Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The 13th annual Teddy Bear Hospital at NUI Galway will take place Thursday and Friday, 18 and 19 January. The event will see over 1,300 sick teddy bears admitted to the hospital, accompanied by their minders, 1,300 primary school children. The event is organised by the Sláinte Society, the NUI Galway branch of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations, and up to 200 medical and science students will diagnose and treat the teddy bears. In the process, they hope to help children, ranging in age from 3-8 years, feel more comfortable around doctors and hospitals. Over the years, children have come along with teddy bears suffering from an imaginative range of sore ears, sick tummies and all kinds of other weird and wonderful ailments. Sally Cahill, a third year medical student at NUI Galway and co-auditor of Sláinte Society, said: “This year we are celebrating the 13th annual Teddy Bear Hospital. Over the past couple of years, demand from schools to attend the event has increased and as a result the event has become ever bigger in an attempt to cure all of the sick teddies of Galway. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our first ‘patients’ on Thursday, 18 January and hope to create a relaxed and enjoyable ‘hospital’ environment for the children.” This year, 25 local primary schools are participating in the event, equating to over 1,300 children. On arrival at the Teddy Bear Hospital on campus, the children will go to the ‘waiting room’, which contains jugglers and face painters. Then the children and their teddy bears are seen by a team of Teddy Doctors and Teddy Nurses, who will examine them. The students will have specially designed X-ray and MRI machines on hand, should the teddy bears need them.  Recuperating teddy bears can avail of medical supplies from the Teddy Bear Pharmacy, stocked with healthy fruit from Burkes Fruit and Veg, along with medical supplies sponsored by Matt O’Flaherty Chemist. After all this excitement the children can enjoy a bouncy castle and entertainment from the juggling society in the college. Further sponsorship for the event came from Bank of Ireland, Dunnes Stores, NUI Galway Socs Box and Medical Protection Society. Ríona Hughes, NUI Galway’s Societies Officer, said: “The Teddy Bear hospital is a magical opportunity for the society to invite the children and their teddies to campus and provide a valuable learning experience for all. It is one of the NUI Galway societies’ most colourful and endearing community outreach programme and we are thrilled with its success. Congratulations to Sláinte Society who engage such a large number of our students in this event for such a positive purpose and we look forward to a rewarding few days for all involved.”  -Ends-

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

CÚRAM, The Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, is part of a network of nine partners and two sub-partners from seven countries involved in the newly launched ‘Codex4SMEs’ project (Companion Diagnostics expedited for small and medium-sized enterprises) to assist companies with the development of such services, in the field of ‘personalised medicine’. The aim of this project is to build a transnational network to accelerate the development of companion diagnostics for small and medium-sized businesses. The project is part of the Interreg North-West Europe programme. Interreg forms part of the structural and investment policy of the European Union, supporting cross-border cooperation between regions and cities. Companion diagnostics are essential to the field of ‘personalised medicine’. They allow tests to determine the molecular causes of a disease before treatment is started. This allows every patient to receive personalised medication in the correct dosage and at the right time. However, to date the development of companion diagnostics has been time-consuming and costly, and used in very few treatment scenarios. Led by German partner BioRegio STERN Management GmbH, the three year project has a total budget of over €3 million as part of the Interreg North-West Europe programme. The initial meeting with all of the partners will take place on 29 and 30 January 2018 in Stuttgart. Project leader, Dr Margot Jehle of BioRegio STERN Management GmbH, said: “The combination of regional economic development organisations and biobanks creates the ideal conditions to provide companies with direct access to specific expertise such as the verification of biomarkers, in other words parameters of biological processes as indicators of diseases.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “The development of transformative, affordable solutions for patients with chronic illness is a key goal at CÚRAM and we’re delighted to be partnering with such a strong network on this project. We work closely with academics, industry and clinicians and this project will only further enhance our networks across Europe, which are critical for driving medical device research and development.” CÚRAM, along with WestBIC (EU Business and Innovation Centre for Irelands Border, Midlands and Western Region) are the two Irish partners involved in the project. Other partners include the University of Leicester, with Medilink Midlands as a regional sub-partner from the UK; from France, the Medicen Paris Region cluster; from the Netherlands, BOM Holding BV and the Innovation Quarter; with a regional sub-partner from Luxembourg, the Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg, IBBL; and from Austria, the Biobank Graz at the Medical University of Graz. CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and industry partners, and aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illness by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. -Ends-

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

First year students from Coláiste Iognáid in Galway win two BT Young Scientist awards for their project, ‘Think Before You Drink: Microplastics’  Three young Scientists Aoibhe Briscoe, Ellie Concannon, and Kate Owens, first year students at Coláiste Iognáid in Galway, competed for this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Awards in the Category Biological and Ecological Sciences with their project ‘Think Before You Drink: Microplastics’. Mentored by NUI Galway, the students won first place in their category and a special award issued by the Environmental Protection Agency for Best Environmental Project presented at the BT Young Scientist 2018. For their project they investigated over 40 tap water samples from 23 primary schools in County Galway for microplastic contamination. They found that 96.9% of all tested samples were contaminated with microplastics and that the level of contamination for drinking water from Galway classrooms (2.7 per 500ml) exceeded the European average of 1.9 per 500ml. The analysis of the samples took place in the lab facilities of the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway under the guidance and supervision of Dr Audrey Morley a lecturer in Physical Geography and member of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy research. Dr Morley advised and trained the young scientists on sample collection and analysis and ensured that all procedures followed previously published protocols for microplastic extraction from tap water samples from a global study commissioned by  the journal Orb in 2017*. In addition to the analysis of the tap water samples, contamination controls were measured at regular intervals throughout the experiment to assess and assure the validity of the results. Speaking about the young scientists work on the project, Dr Audrey Morley at NUI Galway, said: “The identification of microplastic using a microscope can be tedious and time consuming, requiring focus and concentration by the analyst. I was very impressed with the level of dedication and persistence that Aoibhe, Ellie, and Kate brought to the project. It is great to see young women so excited about science and determined to bring about change.” BT Young Scientist winner, Kate Owens, said: “The BT Young Scientist experience has inspired me to be part of solving the problems of the future. President Michael D. Higgins spoke to us about Africa being the largest populated continent in the world and the need for young people to be part of developing solutions for the challenges this presents.” “It was a revelation to us that our love of fast fashion is polluting our drink water, simply by washing the clothes we wear. 77.8% of the contamination we detected in the schools water supply were microfibres. Synthetic fabric fibres that are so small that they could not be filtered by the public water works. Plastic bags and bottles, you can actually see and remove, but you cannot see these tiny, almost invisible microfibres that are bio-accumulating in our bodies, now that is truly scary.” Kate added: “Aoibhe, Ellie and I are a great team and we work well together. Audrey’s guidance and patience gave us a solid, scientific method to undertake our testing and that was the key to our credibility. We were total beginners and she was so incredibly generous with her time. We learned so much from her! We felt that our findings were important and that with our presentation ‘sizzle’, we could get politicians to listen, so we practiced our pitch, over and over until we could say it in our sleep and fine-tuned it over the four days at the RDS. Dressed in our lab coats, no-one was safe and we cornered many politicians including Richard Bruton, Micheál Martin and Heather Humphreys. Leo Varadkar got away but we will be looking for him at the Mansion House in May 2018.” Fellow BT Young Scientist winner, Aoibhe Briscoe, said: “I think the BT Young Scientist competition was an amazing experience, we got to meet so many new people and had the chance to learn so many new things. Working in the lab with Audrey was really fun and I enjoyed it so much, it was very time consuming and tiring but every second put into our project was worth it in the end. It has definitely made me more interested in science and I will definitely do it again next year.” BT Young Scientist winner, Ellie Concannon, added: “I would like to do something that makes a change, I would like to speak out for the people who don’t have a voice. I want to have fun, face challenges, and realise my potential in life. The BT Young Scientist competition was an amazing experience, we were able to share our project with lots of people and educate people about our project who had never heard about microplastics, and we were also able to influence people’s choices for the better. We had such a good time we met loads of new people and got to meet people who could really help us with our project. I absolutely loved it.” -Ends-  

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

NUI Galway significantly increases the number of places for QQI/FET/FETAC applicants for the academic year 2018/2019 The Access Centre at NUI Galway will launch a number of new QQI/FET/FETAC places for the academic year 2018/2019 on Thursday, 25 January, offering 170 full-time undergraduate places available for QQI/FET/FETAC applicants, a significant 66% increase from the previous academic year. The Access Centre continues to meet an important social demand to increase participation in third level education amongst disadvantaged and under-represented groups. As part of its Strategic Plan, ‘Vision 2020’, NUI Galway is committed to increasing the number of non-traditional students entering full-time undergraduate study to 24%. In addition to the 170 full-time undergraduate places available for QQI/FET/FETAC applicants, there will also be additional places allocated on existing undergraduate programmes such as: an increase from 12 to 30 places on the undenominated Science programme (GY301); an increase of 20 to 30 places on the Bachelor of Arts (GY101) programme, as well as places on a number of new undergraduate programmes. The Access Centre was established and designed to address the issue of equality of access to third level, to promote equity of access to lifelong learning opportunities and to respond to issues of rural (and to a lesser extent, urban) social exclusion across Ireland’s border, Midlands and Western region. The Centre aims to provide learning opportunities for those who could benefit from university education, which will enable them to fulfil their individual aspirations. Imelda Byrne, Head of Access Programmes at NUI Galway, said: “The Access Centre contributes to the development of the wider community by providing a number of alternative pathways for disadvantaged or under-represented groups to progress to full-time undergraduate study. These include Access Programmes delivered in the region through innovative alliances with other educational institutes such as those formed through the West/ North-West Cluster, Mature student entry route, Higher Education Access Route (HEAR), Disability Access Route to Education (DARE), QQI/FET/FETAC Pathways and a range of measures with the primary and second level sector to assist in overcoming barriers.” New QQI/FET/FETAC opportunities for the academic year 2018/2019 include pathways to the following degree programmes: BA Public and Social Policy; BA History; BA with English and Media Studies; BA Children’s Studies; BA with Film Studies; BA with Journalism; BA in Film and Digital Media; Business Information Systems; Corporate Law; Civil Law; Biomedical Science; Environmental Science; Financial Mathematics and Economics; BSc Marine Science; BSc Earth and Ocean Sciences; BSc Physics; BSc Biopharmaceutical Chemistry; BSc Mathematical Science; BSc Biotechnology; BSc Financial Mathematics and Economics and Gaeilge agus Léann an Aistriúcháin. For the academic year 2017/2018, there were 60 full-time undergraduate places available for QQI/FET/FETAC applicants. In September 2017, there were over 150 full-time students registered at NUI Galway across all of its degree programmes who came through the QQI/FET/FETAC entry route. The launch of this element of the 2018/2019 undergraduate Access Programmes will take place at 11am on Thursday, 25 January at Galway Technical Institute, Fr Griffin Road, Galway. For further information regarding courses or for applications, email access@nuigalway.ie or visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/accesscentre/. -Ends-  

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Den tríú bliain déag as a chéile, beidh Ospidéal na mBéiríní ar oscailt in OÉ Gaillimh Déardaoin, an 18 agus Dé hAoine, an 19 Eanáir. Tiocfaidh breis agus 1,300 béirín tinn chun an ospidéil lena bhfeighlithe, 1,300 páiste bunscoile. Is é an Cumann Sláinte, craobh OÉ Gaillimh de Chónaidhm Idirnáisiúnta Chumann na Mac Léinn Leighis, agus suas le 200 mac léinn leighis agus eolaíochta a bheidh ar láimh le scrúdú leighis a dhéanamh ar na béiríní agus le cóir leighis a chur orthu. Tá súil acu go gcuideoidh an ócáid le páistí, idir 3-8 mbliana d’aois, a bheith ar a suaimhneas nuair a bheidh siad ag an dochtúir nó san ospidéal. Thar na blianta, thug páistí béiríní chuig an ospidéal agus iad ag samhlú go raibh réimse leathan tinnis ag gabháil dóibh cosúil le cluasa tinne, boilg bhreoite agus gach cineál gearán eile faoin spéir. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Sally Cahill, mac léinn leighis sa tríú bliain in OÉ Gaillimh agus comh-iniúchóir an Chumainn Sláinte: “I mbliana táimid ag déanamh ceiliúradh ar thrí bliana déag d'Ospidéal na mBéiríní. Le roinnt blianta anuas, tá méadú tagtha ar líon na scoileanna atá ag iarraidh freastal ar an ócáid agus, dá bharr sin, tá an ócáid i bhfad níos mó anois chun béiríní na Gaillimhe ar fad a leigheas. Beimid ag súil go mór na chéad ‘othair’ a fheiceáil Déardaoin, an 18 Eanáir agus tá súil againn ospidéal taitneamhach a chruthú do na páistí ar an lá.” I mbliana, tá 25 bunscoil áitiúil páirteach san ócáid, sin os cionn 1,300 páiste. Nuair a thagann na páistí chuig Ospidéal na mBéiríní ar an gcampas, rachaidh siad chuig an 'seomra feithimh', áit a mbeidh lámhchleasaithe agus maisitheoirí aghaidheanna ag fanacht leo. Ansin buailfidh na páistí agus na béiríní le foireann de Dhochtúirí Béiríní agus d’Altraí Béiríní a chuirfidh scrúdú leighis orthu. Beidh meaisíní speisialta X-gha agus MRI ag na mic léinn ar fhaitíos go mbeidís ag teastáil ó na béiríní. Beidh Cógaslann Béiríní ann chomh maith, agus beidh torthaí sláintiúla ó Burkes Fruit and Veg ann mar aon le soláthairtí leighis urraithe ag Cógaslann Matt O’Flaherty le cóir leighis a chur ar na béiríní. Nuair a bheidh an méid sin curtha díobh acu beidh deis ag na páistí spraoi a bhaint as preabchaisleán agus beidh cumann lámhchleasaíochta an choláiste i mbun siamsaíochta. Rinne Banc na hÉireann, Dunnes Stores, Oifig na gCumann in OÉ Gaillimh agus Cumann Cosanta Leighis urraíocht ar an ócáid chomh maith. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Ríona Hughes, Oifigeach na gCumann in OÉ Gaillimh: “Is deis iontach é Ospidéal na mBéiríní don chumann chun cuireadh a thabhairt do pháistí agus a mbéiríní chuig an gcampas agus chun taithí luachmhar foghlama a thabhairt do chách. Tá sé ar cheann de na cláir for-rochtana pobail is deise agus is spraíúla atá idir lámha ag cumainn OÉ Gaillimh agus táimid an-bhródúil as chomh maith agus a éiríonn leis an ócáid. Comhghairdeas leis an gCumann Sláinte a thugann deis do líon chomh mór dár gcuid mac léinn a bheith rannpháirteach san ócáid seo do chúis chomh dearfach agus tá súil againn go mbainfidh gach a mbeidh páirteach an-sult as an gcúpla lá seo.” -Críoch-

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

NUI Galway is hosting a Mature Students Open Evening on Wednesday, 17 January from 5.30-8pm in the Orbsen Building Foyer. The open evening is an opportunity to find out more about degree programmes on offer, entry requirements, CAO application procedure, mature scholarships and practical student supports within the University.   The information evening is designed for anyone aged 23 and over who is considering embarking on full-time or part-time undergraduate degree programmes at NUI Galway for 2018. In attendance will be representatives from each of the University’s five colleges to answer questions on degree options available. The Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development will also be present to discuss part-time studies that could start you off in higher studies or add to existing qualifications. Trish Bourke, Mature Students Officer at NUI Galway, said: “Embarking on third-level education can be quite a challenge for many mature students. Some may have been out of formal education for some time but it is important to highlight that there are routes to university through NUI Galway’s Access courses. I studied my undergraduate degree as a Mature Student at NUI Galway and I understand the determination it takes and supports needed to complete your studies. Without the confidence and advice given to me through events such as this one, I probably would never have taken that first step.” The Mature Students Officer will commence the evening by delivering a presentation on the CAO application process and reference the criteria needed for entry. Trish will also highlight information on assessments required for entry to Arts, Medicine and Nursing.  To attend this evening you may sign up now at: http://www.nuigalway.ie/mature/public-events/ -Ends-

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

An innovative multidisciplinary aquaculture project led by NUI Galway and Athlone Institute of Technology is set to improve production efficiencies and management of farmed fish at several inland freshwater sites. The project ‘ECOAQUA’ has received €348,781 in funding under the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, through the Knowledge Gateway Scheme, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The output of this project will include new information, new methods, and increased awareness. It has built on capacity for, and developed new partnerships focused on, research and innovation in environment and health. The project aims to test and optimise innovative technologies and processes developed through the linked MOREFISH* project. Led by Dr Eoghan Clifford from NUI Galway and Professor Neil Rowan from Athlone Institute of Technology, with support from Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s technical aquaculture team, ECOAQUA will address critically important needs identified by industry and aquaculture stakeholders including: Analysing the environmental and energy performance of three freshwater aquaculture sites by extensive sampling and remote online monitoring of water parameters. Facilitating the re-use of the treated water, thereby reducing both the volumes of extracted and discharged waters. Enabling the industry to meet stringent environmental regulation while increasing production in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. Piloting technological innovations with industry to ensure the research is easily and rapidly transferrable to the aquaculture sector. Ensuring technological innovations and research results can be leveraged to enable the sustainable growth of this high-potential sector. Enable the industry to leverage the scientific outputs from the project to communicate with government, policymakers and regulators and the public. Dr Eoghan Clifford from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “Aquaculture is recognised to have the potential to address food security concerns in many countries and offer significant economic benefits. Ireland currently ranks as fifth in value and seventh in volume in terms of high value fish species with exports supporting approximately 2,000 jobs. However, the sector in Ireland has remained relatively stagnant and has significant potential to grow, develop export markets and create employment in rural areas. These developments are strongly aligned with Ireland’s FoodWise2025 policy that seeks to grow food exports by 85% to €19 billion by 2025. This research has the potential to introduce innovative monitoring practices, technologies that can enhance the value and sustainability of Irish and European fish stock densities while ensuring the environmental sustainability of the sector.” Professor Neil Rowan from Athlone Institute of Technology, said: “This exciting cross-cutting project leverages on a critical mass of engineering and scientific expertise, industry stakeholders, policy-makers, commercial operators and international experts established through the MOREFISH platform to respond directly to pressing environmental issues that were informed by industry. ECOAQUA will model and profile the global performance (focusing on algal, microbial and energy) of pilot freshwater aquaculture farms, which will ensure that high potential interventions are easily transferable to the industry sector ensuring the intensive sustainability and viability of this industry.” Mr Alan Kennedy, ECOAQUA project manager at NUI Galway, said: “This timely project will improve the water quality of freshwater farms through the incorporation of water treatment technologies and energy reduction interventions into existing flow through farms that will also enable seamless transitions to next-generation production formats.” Damien Toner, Aquaculture Technical Specialist with Bord Iascaigh Mhara, said: “Bord Iascaigh Mhara is delighted to support this innovative and collaborative project. ECOAQUA will provide valuable research into developing improved efficiencies in fish farming that will inform the wider industry on best practice and new technologies to improve sustainability. We are looking forward to working with the teams in NUI Galway and Athlone Institute of Technology on this exciting project.” For further information about the project contact Mr Alan Kennedy, Project Manager, ECOAQUA on 086 8093078 or michaelalan.kennedy@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The latest data from NUI Galway’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem shows a strong performance for 2017. The year saw significant high-quality collaborative research and license agreements with industry, and a number of new spin-outs created on campus. A programme was established on campus to provide new business innovators with the supports needed to accelerate their medical technology inventions to the market. Over 1,500 staff and students were actively engaged in entrepreneurship through the University’s education and mentorship programmes, Blackstone Launchpad and Explore. David Murphy, Director of NUI Galway’s Technology Transfer and Innovation Office, said: “To maximise the impact of our research and expertise, NUI Galway puts a strong focus on knowledge transfer, innovation and enterprise collaboration. Galway and the west of Ireland is a thriving and dynamic place for enterprise and entrepreneurs. With a student body of over 18,000, immense research outputs, and an annual research income of over €50 million, our University plays a crucial role in underpinning this ecosystem.” This year’s new spin-outs bring the number of campus-based companies to 34, including other spin-outs and local companies who are based on campus. Two of the new enterprises created on campus this year have the potential to benefit society through novel medical devices and diagnostics technologies: Loci Orthopaedics Ltd, which originates from the BioInnovate Programme and is set to commercialise an innovative orthopaedic thumb implant; and Bioprobe Diagnostics Ltd, emanates from the research of Drs Tom Barry and Kate Reddington from NUI Galway’s Discipline of Microbiology, and has been established to commercialise novel nucleic acid diagnostics technologies for the detection and identification of microbial contaminants associated with the environmental and industrial sectors. NUI Galway provides business supports and excellent facilities including laboratories and co-working spaces to support research and collaborative innovation. Fiona Neary, Manager of the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, said: “This community of entrepreneurs is creating jobs and attracting investment, and the calibre of spin out’s from NUI Galway is testament to the high level of research taking place on campus, which is good for the region.” The Business Innovation Centre is very active in applying for the Horizon 2020 Small to Medium Enterprise instrument grants with four client companies already being successful in 2017 with many more progressing in 2018. Two successful companies in 2017 include: NUI Galway spin-out Westway Health, which is taking on the global challenge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, was given funding of €2.5 million by the EU in 2017; and DiaNia Technologies, a start-up who received over €2.5 million in Horizon 2020 funding. Cresco, who specialise in securing international grants and funding for technology-based clients have also established a presence on campus to support these activities. NUI Galway-based entrepreneurs attracting significant attention this year with a number of them receiving accolades include: Dr Brendan Boland, BioInnovate fellow and CEO of NUI Galway spin-out, Loci Orthopaedics, who was the recipient of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in the ‘Best New Idea’ category. The company was also the winner of the start-up contest at this year’s Medtech Ireland conference in Galway in October. AuriGen Medical and Loci Orthopaedics were winners in the EIT Health: UK-Ireland HeadStart/Proof-of-Concept Awards. Sarah Loughney, CEO and Founder of Kite Medical was selected by The HealthTech Venture Network as their 2017’s ELEVATE pitch competition winner in Boston. Orreco and Channel Mechanics scooped the IT Association of Galway awards in 2017. NUI Galway Research centres and programmes are also gaining recognition for their contribution to innovation with CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices winning the top award for Academic Contribution to Medtech at the recent Irish Medtech Associations Medtech Rising: The Irish Medtech CEO Conference and Awards ceremony. In recent years, the University has put a particular focus on innovation. In 2017, it saw the launch of Ireland’s first medtech accelerator, BioExel, which will significantly accelerate medtech opportunities which have a specific technical, commercial and/or clinical question to answer in an intensive six-month period. January 2018 will see the first cohort of companies based on campus working with BioExel. BioExel is a partnership programme funded by Enterprise Ireland, Galway University Foundation, the Western Development Commission and Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, originated and delivered by an experienced Medtech team at NUI Galway. 2017 also marked the seventh year of BioInnovate, the medtech fellowship programme on campus which has resulted in three high-potential spin-outs, with two more in the final negotiation stages and a healthy pipeline of further companies expected. In total, the companies have attracted almost €14 million in a first round of investments. Among NUI Galway staff and students, entrepreneurship is also encouraged and supported at every level. The University’s Blackstone Launchpad is a multi-award winning entrepreneurship programme for staff, students, and alumni at NUI Galway. Since 2016, LaunchPad has supported over 4,500 students, coached over 1,500 sessions, and awarded over €40,000 in funding to support student ventures. In 2017, Coachbook, a student enterprise created, won the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year award. -Ends-

Monday, 8 January 2018

Students interested in studying at NUI Galway are invited to a CAO Information Evening on Thursday 11 January. Students, parents, guardians and guidance counsellors are invited to attend the event, which runs from 7pm to 9pm in the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance at NUI Galway. The evening will provide a short introduction to NUI Galway, a panel discussion on supporting the transition from second level to third level education that will include representatives from Sport, Admissions, Student Support Services and a recent university graduate from the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies. Afterwards, staff from all colleges on campus will be on hand to answer any individual questions in relation to the wide range of courses available and other practical issues such as fees and scholarships. Caroline Duggan, School Liaison Officer at NUI Galway, said: “This event is the perfect opportunity for Leaving Certificate students and their parents to get pertinent information about all of our undergraduate programmes. Some students will already have decided on what programme they want to pursue at university while other students may still be trying to make up their mind or might be looking for advice on their second, third or fourth CAO choices. This event will give them an opportunity to acquire the information they need to make informed course choices on their CAO.” Outperforming 21 other third-level institutions, NUI Galway has been named The Sunday Times University of the Year 2018. The University’s strong reputation as a centre for excellence in medical technology and across the arts and sciences, its impressive progression rates, and having the best job prospects of any other Irish university were among the reasons for the award. This award is not only based on league table position but also on an assessment under 22 criteria of the University's role on a local, national and international level. NUI Galway has also been the only university in Ireland to rise consistently in the most competitive World University Rankings. Both the QS and Times Higher Education Rankings have placed the University in a higher position year-on-year, and the University is now counted among the Top 250 universities in both rankings. According to QS, NUI Galway is among the Top 1% of universities in the world. Each year, students from all over Ireland choose NUI Galway to study unique programmes such as Drama, Creative Writing and Human Rights, an Energy Systems Engineering degree, a Maths and Education degree aimed at training Maths teachers, a Marine Science degree and Podiatric Medicine, a programme unique to Ireland. The ever-increasing popularity of NUI Galway is in-part due to its innovative programmes developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market. The University is launching seven new Arts degrees for enrolment in 2018. This includes a BA (Music) which gives students a deep immersion in the study of music history, traditional Irish music, vocal and choral skills, composition, keyboard skills, music technology and music management. The event will have representatives from across the University’s five Colleges available to answer questions about the programmes on offer, entry requirements, and placement and employment opportunities. Shannon College of Hotel Management and St Angela’s College Sligo, both NUI Galway affiliates, will also be attending the event. For more information contact Caroline Duggan, School Liaison Officer on caroline.duggan@nuigalway.ie or 087 2391219. -Ends-

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

NUI Galway and Gas Networks Ireland are leading a new transport revolution as they introduce compressed natural gas (CNG) and renewable gas for trucks, vans and buses. The ‘Causeway’ project also marks a first for NUI Galway, as this is the first time that the University has been successful in securing a funding application from the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility. The Causeway project received approval for €6.5 million co-funding from the European Commission. Causeway will see the development of a natural gas transport re-fuelling network in Ireland.  The project will support an overall nationwide roll-out of 70 compressed natural gas filling stations. In addition to this, a renewable gas injection facility will be built in 2018. This will introduce renewable gas into the natural gas network for the first time. The work which is undertaken in Ireland will be monitored and documented by NUI Galway. This research will then be fed back to gas operators all over Europe and will assist in the development of similar projects across the continent. Commenting on the project, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “This is a major project for NUI Galway to be involved in, as it will form the basis of the first use of an alternative, sustainable transport fuel in Ireland. Within our Ryan Institute for Environment, Marine and Energy Research, in particular, we have built up a track record in sustainability research and innovation. This includes decades of scientific and engineering expertise built up in the area of renewable gas. We look forward to NUI Galway playing a key role in distilling and disseminating the results and impacts of the Causeway Project, not only for the benefit of Ireland, but to provide learnings to other EU member states too.” Denis O’Sullivan, Head of Commercial at Gas Networks Ireland, explained the importance of the project to Ireland: “Transport accounts for over one third of all energy used in Ireland. The development of a natural gas transport network will significantly de-carbonise Ireland’s commercial fleet. CNG, and the soon to be introduced renewable gas, will play a major role in making transport in Ireland cleaner. Gas Networks Ireland is determined to play an important role in facilitating the development of this new, cleaner transport network. It is particularly important that the advances we are making through this project, and through the work of NUI Galway, will play a role in changing the transport landscape throughout Europe.”  The Causeway project, which is funded under the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), will deliver a clean energy project for Ireland’s transport sector, and in doing so, provide a template for the rest of Europe. NUI Galway is leading the dissemination element of the €25 million project. Its work will facilitate new green energy developments across Europe. Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, praised the application teams: “I congratulate both the Gas Networks Ireland and Ryan Institute teams that worked together diligently, over a couple of years, to bring about the success of the Causeway application to the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility – Transport. I thank current staff Pádraic Ó hUiginn, Dr Rory Monaghan and Suzanne Nolan, amongst others, for enabling the University’s involvement in this successful application. I look forward to the infrastructural roll-out by Gas Networks Ireland and to its impacts, which will be studied and disseminated by a Ryan Institute team at NUI Galway.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

The Developing and Implementing Dementia Policy in Ireland report, edited by Professor Eamon O’Shea, Professor Suzanne Cahill and Dr Maria Pierce is a seminal piece of work that offers context, narrative and reflection on the current state of play in relation to dementia in Ireland, covering prevalence, costs, rights, practice and policy for people with dementia. The report was launched at NUI Galway on (Tuesday 19 December) by Minster of State, Ciarán Cannon TD. Published by the University’s Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia, led by Professor Eamon O’Shea, it includes contributions from scholars in Ireland and internationally. The report favours a social insurance model of funding as being the best way to ensure the delivery of a comprehensive system of community-based care for people with dementia. The Developing and Implementing Dementia Policy in Ireland report is a reflection on various aspects of care for people with dementia in Ireland and internationally with a view to informing future developments in dementia practice and policy. Some chapters are conceptual and build on previous work by the authors contained in the Creating Excellence in Dementia Care Report: a Research Review for Ireland’s National Dementia Strategy published in 2012; others are focused on innovations in the organisation and delivery of care; while the remainder are prospective narratives on what needs to happen in the future. The international dimension of dementia is explicitly covered in the report. The baseline dementia prevalence estimates in this report suggest that the number of people with dementia in Ireland is currently 55,266. By 2046, the number of people with dementia will have almost trebled to 157,883. The study also estimates that there are currently 60,000 informal caregivers providing support for people with dementia living in the community in Ireland. The overall cost of dementia is estimated at just under €2 billion euro in the report. Professor Eamon O’Shea from NUI Galway, said: “The ideas presented in this report lay the foundations for the next iteration of the National Dementia Strategy.The report argues that people with dementia want better and timely information on dementia, expanded choice, personalised care, integrated provision and more practical supports for family carers. Providing good quality care that is tailored to the individual needs of older people will be expensive, “requiring a significant expansion in the range of services, improved co-ordination, integration and regulation”, according to Dr Maria Pierce from DCU. Professor Suzanne Cahill from TCD, said: “Living at home in the community for as long as possible is a universal and desirable goal for all of us, yet home care provision for people with dementia in Ireland is currently weak and many needs remain unmet.” To read the full report, visit: http://cesrd.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Developing_and_Implementing_Dementia_Policy_in_Ireland.pdf -Ends-

Friday, 22 December 2017

For the third year running, NUI Galway will host a regional heat for FameLab 2018, one of the biggest science communication competitions in the world, held in 30 countries with over 9,000 participants having taken part across the globe to date. If you think you can explain a scientific concept to a general audience, in just three minutes, then why not enter? You could become the new face of science and represent Ireland at the 2018 FameLab International Final in the UK, opening doors to global opportunities in science communication. The aim of each presentation is that the audience and judges should be left inspired and enthused about science. The winner will be a charismatic presenter who makes the science easy to listen to, entertaining, exciting, and who is not only able to communicate the science but who can share their passion for it. Expect to hear anything from why men have nipples, how 3D glasses work and if nuclear energy is a good or bad thing? Presentations will be judged according to FameLab’s ‘3 C’s’: Content, Clarity and Charisma. The competition is open to a range of people who apply, work on, teach or study science: People who apply science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) in industry or business. People who work on applying STEM (patent clerks, statisticians, consultants to industry). Lecturers and researchers in STEM including specialist science teachers with a science degree. University students studying STEM aged over 18 years. People who apply STEM in the armed forces or government bodies. Successful candidates who make it through to the initial regional heat stage, will be invited to attend an all-expenses paid ‘Communication Masterclass’ in Dublin on the 24-25 March, and will participate in the FameLab Ireland Final being held at the Science Gallery in Dublin in April 2018. The winner will represent Ireland at the FameLab International Final at the Cheltenham Science Festival with representatives from global organisations like NASA and CERN. By entering FameLab, participants will begin a journey with like-minded people, build their networks and expand skillsets essential for developing their career. Muriel Grenon, FameLab organiser and lecturer in the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway is delighted to partner with FameLab once more for what is an electric night of science communication. We look forward to representation from students, lecturers and researchers from the University, scientists from industry and science teachers, to share their work in science with an interested audience.” Liz McBain, British Council of Ireland, said: “We are delighted to see FameLab coming to Galway again and to witness the competition growing from strength to strength in Ireland. We have some of the most talented STEM professionals but talent isn’t enough. In this global economy, they also need to learn to communicate their science to local and international audiences, to investors, to partners, to colleagues and even to the wider public. FameLab provides an ideal platform to do this.” FameLab Galway is in partnership with the British Council of Ireland and NUI Galway, and forms part of the annual FameLab Ireland competition. To enter the Galway heat, complete the online registration form by 16 February, at: https://www.britishcouncil.ie/famelab/enter-competition/apply. Participants can alternatively submit their entry to FameLab Ireland by online video, see www.britishcouncil.ie/famelab for further details. Training for entrants will take place in Galway on Wednesday, 7 February, with the regional heat scheduled for Tuesday, 1 March 2018. -Ends-

Thursday, 21 December 2017

The Developing and Implementing Dementia Policy in Ireland report, edited by Professor Eamon O’Shea, Professor Suzanne Cahill and Dr Maria Pierce is a seminal piece of work that offers context, narrative and reflection on the current state of play in relation to dementia in Ireland, covering prevalence, costs, rights, practice and policy for people with dementia. The report was launched at NUI Galway on (Tuesday 19 December) by Minster of State, Ciarán Cannon TD. Published by the University’s Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia, led by Professor Eamon O’Shea, it includes contributions from scholars in Ireland and internationally. The report favours a social insurance model of funding as being the best way to ensure the delivery of a comprehensive system of community-based care for people with dementia. The Developing and Implementing Dementia Policy in Ireland report is a reflection on various aspects of care for people with dementia in Ireland and internationally with a view to informing future developments in dementia practice and policy. Some chapters are conceptual and build on previous work by the authors contained in the Creating Excellence in Dementia Care Report: a Research Review for Ireland’s National Dementia Strategy published in 2012; others are focused on innovations in the organisation and delivery of care; while the remainder are prospective narratives on what needs to happen in the future. The international dimension of dementia is explicitly covered in the report. The baseline dementia prevalence estimates in this report suggest that the number of people with dementia in Ireland is currently 55,266. By 2046, the number of people with dementia will have almost trebled to 157,883. The study also estimates that there are currently 60,000 informal caregivers providing support for people with dementia living in the community in Ireland. The overall cost of dementia is estimated at just under €2 billion euro in the report. Professor Eamon O’Shea from NUI Galway, said: “The ideas presented in this report lay the foundations for the next iteration of the National Dementia Strategy.The report argues that people with dementia want better and timely information on dementia, expanded choice, personalised care, integrated provision and more practical supports for family carers. Providing good quality care that is tailored to the individual needs of older people will be expensive, “requiring a significant expansion in the range of services, improved co-ordination, integration and regulation”, according to Dr Maria Pierce from DCU. Professor Suzanne Cahill from TCD, said: “Living at home in the community for as long as possible is a universal and desirable goal for all of us, yet home care provision for people with dementia in Ireland is currently weak and many needs remain unmet.” To read the full report, visit: http://cesrd.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Developing_and_Implementing_Dementia_Policy_in_Ireland.pdf   -Ends-

Thursday, 21 December 2017

NUI Galway is developing a suite of unobtrusive, wearable electronic devices to help manage the debilitating motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease, referred to as Freezing of Gait. The first generation of the system resulted from NUI Galway’s involvement in the €4.7 million European FP7 project, REMPARK, which had 11 partners across Europe including NUI Galway. As part of this project the University has developed a novel wearable electronic device, called ‘cueStim’, designed to prevent or relieve Freezing of Gait, which is commonly described by people with Parkinson’s, as a feeling as if their feet are stuck or glued to the floor preventing them from moving forward. Dr Leo Quinlan, lecturer in Physiology at the School of Medicine in NUI Galway, and the project’s Co-Principal Investigator, said: “The severity of Freezing of Gait depends on the stage of the disease and it can have a very severe impact on quality of life, affecting people with Parkinson’s ability to walk for extended periods of time and is a common cause of falls in Parkinson’s disease.” The Human Movement Laboratory at the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway, is currently working to further enhance the technology, particularly in the area of usability and human factors through the project ‘EScapeFOG’. To achieve this goal, NUI Galway is partnering with Parkinson’s support groups to test and evaluate the usability and human factors of the system. Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin, Professor of Electronic Engineering in the School of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, and project Co-Principal Investigator, commented: “We are using what is referred to as a User Centred Design methodology, to ensure that the developed technology meets the needs of the intended users. This involves testing all aspects of the system with the Parkinson’s community and seeking their feedback on its usability throughout the design process.” The Human Movement Laboratory at NUI Galway is currently involved in a very effective collaboration with the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group on enhancing the design of the cueStim system, to more effectively meet the needs of people with Parkinson’s using this technology. A recent usability and human factors workshop held at the University was attended by 16 members of the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group. T.J. Waters, PRO for the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group, said: “The opportunity to view at first hand the research being undertaken to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s was an experience not to be missed. Clare Parkinson’s Support Group members are delighted to have an active role in this exciting project, which will be of benefit ultimately to people with Parkinson’s throughout the world.” Any person wishing to participate in future studies involving this device can contact Dean Sweeney, the system’s lead designer at: dean.sweeney@nuigalway.ie and 089-2576449. The research was part-funded by the European Commission under the FP7 prgramme and Science Foundation Ireland. -Ends-

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Researchers at NUI Galway and the University of British Columbia find addressing dietary environment is more effective than addressing dietary behaviour A new study published this month in the international journal Diabetes Care, provides important clues as to the most effective components of dietary lifestyle interventions, to help people with type 2 diabetes better control their condition and lose weight. The international collaboration between scientists from NUI Galway and the University of British Columbia examined the data from all of the relevant published clinical trials. From thousands of studies conducted over four decades, they sought to identify how effective specific behaviour change techniques (BCTs) were in the 54 clinical trials of dietary interventions they identified. Kevin Cradock, the study’s first author and an Irish Research Council postgraduate scholar at NUI Galway, said: “Behaviour change techniques are methods that can help people change their behaviour using a variety of techniques such as goals and planning or restructuring the environment. Changing the food environment is one of the keys to treating type 2 diabetes. Before we change the food environment we need to look carefully at what it is and how it affects us.” “We examined systematically the individual behaviour change techniques in the 54 studies that assessed dietary modification strategies in type 2 diabetes patients”, explains Professor Heather Gainforth, senior author of the study from UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences. “The evidence indicates that people with type 2 diabetes need more support when it comes to changing their diets. Basically, instead of telling people to change what they eat, they should initially be given healthy meals and receive ongoing support to help change their eating habits.” Dr Leo Quinlan from the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “We discovered that the studies assessed were using 42 distinct behaviour change techniques, which are different ways to help people. While no individual behaviour change technique stood out, we did find that improvements in diabetes control and weight in affected patients were greater when they were provided with healthy meals and when they had frequent contact with health professionals such as dietitians.” Professor Gainforth added: “Without any support, behaviour change efforts can quickly fall apart. We need to be thinking about a better way to support people with diabetes. It may seem impractical to provide food and control the food environment. However, we need to examine the viability of providing healthy meals at the beginning of a program, followed by instruction and feedback as to how to choose, shop for, and prepare these foods. Gradually, this approach may support people to prepare healthy meals independently.” Professor Francis Finucane, study co-author and obesity physician at Galway University Hospitals, said: “It is interesting that interventions which influence the dietary environment were about 56% more effective than those which sought to persuade people to eat less unhealthily. This is consistent with our understanding now that obesity and diabetes are complex neurobehavioral disorders which are strongly genetically determined and are highly susceptible to environmental factors. If type 2 diabetes is a flood, rather than encouraging affected individuals to swim harder, we should seek to lower the water level.” Professor Gainforth agrees: “It seems very clear that until we change the environment and change the way we look at diet and public policy, people will find it much harder to change their behaviour.” The study was funded by the Irish Research Council. It involved scientists and engineers from NUI Galway’s Schools of Medicine and Engineering and Informatics and the Human Movement Laboratory at the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, along with behavioural scientists from Canada’s University of British Columbia Okanagan’s Faculty of Health and Social Development. To read the full study in Diabetes Care, visit: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/40/12/1800 -Ends-  

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

The School of Psychology at NUI Galway has today published a new report on Sexual Health and Attitudes. It is the first comprehensive survey of sexual behaviour and sexual assault in an emerging adulthood college population (aged 18-29). The survey was carried out at NUI Galway by Elaine Byrnes and Pádraig MacNeela, in 2015. It provides a baseline understanding of college students’ sexual health, behaviour and attitudes, both positive and negative sexual experiences. Also, findings reflect the impact of alcohol on decisions to have sex and unwanted sexual activity as a result of alcohol consumption. Padraig MacNeela, School of Psychology at NUI Galway said: “This survey incorporated standardised questionnaire tools that have been researched and validated internationally. The report sheds light on how these factors occur in an Irish context. In many cases this is the first time that some of these measures have been used outside the US, and the first time they have been reported on in an Irish context.” Elaine Byrnes, Doctoral Researcher on the PhD in Child & Youth Research at the School of Psychology, NUI Galway said: “The results of this survey show the incidence of sexual violence and assault are comparable to international studies of college students, and highlight the need for a national study of third level students on this issue. Findings on alcohol related sex consequences, particularly where students report being forced or pressured into sexual activity, highlights the importance of continuing consent education; how it is understood and communicated, and the role of alcohol in sexual decision making.” Dr Pat Morgan, Vice-President for the Student Experience at NUI Galway, and John Hannon, Director of Student Services, said: “We at NUI Galway are committed to supporting and enhancing the holistic development of students attending our institution. These data will contribute to informing further development of policies and services in the area of sexual health on our campus.” Key findings on student sexual health, behaviour and attitudes include: In the past 12 months, 8% of females and 3% of males were certain someone had sexual contact with them where they were unable to provide consent or stop what was happening because they were passed out, drugged, drunk, incapacitated or asleep and are certain this happened In the past 12 months, 8% of females and 4% of males were uncertain but suspected sexual contact where they were unable to provide consent or stop what was happening because they were passed out, drugged, drunk, incapacitated or asleep 27% of females and 35% of males agree with the statement “Guys don’t usually intend to force sex on a girl, but sometimes they get too sexually carried away” 75% of females and 55.5% of males are extremely/very likely to confront a friend who plans to give someone alcohol to get sex 76% of females and 69% of males agree they are less nervous about sex after drinking 35% of females and 58% of males agree they have sex with people with whom they wouldn’t sober 58% of females and 69% of males agree that hooking up is part of the college experience 90% of females and 86% of males agree/strongly agree they would use body language or signals to indicate their consent to sex 73% of females and 77.5% of males agree/strongly agree they would ask a partner if he/she wanted to go back to their place to communicate consent to sex 5% of females in a relationship agree they are satisfied with their sex life compared to 26.5% of single females 56% of males in a relationship agree if they could live their sex lives over, would change nothing, compared with 21% of single males Niamh Murtagh, Vice President for Welfare at the USI also welcomed the Report, “This report demonstrates the necessity of such vital information, and will form the backbone of initiatives that will be rolled out in our third level institutions. In turn, this will enable the enrichment of student health, wellbeing and their welfare in college setting.” The main author of the report is Elaine Byrnes, Doctoral Researcher in Child & Youth Research at the School of Psychology, NUI Galway. The co-author is Dr Pádraig MacNeela, Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychology, NUI Galway. To read the full Report (SHAG – Sexual Health Attitudes, Galway) visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/smartconsent -Ends-

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Dr Shane Browne, a postdoctoral fellow at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has just been awarded a prestigious American Heart Association fellowship to continue his postdoctoral research at the University of California at Berkeley. The American Heart Association is the largest source of funding for cardiovascular disease and stroke research next to the US federal government. The mission of the Association is to fund cutting-edge science and build careers in science and research that impact every aspect of cardiovascular disease and stroke prevention and treatment. This fellowship recognises and supports outstanding young researchers in this field and will fund Dr Browne’s research at the University of California at Berkeley for two years. Dr Shane Browne’s research focuses on the use of biomaterial and stem cell-based therapies to restore blood flow to parts of the body. This work will be conducted with Professor Kevin Healy at the Healy Laboratory in UC Berkeley. The Laboratory focuses on the combination of biological and materials science to help engineer new systems for medical applications. The group is highly interdisciplinary, incorporating researchers from the fields of bioengineering, materials engineering, medicine, and molecular biology. Speaking about his fellowship award, Dr Browne said: “This American Heart Association award will allow me to build on the expertise in biomaterials and stem cell technology that I have previously developed at UC Berkeley and CÚRAM. Cardiovascular disease is a major problem worldwide, and I believe that stem cells and biomaterials will play a key role in the development of effective treatments for patients. I hope to return to NUI Galway after this fellowship and apply my time in Berkeley to advance research in Galway.” Congratulating Dr Browne on his Fellowship, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM, said “We’re delighted to see more and more of our students progress and be recognised for the calibre of work that they are achieving here at CÚRAM. I wish Dr Browne every success in his work at the Healy Lab in Berkeley. Training and building the capacity of our researchers to take leading roles in biomedical sciences in the future is extremely important to us and we are extremely proud of this achievement.” CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, is a multidisciplinary centre bringing together research strength and capacity in biomaterials, drug delivery, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, glycoscience, and device design. The Centre’s vision is to develop affordable, innovative and transformative device-based solutions to treat global chronic diseases. -Ends-

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A diabetes research team at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine has developed a novel approach to improve how diabetes services are delivered to young adults. The team has published two new open access articles detailing the formation of their ‘Young Adult Panel’, comprising of nine young adults aged 18–25 years with type 1 diabetes. This young group have helped design the ‘D1 Now’ intervention programme, which aims to improve diabetes services by reimagining care and moving beyond the traditional clinic. Research indicates that this particular age group of young adults with type 1 diabetes often disengage from health services and their general diabetes management. Involving young adults with this condition in co-designing research to help develop a behaviour change in intervention to improve engagement with health services could potentially improve overall self-management and health. Many young adults with type 1 diabetes find it hard to control their blood glucose levels. With lots going on in their lives, their diabetes is often not the priority and means they do not always take care of their condition such as attending clinic appointments. These young adults do not usually get the chance to make suggestions on how to improve diabetes services. Being involved could help shape the diabetes care services that support them. The D1 Now research team at NUI Galway, led by Professor Seán Dinneen, says: “Through the formation of the D1 Now Young Adult Panel, it demonstrates that involving young adults with this condition in health service research, is feasible and productive. Their guidance and feedback is instrumental in creating an intervention with a difference. It also demonstrates that involving young adults in co-designing research to develop a complex behaviour change intervention to improve diabetes services ensures the process is grounded in the needs and experiences of those directly affected by type 1 diabetes.” By ensuring that young adults are at the centre of the design means that the intervention will be more acceptable to this group. Previous work from the D1 Now team indicates that young adults want care to be centred on the relationships built within their diabetes team. These new ways of engagement can offer more continuity during a time of transition, whether it takes the form of a designated staff member, through devices/eHealth tools, or through tools to facilitate shared decision-making and goal-setting. Michelle Long, a member of the Young Adult Panel said that she was: “Proud to be part of this research paper as one of the young adults on the panel aiming to improve care for diabetes in Ireland.” The Young Adult Panel developed research materials such as participant information sheets. They also reviewed and interpreted research findings to create plain language statements so that the team’s work is framed in the most appropriate way for young adults and anyone who may wish to engage with the research. The Panel has also helped develop the study website to enhance engagement between young adults and their diabetes healthcare providers. The D1 Now team contributed to an international consensus conference on health services delivery for young adults with type 1 diabetes and wrote specific sections of a further grant application to test out the new intervention. As a direct result of the Young Adult Panel, a meaningful dialogue has opened up between healthcare providers and young adults within the research team. Their involvement has led to a better understanding of what needs to be achieved in order to improve health service delivery in terms of responding to the specific needs of young adults at this transitional time in their lives. The panel have been active members in co-designing a health behaviour change intervention to improve engagement between young adults with type 1 diabetes and healthcare providers that will be evaluated in future research. The D1 Now research team and the formation of the Young Adult Panel article won the HSE Open Access Awards last Friday, 8 December. The winner of the award was Mary Clare O’Hara from the D1Now team. The study was funded through a Health Research Board, Definitive Interventions and Feasibility Awards grant. -Ends-

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Sean Kyne TD, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development has launched a new publication, Creative Economies in Peripheral Regions written by Dr Patrick Collins at NUI Galway and Professor James Cunningham at the University of Northumbria. Dr Collins and Professor Cunningham make their policy recommendations for supporting the growth of creative economies in peripheral areas. As a sustainable model for development, one that relies on the infinite resource of human creativity, it has the potential to act as a vital agent in the future growth of peripheral regions in Ireland. NUI Galway has long been recognised as a leading international centre for the creative arts, with strong specialisms in Drama, Theatre, Performance, Visual Arts, Creative Writing, Film, Digital Media and emerging areas in creative production and arts entrepreneurship. The University has formed strong partnerships with the creative arts sector, notably with such institutions as Druid Theatre, the Abbey Theatre and Galway International Arts Festival. In the book the authors make the case for vibrant, creative and cultural economies existing beyond large urban settlements in peripheral regions in Ireland. It is the first publication to map the existence of the creative economy beyond city boundaries. This work takes place within the context of an evolving consumer society where there is increasing recognition of a change in consumer patterns as the modern consumption era matures. Commenting about the new publication, Dr Patrick Collins from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “This book is about putting a positive spin on the term ‘peripheral’. We provide evidence of people, inspired by their place, competing in international markets where the authenticity and creative nature of their produce is in high demand.” Dr Collins added: “As more and more people buy goods that they feel reflect their own individual identity, more of us are expressing ourselves by how we dress, what we eat, what we listen to and where we go on holiday. In doing this we are turning our back on mass produced goods and services. As the market for these kinds of goods laden with expressive values increases, the products from our peripheral regions become more desirable. We argue in the book that it is the connectedness to place; the use of more traditional production techniques; and the imbued sense of authenticity in the produce of the peripheral regions that makes them more and more marketable in a maturing consumer society.” Creative industries mentioned in the book include Telegael in Spiddal, County Galway, a leading feature film, TV drama and animation company with major global partners, which employs over 70 people in high value jobs and is co-producing projects with companies located all across the world, operating from a small village in the West of Ireland. And Druid Theatre, an organisation that produces critically acclaimed theatre productions inspired by the stories of the periphery and bringing them to audiences across Ireland and right around the world. By looking at how these products in more remote areas are produced, the productive practices seen in the case study regions within the book are reflecting those of leading innovative industries. The book shows how creatives in remote regions, collaborate, co-produce, switch codes (writers and visual artists become theatre makers and game designers) that demonstrates an agility that is seen by many as key to productive success. By shining a light on the array of business models adopted by these industries the book highlights a sector that is more connected to its place, and its society in a way that is unique in the modern context. This book will be of value to those from a social science and business background and it will also be of interest to those within this growing sector and those that support it. -Ends-

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway has just been awarded the ‘Academic Contribution to Medtech Award’ by the Irish Medtech Association at the Medtech Rising: The Irish Medtech CEO Conference and Awards Ceremony. The event, which took place in Galway, was jointly hosted by the Irish Medtech Association, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, which recognises and celebrates companies that have played a leading role in making Ireland a location of choice for global Medtech.  Commenting on the Award, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, said: “We are delighted to receive this award and I would like to congratulate all who were shortlisted for these awards this evening. We are very proud to be a research partner to 27 MedTech companies currently, and we look forward to growing and enriching these networks and helping the Irish MedTech sector develop a solid research base here in Ireland and continue to lead the field as one of the top five global MedTech hubs.” Congratulating CÚRAM on the award, acting Irish Medtech Association Director, Eoghan Ó Faoláin said: “The reason Ireland is in a position to compete with major Medtech hubs such as Massachusetts and Minnesota, is thanks to the diversity of the sector here and the collaborative innovation that takes place on a regular basis between Irish Small and Medium Enterprises, Foreign Direct Investment multinational companies, and top universities, as well as other strategic sectors such as ICT, design and manufacturing. With Ireland ranked first for labour productivity, flexibility of talent, as well as attracting and retaining talent, it’s no surprise that Medtech growth is underpinned by job creation, with 38,000 people working in the sector now and an additional 4,000 jobs to be added by 2020.”  The diversity of the Irish Medtech sector was reflected in six award categories, namely: the Academic Contribution to Medtech Award; the Medtech Company of the Year; Emerging Medtech Company of the Year; eHealth Innovation of the Year; Medtech Partner/Supplier of the Year; and the Best European Medtech Week Campaign Award. Michael Lohan, Head of Life Sciences, Engineering and Industrial Technology Division at IDA Ireland, said: “It is clear from the list of finalists that Ireland is a one-stop-shop for Medtech with everything you need to take medical technology from concept to market here. We are not only the second largest exporter of Medtech products in Europe, but the number one location for Medtech Foreign Direct Investment. The Irish Medtech Awards are a great way to celebrate the sector’s achievements and bring people together.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The first cohort of students from a unique new Masters in Medical Technology Regulatory Affairs offered jointly by NUI Galway and IT Sligo have graduated.  The two year Masters programme is offered through a partnership with the Irish Medtech Skillnet and Irish Medtech Association. The medical technology sector employs over 38,000 people in Ireland and is the second largest employer of MedTech professionals in Europe. Undertaken by professionals working regulatory affairs and quality, the masters programme equips graduates with essential knowledge and skills required in the rapidly changing global regulatory affairs environment within the growing Irish Medical Technology industry sector. Professor Terry Smith, Co-Director of the programme said: “Conferring the first graduates is a very significant milestone for this MSc programme, which is unique in Ireland. The very successful partnership between NUI Galway and IT Sligo, as well as with the Irish MedTech Association Skillnet, and MedTech industry experts, ensures a strong focus on meeting a critical MedTech industry need.  As a result, the Masters, now in its third year, is growing from strength to strength.” President of IT Sligo, Brendan McCormack said: “IT Sligo is justly proud of this collaboration which, once again, illustrates the ability of online education in helping to address a recognised skills shortage in a key industry sector such as MedTech. Great credit is due to the staff of both institutions that have helped to develop the programme.” Senior Irish Medtech Association Executive, Dr Áine Fox said: “Now that the EU medical device and IVD regulations have entered into force, the transition period clocks have begun counting down for both. Ensuring that we have talent with ability to manage these changes, which will have both operational and financial implications for the 450 medtech business across Ireland.” -Ends-

Monday, 11 December 2017

A recent Marine Economics and Policy Research Symposium provided participants with an update on a wide range of policy topics related to the marine sector in Ireland. Organised each year by the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) of the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, with support from the Marine Institute, this year’s theme was ‘Past, Present and Future’ with sessions dedicated to marine related issues focused on each of these time periods. Dr Stephen Hynes of SEMRU at NUI Galway, spoke of the strong maritime tradition in Ireland and the potential for growth in the ocean economy across a number of industries. “In my view, marine development opportunities lie in what we as a nation have shown we are already good at. For example, using our skills and capacity in the information technology and biotechnology sectors to generate marine communications solutions and to produce new active ingredients for use in food and pharmaceuticals; applying our skills in finance and leasing in the development of shipping services.” Dr Hynes continued: “SEMRU’s ocean economy figures demonstrate particularly strong growth over the 2014 to 2016 period in a number of industries that have previously seen slow growth, or are at the early stages of development such as marine renewables, marine advanced tech and oil and gas.” The Symposium looked to the past in order to see what lessons might be learned for marine policy makers today. Dr Aidan Kane from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway presented historical data from cargo manifestos associated with Irish ports, which gives the researcher an insight into the evolving structure of regional economies in Ireland. The event also focused on the present marine policy environment presented by Professor Cathal O’Donoghue, NUI Galway, who examined the economic strength and weaknesses of coastal areas in terms of unemployment and migration from the great recession through to the recent economic recovery. NUI Galway’s Dr Amanda Slevin then gave a critique of Irish state hydrocarbon management while Tom Gillespie looked at the contribution from having a sea view and what the distance to coastal amenities makes to propriety values. The plenary session was given by leading marine law expert Professor Ronán Long who holds the Nippon Foundation Chair of Ocean Governance at the World Maritime University in Sweden. He gave a fascinating insight into recent developments in climate change and their implications for our ocean resources, particularly in light of the Paris Agreement 2015. The final session of the day examined how marine policy and maritime industries could be transformed in the future. Philip Stephens and Liam Lacey of the Irish Maritime Development Office presented the case for creating an International Shipping Services Centre in Cork, which could deliver on key components of the Government’s integrated plan for the marine industry, creating a flagship project of scale with significant regional development potential. Liam Lacey said: “Ireland has been successful in building world-class financial services and aviation leasing industries.  Building on these successes, Ireland can become a hub for maritime commerce through exploiting existing competitive advantages, being disruptive in a very traditional industry, and reconceiving maritime commerce through blue ocean strategies.  Ireland’s claim is strengthened by Brexit and by the impressive recovery of the Irish economy in recent years.” -Ends-

Monday, 11 December 2017

Dr Martin O’Halloran from NUI Galway was announced as the winner of the inaugural Irish Research Council ‘Researcher of the Year’ award for his outstanding research in medical electronics. Dr O’Halloran is a Techrete Senior Lecturer in Medical Electronics at NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics and College of Medicine, and a Founder-Director of the Lambe Translational Medical Device Lab at Galway University Hospital. The awards were presented as the Council marks 15 years of the Irish Research Council and its forebears, the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology. Commenting on receiving his award, Dr Martin O’Halloran from NUI Galway, said: “This award is a reflection of the quality and ambition of the broader research team in the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway, and validates the close collaboration between the Colleges of Engineering and Informatics, and Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences. By embedding our engineering lab within the hospital, we get a greater understanding of the real clinical need, and can shorten the time required to translate technology out of the lab and into the patient clinic.” The Lambe Translational Medical Device Lab now hosts 24 world class researchers from Europe, the US and Asia, including engineers, physicists, veterinary surgeons and doctors. The team are developing medical devices to address problems ranging from new ways to reliably detect fetal distress during delivery, to novel treatments for lung cancer. Dr Paola Rivetti, Dublin City University, was awarded the ‘Early-Career Researcher of the Year’ award for her research in politics of the Middle East and international relations. Her research interests focus on the government of societies and politics in the Middle East and North Africa from a comparative perspective. The two Council-funded researchers received their awards for having made a highly significant and valuable contribution to research in Ireland over their career to-date in their respective fields. Congratulating the awardees, Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, Mr John Halligan, TD said: “I would like to warmly congratulate Dr Martin O’ Halloran and Dr Paola Rivetti on receiving the inaugural Irish Research Council Researcher of the Year awards. Their exceptional careers are a testament to the quality of the people in Ireland’s research environment and I would like to commend them on their hard work and dedication to their chosen field.” Chair of the Irish Research Council, Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, congratulated the two awardees: “I am delighted to congratulate Dr Martin O Halloran and Dr Paola Rivetti on receiving the inaugural Researcher of the Year awards. We received many nominations of current and previously Council-funded researchers. Dr O’Halloran and Dr Rivetti were selected for their outstanding track records to date and I would like to wish them all the very best in their future research careers.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Many people experience obsessive thoughts that they struggle to remove from their mind. Others have compulsive behaviours that they feel like repeating over and over again such as checking locks and washing. The School of Psychology at NUI Galway is seeking over a 1,000 people from across Ireland who experience any of these symptoms to participate in an online survey. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can significantly impact a person’s life, with some individuals spending as much as six hours per day experiencing these symptoms. Although a diagnosis of OCD is relatively uncommon, only occurring in 2-3% of the population, approximately a quarter of all people in community studies report experiencing lower-level obsessions or compulsions at some point in their lives. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can take many forms: Thoughts about being contaminated or dirty and engaging in excessive washing. Repetitive checking of locks and switches or certain rituals to prevent bad events. Unpleasant and unwanted thoughts about engaging in immoral or aggressive acts. An excessive need for symmetry and order, associated with a ‘not just right’ feeling. Certain emotions have been linked to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. For example, a person may wash excessively to remove feelings of disgust. Furthermore, strong feelings of guilt and responsibility can be associated with excessive checking of switches and locks. This current research will seek to examine the relationship between such emotions and obsessional and compulsive symptoms. The online study will be conducted by Patrick McHugh, a psychologist in clinical training at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway along with Dr Jonathan Egan, Deputy Director of the Clinical Psychology Doctorate Programme at the University.  Speaking about the study, Mr McHugh from NUI Galway, said: “Obsessions can feel overwhelming and difficult to control. We aim to investigate whether strong emotions like guilt and disgust contribute to such symptoms.” Dr Jonathan Egan who is a both a Chartered Health and Chartered Clinical Psychologist at NUI Galway, said: “When people do not reach out to others in order to normalise their thoughts, they may then start to experience distress. Obsessions are often associated with thoughts which feel intrusive and out of your own control and if left untended to, can become a worrying pre-occupation and affect a person’s day-to-day life and may result in the need for a Chartered Clinical Psychologist’s intervention.” To participate in the study email P.MCHUGH13@nuigalway.ie or  visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NUIGOCDStudy Participants can enter a draw for a €100 One4All voucher on completion of the survey and request access to a summary of the results. -Ends-

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Cresco, a leading innovation company based in the UK, specialising in securing international grants and funding for technology based clients, has announced the opening of its first Irish office at NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre. NUI Galway is renowned for being a hotbed of innovation, particularly in the Medtech and Biotech industries with its ecosystem growing from strength to strength. The University’s Business Innovation Centre has supported numerous companies, both spin-ins and spin-outs from initial commercial road mapping to scaling up the business opportunity. They support the success of these companies by providing facilities on campus and the ability to carry out research, which is supported by funding bodies such as Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, the European Union and Horizon 2020. To date NUI Galway has been extremely successful in achieving Horizon 2020 grants in a number of funding applications. In 2017, a total of 22 Horizon 2020 proposals were awarded funding, securing almost €9 million in research funds. The Business Innovation Centre is also very active in applying for the Horizon 2020 Small to Medium Enterprise instrument grant with four client companies already being successful in 2017. To continue these funding success’ the arrival of Cresco to the Business Innovation Centre,  the experts in securing international and European grant funding to support academic research is a significant partnership for the University. With its headquarters in the UK, the Cresco team have been working with many Irish companies and have enjoyed unprecedented success winning funding applications through the Horizon 2020 programme. Particularly in phase two stage of applications where Cresco has won over €5.1 million for Irish clients in the last 12 months. Fiona Neary, Manager of the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, said: “This is an exciting partnership with Cresco as NUI Galway continues to transform healthcare and the Medtech ecosystem. Our vision is to create innovative medical technologies which are affordable and transformative for patients with both acute and chronic conditions. This will bring us closer to the patient need, while also stimulating innovation and job creation through high-potential start-ups.” Jo Derbyshire, CEO of Cresco, said: “We are very excited to formally establish our Irish operations. We have been working with Irish clients for some time, and the opportunity of an office at the NUI Galway Business Innovation Centre is the ideal opportunity for us to build on the success we have enjoyed so far, Cresco Ireland is a key pillar of our ‘Brexit’ strategy.” This activity is supported on campus by the office of the Vice-President for Research, CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, BioInnovate Medical Technology innovation programme and the first Medtech Accelerator in Ireland, BioExel, all operating from NUI Galway. The partnership with Cresco will lead to further grant potential with commercial impacts for Galway and the wider region, with many discussions already underway with potential University spin out’s and early stage start-up’s. The aim of the Business Innovation Centre is to create an environment which promotes entrepreneurialism and innovation, enhances spin out formation and new business growth. The centre gives companies a prime opportunity to benefit from the first class facilities available at NUI Galway. -Ends-

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The Centre for Global Women’s Studies and the MA in Gender, Globalisation and Rights programme at NUI Galway is supporting the international campaign 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which runs until 10 December. The Centre’s sixteen day programme follows the theme, ‘Together We Can End Gender-Based Violence in Education’ focusing on education including Irish schools and third-level institutions. On Wednesday 6 December to mark the anniversary of the ‘Montreal Massacre’, where 14 female students were murdered at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, NUI Galway will host a series of events and talks that are free and open to the public, students and staff from 2pm to 5.30pm. Guided Walks entitled ‘Understanding Gender-Based Violence in Education’ will take place on campus from 2pm to 4pm starting and ending at NUI Galway’s Quadrangle. This will be followed by a Ceremonial Lighting of the Quadrangle in orange as part of the global ‘Orange the World’ campaign and talks by organisers of the event. There will also be keynote addresses in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall at the Quadrangle by Professor Niamh Reilly, School of Political Science and Sociology and Professor Anne Scott, Vice-President of Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence 2017 campaign aims to build awareness and advocate for an end to all forms of gender-based violence in education. Gender-based violence is any form of physical, sexual or psychological violence directed towards an individual on the basis of stereotypes, norms or roles associated with sexual or gendered identity. Dr Stacey Scriver from the Centre for Global Women’s Studies at the School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway, said: “Violence in education is not only a problem for developing countries. Evidence shows that men and women in Ireland are also impacted by violence in and around educational institutes. We all have a role to play in ending gender-based violence in education. Participating in the 16 Days of Activism campaign and developing understanding and awareness of how this issue affects young men and women globally and locally is one small, but significant, way to contribute.” Dr Nata Duvvury, Director of the Centre for Global Women’s Studies at NUI Galway, highlighted: “The ramifications of violence in education are enormous, affecting the capabilities of young people and limiting their future potential, and thus effectively undermining their hopes and expectations of getting an education.” Programme of Events for the Day 2pm-4pm - Guided Walks on campus starting and ending at the Quadrangle, including talks by Lindsey Bacigal, MA in Gender, Globalisation and Rights, Dr Amie Lajoie, School of Political Science and Sociology and Dr Nata Duvvury, Centre for Global Women's Studies at NUI Galway, and Dr Kieran Kennedy, School of Medicine, NUI Galway and the Galway Sexual Assault Treatment Unit. 4pm-4.30pm – Talks from Professor Niamh Reilly and Professor Anne Scott, NUI Galway in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall, followed by the Ceremonial Lighting of the Quadrangle in orange as part of the 'Orange the World' campaign. 4.30pm-5.30pm - Bake Sale to support Galway Rape Crisis Centre and Plan International in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall. To support NUI Galway’s campaign online follow us on Twitter @GlobalWS_NUIG and @16DaysCampaign and #16days or on Facebook at globalwomensstudiesnuig. -Ends-

Monday, 4 December 2017

A new study led by Dr Audrey Morley at NUI Galway, has found that the magnitude of past abrupt climate change events may have underestimated. If so, the impact of current climate change may be larger than expected. The study was published today (4 December 2017) in the international journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. Lead author of the study, Dr Audrey Morley from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “Abrupt climate events that occurred during the last interglacial (warm) period, ca. 125,000 years ago, have been underestimated by up to 4°Celsius. This is important because our current understanding of climate change and our predictions of future climate both rely on past examples from Earth’s climate history. Robust and quantitative methods to deduce the magnitude of abrupt climate events from the geologic record are therefore essential.” In this new study, Dr Morley collaborated with researchers from the University of California-Santa Cruz, Rutgers University New Jersey and the University of Bergen, and studied an established geochemical tool for investigating sea surface temperatures in the past. In the modern ocean, observations have shown that marine plankton (foraminifera) will use more magnesium relative to calcium, which are elements freely available in sea water, when they form their shell in warmer waters. This allows scientists to apply this modern relationship between magnesium, calcium, and temperature to the past by measuring magnesium-to-calcium ratios (Mg/Ca) in fossilised marine plankton that are continually deposited in seafloor sediments. However, there are limitations with the Mg/Ca temperature relationship, because the scientists understanding of other processes that may influence the amount of magnesium in the shell is incomplete. For example, higher carbon dioxide levels in seawater results in lower pH (potential of hydrogen) and lower carbonate ion concentrations. Carbonate ion is the carbon species used by foraminifera to form their calcium carbonate tests. As carbonate ion becomes less available in surrounding seawater the individual organism needs to exert more energy for calcification. Through this process more magnesium becomes incidentally incorporated than what would be predicted by temperature only. Since colder surface waters absorb more carbon dioxide than warmer waters, this leads to generally low carbonate ion concentrations in cold surface waters. Therefore, when magnesium-to-calcium values are measured on fossilised marine plankton that lived in surface waters with low carbonate ion concentrations, this relationship leads to an underestimation of reconstructed temperatures. This study presents an innovative mathematical correction scheme that enables the carbonate ion concentration effect to be isolated from the temperature signal recorded in marine plankton (from magnesium-to-calcium ratios) via subtraction. Specifically, Dr Morley and her colleagues were able to quantify the control of low carbonate ion concentrations values on magnesium-to-calcium ratios for a specific marine plankton species (Neogloboquadrina Incompta) living in the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean, and thereby isolate the true magnesium-to-calcium temperature relationship. Dr Morley added: “Applying the proposed correction scheme to past climate records reveals that we may have underestimated abrupt climate events by up to 4°Celsius during past interglacial (warm) periods. This is particularly important for climate records from the subpolar/polar North Atlantic region that may have experienced abrupt changes in carbonate ion concentrations linked with abrupt climate events. Correcting for low carbonate ion concentration values improves the fidelity of temperature reconstructions and allows a reassessment of the magnitude of climate events occurring during warm climates.”  -Ends-

Monday, 4 December 2017

NUI Galway and University of Oxford study proves centuries-old giant boulder deposits in the Northwest of Ireland were caused by high Atlantic storm waves  Professor Paul Ryan from NUI Galway and Professor John Dewey from University of Oxford have carried out research that proves the spectacular boulder deposits of Annagh Head in County Mayo were caused not by an unknown tsunami but by Atlantic storm waves of up to 30 metres breaking against the shore for hundreds of years. The findings were published this week in the leading journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Enormous boulders, some over 50 tonnes, piled on the foreshore or at the top of a small cliff  in a deposit called a boulderite are evidence of the power of extreme waves. Tsunamis are known to have massive power and most such deposits, including those along the Wild Atlantic Way, are believed to be ‘tsunamites’. However, in 2004, the late Professor D Michael Williams of NUI Galway argued that the boulders on the Atlantic cliffs of the Arran Islands were due to storm waves, which caused considerable international debate at the time. In an attempt to resolve this controversy Professors Dewey and Ryan compared two deposits: a tsunamite from the Miocene of New Zealand and a present-day boulderite at Annagh Head in County Mayo. Field data shows that in the North Island of New Zealand a 10 million year boulderite which contains boulders in excess of 140 tonnes, the Matheson Formation Bay, was produced by a 12-13 metre-high tsunami within a period of about one hour. The origin of the boulders at Annagh Head, which exceed 50 tonnes, is disputed. The researchers combined oceanographic, historical, and field data to argue that this is a cliff-top storm deposit. A computer simulation of a cliff-top storm deposit was developed, which shows that boulder shape in addition to density and dimensions should be taken into account when applying hydrodynamic equations to such deposits. The model also predicted that Northeast Atlantic storms, which historically have produced waves of over 60 metres, are capable of producing boulderites that cannot be distinguished from tsunamites when size alone is considered. Comparing and contrasting these two deposits helps indentify the origins of boulderites. Climate change means our shorelines are becoming more vulnerable and the ability to read these piles of boulders will help us understand how much more vulnerable. Co-author of the study, Professor Paul Ryan from Earth and Ocean Sciences in the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “This study shows the enormous power of storm waves battering the foreshore over centuries, ripping boulders of over 50 tonnes from the cliff face, piling them 100 metres or more inland.” Professor John Dewey from University of Oxford and co-author of the study, said: “The triple junction between land, sea and air is perhaps the least well understood in the Earth Sciences. We should pay greater attention to our shores.” -Ends- 

Thursday, 30 November 2017

A scientist from NUI Galway recently took part in a research sampling expedition at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Northern Ukraine, to sample its soils and investigate what effect the 30 years of exposure to radiation has had on the soil’s microorganisms that inhabit this particular area. DNA from these soils will be sequenced using cutting-edge techniques to reveal in minute detail its population of bacteria and will provide results in early 2018. The outcomes will help determine why radiation is persisting in the soil, and offer new clues as to how to speed up recovery of the ecosystem. The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant explosion in 1986, the most well-known nuclear accident in the world, deposited excess radioactive material throughout Europe. To this day, parts of Scandinavia and the British Islands have higher than expected levels of radiation in their soil due to contamination from Chernobyl. Near the exploded reactor, in the border between the Ukraine and Belarus, soil radiation continues to reach high levels, and a large area has been set aside as a conservation area to isolate communities from the radioactive contamination called the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Despite a substantial decrease in background radiation levels since the accident, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone region remains highly contaminated with radioactive material, particularly its soils and aquatic sediments. Intriguingly, the persistence of specific radioactive compounds in this Zone’s soil greatly exceeds initial projections. The most contaminated area within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is the Red Forest, whose name is derived from the red colour of the dying trees following the disaster. In September 2016 a forest fire burned through the Red Forest, leaving patches of burned and unburned vegetation. The combination of forest fire and radiation made the Red Forest an open-air laboratory for the study of the effect of multiple environmental stresses on ecosystems. Microbiologist, Dr Alexandre B de Menezes from the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway met with colleagues from the University of Salford, the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and the Ukraine’s Chernobyl Centre at the Red Forest where they sampled the radioactive soils. Speaking about the research, Dr de Menezes from NUI Galway, said: “The Red Forest soil is a reservoir of radioactive particles, but we know next to nothing about how soil microorganisms cope with 30 plus years of radiation exposure. This research will not only teach us about the effects of the Chernobyl disaster on these microorganisms, but also reveal basic knowledge about how microorganisms, which are often ignored when we think of ecological disasters, help to sustain an entire ecosystem under great environmental stress.” The soil DNA was extracted at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and will now be used for DNA sequencing. Dr de Menezes will use bacterial DNA sequences from the Red Forest soil to provide insights into whether some bacteria are associated with higher soil radiation, determine if the soil bacterial communities in high radiation areas were more sensitive to the forest fire disturbance and identify new biological mechanisms that could aid in controlling soil radiation. The recent nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, and rising geopolitical tension have re-surfaced concerns regarding the impact of radioactive contamination on communities and ecosystems. This increased threat highlights the need to understand the long-term impacts of catastrophic nuclear accidents and their ecosystems to enable effective containment and remediation measures to be developed. This study is partly funded by the British Ecological Society. -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Flag - A new taxi app designed for students will launch in Dublin City this December. The unique app is the only service in the world that allows a passenger to travel and pay for taxis with no phone, cash or bank card while ensuring the driver still gets paid. Flag originally started out as a college project called Dash while inventor Richie Commins was a final year Business Information Systems student at NUI Galway. Since graduating, Richie has combined business graduates and experienced engineers with taxi industry experience from the US and Romania, to upgrade the software into the version the App is today. The latest member recruited to the Flag team is the original founder of GoCar.ie, Michael Newham. The app is available in app stores as ‘Flag – The Taxi App’. This is similar to other taxi apps that allow you to get a taxi, however a feature unique to Flag is what is called “The wallet-less feature” where users are required to upload a photo ID and create a personal digit pin code to secure an account. If a situation arises such as a user's phone is dead, the user simply flags a taxi off the street, gives the driver their name and enters the four digit pin on the driver app. The user’s photo appears on the driver’s phone to confirm identity before the fare begins. Payment is processed from the user’s pre-registered card as normal upon arrival at the user’s destination. The creative and innovative app boasts pin point location, tracking and accurate ‘estimated time of arrival’ as well as extra safety features such as the wallet-less payment (the only taxi app in the world to provide this service). Richie has gained support from Enterprise Ireland, Nissan, AIB and many other organisations. Richie said: “I was lucky to eventually get a Chief Technology Officer who manages our large team of engineers to get the app ready for drivers and passengers in both iOS and android. When I started this in college we didn’t even have an app for the students.” An Garda Síochana also supported the project from the early days through their Campus Watch Programme at NUI Galway. Sergeant Pat Flanagan, Officer for Crime Prevention said: “The taxis that have integrated this app have really shown they care about passengers, and hopefully all taxis will soon be branded with the safety it brings.” The project has gathered an incredible momentum since the team were students. The team has decided to focus efforts on launching the upgraded app, Flag, in Dublin only. To show their gratitude for driver support and to encourage more drivers to see how good the app is, Flag will not be charging drivers any commission this Christmas. Flag plans to roll out across the country later in 2018. -Ends-