Bio-Diversifying Agriculture and Diet is Crucial to Global Health, according to new book

Bio-Diversifying Agriculture and Diet is Crucial to Global Health,  according to new book -image

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

While over 1 billion people are overweight and obese around the world, an estimated 868 million are undernourished. This paradox is explored in a new book, Diversifying Food and Diets, co-edited by Professor Danny Hunter who is an Adjunct Lecturer in Botany and Plant Science (BPS) at NUI Galway. The book explores the concept of agricultural biodiversity, in the context of the challenge of under-nutrition in many parts of the developing world and unhealthy diets in developed countries. Agricultural biodiversity has a key role to play in food and nutritional security, according the book’s authors. Such biodiversity can be a safeguard against hunger, as well as a source of nutrients for improved dietary diversity and quality. It can also strengthen local food systems and environmental sustainability. Currently, 195 million children around the world, under the age of five, are stunted from malnutrition. Meanwhile, in developed countries, obesity has been linked to the rise of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. “It’s a question not only of the quantities of food people are eating but also the quality of that food,” explains Professor Hunter. Professor Hunter is the Theme Leader for Agrobiodiversity in the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC). He says: “It is essential to understand how the global agricultural system and the benefits derived from agricultural biodiversity influence the drivers of global dietary consumption patterns, nutrition and health status, in particular in the developing world. The lack of diversity is shown to be a crucial issue, particularly in the developing world where diets consist mainly of starchy staples with less access to nutrient-rich sources of food such as animal proteins, fruits and vegetables.” He adds: “As this book highlights, local biodiversity has the potential for contributing to food security and nutrition, as well as for enhancing adaptation to global climate change. Some of these species are highly nutritious and have multiple uses.” Diversifying Food and Diets uses examples and case studies from around the globe to explore strategies for improving nutrition and diets, and identifies gaps in current knowledge that need to be addressed to better promote agricultural biodiversity. Case studies include a project in India which promotes nutritious native millets, efforts to identify and develop nutritionally rich indigenous vegetables and fruit trees in sub-Saharan Africa, and a UK-based community group’s urban gardening approach. The Head of the Plant and AgriBiosciences Centre at NUI Galway, Professor Charles Spillane highlighted that: “This book makes a valuable and timely contribution to efforts to improve public health through dietary and nutritional interventions. As all of the foods that we eat are either directly or indirectly derived from plants, the health status of millions of people in both developed and developing countries could be improved through improved access to a wider diversity of nutritious plant-based foods. Key challenges for both mitigation and adaptation strategies regarding adverse climate change impacts will be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture while making agricultural systems more resilient. The development of low-environmental footprint crop systems which can maintain prodictivity and harness benefits of agricultural biodiversity remains a major challenge facing humanity.” Professor Hunter emphasised that while the book aimed to highlight some of the available options for improving the use of agricultural biodiversity, there was no silver bullet for the serious challenges facing the global population in the production, distribution and healthy consumption of food. “People need to consider ways of diversifying and improving their diets, which really does require a major transformation of the global food system. This will become an even greater challenge with the global population expected to reach around nine billion by 2050.” -ends-

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NUI Galway Hosts Exhibition of Irish Artist Thomas Ryan

NUI Galway Hosts Exhibition of Irish Artist Thomas Ryan-image

Thursday, 2 May 2013

NUI Galway will present an exhibition of the work of prolific Irish artist, Thomas Ryan, who works in oils, pastels, pencil, charcoal and watercolour, and has been painting for over 60 years. Thomas Ryan is renowned for imaginative re-workings of historical and religious episodes and he is also heralded as an important chronicler of the changing face of Ireland, through his portraiture, and paintings of exteriors and interiors of buildings. The exhibition will include two of his large historical paintings, ‘The Flight of the Earls’ and ‘G.P.O. 1916’, both oil on canvas and painted in the great European Tradition. These paintings, which were selected for the exhibition by Thomas Ryan and the NUI Galway Arts and Theatre Office, normally hang inside Dublin Castle and Leinster House, respectively, and have been generously loaned by the artist and the Institutions. Fionnuala Gallagher, Arts Officer at NUI Galway, said: “This is a real coup for the University and the city and we are delighted to accept works of such calibre. This is a unique opportunity to witness a master in our midst.” On show as part of the exhibition Thomas Ryan: Selected Workswill be portraits, self-portraits, religious paintings, interiors, still lives and landscapes, many loaned from the artist’s home, for this ‘retrospective’ of his career. Two portrait highlights on show are a pastel drawing, ‘Seán Keating, aged 82 years’ and a drawing of the late Professor of Marine Science, ‘Padraic O’Céidigh’, which is part of the NUI Galway Collection.  In addition, there is a selection of watercolours from a recent project, Dublin and Thereabouts, when Mr Ryan painted the buildings and places that took his fancy in Dublin, 2010-2011, all painted directly from the subject, and mostly in one sitting. Born in Limerick in 1929, Thomas Ryan trained in the School of Art, Limerick under Richard Butcher and at the National College of Art and Design, under Seán Keating and Maurice MacGonigal. He was President of Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts from 1982 to 1992, is a Founder Member of the European Council of National Academies of Fine Art (Madrid), and an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy, London and Scottish Academy, Edinburgh. His work hangs in major collections and he was the designer of the one pound coin and millennium fifty pence. He lives in County Meath, and produces most of his work in his studio. Thomas Ryan: Selected Workswill be officially opened on Tuesday, 15 May at 5pm by the University’s  Secretary, Gearóid Ó Conluain and Thomas Ryan will be in attendance. The exhibition will run from 15 May to 7 June in the Mechanical Soils Lab (adjacent to Áras na Mac Léinn) from 11am – 4pm, Monday to Saturday. -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Student Wins BBC Theatre Award

NUI Galway Student Wins BBC Theatre Award-image

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Máiréad Ní Chróinín, Digital Arts & Humanities PhD student at NUI Galway, yesterday received the BBC Northern Ireland Irish Language Theatre Award on behalf of her company Moonfish Theatre.  The award is part of the Stewart Parker Trust Awards and was presented in the Abbey Theatre by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.  Set up in honour of the late Belfast playwright, Stewart Parker, each year the Trust offers awards to new Irish playwrights to encourage new writing for the theatre throughout Ireland. Máiréad is co-director, with her sister Ionia, of Moonfish Theatre in Galway, and the company was awarded the prize for their bi-lingual show 'Tromluí Phinocchio / Pinocchio - a Nightmare'.  The show premiered in Galway in March 2012, and went on to have successful runs in the Dublin Fringe Festival and on the main stage in Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin in 2012, before touring nationally in March 2013. The show will be onstage again in Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe as part of the Babaró International Children's Festival in Galway in October 2013. Kate Costello, an NUI Galway graduate who teaches on the NUI Galway BA Connect programme was producer for the Moonfish Theatre production. The BA CONNECT programme at NUI Galway is a four-year BA degree which offers all the benefits of a two-subject Bachelor of Arts degree together with a specialism of your choice. ENDS

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Laughter is the Best Medicine

Laughter is the Best Medicine-image

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Galway hosts Ireland’s first Laughter Championship Ireland’s firstLaughter Championship will take place on Sunday, 5 May at 2pm in the Galway Harbour Hotel, Galway in aid ofJigsaw, Galway. Organised by NUI Galway student, Siobhan Kavanagh, the charity event coincides with next month’s Well Being in Ireland conference, where researchers from all over the world will gather in Galway to discuss the design of a national well-being index for Ireland. Laughter Championships are a new craze taking off worldwide re invented by Albert Nerenberg. Contestants are asked to demonstrate different types of laugher (e.g. a maniacal laugh or a diabolical laugh) and are then judged on their technique. The main aim is to improve the expression of positive human emotions. The growing popularity of Laugher Championships is partly due to the rise of Laughter Yoga, a modernised variant of Hasya Yoga. Laughter yoga is an aerobic exercise which involves breathing exercises, laughter exercises and guided meditation (yoga nidra), to provide participants with a safe space to laugh. Siobhan Kavanagh is a PhD student in Child and Youth Research in NUI Galway’s School of Psychology and a member of the Irish Laughter Yoga association. Her research with Dr Padraig MacNeela, Lecturer in the University’s School of Psychology, investigates the impact of Laughter Yoga on well-being. “Although laughter has been described as the best medicine, researchers are only starting to understand the positive effects it can have on the body and mind, or indeed on well-being. Research on laughter yoga has found many benefits, for example, increased levels of life satisfaction, positive emotion and decreased stress levels. However, to date there has only been a handful of different studies completed, and a lot of the 'evidence' for laughter yoga comes from humour based research. We need to be mindful when we are telling people about the positive effects of laughter yoga, that research is still in the early stages. However, ancedotally, laughter yoga participants report a range of benefits”, explains Siobhan. The event is free to attend with live entertainment, including laughter yoga demonstrations, face-painting, games and music and there is a €10 charge to enter the championship, with the chance of winning the title of Irish Laughter Champion. All proceeds will be donated to Jigsaw, a free and confidential support service for young people in Galway city and county. All competitors will be required to attend a workshop at 1pm in preparation for the laughter championships. For further information on competing, or to volunteer at the event email irishlaughterassociation@gmail.com. -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Host Conference on Future Role of EU Structural Funds

NUI Galway Host Conference on Future Role of EU Structural Funds-image

Thursday, 2 May 2013

A Major Test for the European Union – stop spending taxpayers’ money to Institutionalise EU citizens. There is a clamour around Europe to ensure that increasingly scarce European monies are not spent on institutionalising its citizens but are used instead to help States to promote a philosophy of living independently and being included in the community. To highlight the issue and press claims for a change in the Funds, a broad spectrum of European interest groups covering the disabled and the elderly, as well as national and international policy makers, will be brought together at a major conference organised by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway on Friday, 3 May. The issue is urgent as negotiations to agree new Regulations governing the EU Structural Funds are in their final stages. Advocates are not calling for more money – simply for an end to spending the available monies on institutions and a commitment of available resources to help the process of community living. The conference, ‘Community Living for All’ - A Conference on the Future Role of the European Union Structural Funds to Advance Community Living for Older People and People with Disabilities’, is organised in association with the Irish Presidency of the European Council with the support of European Foundation Centre (EFC), Belgium and Fundación ONCE, Spain.  Professor Gerard Quinn, Director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, said: “Ireland has taken initial positive steps in the right direction with the ‘Ending Congregated Settings’ report and the National Positive Ageing Strategy.  We have to make sure that our taxpayers’ money is not being used via the Structural Funds to achieve the opposite effect elsewhere in Europe.” Professor Quinn continued: “Both disabled and older citizens have a common cause here.  We owe it to our fellow disabled and older EU citizens across Europe to end bad practices and help generate real added-value put of diminishing EU funds.  It is very important that your voice is heard loud and clear.” The rejection of the conditionalities proposed by the European Commission for accessing and using the funds has particular legal implications as it probably exposes the EU to legal liability under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This is the first UN human rights treaty to be ratified by the EU as such.  Professor Quinn added: “What are our citizens to think if the EU ratifies such a major international instrument and then keeps it at arms length where it matters most.  We certainly cannot preach to others if we fail to ensure basic respect for the convention in how major EU financial instruments are crafted. The conditions proposed by the Commission or something with the same effect have to be restored to the Regulations to keep faith with Europe’s 80 million persons with disabilities.”   The conference will be opened by Minister of State Kathleen Lynch T.D., who has responsibilities both for older people and people with disabilities, and one of the sessions will be chaired by Minister of State Brian Hayes T.D. The keynote address at the conference will be delivered by Professor Jerome Bickenbach on the unity of purpose between the disabled and older European citizens on community living and ageing in pace.  It will be addressed by the European Commission (DG Justice and DG Regio), the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, The EU Fundamental Rights Agency and high level representatives for European civil society (European Disability Forum) and Age Platform Europe. Jan Jarab, Regional Representative for Europe of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who will be a participant in the conference, said: “The Office of the High Commissioner is committed to the promotion of community living and inclusion in society for older persons as well as for children in need of alternative care and persons with disabilities.” Professor Quinn added: “We are proud of where Ireland has come from and its clear aspirations for the future. But the rights we take for granted should not be confined to us. Lets be both smart and ethical in how the EU spends our money. This conference will explore the need for these conditions and whether or how they can be achieved as the drafting of the new regulations reach a climax in early summer 2013.”  All are welcome and no prior knowledge of the Structural Funds is assumed or required. More information on the conference is available at http://www.nuigalway.ie/cdlp/events/community_living_for_all.html and individuals can register at www.conference.ie. -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Student Selected for Washington Ireland Program 2013

NUI Galway Student Selected for Washington Ireland Program 2013-image

Friday, 3 May 2013

NUI Galway student, Maria Campbell has been handpicked as one of 30 students to represent Ireland and Northern Ireland in the USA this summer. A final year Legal Studies, Sociology and Politics student, Maria will complete an eight-week internship in Washington DC, following the footsteps of previous NUI Galway students who have interned in the offices of then US Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, former Presidential Candidate Senator McCain, at the Headquarters of the World Bank and at CNN. A native of Athlone, Co. Westmeath, Maria has been involved with Foróige, Ireland’s largest youth organisation, as a member, volunteer leader and recently co-founder and Auditor of Foróige’s first college society. During this time she has lead a team to win two national citizenship awards and was selected for the inaugural Albert Schweitzer leadership program. Maria recently completed an internship in the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre based in NUI Galway. Commenting on the announcement of the internship, Maria said: “I am both honored and excited to be given such a great opportunity.  I have already met some truly inspirational people and look forward to representing NUI Galway on the program.” Getting onto the Washington Ireland Program (WIP) is highly competitive with over 500 students from across, Northern Ireland, Ireland and Great Britain competing for a few coveted places. The WIP students are required to commit to a minimum of 30 hours of public service before their placement in Washington DC, and are encouraged to take on a new community service project. While in Washington DC the students will complete an extensive leadership curriculum with their peers – developing their leadership skills and learning from the leadership experiences of those in Global leadership positions. Students will also complete an individual internship. For more information visit www.wiprogram.org. -ENDS-

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Martin Reilly Lecture Series to Feature Harpist Kathleen Loughnane

Martin Reilly Lecture Series to Feature Harpist Kathleen Loughnane-image

Friday, 3 May 2013

Comhrá Ceoil and the Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway, are delighted to announce details of the upcoming lecture in the annual Martin Reilly Lecture Series. The lecture will be given by harpist and Irish music Meteor Award (2010) nominee, Kathleen Loughnane, at 6.30pm on Tuesday, 14 May at the Galway City Library.  Kathleen will present her most recent research, ‘The music, life and times of the Harpers Connnellan (1642-1720)’ and will be joined by musical guests. A resident of Galway, Kathleen’s research has made a significant contribution to the recuperation of the music of Irish harp composers of the 17th and 18th centuries. She is highly regarded for her work in arranging traditional Irish dance tunes and airs for the harp. Kathleen co-founded the musical group Dordán in 1990, whose mix of Irish and Baroque music has received national and international acclaim. Dordán received the National Entertainment award for traditional music in 1993. Kathleen has four CDs and accompanying books to her credit, Affairs of the Harp, Harping On, Harp to Heart and her most recent The Harpers Connellan. This lecture series is dedicated to Martin Reilly, the celebrated East Galway uilleann piper and gives an opportunity to researcher-practitioners in Irish traditional music and dance to present their work in a public forum. Admission is free and all are welcome. ENDS

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Scholarships Announced for Study on Gender, Globalisation and Human Rights

Scholarships Announced for Study on Gender, Globalisation and Human Rights -image

Friday, 3 May 2013

NUI Galway has announced that two scholarships of €2,000 will be available on a competitive basis to applicants of the 2013-2014 MA in Gender, Globalisation and Rights at the Global Women’s Studies Centre. The MA offers a unique opportunity to combine advanced study of global issues and human rights, through a practice-oriented, gender lens.  Through the programme, students gain a thorough understanding of the complex terrain of globalization and related global issues and policy processes, spanning topics from extreme poverty, armed conflict and politicized religion to human trafficking, gender-based violence and global health challenges (e.g., HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality, reproductive and sexual health).   Dr Niamh Reilly, School of Political Science and Sociology Co-director, Global Women's Studies at NUI Galway: “This MA offers a unique focus on gender, global issues and human rights and provides a dynamic mix of academic learning and professional placement.The MA also provides a solid grounding in international human rights practices with a focus on gender-aware and community-based approaches to human rights advocacy, implementation and monitoring. We are delighted to be offering two partial scholarships specifically for this programme and would encourage those interested to apply before the approaching deadline.” Modules are delivered by a lecturers and experts who combine extensive academic and practitioner experience in the areas covered by the course.  In addition to a range of core and optional academic modules, students have the opportunity to undertake a professional placement of 8-10 weeks and to complete a minor research thesis. As such, the programme offers students an exciting combination of engagement with academic debates and ideas, hands-on practical assignments and professional experience, as well as support in honing advanced research and writing skills.  Most recently, MA students have completed placements with: Amnesty International (Irish Section), Galway Rape Crisis Centre, Galway City Partnership (community development ), Gorta and Trócaire (international development organisations),  Irish Congress of Trade Unions,  National Women’s Council of Ireland, Pavee Point (Traveller and Roma rights) and Safe Ireland (domestic violence research and advocacy).  The MA in Gender, Globalisation and Rights will be of interest to recent graduates, local or international, experienced development and/or human rights practitioners, or mature students who wish to pursue career paths related to gender, global issues, policy processes and human rights. The programme has a strong practitioner focus that prepares students for work in a range of policy and advocacy roles in non-governmental, media, local and national government, EU and UN agencies and/or to pursue further advanced academic research, including doctoral study. Extended deadline for partial scholarship applications is Friday, 17 May, 2013. For further information please see http://www.nuigalway.ie/faculties_departments/womens_studies/news_and_events/news_201302_ma.html  ENDS

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu Event Cancelled

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Event Cancelled-image

Friday, 3 May 2013

Regretfully, an event due to take place in Ballina, Co. Mayo with Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on Saturday, 11 May has had to be cancelled. Archbishop Tutu (82) spent five days in hospital last week for treatment of a persistent infection and unfortunately it is not possible for him to make the journey to Ireland at this time. The Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town South Africa was to travel to Ballina, Co. Mayo - the home place of his fellow Elder and good friend Mary Robinson (former President of Ireland and UN Special Envoy to Africa's Great Lakes region) on Saturday, May 11 in order to endorse the proposed new Mary Robinson Centre, with the presentation of a Welcoming Stone at an ecumenical event in the local St Muredach’s Cathedral. The Mary Robinson Centre is being developed by a partnership including NUI Galway, Mayo County Council, Ballina Town Council, the local community and the Robinson / Bourke families together with Government support. The Centre will incorporate both a visitor centre and an academic research facility, supported by NUI Galway. The latter will be focused on scholarly research and education in the fields of human rights and women’s leadership.  Mary Robinson’s archive will be the centrepiece of the educational facility, with NUI Galway engaged in making available the archive to an international community of scholars.  The proposed development is intended to be opened to the public in 2015. Organisers of the event conveyed their very best wishes to Archbishop Tutu for a speedy recovery.   ENDS

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NUI Galway Researchers Publish New Book on Fungal Diagnostics

NUI Galway Researchers Publish New Book on Fungal Diagnostics-image

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Two NUI Galway researchers have published a new book on fungal diagnostics, detailing innovative methods for rapid, accurate detection of these potentially life threatening infections. Compiled andedited byNUI Galway’s Dr Louise O’Connor and Dr Barry Glynn, Fungal Diagnostics: Methods and Protocols also brings together contributions from experts in the field of fungal detection and identification. While focusing mainly in the clinical field, Fungal Diagnostics: Methods and Protocols also includes other areas where detection of fungi is important such as veterinary diagnostics, food and environmental testing. The format of the chapters is such that those in testing laboratories have step-by-step protocols with tips on troubleshooting and avoiding known pitfalls. The idea behind the publication is to offer alternative innovative protocols to those in the field of diagnostic testing. From the common nail infection to life threatening bloodstream complications, fungi are a significant public health concern. The number of cases of infection, commonly seen in transplant recipients, AIDS and cancer patients has seen a significant increase over the last two decades. A worrying trend with fungal infections is the increase in resistance of these organisms to anti-fungal therapy. In an effort to limit the rise in resistance there has been a greater worldwide effort to improve the accuracy of diagnosis in order to ensure that appropriate therapy is administered at the earliest sign of infection, reducing the risk of resistant organisms emerging thus resulting in a better outcome for the patient. Dr Louise O’Connor, Co-Editor of Fungal Diagnostics: Methods and Protocols, said: “Traditional methods for fungal identification are time consuming meaning that the infection has progressed significantly before a definite identification has been achieved. The need for more rapid tests has led to significant advancements in the development of identification methods as well as subsequent treatment regimes.” Drs O’Connor and Glynn have worked with The Molecular Diagnostics Research Group at NUI Galway for over 10 years. The core activity of the group is the development and application of molecular diagnostic tests for bacteria and fungi. -ENDS-

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