High-octane European consortium admits Ireland’s bioeconomy centre

High-octane European consortium admits Ireland’s bioeconomy centre -image

Monday, 23 February 2015

Ireland’s national Technology Centre for Biorefining & Bioenergy (TCBB) at NUI Galway has joined Europe’s bioeconomy consortium. TCBB’s application has been approved by the board and general assembly of the Brussels-based Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) as an Associate Member. The BIC is the private partner in the €3.7 billion Public-Private Partnership on Bio-based Industries (BBI) with the European Union (EU) to convert biological residues and wastes into greener everyday products. “International household names such as Coca Cola, Unilever and Total are amongst the major industrial players in the Bio-based Industries Consortium. Our membership of the BIC will create new opportunities to promote innovation and to compete for funding to develop Ireland’s bioeconomy. This marks a significant milestone in the development of the NUI Galway-hosted TCBB’s role in facilitating Ireland’s industries to engage and partner with EU-wide companies to recover resources and develop new food products, biomaterials and biochemicals from agricultural wastes, agri-food by-products and forestry and marine residues,” said Mr Bart Bonsall, Technology Leader and head of centre, TCBB. “When you see that Ireland’s food and beverages exports have grown for five consecutive years (by 45% or €3.2 billion since 2009), with milk production set to increase with the imminent lifting of the EU quotas and that Ireland is planning to expand food and forestry production significantly up to the year 2020, it is important that as Ireland’s bioeconomy centre we are directly involved in this type of initiative. Add to the mix that Ireland’s pharma-chemicals industry is the 7th largest exporter globally and you get a picture of how for a small country, we can pursue big opportunities,” added Mr Bonsall. NUI Galway’s Head of the School of Natural Sciences and Principal Investigator with the TCBB, Professor Vincent O’Flaherty commented that: “For the TCBB and NUI Galway as its main co-host, being part of the BIC will provide a new and high-value platform to promote and showcase the bioeconomy-related expertise in TCBB. It will create new opportunities to engage with industry and enterprise across the EU in developing and demonstrating innovative technologies and production systems to bolster Ireland’s exporting capacities.” The BIC will play a key role in bridging the gap between innovation and deployment of biobased products across the European Union. The BIC aims to: leverage Europe's advanced biobased research and technology use renewable resources and innovative technologies for greener everyday products develop underutilised potential of agriculture and forestry residues replace oil-based chemicals and materials with biodegradable, biobased ones diversify and grow farmers' incomes; and generate new industries, revitalise others and create thousands of jobs. ENDS

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New Agricultural Economics and Policy course being delivered by NUI Galway

New Agricultural Economics and Policy course being delivered by NUI Galway-image

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Reflecting the growing influence of national and EU policies on farming life, a new course entitled Agricultural Economics and Policy is underway at NUI Galway. Delivered through the Economics discipline at the University, the course is offered as part of the Natural Resource Economics and Policy Masters programme. As well as the Masters students who take this course as an option, the classes are also attended by Teagasc Walsh Fellow PhD candidates based in NUI Galway. The course puts particular focus on public policy analysis related to the development of the Irish agricultural sector and examines challenging policy questions such as the impacts of climate change on the sector, the impacts of EU Common Agricultural Policy reform and the economic concepts and models of relevance that are necessary to understand the global role of agriculture in economic systems. A unique feature of the course is that it is delivered jointly by NUI Galway and Teagasc economists. The Athenry-based Rural Economy and Development Programme (REDP) Teagasc economists Dr Thia Hennessy, Trevor Donnellan and Dr Kevin Hanrahan are delivering a number of lectures on the course. According to the Director of the Natural Resource Economics and Policy Masters programme, Dr Stephen Hynes of NUI Galway: “The participation of the Teagasc economists in the delivery of the course is a great opportunity for the students to see how agricultural economists use the economic tools, learnt during the course, to answer real world agricultural policy questions.” The Masters programme is designed to develop the analytical modelling skills of economics graduates for future employment in private and public sector, enterprises concerned with the environment, agriculture, food, fisheries and other marine resources. “Given that agriculture and food is a key element in the Irish economy and natural resource management is vital for the continued development of the sector it is important that we have students coming through with the tools to analyse the impact of policy and impact of possible environmental changes on the sector,” Dr Hynes added. The head of the Teagasc Rural Economy and Development Programme, Professor Cathal O’Donoghue also sees great merit in the collaborative teaching approach stating: “There is already close ties between the Rural Economy and Development Programme of Teagasc and the Economics Discipline in NUI Galway with many joint research projects underway and a number of Walsh Fellowship PhD students under joint supervision and operating between both campuses; so it is great to see this collaboration extend to the teaching side as well.” For those interested in this subject, the Masters course begins again in September 2015, with application due by the end of June. Further information on the Masters programme is available at http://www.nuigalway.ie/business-public-policy-law/cairnes/courses/taught/natural-resource-economics.html.   -ends-

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Tales of Finn mac Cumaill linked to places of exceptional natural resources

Tales of Finn mac Cumaill linked to places of exceptional natural resources-image

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Public talk on 5 March at NUI Galway Places associated with Finn mac Cumaill in the Fenian cycle of tales and named after him and his warrior band have an historical reality as important boundary points, hunting grounds and areas of mineral enrichment in medieval and prehistoric times. This concept will be explored further in a public lecture on 5 March by NUI Galway archaeologist, Professor Elizabeth FitzPatrick. Finn mac Cumaill (Finn McCool) and his fían or warrior band are central figures in the literature and oral tradition of Gaelic-speaking peoples of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Landforms and place-names associated with him and his hunting and martial activities include hills such as Seefin (Finn’s seat), Knockfinn (Finn’s Hill) and Formoyle (very bare place), caves such as Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Arran, and causeways like the World Heritage Giant’s Causeway on the Co. Antrim coastline. Tales of Finn reveal that he lives in a strange boundary place, a wilderness at the margins of territories. An examination of places associated with him in the real landscape show that they occur where different rock types meet and where mineral and metal ores are usually found. Red deer frequented such places to obtain their essential mineral licks and so they became important hunting grounds in the past. “These place names are much more important than instances of the survival of Finn folklore. They indicate areas of enriched natural resources and physical boundaries in the landscape,” explains Professor Elizabeth FitzPatrick. The lecture is based on a project in Archaeology at NUI Galway, with NUI Galway’s Dr Ronan Hennessy and Dr Paul Naessens, Professor Joseph Nagy at UCLA, Dr Ruth Carden wildlife ecologist and Dr Matthew Parkes of the National Museum of Ireland. The aim is to produce a digital and print Atlas of Finn mac Cumaill’s Places which will showcase new knowledge about the relationships between archaeology, geology, wildlife ecology, mythology and place-names in landscape and settlement research. Professor FitzPatrick added, “Finn places on the edge of Western Europe may be the most enduring survival of a wider landscape expression of the Celtic place-name ‘vind’ and its associated phenomenon of boundaries and enriched natural resources, extending from Gorumna Island in south Connemara to Galatia in Asia Minor." The public talk will take place on Thursday, 5 March, at 6pm in the Moore Institute Seminar Room, Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway. -ends-

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NUI Galway Biomedical Engineering Researchers Claim Top National Awards

NUI Galway Biomedical Engineering Researchers Claim Top National Awards-image

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

NUI Galway Biomedical Engineering Researchers recently claimed two major national awards. David Nolan, a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering under the supervision of Dr Patrick McGarry at the College of Engineering and Informatics, is the 2015 winner of the prestigious Engineers Ireland Biomedical Research Medal, awarded annually to the best PhD level biomedical engineering research in Ireland. This prestigious award and a €1,000 honorarium is sponsored by DePuy Synthes and is adjudicated, based on a research paper and presentation, by an expert panel drawn from academia and industry. David Nolan’s winning paper entails the development of new mathematical and computer models for simulating arteries based on experimental testing of excised arterial tissue. The mechanical behaviour of arteries is particularly complex due to the presence of aligned reinforcing collagen fibres. This new formulation provides improved predictions of the stress state in arteries during the insertion of stents. This research has significant implications for the design of next-generation medical devices. This is the second time that a member of Dr McGarry’s research group has achieved this award in the past four years. The research was performed in collaboration with Professor Michel Destrade and Artur Gower, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway, and Professor Ray Ogden, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Glasgow. The research is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council, and is also supported by the Irish Centre for High-End Computing. A major research award was also recently claimed by Fiona Freeman, a biomedical engineering PhD student under the supervision of Dr Laoise McNamara, also from the College of Engineering and Informatics, NUI Galway. Fiona was awarded first prize in the Mature Researcher category for her presentation at the 21st Annual Conference of the Bioengineering Section of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland. The work presented at the conference was conducted by Fiona in Professor Robert Guldberg’s Laboratory in Georgia Tech, Atlanta. After being awarded the National University of Ireland Travelling Scholar Award, Fiona travelled to the US for six months to conduct her studies in collaboration with Guldberg’s lab. Her study explored the fate of constructs produced using an endochondral ossification process. Both David, a native of Kilkenny, and Fiona, a native of Galway, completed their undergraduate degrees in biomedical engineering at NUI Galway prior to undertaking PhD research. Speaking of their success, Professor Gerry Lyons, Dean of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway said: “David’s and Fiona’s awards further establish NUI Galway as a leading centre for biomedical engineering research, both nationally and internationally. This research is also very important for the ongoing development of the medical device industry.” -ends-

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NUI Galway takes a stand in the fight against Cancer with the launch of ‘PINK POWER’ & ‘BLUE POWER’

NUI Galway takes a stand in the fight against Cancer with the launch of ‘PINK POWER’ & ‘BLUE POWER’-image

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

First Irish University to Offer Free Cancer Screening for Staff NUI Galway has today launched a FREE Mammogram service under the banner of ‘Pink Power’ for female employees, and a FREE prostate screening programme for male employees under the banner of Blue Power. This initiative is the first of its kind in any university in Ireland, is sponsored by Cornmarket, and delivered with the Bon Secours Hospital Galway. According to Professor Michael Kerin, Head of Surgery at NUI Galway and Research Director of the National Breast Cancer Research Institute (NBCRI) early diagnosis is vital: “Approximately 2800 women per year get breast cancer in the Republic of Ireland and it is the leading cause of cancer death amongst middle aged women in Ireland. This campaign will increase awareness and provide a screening mammogram for women in the 40-50 year age group in NUI Galway.” Mr Kilian Walsh Consultant Urological Surgeon went on to say “For men, 1 in 9 will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer during their lifetime. The chance of developing Prostate Cancer increases with age and early diagnosis allows an informed discussion about all available treatment options. This is why the NUI Galway have organised FREE PSA tests for male employees aged 45 and over.” In the coming weeks, male employees aged 45 and over will be invited to attend clinics under the care of Bon Secours Hospital Nursing staff conveniently located in Áras Moyola, NUI Galway. At the same time, female employees between the ages of 40 and 50 will be offered a FREE mammogram in the Bon Secours hospital. BreastCheck (the national screening programme) invites women aged 50 to 64 years for a free screening mammogram every two years. However, breast cancer can happen before 50. We hope that through Pink Power we can increase awareness of the importance of self-assessment and early detection. Speaking at the launch, Roddy Murphy, Managing Director of Cornmarket said: “We are very proud to sponsor this first of its kind employee initiative. Sadly Cornmarket’s claims team take phone calls regularly from members in their schemes, both young and old, who have been diagnosed with cancer. This initiative is an important step in the battle against cancer. If one life can be saved, it will have been worthwhile.” Speaking on the day, Triona Lydon, Pensions and Investment Officer at NUI Galway said: “This new initiative for NUI Galway employees is about health promotion, early detection and swift treatment, if necessary, and it is hoped that it will make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of our staff.” Professor Michael Kerin and Kilian Walsh concluded: “We believe that ‘Pink Power’ and Blue Power is truly an excellent tool for early intervention in the fight against breast and prostate cancer and NUI Galway is very happy to lead out on this.” -End-

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NUI Galway Masters Programme Awarded Apple Distinguished Programme

NUI Galway Masters Programme Awarded Apple Distinguished Programme-image

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

First award from Apple to any Higher Education programme in Europe NUI Galway’s Máistir Gairmiúil san Oideachas programme has been awarded the Apple Distinguished Programme for 2014/2015. The Apple Distinguished Programme (APD) recognises educational programmes for innovation, leadership, and educational excellence. The Máistir Gairmiúil san Oideachas (MGO) is a two year, full-time programme offered through the medium of Irish, by the School of Education at NUI Galway. The MGO is unique in that it is the only initial teacher education programme that prepares future teachers to teach in second-level Irish medium schools. The programme equips student teachers with the professional knowledge, theoretical and conceptual tools necessary for developing creative, flexible and reflective approaches to teaching. A particular emphasis is placed on teaching through the medium of Irish and on the development of strategies for teaching and learning both content and language (CLIL). Dr Mary Fleming, Head of the School of Education at NUI Galway, said: “This award is a significant and important accolade for the Máistir Gairmiúil san Oideachas programme as it gives recognition to the innovative teamwork, collegiality and deep engagement with pre-service teacher learning for future practice within Irish medium schools and classrooms. We in the School of Education are very proud of our colleagues and wholeheartedly congratulate Dr Brendan Mac Mahon, Seán Ó Grádaigh and Sinéad Ní Ghuidhir on this fantastic achievement.” This is the first Apple Distinguished Programme award to any Higher Education programme in Europe, and only the third Education programme worldwide. This award builds on the success of the recent First International Conference in Mobile Technology in Initial Teacher Education (MiTE) 2015. This two-day Conference, hosted by the School of Education last month, brought together field leaders in the area of mobile technology in education, in both research and practice. Director of the MGO programme, Dr Brendan Mac Mahon said: “It is a great honour that the groundbreaking work of the student teachers and programme team has attracted international recognition. Incorporating mobile technology within our programme created spaces for teaching and learning that we had not envisaged and which are now having an impact on teaching, learning and assessment in secondary schools.” -Ends-

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NUI Galway Partner in €4 Million European Research Project

NUI Galway Partner in €4 Million European Research Project -image

Thursday, 26 February 2015

The research project aims to advance active and healthy ageing with use of service robots A new European research project valued at €4 million, aimed at managing active and healthy ageing through the use of caring service robots has recently begun at NUI Galway. The MARIO project brings together a consortium of partners from academic institutions and industry across Europe, led by the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway. Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, within the thematic section ‘Societal Challenge on Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing’, it assembles a team of international experts from academia, industry and dementia groups to work collaboratively in tackling the burdens imposed by dementia and developing innovative solutions using caring robots. The €4 million project will last for three years during which three pilot studies of robots interacting with people with dementia will be undertaken. The first pilot will run in the West of Ireland, organised by NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, the second will run in Stockport, UK, organised by the city’s health care managers, while the third will run in Italy, organised by a leading research hospital, Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, which is pushing research boundaries in comprehensive geriatric assessment. The project’s communication strategist, Professor Kathy Murphy of NUI Galway explains: “MARIO is an exciting and innovative project that will make a huge difference to the lives of people with dementia. We will be working directly with people with dementia to ensure that the issues they see as important are addressed. Multi-faceted interventions will be developed, which will be delivered by humanoid robots.” The technology at the heart of MARIO is the robot Kompai, designed and developed by a consortium partner, French company Robosoft. Other partners in the consortium will provide technological expertise in the areas of robotic applications and semantic computing. All the outcomes of the research will be made public. These are expected to be of great benefit to people with dementia as well as lead to commercial opportunities for cutting-edge technology companies. Project coordinator, Dr Dympna Casey of NUI Galway, said of these pilot studies: “All interactions with caregivers, persons with dementia, older persons and stakeholders will fully comply with standards-based medical assessment methodologies, and aspire to provide a truly user-led design ethos.” Professor Murphy added: “The project will follow an open door communications policy. The project is funded by the European Commission and its results belong to all the citizens of the European Union.” -Ends-

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10,000 signatures from Ireland needed to support Global Education #UpForSchool petition

10,000 signatures from Ireland needed to support Global Education #UpForSchool petition-image

Thursday, 26 February 2015

The official launch of the Irish #UpForSchool campaign will take place in the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway on Friday, 27 February at 6pm. Professor Michael O’ Flaherty, Head of the Irish Centre for Human Rights will host the launch: "I am delighted to support the #UpForSchool campaign. Education offers us freedom and a better future.  Access to school is a basic human right. However, there remains 58 million children around the world who are denied the possibility to go to school. Schools in more than 70 countries were attacked in the past five years - and girls in particular have faced increasing hostility, physical violence and abuse. By signing the #UpForSchool campaign we are lending our voice to the 1.5million who have already signed the petition demanding access to school for all children regardless of location or gender. By becoming a Youth Ambassador for the #UpForSchool petition Irish students are showing solidarity with students from around the world and helping young Irish men and women to grow more socially conscious and politically aware." #UpForSchool is a global campaign started by Sarah Brown, wife of former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.  The aim of the campaign is to get 58 million primary school children who are currently not in school, into school.  It was one of the United Nations Millennium goals to get every child into primary education by 2015 and this has not been realised. There is a global education crisis and young courageous campaigners around the world are coming together in this campaign to demand action. They are reaching out too Irish students to ask them to sign the petition and to become #UpForSchool Youth Ambassadors. Senator Fidelma Healy Eames has recently been appointed WIP’s Education Champion for Ireland. WIP is an organisation representing 9000 female parliamentarians across the globe. As part of this new role Senator Eames has been asked to lead out the #UpforSchool campaign in Ireland. “I am asking that your school community, teacher, students and parents would become champions for this worthy global campaign.  I am asking each school to commit to gathering 200 signatures to add to our campaign petition. Our national goal is to collect 10,000 signatures from Ireland as part of the global #UpForSchool petition.  Each school will be presented with an #UpforSchool certificate on completion.” The final petition will be presented to global leaders at the UN summit in September. If your school would like to be part of this really important initiative please log onto upforschool.org and see all the resources you will need there, including the Irish petitionwww.aworldatschool.org/upforschool/upforschool-upforlearning-join-the-irish-campaign. You can read more on the worthy human rights campaign at www.aworldatchool.org Irish schools are being invited to become champions for the #UpForSchool campaign by getting as many people as possible to sign the petition. For further information on #UpforSchool petition visit our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/upforschoolireland. -Ends-

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Poetry Aloud on the Streets of Galway City

Poetry Aloud on the Streets of Galway City-image

Thursday, 26 February 2015

NUI Galway students perform ‘A Poem for Ireland’ shortlist in Galway city centre Today students of Irish and of Drama and Theatre Studies in NUI Galway will bring poetry out of the lecture halls and onto the main shopping street in Galway city for the pleasure of unsuspecting shoppers. Students will recite a selection of verses from poems shortlisted in RTÉ’s ‘A Poem for Ireland’ campaign. Current lecturer in the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at NUI Galway Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh is among those shortlisted for ‘A Poem for Ireland’. This flashmob style event, which will also include a number of musicians, aims to encourage the general public to engage with the ten shortlisted poems and to cast their vote in the national ‘A Poem for Ireland’ campaign. Event organisers Dr Rióna Ní Fhrighil (Gaeilge, NUI Galway) and Marianne Ní Chinnéide (Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, NUI Galway) believe that there are many ways to engage with poetry. Beyond the act of reading, poetry can be made accessible through performance. Their students will perform poetry on a busy city street to remind people that poetry is for everybody. The event takes place on Shop Street, Galway, today (Thursday, 26 February) from 4pm. -ends-

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NUI Galway Statement

NUI Galway Statement-image

Friday, 27 February 2015

FRIDAY, 27 FEBRUARY, 2015 NUI Galway uses a detailed medical questionnaire to conduct pre-employment health screening. An indepth questionnaire replaces the need for a face-to-face medical consultation for staff. This process takes place after a candidate has been offered a position and forms no part of the job interview. This process of health screening was implemented by the University in 2008 following a decision by its Governing Authority. Prior to this all prospective staff were required to attend a pre-employment medical examination. The detail of the medical questionnaire used for pre-employment health screening is a strictly confidential process between doctor and patient.The questionnaire was provided to the University by its Occupational Health service providers and is in line with best practice nationally. Many organisations in Ireland and the UK use a similar process to determine the health of future employees.The questionnaire is completed independently and privately by prospective staff members, regardless of gender, and subsequently examined by the occupational health physician. Where a staff member responds positively to questions the doctor will contact them directly to elicit further information and arrange a consultation if necessary. No person is deemed unfit for employment on the basis of the information disclosed on the occupational pre-placement health assessment form alone.Detailed questions are asked in an effort to identify underlying physiological problems which may require further support.The University takes on board the concerns which have been raised and will review its process in order to ensure that it continues to follow best practice in the area. The University has confirmed that they have suspended the pre-screening questionnaire while under review.

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