Thursday, 2 June 2016

NUI Galway’s CÉIM programme recently won the ‘Student Engagement Activity of the Year Award’ at the National Student Achievement Awards 2016. CÉIM is an academic peer-led support scheme for first year NUI Galway students studying the BA in Geography, the BA in Law, and Engineering. The National Student Achievement Awards recognise the contribution of individuals and groups from third-level education institutions across the island of Ireland. Presenting the Award to NUI Galway was Tom Boland, CEO of the Higher Education Authority, who said: “CÉIM is innovative and invigorating and shows a depth of work and understanding worthy of any project in higher education.” CÉIM was initiated by NUI Galway Students' Union in collaboration with the University’s College of Engineering and Informatics in 2013. Professor Gerry Lyons, Dean of NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics, said: “CÉIM aims to support first year students to transition successfully to university, succeed academically, develop networks, and complete their studies. We are delighted that CÉIM has been acknowledged at a national level and we look forward to further developing the programme in collaboration with our students in the coming years.” CÉIM is based on the well-evidenced Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) model used in over 30 countries. Sessions, which are about collaborative learning, are student-led and about working in small groups to gain a greater understanding of coursework, prepare for exams and develop new skills. Amber Walsh Olesen, CÉIM Co-ordinator, NUI Galway Students’ Union, said: “First year students can sometimes be apprehensive about asking questions in lectures and don’t always know what is expected of them as independent learners. CÉIM is a structured programme where student leaders from higher years facilitate weekly study sessions for small groups of first year students, creating peer-led learning communities where it’s easy to ask questions.” According to Dr Eoghan Clifford, Academic Coordinator of CÉIM at NUI Galway College of Engineering and Informatics: “The impact to date of CÉIM is very encouraging with 80% of first years surveyed in 2014/15 saying it helped them settle into university and make friends. Regular CÉIM attendees achieved 9% higher grades in 2014/15 than irregular or non-attendees and were much more likely to pass the year. We can clearly see that interest among students in CÉIM has grown year on year, with 20% of first year Engineering students recently applying to be student leaders.” Due to the success of CÉIM, the programme was piloted in NUI Galway School of Law in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies in 2015 and will be further rolled out in 2016/17. NUI Galway Students’ Union President, Phelim Kelly, added: “Peer learning is not an activity that is traditionally associated with Students’ Unions and we’re delighted to be leading the way in this regard in Ireland. CÉIM is proof that there is a lot to be gained by students’ unions, university staff and higher year students partnering to support first years as they transition to university.” For more information on the CÉIM initiative visit www.su.nuigalway.ie/ceim. -Ends-

Thursday, 2 June 2016

A team of students from NUI Galway were recently awarded the runner-up prize at the prestigious 2016 Enactus Ireland National Competition for Social Entrepreneurship. Enactus is an international, not-for-profit organisation which provides a platform for third-level students to create community development projects, while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders of the future. The national competition is an annual event where students come together to present their projects to show how they are transforming lives through entrepreneurial action. NUI Galway was one of the founding university teams of Enactus Ireland and this year marks its fifth year of involvement. Teams from Ireland’s seven universities and Dublin Institute of Technology, Cork Institute of Technology and Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology gathered in Dublin to compete to represent Ireland at the Enactus World Cup, which will be held this year in September in Toronto, Canada.  Michael Campion, Faculty Advisor to the NUI Galway team, said: “It’s been a privilege to support the Enactus team this year as they worked on a set of projects which have made a significant impact in helping some members of the community.  From working with young people with mental health issues to creating opportunities for people in homeless circumstances, the students channeled their creativity and passion to develop excellent, sustainable projects that have had a very positive impact for the participants. To make it all happen, they partnered with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Galway Simon Community, COPE Galway, the HSE, Ability West and Croí.” Achieving the runner-up prize in the competition is a great recognition of all the hard work that the students have put in over the past year, something that is not easy while balancing with their academic studies. They are a credit to themselves, their families and to NUI Galway.” -Ends-

Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Lectures in the Library series will return on Wednesday, 15 June for one-off special lecture with Pádraig Ó Snodaigh. The lecture, entitled ‘Recollection and recording: A historian’s encounters with the makers of history’, is part of the programme of commemoration organised by NUI Galway’s Centre for Irish Studies to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising. Ó Snodaigh’s history of the Irish Volunteers has been a primary source for historians of the Irish revolution. His talk will take listeners backstage to eavesdrop on conversations between the professional historian and those who participated in the momentous events of 1916 and the subsequent war of independence. Those who provided eye witness accounts of those events for the young historian included Éamon de Valera, Bulmer Hobson, Frank Fahy, Alfie Monaghan, and Alf Cotton. The lecture will begin at 6.30pm at Galway City Library in Augustine Street.  -Ends-

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Biomedical researchers from the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) and CÚRAM at NUI Galway, in collaboration with clinicians from Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin (OLCHC) have developed the first in Ireland synchronised beating heart cells from human pluripotent stem (iPS) cells made from skin biopsy. The research funded in partnership by REMEDI and the National Children's Research Centre (NCRC) aims to investigate the causes of unexpected sudden death from inherited cardiac conditions in young people, and to help test therapies that may reduce the risk of sudden death in survivors and relatives. The discovery of the genetic basis of inherited cardiac conditions, specifically the inherited rhythm disease known as Long QT Syndrome, has advanced our understanding of disease mechanisms and provided an insight into how we ultimately might ‘repair’ the genetic defect. The stem cell scientists at REMEDI in NUI Galway are now in a position to generate patient-specific heart tissue in a dish to test new therapies and treatments. To continue the next phase of this study NUI Galway is now seeking families affected by Long QT Syndrome to come forward for a skin biopsy on consultation with their doctor. The aim is to recruit both affected and unaffected family members to better understand what places one family member at risk and not another, preferably with the identified causative gene mutation in the family. Stem cell-derived heart cells have revolutionised our understanding of heart mechanical and electrical communication, coordination and function. Mature human heart cells cannot be grown outside the body under normal conditions, and do not lend themselves easily to scientific interrogation without placing the patient at potential risk. By utilising a skin biopsy sample from a particular patient, the scientists can engineer those same skin cells into heart cells through what is termed ‘re-programming’ and can then create an exact replica of that patients’ heart tissue in a laboratory dish. This allows researchers to understand in detail the particular patient’s disease and to test or develop therapies without placing the individual patient at any medical risk. New medicines can be tested on these cells for their effectiveness in preventing arrhythmias. Similarly, the genetic defect in the heart cell can be repaired through genome editing and this repaired heart cell can be then directly compared to the diseased heart cell in the lab. The stem cell study was initiated by Professor Timothy O’Brien, Director of REMEDI and Co-Principal Investigator at CÚRAM in NUI Galway and Dr Terence Prendiville, NCRC Principal Investigator and the Department of Paediatric Cardiology in OLCHC. The research was carried out by Professor Sanbing Shen, Professor of Fundamental Stem Cell Biology and Post-doctoral researcher Dr Min Liu in the Biomedical Sciences Building at NUI Galway.  The researchers in NUI Galway have developed a highly skilled and technically specialised expertise in ‘re-programming’ skin cells into stem cells, and then, in turn, making heart cells out of those same patient’s stem cells. The beating heart tissue can be electrically and mechanically measured and recorded. The ultimate goal is to repair the genetic defect in the affected heart cells using new CRIPSR/Cas9 technology and return the heart cells to normal function. In collaboration with adult and paediatric cardiologists, the scientists at REMEDI will help define the burden of Long QT syndrome in the affected families and develop technologies to measure the effectiveness of therapies and genetic repairs in the dish prior to any human trial. Affected families with Long QT syndrome will be identified through the National Inherited Cardiac Conditions service delivered across the three campuses of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Cardiovascular Risk in the Young at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, and the Family Heart Screening Clinic at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin. The families that are being selected at this early stage of research are patients with clearly abnormal electrocardiograms which are associated with a risk of sudden death, and a known causative gene mutation. Skin biopsy samples will be taken using punch biopsies at the research facility at NUI Galway with local anaesthetic, then subsequently grown in a dish and stored locally for further research. Skin cells are relatively simple to grow in a lab and lend themselves well to being ‘re-programmed’ to pluripotent stem cells by Nobel prize-winning technology applied at REMEDI. Once a patient-derived stem cell population has been generated in the lab, the next step is to produce beating heart cells using timed application of selective growth factors in a particular sequence using established research protocols. Beating heart cells in the dish can then be electrically measured using tiny electrodes akin to an electrocardiogram in a human patient. Skin samples are also being obtained from closely related but unaffected family members to allow a comparison between normal and diseased heart cells. Once the pipeline for generating patient-derived heart tissue has been robustly tested for Long QT syndrome, the same scientific technology will be used to explore other inherited arrhythmia conditions and cardiomyopathies. Professor Timothy O’Brien from NUI Galway, said: “We are excited about the potential to develop new therapies for children at risk of sudden death using this technology. The complete translational infrastructure for this work is now present in Galway and will be extended nationally with our collaborators in Dublin and throughout Ireland.”  Dr Terry Prendiville from Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin said: “I meet families every week in the hospital from all over Ireland who have been affected by the sudden unexpected death of a loved one. Their first question to me is: “Could this affect my child?” Their next question is: “How do I keep them safe?” “Research such as this allows us to continue to push the envelope on developing medical therapies that safeguard against risk of sudden death.” Dr Jacinta Kelly, CEO of the NCRC said: “I would like to welcome this research which has arisen from an exciting partnership between the NCRC and REMEDI. We, at the NCRC, are looking forward to continuing to work with our colleagues at REMEDI to find therapies to address the issue of congenital heart defects in children.” If you would like to participate in this study and you have a diagnosis of Long QT syndrome with a known gene mutation, please contact Dr Terence Prendiville at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin for further information and eligibility criteria. Terence.prendiville@olchc.ie   ENDS

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Fellowships in Medical Device Research and Development: A CÚRAM Industry-Academia Training Initiative CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has been ranked first in Europe and awarded €2.1 million for its application to develop a new industry-academia fellowship programme called ‘MedTrain’ over the next four and a half years. The submission was ranked number 1 out of 72 applications submitted from across Europe to the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions Scheme under the Horizon 2020 funding programme. The MedTrain programme will offer 31 prestigious two-year postdoctoral fellowships over the next four and a half years to experienced researchers in the area of Medical Device Research and Development, including Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, Biomaterials and Drug Delivery, Glyco and Protein Engineering, and Neuromodulation and Computational Modelling. According to Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, “The MedTrain programme will provide a chance for researchers to enhance their creative, entrepreneurial, and innovative potential. For anyone wishing to diversify their skill set, through advanced training, international, and inter-sectoral mobility, in the area of Medical Device Research and Development, this will be a really valuable opportunity.” Professor Pandit added, “CÚRAM has had some excellent successes since its establishment, only a year and a half ago, in terms of securing EU funding for cutting edge research projects and we are particularly proud of achieving the top ranking in this funding round. At CÚRAM we work closely with academics, industry and clinicians and this programme will only further enhance those networks across Europe and internationally which are critical for driving medical device research and development.” The MedTrain programme is based on individual-driven mobility, meaning that fellows will have the freedom to choose their research topic (provided that it falls within the remit of CÚRAM), their MedTrain supervisor, and their secondment organisation, which must be relevant to their research and career development. MedTrain will provide an attractive and supportive working environment for the awarded fellows, in which they will have access to state-of-the-art infrastructure and teams of multi-disciplinary experts in the broad area of Medical Device Research and Development. It will deliver high quality tailor-made training for fellows that will equip them with skills and experience required to meet their career goals as well as facilitating their engagement with industry through non-academic secondment partnerships. All fellows will be hosted in a CÚRAM academic host organisation (NUI Galway Galway, University College Cork, University College Dublin, or the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland) and fellowships will include secondments to a suitable research performing industry in organisations around the world. ENDS

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The Irish Centre for Human Rights at the School of Law, NUI Galway is accepting delegates for its 2016 summer school on the International Criminal Court (ICC), which will be held from 27 June to 1 July 2016 at NUI Galway. The ICC Summer School is widely acknowledged to be the premier programme of its kind, attracting participants from around the world. During five days of intensive lectures delivered by leading specialists in the field, delegates are provided with a detailed working knowledge of the establishment of the Court, its applicable law, its structures and its operations. Lectures also speak to related issues in international criminal law, including: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, the crime of aggression, jurisdiction, fair trial rights, and the rules of procedure and evidence. This year’s ICC Summer School will include a special session on victims at the International Criminal Court. Dr Shane Darcy of NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights said: “The International Criminal Court is the world’s first permanent court for the prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Despite some setbacks and obstacles, the Court is now fully functional and holding trials, and it provides an avenue for those seeking justice and accountability for serious human rights abuses.” During the ICC summer school, expert presentations will be delivered by: Professor William Schabas, Dr Nadia Bernaz and Professor Donald M. Ferencz, Middlesex University; Professor Anne-Marie de Brouwer, Tilburg University; Dr Fabricio Guariglia and Dr Rod Rastan, Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court; Professor Megan A. Fairlie, Florida International University; Orchlon Narantsetseg, Office of the Public Counsel for Victims, International Criminal Court; Professor Ray Murphy and Dr Shane Darcy, Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway; Dr Mohamed M. El Zeidy, International Criminal Court; Fiona McKay, former head of Victims Participation and Reparations Section of the International Criminal Court; Dr Kwadwo Appiagyei Atua, University of Ghana and University of Lincoln; and Dr Noelle Higgins, Maynooth University. The registration fee is €450, which includes all course materials, lunches and refreshments, a social activity, a closing dinner and a complimentary copy of Professor William A. Schabas, Introduction to the International Criminal Court. The closing date for registrations is 10 June 2016. To register, or for more information visit http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=464, or email iccsummerschool@gmail.com. -Ends-

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

NUI Galway will hold the 14th Galway Symposium on Higher Education on Friday, 17 June in Áras Moyola. The Symposium, entitled ‘Theory and Practice: Researching Teaching and Learning in Higher Education’, will provide an opportunity to showcase research and scholarship in the area of higher education teaching and student learning. The one-day event will focus on three main themes: how to begin researching teaching and learning practice; recognising the scholarship dimensions of teaching and supporting student learning; and raising awareness of contemporary research into higher education at practice and policy levels. The format of the event will be a mixture of plenary and parallel sessions using a diverse set of presentation and workshop formats. Given the increasing interest in research-informed teaching and curriculum design, alongside the emerging national framework for continuing professional development, and changes to promotional routes in many institutions in the higher education sector, the event will be an opportunity for sharing ideas, debating issues and learning more about the sector. The keynote speaker for the symposium is Dr Saranne Weller, newly appointed Director of the Centre for Research Informed Teaching at London South Bank University. Speakers by videoconference will include: Professor Tina Overton, Monash, Australia, who has encouraged the growth of pedagogic research in higher education, and the Nobel Prize winner, Professor Carl Wieman of Stanford University, a key figure in science education and active learning. There will also be participation by colleagues from the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning who will provide an overview of that organisation’s growing body of higher education research and its support of developing scholarship in this field. Professor Iain Mac Labhrainn, Director of the Centre for Excellence and Teaching (CELT) at NUI Galway, said: “I am delighted to be hosting such an event and to be able to exploit our technological infrastructure to bring in speakers from around the world, giving us all a chance to participate in discussion and debate. Taking a research-oriented and scholarly approach to teaching and supporting student learning is a key to developing a professional approach and in highlighting how research and teaching work well together.” To register for the symposium visit http://celt16.eventbrite.com. -Ends-   

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

NUI Galway will host ‘ISCA India Meeting 2016’ in June as part of a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) programme to build education and research and development links between India and Ireland. The Ambassador of India to Ireland, Smt. Radhika Lal Lokesh will provide a welcome address. The meeting will showcase Indian science and research and bring together researchers from both countries to explore the possibilities of collaboration and opportunities to obtain joint funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme. The programme supports new and existing scientific, educational and industrial collaborations between the two countries across six thematic areas: Nanotechnology and Material Science; Energy, Environment and Engineering; Bioscience, Biomedicine and Biotechnology; Computer Science & Digital Humanities; Policy Research and “Research Dissemination and Showcasing. The ISCA India consortium serves as a portal for any Indian academic or industrial group interested in expanding their activities to Ireland, and provides a coordinated national approach to promote Ireland´s scientific and technological reputation in India. The programme aims to develop research and educational links between the two countries in all areas of mutual interest that lie within the remit of SFI, and to provide opportunities for the exchange of ideas and the development of joint innovative proposals. The consortium aims to communicate the unique opportunities and attractions of Ireland for education, research and technology. It will also provide assistance to Indian scientific and industrial representatives interested in forming links with Ireland. International speakers who have established themselves as leaders in key areas of research will speak at the event along with eight academic speakers from NUI Galway and other Irish Institutions who are interested in such collaborations. Topics to be discussed include Devices and Technology; Cancer and Cell Death; and Stem Cells and Diseases. Trinity College Dublin leads the consortium of Irish institutions including NUI Galway, CIT, DCU, DIT, UCC and WIT. Members of the Indian consortium include the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, National Centre for Biological Science and National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences. For further information about Science Foundation Ireland’s ISCA India consortium visit: http://www.sfi.ie/international/isca/india.html  To learn more about Research Ireland India visit www.rii.ie  ENDS

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

This year NUI Galway’s Rover Society launched a new initiative to gather goods, including old clothes or blankets and unopened food stuff, left behind by students which will be donated to the homeless charity COPE. The NUI Galway Rover Society is the Scout society in NUI Galway who aims to promote the outdoors in the University but is also working towards better community outreach. Cathal Breathnach, Auditor of the Rover Society at NUI Galway, said: “Last September, the society collected over 1,100 sleeping bags from the aftermath of Electric Picnic which were donated to COPE Galway. Following this, we met with COPE to see we could help the ongoing homeless situation in the city. COPE was in need of everyday items, such as clothes, blankets, duvets, footwear, unused food, books, DVDs or art materials, and we realised these are items typically used by students during the year that they wouldn’t always bring home.” “The Society ran a small ‘drive by’ collection before Christmas and realised the potential of running a large scale collection after the summer exams, when most students would be leaving the city. After speaking with some of the University management, we realised that similar schemes are run in United States and we then in turn looked to representatives across the Atlantic for advice,” continued Cathal. The scheme that was developed, modelled off what they learned from talking to those in the USA, involved leaving a number of drop-off boxes in convenient locations around the University and in the different student accommodation complexes. Held over a three week period, students and staff were been able to drop off any unwanted items they had at home. The Rover Society have collected countless boxes and bags non-stop over the past few weeks, and almost ten van loads of items have been transferred to date over to COPE. It is hoped that the majority of these items will be usable directly by COPE themselves and others items can be sold on to put more funds into the work the charity does for the homeless. The Society are hoping that a similar scheme could be implemented in other universities across the country to try and reduce waste and pass such items to those who need them. For more information on the work carried out by the Rover Society or to donate unwanted items visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NUIGRoverSoc/. -Ends-

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Over 1,000 delegates from 50 countries are expected to attend the first joint congress of COTEC (Council of Occupational Therapists for European Countries) and ENOTHE (European Network of Occupational Therapy in Higher Education) at NUI Galway from 15-19 June. This is the first time that clinical therapists, researchers and educators have come together to debate issues of mutual interest. Chaired by Professor Agnes Shiel from the Discipline of Occupational Therapy at NUI Galway, this conference will provide Occupational Therapists from Europe and across the world, who work in clinical practice, management, education and research, with a unique opportunity to meet, network and develop collaborations with colleagues across Europe and beyond. The COTEC-ENOTHE Conference will explore a variety of issues in Occupational Therapy relating to the different fields of clinical practice, education, research and policy with a focus on contemporary issues in all aspects of Occupational Therapy. The conference will feature keynote addresses, oral and poster presentations, symposium, workshops and marketplaces. Professor Agnes Shiel said: “We are delighted and honoured to be hosting such a large and prestigious event at NUI Galway. The variety of different Occupational Therapy educators and professionals who will be presenting will make for a wide-ranging, diverse, and stimulating programme. To welcome so many delegates, from all corners of the globe, is a fantastic demonstration of how Galway and the West of Ireland is such an attractive location for conferences of this nature.” Speakers will include: Professor Marion Walker MBE, Professor of Stroke Rehabilitation, University of Nottingham; Professor Corey Keyes, Distinguished Research Professor, Emory University, Georgia; Professor Jan de Maeseneer, President of the European Forum for Primary Care, Chair of the EU Health Expert panel - Ghent University, Belgium; Professor Salvador Simó I Algado, Universitat de Vic – Universitat Central de Catalunya; and Professor Mary Law, McMaster University, Canada. For more information or to view the conference programme, please visit www.cotec-enothe2016.com. For the latest updates follow the COTEC-ENOTHE Conference on Twitter: @COTEC_ENOTHE. -Ends-

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

NUI Galway’s School of Humanities has announced details of a new scholarship scheme for postgraduate students. In total, 20 new scholarships will be awarded at €1,500 per student and awarded to all students undertaking a full-time Taught Masters in Humanities programme. The new initiative is open to postgraduate students, applying for one of the eleven full-time Taught Masters programmes in the areas of Drama, Film Studies, English, History, Irish Studies, Medieval Studies and Old Irish due to commence in autumn 2016. Scholarships will be awarded on a competitive basis to students accepted on a fulltime taught masters and who fulfil the criteria as outlined by the University. A wide range of programmes are covered by these scholarships which will appeal to diverse interests. Some programmes are aimed at preparing students for professional-level work in the theatre and creative industries or providing them with in-depth training in the art of writing for film or theatre. Other programmes concentrate on cultural and social development in modern Ireland, on European culture in the Middle Ages, on early Irish language and literature, on English Literature and on modern History Announcing these new Scholarships, Professor Felix Ó Murchadha, Head of NUI Galway’s School of Humanities, said: “Employment chances increase greatly by ‘topping up’ a primary degree with an MA, and I expect these scholarships would attract excellent applicants to a range of excellent and exciting programmes.” Postgraduate students make up a significant part of the student population at NUI Galway, with almost 4,000 students across all schools and disciplines. For more information on the new scholarships, or on the postgraduate programmes covered by these scholarships, visit www.nuigalway.ie/scholarships-humanities. The closing date for applications is Friday, 5 August, 2016. More details are available at 091 495689 or email humanitiesscholarships@nuigalway.ie. -Ends- 

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

NUI Galway’s French Society has celebrated a successful year by taking home a number of national awards. Eoghan Finn and Shannon Grimes, both first-year Bachelor of Arts students who follow the Fraincis trí Ghaeilge (French through Irish) language option, were recently presented with the trophy for their victory in the National Final of the 2016 University Debating Competition in French (Joutes Oratoires). This competition is organised by the French Embassy in Ireland and is open to all Irish third-level institutions, with NUI Galway’s team beating six other teams including Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and IT Blanchardstown. The French Society were also presented with the ‘Most Improved Society’, ‘Best Poster’ for their original play Voilà Olivia, and ‘Best Fresher’ at the University’s Societies Awards. Ciarán MacChoncarraige, a Fraincis trí Ghaeilge student, was presented with the ‘Best Fresher’ Award at the Board of Irish College Societies (BICS) National Society Awards, beating all other Freshers in Ireland. Congratulating the French Society on their successful year, Professor Philip Dine, Head of French at NUI Galway, said: “These awards are a great credit to all involved in the French Society, and a fitting reflection of its members’ dynamism and enthusiasm in organising a wonderful range of French and Francophone activities over the year.”  -Ends-

Friday, 27 May 2016

Five young researchers from CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway were honoured for their work, receiving four Merit awards and a Trainee Award at the 10th World Biomaterials Congress in Montreal, Canada last week. Students recognised at the congress included Paolo Contessotto who received the WBC 2016 Université Laval Trainee Award for his poster titled ‘Design of a protease and ROS responsive biomaterial approach to target drug delivery in inflamed tissue microenvironment’, and Marc A Fernandez-Yagüe, Diana Gaspar, Dilip Thomas and Catalina Vallejo Giraldo who all received WBC 2016 Merit awards for research in biomaterials used in tendon regeneration, the formation of microvascular networks and coating of neuroelectrodes. Dr Aitor Larranaga, postdoctoral researcher with CÚRAM, was also represented in the Biomaterials Journal section. CÚRAM also received the ‘Best Image in Biomaterials’ award at the Congress for an image used in a paper published in Biomaterials, one of the top academic journals in the field with an Impact Factor of 8.557. The Impact Factor of a journal is a measure reflecting the yearly average number of citations to recent articles published in that journal. The image was selected for the Biomaterials 2015 Top Images poster which will be featured on the journal homepage where all the manuscripts with the winning images will be highlighted. Congratulating all of the researchers involved, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM and member of the WBC International Advisory Committee said: “The event is an incredibly important opportunity for all of us working in the field. Everyone attending the event is working on clinical problems with the common goal of finding solutions and providing benefit to patients worldwide. It’s a tremendous opportunity for students and researchers as well as industry and regulatory bodies to come together and connect with colleagues and experts from all over the world. I’d like to congratulate each of our researchers on their success.” The World Biomaterials Congress is the largest gathering of Biomaterial Researchers charting the future of the field. With over 1,200 oral presentations, 2,400 poster presentations and 3,500 abstracts submitted by over 60 countries WBC2016 was one of the largest World Biomaterials Congress to-date. CÚRAM is a Science Foundation Ireland centre for research in medical devices, bringing together experts from Ireland’s leading universities and research institutes. Academic partners, led by NUI Galway, include University College Dublin, University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, The Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and Molecular Medicine Ireland. Over 200 renowned experts in biomaterials, drug delivery, cell therapy, glycoscience and device design are working on blue sky research and industry projects associated with CÚRAM, which aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illness by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. ENDS

Thursday, 26 May 2016

NUI Galway Business and Innovation Centre support a Galway family’s global mission to make their language learning solution accessible for children with autism Enda and Valerie Dodd’s innovative software solution ‘ALL’, named after their company, Animated Language Learning, is driven by the belief that they can change the world. As clients of the NUI Galway Business Innovation Centre, they are determined to create a state of the art, visually rich language learning program that has already lifted their twin sons’ from the isolation of autism, and make it accessible to every family in need. Enda and Valerie Dodd originally moved to California in 2003 to find a solution to their sons’ condition. They actively started developing the software on a full time basis in 2009 in San Francisco and established Animated Language Learning Inc. The company relocated to Ireland in 2015 to NUI Galway’s Business and Innovation Centre. Speaking about the solution, Valerie Dodd said: “There was utter confusion surrounding the diagnosis of our sons’ when it became evident that they were not talking and were diagnosed as highly autistic. Autism spectrum disorder, pervasive development disorder, deafness, language disorder, sensory integration disorder and global dyspraxia were among many terms being used, and we had little understanding of their meaning. We struggled to comprehend these diagnoses and what was truly going on with our sons’. Equally we had to make sense of what therapies were available to help our children succeed with communication. This was our challenge.” It was this quest that ultimately brought the family to San Francisco, and the collaboration with Disney, Pixar and Adobe e-learning teams. Having given up their jobs, Valerie and Enda focused on creating a solution for the autism that disrupted their sons’ language. In that time the family assembled a team of world-leading specialists and schools who together with the help of Disney led their twin boys out of the isolation of their condition. Today the boys are emerging out of their deficits, enjoying school, sports, relationships and looking forward to a bright new world. Fiona Neary, NUI Galway business development manager at the Business Innovation Centre said: “Having recently moved back from the US the Dodd family are now surrounding themselves with a solid support structure and network to scale this solution globally. We are delighted to have Enda, Valerie and their team based onsite and look forward to working with them in achieving their global mission.” Animated Language Learning has already created a learning technology which is currently being piloted with over 200 families around the world. Enda Dodd says: “Language disordered children are very complex and our work with families has been vital in developing our understanding of communication and delivering our sons’ success to families in need. Our aim is to enact social change for our families through language, creating a better future for all of us.” To read more about ALL visit: animatedlanguagelearning.com/ ENDS

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Over 60 students from schools across the country attended the recent SIMMED School at NUI Galway.  Now in its third year, SIMMED School is an innovative and unique programme for Transition Year students who are interested in exploring medicine as a career. Students were immersed in the world of medicine over the four days, giving them a flavour of what life will be like as a doctor in a major teaching hospital. Throughout the programme, students were part of a simulated medical team and got to carry out medical and surgical skills in the centre for simulation in Galway University Hospital, SIMWEST. They heard the experiences of current students starting their journey in the School of Medicine and those of fully qualified doctors. They also met different professionals employed in a wide range of roles throughout the hospital, learned about common medical problems and discovered interesting facts about plastic surgery, orthopaedics, HIV, oncology, diabetes, asthma and many more topics. The focus of SIMMED School is to give students a genuine insight into hospital medicine and in teaching them to develop psychomotor skills. The students are also challenged to work as a team to solve medical and surgical clinical cases. At NUI Galway, the School of Medicine recognises the importance of a good introduction to the medical world for Transition Year students who might otherwise not have access to accurate information to help them to make career choices. Professor Sean Dinneen, Head of NUI Galway’s School of Medicine, said: “SIMMED is an innovative and unique programme at NUI Galway and Galway University Hospital that is a genuine opportunity for students to get hands on experience of what it is like to be a junior doctor. It is enormously popular and enjoyable as well as challenging and real eye-opening!" Speaking of her SIMMED experience, Imy Lundon of Presentation College, Athenry, Co. Galway, said: “I really liked the variety and the practical aspects of the course. For me the Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the heart surgery segments were the most interesting.” Cormac Nugent from Summerhill College in Sligo said: “I liked the simulations and hands-on parts of the course where we got to try things out for ourselves.” -Ends-

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The inaugural conference on ‘Living With Dementia in Rural Ireland’ will take place on Monday, 30 May from 10am-4pm at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society, NUI Galway. This conference seeks to explore rural isolation impacts on those living with dementia in rural Ireland and examine strategies and approaches in dealing with this. The conference will discuss the nature of living with dementia today; create opportunities for sharing of learning; profile models of good practice; highlight the need for joined up responses, both in policy making, planning and implementation.  Conference Organiser and NUI Galway graduate, Carmel Geoghegan said: “The conference is an opportunity for the communities in the West of Ireland to interact with experts in the field that are passionate about what they do and want to make a real difference.” Speakers include: Helen Rochford Brennan, Chair of the National Dementia Working Group; Dr Tony Foley, Department of General Practice, UCC; and Professor Sabina Brennan, Trinity College Dublin. The conference will also hear personal accounts from family members, carers and healthcare professionals working with people with dementia. To register please go to www.eventbrite.ie. Admission is free and members of the general public with an interest in ageing well are invited to attend. For further information please contact Carmel Geoghegan 086 361 2907. -Ends-

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The inaugural Irish Garden Party and Great ILAS Bake-Off will take place on Wednesday, 1 June from 12-4pm in the main foyer of the Institute for Lifecourse and Society (ILAS) Building in Corrib Village. This local charity event, campus in aid of ACT for Meningitis and the Galway branch of The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, is hosted by ILAS in conjunction with SAOL Café. Bakers are encouraged to bring along cakes, scones and tarts to enter the bake-off competition and take home a prize or simply donate cakes to the bake sale. There will be local food and crafts from Galway producers in the Farmer’s Market on offer and live entertainment. There will also be a series of raffle prizes to be won on the day. Dr Patricia Carney, a researcher in ILAS and one of the organisers, said: “The event promises to be a fun day that brings the community together, old, young and everyone in between, with something for all, while supporting two fantastic charities. It’s also a great opportunity for all our star bakers out there to showcase their talents and get involved!” Local transport can be arranged if required. Please contact SAOL Café on 091 493055 for more details. Parking on university grounds requires a permit so please email irishgardenparty@gmail.com or SAOL Café to obtain a parking permit for use on the day.   The Irish Garden Party and Great ILAS Bake Off is a non- profit event with all raffle and bake-sale proceeds being donated to ACT for Meningitis and the Galway branch of The Alzheimer Society of Ireland.  -Ends-

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

NUI Galway Academic is co-author of global study which finds salt is essential to a person’s health and reduction matters most in people with high blood pressure who consume high salt diets A large worldwide study involving 49 countries has found that, contrary to popular thought, low-salt diets may not be beneficial and may actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death (compared to average salt consumption). The results from the study were published in The Lancet. The study, involving more than 130,000 people from 49 countries, was led by investigators of the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences. Professor Martin O’Donnell, a co-author on the study and an associate professor at NUI Galway, said: “This study adds to our understanding of the relationship between salt intake and health, and questions the appropriateness of current guidelines that recommend low sodium intake in the entire population. Our findings highlight the need for a definitive clinical trial that determines the safety and effectiveness of sustained low sodium intake on incidence of heart attacks and stroke.  Until definitive trials are completed, an approach that recommends salt in moderation, particularly focused on those with hypertension, appears more in-line with current evidence.” The researchers looked specifically at whether the relationship between sodium (salt) intake and death, heart disease and stroke is different in people with high blood pressure compared to those with normal blood pressure. The results showed that regardless of whether people have high blood pressure, low-sodium intake is related to more heart attacks, strokes, and deaths compared to average intake. “These are extremely important findings for those who are suffering from high blood pressure. While our data highlights the importance of reducing high salt intake in people with hypertension, it does not support reducing salt intake to low levels. Our findings are important because they show that lowering sodium is best targeted at those with hypertension who also consume high sodium diets,” said Dr Andrew Mente, lead author of the study, a principal investigator of PHRI and an associate professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. Current intake of sodium in Canada is typically between 3.5 and 4 grams per day and some guidelines have recommended that the entire population lower its sodium intake to below 2.3 grams per day, a level that fewer than five per cent of Canadians and people around the world consume. Previous studies have shown that low-sodium, compared to average sodium intake, is related to increased cardiovascular risk and mortality, even though low sodium intake is associated with lower blood pressure. This new study shows that the risks associated with low-sodium intake – less than three grams per day was consistent regardless of a patient’s hypertension status. The findings show that while there is a limit below which sodium intake may be unsafe, the harm associated with high sodium consumption appears to be confined to those with hypertension. Only about 10 per cent of the population in the study had both hypertension and high sodium consumption (greater than 6 grams per day). Dr Mente said that this indicates that the majority of individuals in Canada and most countries are consuming the right amount of salt and suggests that targeted salt reduction in those who are most susceptible (those with hypertension and high salt consumption) may be preferable to a population-wide approach to reducing sodium intake in most countries except those where the average sodium intake is very high, such as parts of central Asia or China. He added that what is now generally recommended as a healthy daily ceiling for sodium consumption appears to be set too low, regardless of a person’s blood pressure level. Dr Mente continued: “Low sodium intake does reduce blood pressure modestly, compared to moderate (or average) intake, but low sodium intake also has other effects, including adverse elevations of certain hormones associated with an increase in risk of death and cardiovascular diseases. The key question is whether these competing physiologic effects result in net clinical benefit or not.” The study was funded from more than 50 sources, including the PHRI, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. -Ends-

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Registration is now open for The Mary Robinson Centre International Symposium 2016, organised in partnership with NUI Galway’s Centre for Global Women’s Studies. The Symposium will take place in Ballina, Co. Mayo, on 1-2 July. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, who currently serves as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, explains: “The Mary Robinson Centre International Symposium 2016 will bring together in Ballina an outstanding group of sustainable development champions from Ireland and around the world. It will begin a very important international conversation that puts human rights, peace, tackling inequalities, and promoting women’s leadership at the heart of our collective efforts to implement the new UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.” In addition to Mary Robinson, keynote speakers and panellists will include: Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of UN Economic and Social Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Dr Paul Gillespie, Irish Times columnist and former Foreign Policy Editor Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Gender Envoy for the African Development Bank Heather Grady, Vice-President, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, San Francisco, USA Peter Power, Executive Director, UNICEF Ireland, former Minister of State for Overseas Development Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director, Amnesty International Ireland Mouna Ghanem, Member of Women’s Advisory Board to UN Envoy on Syria Jacqueline Pitanguy, Founder and Executive Director of CEPIA (a human and civil rights NGO), Brazil Monica McWilliams, Co-founder of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition political party Ray Murphy, Acting Director of NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights. Niamh Reilly, Co-director of the Centre for Global Women’s Studies at NUI Galway and Academic Advisor to The Mary Robinson Centre, said: “This exciting Symposium opens up global policy discussion and academic research to local communities – for anyone who is interested in issues of development, peace, human rights and equality, it is fantastic opportunity to participate in an agenda-setting discussion.” A reduced registration fee of €75 is available until Tuesday, 31 May, which includes the conference buffet dinner. A full registration fee of €95 applies after this date. A special concession rate of €30 is available to postgraduate students and others subject to eligibility. To register visit www.conference.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The University will mark the bequest with a public lecture on the Battle of Aughrim 1691 NUI Galway has received a significant donation of books about the Williamite War (1689-91) in Ireland and its aftermath from Colman Morrissey, son of a graduate of the University. Over a period of 45 years Colman assembled the collection of over 200 volumes which contains all the known contemporary accounts of the war. For example, the collection includes a copy (one of only 200) of John T Gilbert’s 1892 edition of the early eighteenth century manuscript ‘The Light to the Blind’. A highlight of the collection is a List of Claims  printed in 1701 of the Court  held in Chichester House (now the Bank of Ireland on College Green) Dublin where lands confiscated from the Irish Catholic losers were granted to the winners. This massive tome contains details of the former owners and the actual judgements on the claims written by hand and so is a unique record of the land confiscations and transfers. Other highlights include: the first biography of William of Orange/William III published in 1703 in original binding; the first biography of King James II by J S Clarke published in 1816 also in original binding; the English 1759 translation of the Memoirs of the Duke of Berwick (natural son of James and a celebrated general in French service); a signed copy of William King’s influential State of the Protestants in Ireland… published in 1691; and its refutation by Charles Leslie in 1692. A framed copy of the 1688 Proclamation by Richard Talbot, Duke of Tyrconnell, proscribing persons in the province of Ulster and the town of Sligo as traitors is also included. In addition there are copies of most of the publications by subsequent authors, including definitive Army Lists of the Jacobite Army, together with numerous shorter contemporary manuscripts describing parts of the conflict in various regions of the country, both North and South. In addition, the collection contains most of the publications from the 20th century dealing with the conflict, including some rare items. Most items are in their original bindings and where repairs or rebindings have been necessary they have been carried out in a most professional manner. John Cox, University Librarian at NUI Galway, said: “This is a wonderful collection and it is a real honour to receive it and to add it to the Library’s special collections. Colman has brought all his passion for this period of Irish history to bear on the collection, making great efforts to assemble it and often tracking down books in unusual places.” Colman’s fascination with the Jacobite War was inspired by a boyhood visit to the Aughrim battle site. He was brought by his father, a friend of Martin Joyce, the local schoolmaster, historian and guardian of the memory of Aughrim. This passion was subsequently reawakened by Richard Murphy’s 1965 epic poem on the Battle of Aughrim. The decision to donate the collection to NUI Galway in memory of the donor’s father, Joseph H. Morrissey, was taken because the Battle of Aughrim, the bloodiest and most decisive battle in Irish history, was fought in Connacht and because the donor’s father was a graduate of NUI Galway, or UCG as it was known then, where he attained a BA degree (with Martin Joyce) in 1935. To mark the bequest of the Morrissey Collection a public lecture, entitled ‘Myth and Memory: the Battle of Aughrim 1691’will be given by Dr Pádraig Lenihan, Discipline of History, NUI Galway, in the Aula Maxima on Tuesday, 31 May at 8pm. Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, said: “This is a most generous donation by Colman Morrissey, representing a lifetime of collecting and interest in the Battle of Aughrim. In receiving it we are delighted to honour the memory of his father, a proud alumnus of our University. The Morrissey collection will be of great value to researchers now and in the future.” NUI Galway’s Dr Pádraig Lenihan commented: “The collection will provide a wonderful resource to those interested in a time when the west was awake and events of continental reverberations took place on our doorstep.” The Morrissey Collection will be included in the Special Collections of the Library and located in the Hardiman Research Building. ENDS

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

An international conference at NUI Galway will examine how constructed and natural wetlands perform important ecological and environmental functions including flood control, wastewater treatment, and ecological management. The Natural and Constructed Wetlands conference will take place from 21-22 June in the Engineering Building. Following the recent flooding events, there is growing interest in the important role that wetlands can fulfil in water management. In addition, constructed wetlands are gaining in popularity as an eco-friendly method of treating wastewater and have featured in many television programmes, including EcoEye. Topics covered throughout the conference will include: Wetlands in watershed management and flood control Ecological and environmental management Experimental modelling Wetlands for water pollution control Environmental and economic assessments New developments in wetland design Wetland ecology and conservation Wetlands and climate change Numerous high profile international delegates will deliver presentations at the conference, including: Professor Jan Vymazal, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague; Professor Matthijs Schouten, Wageningen University, The Netherlands; and Professor Margaret Greenway, Griffith University, Australia. In addition, presentations will also be given by experts in the area, who will represent engineering and ecological perspectives. Dr Mark Healy, conference co-organiser and Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering at NUI Galway, said: “This is a great opportunity to bring together experts in the fields of ecology, engineering, water and wastewater treatment, and environmental policy and management, to discuss recent developments in wetlands research.”  Further information is available on www.conference.ie or by contacting Dr Healy at mark.healy@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Friday, 20 May 2016

NUI Galway researcher launches final report on home evictions in the 28 EU Member States, including Ireland, and calls for better legal protection for those at risk Few EU Member States (including Ireland) monitor and record evictions in a systematic or holistic way - preventing an effective response In Spain, Ireland and the UK, most evictions are from private rented housing Limited reliable public data on legal evictions in half of EU Member States Courts should be obliged to involve social support agencies in repossession cases Significant absence of research, data or reports on illegal evictions from the informal or ‘black’ private rented housing market, particularly in relation to documented and undocumented migrants, asylum-seekers, Roma, Travellers, and some people with disabilities NUI Galway today launched the results of an EU-wide study on home evictions across all tenures. The report shows that evictions arising from increased rents are often greater than mortgage evictions, even in Ireland. The report also highlighted the lack of human rights impact in eviction cases and calls for an EU-wide adoption of best practices, such as Poland’s ‘No evictions to nowhere’ policy. The two-year research pilot, ‘Promoting protection of the right to housing - Homelessness prevention in the context of evictions’ was led by Dr Padraic Kenna, Project Director and lecturer in the School of Law and Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at NUI Galway. It was a collaborative project with a number of European Universities and agencies, including FEANTSA – the European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless. Commenting on the Final Report, Dr Padraic Kenna said: “The findings of this research show the need to integrate accepted eviction-related housing rights standards into national and EU legal and policy norms. Creating a legal obligation on courts and other agencies, involved in possession proceedings, to promptly engage with housing and social support agencies would be a valuable first step in preventing homelessness.” In 2008 the financial crisis had a major impact on housing systems across Europe, with dramatic increases in mortgage arrears, debt, rental costs and utility arrears. EU Member States responded in different ways, within both their financial and housing systems. This research covered the period after the crisis. The Final Report examines and analyses available data and trends on evictions, identifying risk factors, links with homelessness, and the availability and effectiveness of preventative interventions. National experts across the 28 EU States provided all available local data and information. The Report found that constitutional, human rights and consumer law protection on the inviolability of and respect for home, is applied in a fragmentary and inconsistent manner, thus denying EU citizens equal access to their rights. An unknown number of evictions take place outside the judicially supervised process, affecting many people with deficits in the local language, support networks or resources, particularly those in the informal or ‘black’ rental market. There is a significant absence of research, data or reports on illegal evictions from the informal or black rental market, particularly in relation to documented and undocumented migrants, asylum-seekers, Roma, Travellers, some people with disabilities, and others. Contrary to popular assumptions, in Spain, Ireland and the UK, most evictions are from private rented housing rather than mortgaged properties. EU data showed that the highest housing cost overburden in 2013 among poor households occurred in Greece (91%), while some 50% or more of poor households had utility arrears in Bulgaria and Croatia, with over 60% in Greece and Hungary, a significant eviction risk factor. The most comprehensive analysis of eviction risk factors is found in Denmark, with studies on risk of eviction among one million households in private and public rented housing. This and other research shows that evicted households initially seek help and support from family and friends. Up to one quarter may eventually rely on homeless services, which are only widely available in north and western European countries and cities. The critical issue is preventing those evicted from becoming homeless. The Final Report suggests that access to rapid rehousing schemes, protected minimum incomes and the possibility of “fresh start” options are key factors. Debt advice and legal assistance are most effective measures in preventing rental evictions. In terms of effective preventative interventions, the report highlights adequate supply of affordable housing, legal advice and debt restructuring as significant. The Final Report sets out eighteen recommendations for Member States and the EU, ranging from protection and promotion of housing rights, improved housing policies, responsible lending and areas requiring further research. (See Notes to Editors below). To read the full report visit: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=738&langId=en&pubId=7892&type=2&furtherPubs=yes ENDS

Friday, 20 May 2016

NUI Galway’s societies recently celebrated a very successful year with the President of NUI Galway Dr Jim Browne in a presentation acknowledging their numerous national successes during the college year. Riona Hughes, NUI Galway Societies Officer, said: “NUI Galway societies continue to bring new life to the University, surpassing the achievements of previous years and playing a vital role in shaping students as capable, contributing and active citizens able to play key roles in our world’s future. Evidently the unique work of societies not only enriches campus life but also within the community at a local and national level.” Dr Browne praised the societies on the four awards that they brought home from the Board of Irish College Societies (BICS) National Society Awards in April, where they topped the leader-board with 40 wins since the inaugural awards ceremony in 1996. Winners from NUI Galway this year were: the Medical Society for ‘Best Society in an Academic, Cultural and Social Field’; The French Society’s Ciaran Mac Choncarraige for ‘Best Fresher’; The Draíocht Society for ‘Best Society in a Civic and Charity Field’; and PotterSoc’s Triwizard Cup for ‘Best Intervarsity’. The Rover Society was commended on their win at the National Rover Scouts Intervarsities, and on their ‘Community Achievement Award’ from Scouting Ireland. The society has received praise in recent months for their work helping the homeless, in association COPE. Other national awards this year included two wins for Dramsoc at the Irish Student Drama Awards. Dylan McCormack won the award for ‘Best Actor’ for his role in ‘Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me’, which also brought home the prize for ‘Best Production’. Neil Delaney of Galway University Musical Society (GUMS) won Best Male Performance at the first Musical Intervarsities in UCD in April. The Choral Society also had a hugely successful year with their three choirs taking home trophies at the Cork Choral Festival, Kiltimagh Choral Festival, Sligo Choral Festival and at Choir Factor 2016, as well as winning RTÉ’s Lyric FM’s Choirs for Christmas Competition. NUI Galway has 116 Student Societies, offering students and staff opportunities to meet people with similar interests, try new things and have fun. The societies range from artistic and performing groups to academic ones linked to university departments, as well as many with social, cultural or political focuses. This year the Societies Office has been cultivating a new emphasis on health and wellbeing, with the creation of a new sub-branch of societies promoting positive lifestyle choices. -Ends-

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Mary McPartlan, Teacher, Traditional Artist in Residence, Director of the successful Arts in Action programme at the Centre for Theatre and Performance, has been appointed 2016-2017 Fulbright Ireland Ambassador at NUI Galway. A high profile professional singer, her albums include, the award winning ‘The Holland Handkerchief’, ‘Petticoat Loose’ and the newly release ‘From Mountain to Mountain’ Mary was a Fulbright Scholar to the Institute of Irish American Studies, Lehman College City University of New York in 2012-2013. While in New York, she taught a module on Irish Women Traditional Singers since the 1950s in Ireland and undertook research in Irish song material in New York and Kentucky. She also gave a series of lectures on Irish contemporary playwrights and plays. As part of her research, Mary visited Berea College, Kentucky, to explore the work of American folk music singer, songwriter, and Appalachian dulcimer player Jean Ritchie, who was a central figure in the history of the American Folk revival from the 1950’s onward. A Fulbright scholar herself, Jean visited Ireland on her 1952 Award to trace the links between American ballads and Irish songs. While on her own Fulbright scholarship in the US, Mary had the opportunity to visit Jean’s home in Kentucky where she sang and played music with Jean’s family and friends. Mary’s recent album ‘From Mountain to Mountain’ pays tribute to Jean Ritchie and the Ireland-Appalachian connection. Commenting, Silas House, novelist and writer in Kentucky, USA, said: “Mary’s own Fulbright journey culminated in the recording of the CD Mountain to Mountain. Mary’s journey in search of the evolution from across the Atlantic to Appalachia mirrored that of Jean Ritchie’s during her Fulbright in 1952, which also culminated in her album ‘Field Trip’.” Building on the Ritchie-Pickow archive housed in NUI Galway’s James Hardiman Library, and Mary’s Fulbright research, the ‘Jean Ritchie Scholarship’ was officially launched in 2015 by the University’s International Office celebrating its growing links with Berea College, Kentucky in the US. Since returning to Ireland, Mary has continues to teach and develop the Creative Arts at NUI Galway. Her ‘Fulbright Ireland Ambassador’ role is geared at growing awareness and understanding of Fulbright opportunities on campus so that other NUI Galway students, researchers and staff may follow in her footsteps and venture to the US to undertake study or research in their own area of expertise. Dr Dara FitzGerald, Executive Director, Fulbright Commission, said: “The Fulbright Commission is delighted that Mary McPartlan will act as NUI Galway Fulbright Ireland Ambassador. Mary is fully aware of the Fulbright experience, process and value. I know that she will bring her passion for Fulbright to engage with ‘Fulbrighters’ in the University and applicants wishing to apply for a Fulbright Award. Mary will also work with University officers and academic staff to promote NUI Galway and Fulbright links both in Ireland and the USA.” Several NUI Galway students and staff have been successful in their application for a Fulbright award in recent years. These include 2015-2016 Awardees: Gerard Wall, a lecturer in Microbiology at NUI Galway who recently returned from his Award at the University of Wyoming where he was developing detection devices for environmental monitoring; Méabh Ní Choileáin an NUI Galway graduate of Applied Communications, currently teaching Irish language at the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA); Síle Dolan a graduate of Irish at NUI Galway, currently a Fulbright FLTA at Elms College, Chicopee, Massachusetts; and Emma Lowry, a graduate of the Master’s in Language Education at NUI Galway, currently a FLTA at the University of Montana. As Fulbright Ambassador at NUI Galway, Mary will be available to take queries from those who would like to apply for 2017-2018 Fulbright Awards. She will be organising Fulbright activities on campus to increase awareness of these scholarship opportunities. If you wish to contact Mary in this capacity you can reach her at mary.mcpartlan@nuigalway.ie. The 2017-2018 Fulbright Irish Awards application period will open on 31 August 2016 with a deadline of 28 October 2016. See www.fulbright.ie for further details. -Ends-

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway has carried out one of the first studies to utilise a ‘person-based approach’ to bring forward the key benefits and barriers involved in developing a ‘mHealth’ technology application for patients with hypertension, that has the potential to support many different chronic diseases. Results from the study show clear evidence that well-designed mHealth app interventions can effectively change patient health-related behaviour, improve patient knowledge and confidence for self-management of health, and lead to better health outcomes. The ‘mHealth’ policy brief written by Dr Jane Walsh and Dr Liam Glynn from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, found that ‘one size fits all’ apps to promote patient self-management of their own chronic disease are undesirable and that patients would prefer a personalised programme from an app. This would enable patients to set their individual priorities such as medication regimen, desired adherence format, lifestyle changes and goals. mHealth can play a key role in meeting HSE policy objectives to empower patients to self-manage their health, providing them with better access to personalised information and support for active involvement in self-management and lifestyle change. Newer technologies such as mobile devices and the internet are omnipresent in modern society. Health related behaviour change, driven by such technologies has grown exponentially in recent years, with downloads for health and lifestyle related mobile applications or ‘apps' expected to exceed €25 billion in 2015 and €50 billion in 2017. This presents a unique opportunity for healthcare providers to harness these technologies to deliver a more efficient service for the prevention of chronic disease. Mobile technologies and wearable technologies such as technology driven watches, represent the ideal forum to facilitate patient self-management. Among the world’s population of 7 billion there are over 5 billion mobile devices and over 90% of those users have their mobile device nearby 24 hours a day. The use of such devices allow for the provision of ongoing monitoring and support of both individuals and healthcare professionals, whilst improving services by giving patients convenient access to detailed, personalised feedback. The study found that mobile technology is best ‘prescribed’ by a ‘trusted source’ such as a doctor. A profile of barriers should be identified for each patient, and self-management programmes should be tailored according to individual patient’s needs. The introduction of a new technology or platform for engagement requires concerted efforts to alleviate patient concerns and to create confidence in terms of quality and security.  Co-author of the mHealth policy brief, Dr Jane Walsh from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, said: “Due to the novel nature of the technology, it is best used to provide a neutral space in which patient and healthcare providers can discuss and negotiate a management plan around often challenging issues such as concordance, sub-optimal control and lifestyle change.” For further information on the Policy Brief visit: http://whitakerinstitute.ie/read/policy-briefs/   ENDS

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

DairyWater, a multi-stakeholder research project led by NUI Galway is developing innovative solutions for the efficient management of water consumption, wastewater treatment and the resulting energy use within the country’s dairy processing industry NUI Galway-led research project, ‘DairyWater’ recently hosted a workshop on achieving sustainability within the dairy processing industry. Since the abolition of quotas at the end of March 2015, the Irish dairy industry has seen an unprecedented rise in milk production. This increase, coupled with low milk prices, has instigated an immediate need for increased efficiencies and sustainability within the Irish dairy processing industry. The workshop brought together experts from national and international research institutes and the Irish dairy processing industry. Along with the invited guest speakers, representatives from a number of major Irish dairy companies, including Arrabawn Dairies, Aurivo Co-Op, Dairygold, Glanbia, Lakeland Dairies and Nestle’s Wyeth Nutritionals, and the EPA attended the event. DairyWater, a multi-stakeholder research project funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, is developing innovative solutions for the efficient management of water consumption, wastewater treatment and the resulting energy use within the country’s dairy processing industry. DairyWater is led by Professor Xinmin Zhan in Civil Engineering at the College of Engineering and Informatics and the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. The project also involves leading research groups at University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin, Athlone IT and Teagasc. The aim of the workshop was to discuss the main environmental concerns of the Irish dairy processing industry and identify strategic research areas, concurrently offering an opportunity to showcase the work being performed within the DairyWater project. Dr Mark Fenelon from Teagasc gave an overview of the current status of the industry, while Rory Farrell from Lakelands Dairies discussed his experiences as the Environmental Manager of a dairy plant located in Killashandra, Co. Cavan. The main issues identified by the two speakers related to water footprint, energy and chemical inputs to wastewater treatment, the lack of water reuse within plants and sludge management options. The environmental impacts associated with the industry as a result of dairy plant operations was also discussed. Willie Murphy from Auriol Co-Op introduced the recently installed biomass boiler, which is located at their Ballaghaderreen site, and the benefits, both environmentally and financially, that they have seen since the commencement of its operation. The use of life cycle assessment to quantify the environmental impacts of the industry was then discussed by Dr Mingjia Yan from UCD and Dr William Finnegan from NUI Galway who presented the initial assessment results performed within the DairyWater project. The life cycle assessment quantifies a number of environmental impacts, including climate change and eutrophication of water. One of the greatest challenges of the industry when treating the large volumes of wastewater generated is the removal of phosphorus. Dr Kees Roest from the KWR Watercycle Research Institute in The Netherlands, presented his experiences in the removal and recovery of the nutrient. Emma Tarpey from NUI Galway presented a novel technology that is being explored in the DairyWater project, which uses biological phosphorus removal mechanisms. These mechanisms are significantly cheaper than the chemical technologies currently employed by the industry. Kelly Fitzhenry from NUI Galway looked at the reuse of water within dairy processing plants. Additionally, the development of tertiary treatment technologies, including a novel pulsed UV system, which would help facilitate water reuse by ensuring it is free from any harmful micro-organisms, was presented. If Ireland is to remain one of the largest exporters of dairy products in the world, strategic measures to reduce the industry’s environmental impacts need to be adopted now. This will be even more essential as the emission limits of plants, currently imposed by the EPA, are predicted to become increasingly more stringent over the coming years. Additionally, dairy companies will need to increase their influence on farm-based activities so as to reduce their environmental impacts, particularly with regard to greenhouse gas emissions. For further details on the workshop and to follow the progress of the project, visit: www.dairywater.ie ENDS

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

‘The Economic and Political Implications of Brexit on Ireland and the UK’   NUI Galway is delighted to announce the inclusion of the British Ambassador to Ireland, Dominick Chilcott in the programme of the public event on Britain’s EU Referendum. The event will take place on Wednesday, 18 May at 2pm in the Aula Maxima on campus. The UK is facing a momentous decision on 23 June on whether to remain in or leave the EU.  Not surprisingly, the 'Brexit' debate is being followed with particular interest in Ireland – the only EU country with which the UK shares a land border.  The British Ambassador to Ireland, Dominick Chilcott said: “By almost any measure, Ireland is among the UK’s most important and closest partners. A leave vote in this referendum would have serious political and economic implications for British-Irish relations. It is therefore right for those with an interest in the debate in Ireland to continue to make their voices heard. I would like to offer my thanks to NUI Galway for facilitating this panel debate.”     The public event will bring together a distinguished panel to debate the economic and political implications of Brexit on both the UK and Ireland. The panelists include: Mairéad McGuinness (MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament); Dan O’Brien (Institute of International and European Affairs), David Begg (TASC), Noelle O’Connell (European Movement Ireland), John McHale (NUI Galway) and Conall Mac Coille (Davy).  MC for the event will be TG4 news anchor Eimear Ní Chonaola. President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne said: “I am delighted to welcome the British Ambassador and this debate to NUI Galway and especially pleased to see such a strong panel of speakers taking part. Many Irish graduates choose to work and live in Britain - in fact NUI Galway has over three thousand graduates based in the UK with almost 1,000 based in London alone. For our alumni and for students and staff, the relationship between Britain and the EU has real significance. For the university sector in Ireland the possibility of a change to Britain’s relationship with EU will have an impact on our research partnerships in Britain, as well as affecting a range of other academic issues. Britain’s EU referendum is an important historic moment and this public event at NUI Galway will ensure that many relevant voices can contribute to the debate on the economic and political implications of ‘Brexit’ here in Ireland as well as in the UK.” Places are limited and those wishing to attend the public forum are required to register in advance at: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/debating-brexit-tickets-25156337282 The forum, which is being hosted in association with the British Embassy in Ireland and the University's Whitaker Institute, and in collaboration with European Movement Ireland, will take place in the Aula Maxima (Lower), Quadrangle Building, NUI Galway on Wednesday, 18 May from 1.30pm - 4.15pm. The event begins at 2.00pm and a light lunch will be provided beforehand. ENDS

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Ruth Cormican, from Clarinbridge, Co. Galway and LLB student at NUI Galway’s School of Law, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study for an LLM in International Human Rights Law at the University of Notre Dame in the United States. This is one of the most prestigious programmes of its kind in the United States.  Ruth is especially interested in studying the application of human rights laws and norms to transnational corporations. Following her studies, she hopes to engage in field-work with a human rights NGO or with the Human Rights Unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Ruth graduated with first-class honours from the BA (Law) programme at NUI Galway in 2015, during which she spent a year at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. She has received academic prizes for her fluency in French, and was the recipient of the Thomson-Reuters-Round Hall Law Prize in 2012, and the Lexis Nexis Butterworths Law Prize in 2015.  Ruth will graduate from the LLB programme at NUI Galway in October. She is spending the summer on a summer internship programme, now in its third year, run by the School of Law at NUI Galway in partnership with the Suffolk University Law School in Boston. Ruth will spend the summer working with two criminal justice NGOs: Prisoner Legal Services and the New England Innocence Project. Congratulating Ruth on the Scholarship, Professor Donncha O’Connell, Head of NUI Galway’s School of Law, said: “It is a great credit to Ruth, and my colleagues who taught her, that her academic accomplishments have been recognised in this way. The Fulbright scheme is the gold standard of academic recognition and for someone as young as Ruth to be the recipient of a Fulbright award augurs extremely well for her future. We are immensely proud of her and wish her continued success.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

HRB Clinical Research Facility Galway, a joint venture between Galway University Hospitals, Saolta and NUI Galway launch clinical trials awareness campaign The Health Research Board (HRB) Clinical Research Facility Galway (CRFG) is inviting local researchers, health and social care professionals and patients to highlight the ‘It’s OK To Ask’ campaign to celebrate International Clinical Trials Day, which takes place on Friday, 20 May. The ‘It’s OK To Ask’ about clinical research message from the public awareness campaign aims to encourage patients, carers, and the public to ask healthcare professionals if there is a clinical trial study they might be suitable for. The HRB CRFG is a joint venture between Galway University Hospitals (GUH), Saolta and NUI Galway, and has been in operation since March 2008. The HRB CRFG provides the infrastructure, physical space, facilities and expertise needed to optimally support biomedical research, and focuses on studies aimed at understanding a range of diseases and speedily translating the knowledge obtained through this research work into reimbursed, regulatory approved advances in patient care. On the 20 May, 1747, James Lind, a naval surgeon initiated the first known clinical trial, and discovered that giving sailors fruit improved their scurvy. Lind’s trial provides a focal point to raise awareness of the importance of research to healthcare and highlights how partnerships between patients and healthcare practitioners are vital for high-quality, relevant research. Clinical trials have developed quite a bit since Lind's discovery and it is important to remember his work and acknowledge the need for research in healthcare. People in Ireland have access to high quality clinical trials across a range of bioscience areas and primary care. The HRB CRFG brings together health and social care professionals, academics, industry, patients and members of the public. The work they undertake seeks to provide evidence on the best outcomes for patients, but also attracts major funding and economic investment into Ireland. It is essential that clinical research and trials are undertaken to question whether there may be better, safer and more effective ways of doing things within healthcare than how things are currently being done. Supporting the awareness campaign, Professor Martin O’ Donnell, Director of the HRB CRFG, commented: “Clinical trials are crucial to identifying new and better approaches to prevent, treat and diagnose clinical conditions. Effective clinical research requires the collaborative partnership of patients and healthcare practitioners, in an effort to improve the future health of others.” For further information contact Danielle Nicholson, Clinical Research Engagement Associate at HRB-CRFG on 091 493918 and crfg@nuigalway.ie or visit www.nuigalway.ie/hrbcrfg/ ENDS

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Inish: Island Conversations festival will take place on Inishbofin from 2-5 June and will feature the best in literature, poetry, film and music. Now in its second year, the cultural festival will see world-class performers, writers and artists convene in this special, secluded place for performances, talks, and conversations.   Leading academics from NUI Galway speaking at the event will include Professor Daniel Carey, Dr Philip Dine and Dr Brendan Flynn. Dr Rebecca Barr will be moderating a session on “Identity in transition”, a discussion about the nature of identity and the movement of people. Author Kevin Barry said: “The Inish Festival is one of the most innovative, original and downright entertaining events I'd been to in a long time. It uses the place of Inishbofin itself as a springboard for all sorts of musical, literary and intellectual escapades.”  Barry returns this year to perform, and to host, with Olivia Smith, a series of featured artists and writers from their Winter Pages Irish arts anthology. Others writers, poets and artists who will feature include Michael Longley, Theo Dorgan, Bernard O’Donoghue, Vincent Woods, Andrew McNeillie, Claire Kilroy, Alan McMonagle, Edna Longley, and actor Olwen Fouéré. Legendary English artist Norman Ackroyd will be on hand to talk about an exhibition of his work which will be on display at the festival. Musical treats throughout the festival will be a concert by Martin Tingvall, acknowledged as one of the world’s top jazz pianists, and musicians such as Steve Wall, Jack L., Larry Beau, Doug Paisley, and Elisa Rodrigues. The multi-instrumentalist Poppy Ackroyd will also perform and one of the festival highlights will be a performance by Máirtín Ó Connor, Garry Ó Briain, Cathal Hayden, and the ConTempo String Quartet. For Film lovers there will be a screening of Paula Kehoe’s Deargdhil: Anatomy of Passion, a critically acclaimed study of the Irish poet Máire Mhac an tSaoi, and the multi-award winning A Turning Tide in the Life of Man, as well as Atlantic, winner of the Best Documentary category at the Dublin International Film Festival in 2016. Returning to perform at Inish this year, poet and academic Bernard O’Donoghue, said: “Surely there is no better place for a festival of music and writing than Inishbofin in June, the light of the summer evenings, the corncrakes crexing by every roadside, the foam-washed shorelines and the quiet roads, and the best of cultural company and friendship. It was the best weekend of everyone’s year in 2015.” Full programme and details are available at www.inishfestival.com. Accommodation is limited so early booking is advised. For further information contact festival organiser and NUI Galway graduate, Peadar King at 087 2171146 or peadarking@hotmail.com. -Ends-