arann Chairman Appointed Adjunct Professor to NUI Galway-image

Monday, 21 December 2009

Pádraig Ó Céidigh, chairman of Aer Arann, one of the fastest growing regional airlines in the world with a turnover in excess of €100 million and annual passenger numbers of 1.2 million, has been appointed to the position of Adjunct Professor with NUI Galway's JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics. His first task as Adjunct Professor, which is an honorary three-year position, will involve the preparation, introduction and delivery of a new final year undergraduate module to business students, entitled 'Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise'. This module will demonstrate to students, real life innovative practice and foster the same in them in their final year prior to graduating and entering the workplace. A graduate of NUI Galway, Ó Céidigh was the 2002 recipient of the Bank of Ireland Alumni Award for Business and Commerce for his significant achievements in the airline industry and his contribution to Irish society and economy. He has been a stalwart supporter of student mentoring and education through his position as Chief Executive in Residence with the JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics. Speaking about his appointment, Ó Céidigh said: "It is a great privilege for me to be afforded an opportunity to contribute to my alma mater in this way. I believe with conviction in life-long education and I would hope that I can, as Adjunct Professor at NUI Galway, promote and help develop the excellent education programmes that are offered by the JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics". Ó Céidigh is recognised nationally as a leading business figure and was named Ernst and Young Irish Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002. He went on to represent Ireland in the World Entrepreneur of the Year awards in Monte Carlo in 2003. He was named Galway Person of the Year in 2004 and is only one of three people to be honoured as honorary member of the MBA Association of Ireland. The Dean of the College of Business, Public Policy and Law, Professor Willie Golden speaking about Pádraig's appointment, said: "We are delighted to have Pádraig as part of the team, through his involvement students will gain extremely valuable insights into innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship". -Ends-

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'Boost to the Economy' as €130m Construction Plans Revealed by NUI Galway

'Boost to the Economy' as €130m Construction Plans Revealed by NUI Galway   -image

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

NUI Galway's new Strategic Plan 2009-2014 was officially launched in Galway today (Wednesday, 16 December) by the University's President Dr James J. Browne. Key elements of the plan include a major €130m construction plan, increased numbers of spin-out companies, and a rise in numbers of mature, international and PhD students. "We are the biggest employer in Galway City, a fast growing and dynamic University, and increasingly recognised internationally for our research and scholarship", President Browne said. "Our strategic plan enshrines not only our commitment to supporting the social, economic, industrial and cultural development of the region, but our national role in supporting economic recovery. The strategic plan also cements our research ambitions which will bring further international recognition in our priority areas of expertise". NUI Galway will be a major contributor to the economy through its ambitious €130m in construction activity, which will ramp up throughout 2010. Five new buildings will be constructed, potentially creating hundreds of jobs in Galway City. Over one third of the funds for construction will come from philanthropic sources, due to intensive and very successful fundraising activity by Galway University Foundation. President Browne said the plans are a significant short-term boost to the economy and also put in place the long-term infrastructure to produce the graduates who will fuel the economic recovery to a Smart Economy. "We will play our part in revitalising the economy and developing the Smart Economy. We will do this by taking advantage of the value now available in the building industry to address our capital deficit and put in place the infrastructure to grow our research effort and our graduate output. Given that in the case of the planned research buildings the University is able to provide close to half of the cost in private philanthropic funding, we are planning significant additions to the nation's vital infrastructure at a minimal cost to the Exchequer, and ensuring the creation or preservation of hundreds of jobs in the construction industry". The new infrastructure requirements on campus stem from the rapid growth of research activity, in biomedical science for example, which directly supports the region's vital medical devices industry. Infrastructure requirements are also being fuelled by dramatic rises in student numbers. In the area of student numbers, NUI Galway's Strategic Plan sets out a target of 200 PhD graduates per year by 2014. By this time, non-traditional students will account for 7.5% of the total student population, international students for 15%, and mature students for 27%. The Strategic Plan firmly commits NUI Galway to leading the Smart Economy in the region and to its becoming a centre of innovation and enterprise for industries. Targets of a four-fold increase in patent filings, a five-fold increase in licence agreements and an average of five spin-out companies per year have been set. Online version of the Strategic Plan is available at www.nuigalway.ie/strategicplan. -Ends-

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Guidelines for the Management of Diabetes in Pregnancy Booklet Launched

Guidelines for the Management of Diabetes in Pregnancy Booklet Launched -image

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

An information booklet, entitled "Clinical Practices - Guidelines for the Management of Diabetes in Pregnancy", has been launched at University Hospital Galway. The booklet is intended for use by midwives, registered nurses, obstetricians, physicians and GPs responsible for the care of women with diabetes who are pregnant or who are intending a pregnancy and for women with gestational diabetes. The guidelines, which are authored by Professor Fidelma Dunne, Head of the School of Medicine, NUI Galway and the ATLANTIC DIP research group, aim to promote high quality care and service to women with diabetes to ensure that the outcome for mother and baby matches that of non-diabetic women. In this respect, it provides a common framework to all professionals involved in the care of pregnant women at risk of, or with, gestational diabetes and those with pre-existing diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Speaking at the launch, Professor Fidelma Dunne, said: "The guidelines are an aid for professionals who deliver care to women with diabetes before, during and after pregnancy. We hope to update them on a regular basis as new information through research appears through our own work and internationally. We are also developing a booklet for patients which will be available soon. All these tools will be available on the ATLANTIC DIP website early in 2010". Diabetes is the most common medical disorder of pregnancy and complicates 1 in 200 pregnancies in Ireland. Even with the recent improvements in diabetic and obstetric care, the risk of stillbirth is 5 times and perinatal mortality is 3.5 times greater than non diabetic pregnant women. In addition, the incidence of congenital malformations remains twice the rate as for non-diabetic pregnancies. The number of women with established type 2 diabetes entering pregnancy is also on the increase and represents 25% of women with pre-gestational diabetes at antenatal clinics. Research through ATLANTIC DIP has identified that a further 1:10 women with no known diabetes, develops gestational diabetes in pregnancy. Some of the areas covered in the "Guidelines for the Management of Diabetes in Pregnancy" are: Preconceptual Care Gestational Diabetes Antenatal Care Management during Delivery Postnatal Care Care of the Newborn -Ends-

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