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04-2006 Press Releases

28/04/2006: Queen's International Student celebrates win in British Council 'Shine' Award
27/04/2006: Queen's celebrates distinguished civil engineer
26/04/2006: Electronics giants see pioneering technology from Northern Ireland
26/04/2006: Survey points to positive impact of cross-community activity
25/04/2006: Judges should be prepared to challenge Acts of Parliament
25/04/2006: Queen's researchers play part in laser breakthrough
25/04/2006: School of Nursing and Midwifery Jobs Fair - Keen competition for newly registered graduates
24/04/2006: Sonorities Festival feast of Contemporary Music at Queen's
24/04/2006: Spring into learning with the new Open Learning Programme at Queen's
14/04/2006: Betwixt and Between
13/04/2006: The Wheel-A Community Initiative in Active Citizenship
13/04/2006: Queen's spin-out companies top £50 million turnover
12/04/2006: Another star-studded season of cinema at the Queen's Film Theatre
12/04/2006: New exhibition to look at links between art and medicine
12/04/2006: All-Ireland Electronic Consultations Will Encourage Active Citizenship
12/04/2006: Alternative Agriculture Enterprise in Brittany
11/04/2006: Queen's University Triathlon Club Announces First Titanic Duathlon Series
11/04/2006: Quercus Flex their Mussels
10/04/2006: Universities "must embrace change" - Gregson
10/04/2006: Sonorities Festival April feast of Contemporary Music announced
07/04/2006: UN Decade for Elimination of Poverty fails to end child poverty in NI
07/04/2006: Queen's Hosts All-Ireland Schools of Pharmacy Research Seminar 2006
06/04/2006: Queen's Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering PhD Student Wins Sir Bernard Crossland Award
05/04/2006: Technology is changing approaches to Homeland Security and Virtual Borders
04/04/2006: £650M Northern Ireland Plastics Industry celebrates Tenth Anniversary of Queen's PPRC
01/04/2006: Over 350 Psychiatrists, Neuroscientists and Pharmacologists set to visit Queen's

Queen's International Student celebrates win in British Council 'Shine' Award
Queen's student Mr Irtaza Waseem Khan with Prime Minister Tony Blair at No. 10 Downing St. Irtaza was at Downing St as one of the winners of Shine International Student Awards
Queen's student Mr Irtaza Waseem Khan with Prime Minister Tony Blair at No. 10 Downing St. Irtaza was at Downing St as one of the winners of Shine International Student Awards

A Queen's University Belfast student, Mr Irtaza Waseem Khan, has won a prize of £1,000 and a commemorative award from the British Council in the 'Shine-International Student Awards'. Mr Khan, studying for a MEng Degree in Mechanical Engineering was considered the outstanding applicant from Northern Ireland and travelled to London to receive his award from Rt Hon Lord Neil Kinnock, Chair of the British Council.

Listed among his achievements, the student from Lahore in Pakistan, organised events both at the University and with the local community, supporting other international students to engage with their new environment and cultures.

In 2004 he won Best student of the year nominated by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, when scoring the highest marks in mechanical engineering exams across the UK.

As one of twelve regional winners, Irtaza was invited to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street as part of the Awards presentations and in recognition of the growing contribution of international students to the education system of the UK. This offered an opportunity for the Prime Minister to hear directly from Irtaza as an international student studying in Belfast, of the positive experience he enjoyed while managing to get the highest exam scores in the UK in his engineering studies. The Award winner will be putting his celebrations partly on hold for a couple of months as he is currently completing a work placement at the Turbine Blade Facility in Rolls Royce Coventry, before he returns to Queen's to complete his final year of studies.

For further information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Communications Office, 028 9097 5320 or Rosemary Mc Alonan, International Office, 028 9097 1151.

Irtaza, as winner of the award, can be contacted through either of the above for interview by telephone.

Note for Editors:

The 'Shine International Student Awards' are organised by the British Council and throw a spotlight on the overseas student experience of living and learning in the United Kingdom.

The Awards provide an opportunity for international students to offer their perceptions and illuminate understanding of what they are, what they want to be, and what they think of their host region/country. The Awards were presented at BAFTA in London on Thursday 27 April.

There are over 2,000 students from outside the European Union, studying at Universities, Colleges and Schools in Northern Ireland and the numbers are increasing annually .The Scheme is supported by the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland.

Over 2,000 students from 125 countries entered the UK wide Shine competition this year which is in its 4th year, and more details are available on the British Council website www.educationuk.org/shine with photographs of the Regional finalists.

Two Queen's University students were also highly commended along with a student from the University of Ulster and from Methodist College, as runners up in the Northern Ireland 2006 Regional finals.

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Queen's celebrates distinguished civil engineer

One of Northern Ireland's most distinguished civil engineers will be the guest of honour at a special celebration dinner at Queen's University on Friday night.

The event will celebrate the career of Queen's Professor Adrian Long, who was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list, and in 2002 became the first Northern Ireland President of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Among those paying tribute to Professor Long will be Queen's Emeritus Professor Sir Bernard Crossland, who chaired the public enquiry into the King's Cross disaster, and the University's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson.

The Vice-Chancellor said: "Adrian Long has made a remarkable contribution both to Queen's and to his profession.

"A first-class honours graduate of the University, a former Queen's Senator and a former Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, he is our longest-serving holder of the historic 1849 Chair in Civil Engineering, with some 30 years in the post. In this role, he has continued a proud tradition at Queen's, which was one of the first universities in these islands to establish a department of Civil Engineering.

"Since 1971 - apart from a year's sabbatical leave - he has devoted his career to Queen's making a major contribution to the University's international reputation for the quality of its engineering research and teaching, and the calibre of its graduates. And in his role as President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, he was an impressive ambassador for Northern Ireland."

The author of numerous technical publications, Professor Long has served on many prestigious professional bodies. His research on the durability of structural materials, the design of reinforced and pre-stressed concrete structures, and wave energy conversion has won a series of national and international awards. He is a past President of the Old Boys' Association of Dungannon Royal School.

The dinner has been organised by the Friends of QUB Civil Engineering, a group of Queen's graduates, past and present academics, and representatives from a range of United Kingdom and Irish universities and professional engineering bodies, the tribute to Professor Long.

Among those attending will be senior representatives from the engineering profession in Northern Ireland, including Professor Long's former students and colleagues at Queen's.

For further information please contact: Anne Langford, 028 9097 5310

Editor's Note: The celebration dinner will take place in the Great Hall of Queen's on Friday 28 April, at 8.00pm. Photographic opportunities will be available at the pre-dinner reception, from 7.30pm in the University's Naughton Gallery and Black-and-White Hall.

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Electronics giants see pioneering technology from Northern Ireland

Experts from Queen's University's £40 million Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) are being helped by Invest Northern Ireland to present their pioneering work to and discuss collaboration opportunities with senior executives of Sony, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Panasonic and NEC in Japan next week.

Headed by Professor John McCanny, ECIT Director, the research team will also meet experts from leading universities in Japan and then in Taiwan to explore opportunities for technology partnerships and collaboration during the Invest NI-backed technology mission from Saturday 22 April - Saturday 29 April.

In Taiwan, meetings have been lined up with the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the Semiconductor Association and the National Nano Device Laboratory at National Chiao Tung University in Hsinchu.

The ECIT team will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Taiwan "National System on a Chip" Programme [NSoC] which is located in this university to work together on future research projects. The university is a world leader in semiconductor technology.

In addition to Prof McCanny, the ECIT team comprises Dr Sakir Sezer, an expert on digital communications and System-on-Chip technology; Dr Paul Millar, a specialist in image and vision processing; and Godfrey Gaston, ECIT Operations Director.

Prof McCanny will also take part in the 2006 International Symposium on VLSI Design, Automation and Test being held in Hsinchu, the semiconductor capital of Taiwan, and sponsored by the country's Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Industrial Technology Research Institute, National Science Council and the Ministry of Education. He is a member of the influential VLSI Technical Program Committee.

Tracy Meharg, Invest NI's Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, commenting on the mission, said: "Innovation in many technology areas is now being driven by international partnerships. ECIT is now highly regarded within this industry which is now helping to shape so many other technology and business sectors.

This mission will help ECIT to build on the collaboration arrangements it already has by exploring opportunities with technology leaders in business and academia in Japan and Taiwan. Invest NI's support for the mission reflects our strategic commitment to facilitate innovation and international networking that will help to strengthen Northern Ireland's technology base," she added.

For further information please contact Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office, 028 9097 5384.

Notes to Editors: ECIT was established to stimulate major opportunities for economic growth, by undertaking pioneering research in carefully selected areas of electronics and computer technology that under-pin important opportunities for industrial and commercial application over the next decade.

Located on a flagship site in the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast's Titanic Quarter, ECIT has received funding from the European Union, Invest Northern Ireland and the Department for Employment and Learning.

National Chiao Tung University was established in 1958 in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Over the last 45 years, National Chiao Tung University has become a leading centre of academic excellence in Taiwan and has made significant contributions to the development of Information/ Communication/ Optoelectronics Sciences and Technology.

It has six colleges offering undergraduate, masters, and PhD degrees in Science, Engineering, Management, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Student enrolment currently stands at 10,500 with 5,500 graduate students and 5,000 undergraduates.

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Survey points to positive impact of cross-community activity

A major study into the attitudes of 16 year olds in Northern Ireland shows that cross-community activity and greater integration in education are vital to the building of a more stable and inclusive society, it is claimed today.

Duncan Morrow, chief executive of the Community Relations Council (CRC), says that the Young Life and Times Survey - the findings of which are launched today as part of CRC's Community Relations Week - points to significantly greater support for religious mixing and more favourable attitudes towards the other main religious community amongst young people who have taken part in cross-community activities or attended planned integrated schools.

Mr Morrow says that the findings of the survey - carried out over the last three years - show that although family is the most important factor in influencing young people's attitudes to community relations, cross-community activity is also a major determinant.

"The Young Life and Times Survey is a major study that has been carried out by ARK, a research project managed jointly by Queens University and the University of Ulster, looking into the attitudes of 16 year olds to community relations," he says. "The data that is being launched today looks at attitudes recorded over the past three years."

"What the findings show is that where 16 year olds have been involved in inter-school projects or have attended integrated schools, their attitudes towards members of the other community are much more likely to be favourable than those who have not been involved in either.

"We also see that those who responded to the survey who had attended planned integrated schools or participated in cross-community projects were significantly more likely than those who hadn't to support mixed neighbourhoods, workplaces and schools."

"This provides further evidence of what those of us working in community relations have always known: that participation in cross-community activities and greater integration in education are vital in terms of building a shared society that will benefit all of the citizens of Northern Ireland. Without this activity, which is taking place largely unnoticed across Northern Ireland all year, CRC believes that we would end up with a permanently segregated, divided and distrustful society," Mr Morrow adds.

Young Life and Times director, Dirk Schubotz, says: "The data presented provide evidence that participation in cross-community schemes and attendance at planned integrated schools are positively related to how favourably young people from different religious backgrounds in Northern Ireland feel towards each other. The findings of the YLT survey also suggest that planned integrated schools in particular have a significant impact on how their students view the other main religious community".

Gillian Robinson of the University of Ulster adds: "Only the future will tell whether or not young people growing up in more peaceful times can overcome the bitterness of the past. What seems certain is that increased contact through participation in cross community schemes and attendance at integrated schools has impacted positively on attitudes towards the other main community in Northern Ireland. This evidence suggests that such policy interventions have had significant success and should continue to be resourced".

77% of respondents to the survey had had contact in school with pupils from other religious backgrounds. 53% had taken part in cross-community projects, three-quarters of which were described as either positive or very positive. 5% of YLT respondents attended planned integrated schools.

42% of 16-year olds who described themselves as Catholic and had taken part in cross-community activity said that they had a favourable attitude towards members of the other main religious community. Of those 'Catholics' who had not taken part in cross-community activity, 33% said that they had a favourable attitude to members of the other main religious community.

41% of 16-year olds who described themselves as Protestant and had taken part in cross-community activity said that they had a favourable attitude towards members of the other main religious community. Of those 'Protestants' who had not taken part in cross-community activity, 26% said that they had a favourable attitude to members of the other main religious community.

46% of 'Catholics' who had attended planned integrated schools said that they had a favourable attitude to members of the other main religious community. Of those 'Catholics' who had not attended planned integrated education, 39% said that they had a favourable attitude to members of the other main religious community.

43% of 'Protestant' who had attended planned integrated education said that they had a favourable attitude to members of the other main religious community. Of those 'Protestants' who had not attended planned integrated education, 36% said that they had a favourable attitude to members of the other main religious community.

56% of respondents who had been involved in cross-community activity were in favour of mixed neighbourhoods compared to 41% of those who hadn't. 73% of those who had been involved in cross-community activity were in favour of mixed workplaces compared to 61% of those who hadn't. The difference was most noticeable in relation to mixing in schools, where 85% of those attending planned integrated schools were in favour of mixed religion schools compared to just under half (49%) of grammar school students and 38% of students who attended secondary schools.

47% of all YLT respondents regarded their family as the main influence on how they view people from the other religious community. Respondents attending planned integrated schools were much more likely to see their school as the main influencing factor on their views.

For further information please contact: Chris Harrison, JPR, 028 9076 4959, 077 6641 7550, chris.harrison@jprni.com

Note to editor: The Young Life and Times Survey has been funded by the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Regions of Ireland 2002-2004, Measure 2:1 (2003-2004) and by the Carnegie Young People Trust (2005). For more information, visit: www.ark.ac.uk/ylt.

The Community Relations Council, established as a registered charity in 1990, aims to build greater trust and understanding between communities in Northern Ireland across the political, cultural and religious divide.

Community Relations Week, now in its fifth year, has grown in strength and stature each year that it has taken place.

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Judges should be prepared to challenge Acts of Parliament

Judges should be prepared to seize power to declare Acts of Parliament unconstitutional according to Professor Brice Dickson of Queen's University Belfast.

The new Professor of International and Comparative Law will use his forthcoming Inaugural Lecture to argue that British judges have not asserted themselves very forcefully in the constitutional field in recent times.

"Compared with judges in most other liberal democracies such as the US, France, Ireland, India and South Africa, British judges have been rather timid. There are a few straws in the wind which suggest that things may be beginning to change. The two cases in 2004 and 2005 where the Law Lords ruled that aspects of the government's anti-terrorism laws were illegal are illustrations of this.

"I would like to suggest a number of further steps which I think UK judges could usefully take in order to make the UK's unwritten constitution more 'fit for purpose' in the 21st century. These include developing the concept of  'constitutional rights', relying more on principles of international law and seizing the power to declare Acts of Parliament to be unconstitutional."

Professor Brice Dickson's Inaugural Lecture will be held on Thursday 27 April at 5.30pm in Room G06, The Peter Froggatt Centre, Queen's University and is open to members of the public.

For further information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Communications Office 028 9097 5320 or Professor Brice Dickson 028 9097 3476.

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Queen's researchers play part in laser breakthrough

A new approach that will pave the way for a range of scientific, medical and technological applications to harness the potential from a revolutionary laser-driven acceleration technique has been developed by an international team of physicists through a partnership involving Queen's University Belfast.

Such is the significance of the discovery that, after being patented, it is reported this week in Science, (21 April 2006 Vol 312, Issue 5772, Pages 333-455) one of the most prestigious international scientific journals.

Dr Marco Borghesi of the Queen's Centre for Plasma Physics within the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen's is part of the international team that has developed a revolutionary technique that controls the properties of laser-accelerated ions.

"Ions, which are positively-charged components of matter, have a defined energy depending on their propagation velocity. There has been extensive research taking place around the world to produce beams of high-energy ions with lasers: but to be able to use them effectively in applications, the key is the ability to control their velocity and direction so that their energy can be deposited precisely and efficiently. This is exactly what the new technique enables us to do," Dr Borghesi explains.

"The ability to control the properties of laser-driven ions is a significant breakthrough. The technique that has been patented is easier to use and more efficient than other methods so far developed. The new laser-driven technique now presents a powerful tool that can be used in many applications in scientific, technological and medical areas, For example, there is potential for future use in cancer therapy," commented Professor Ciaran Lewis, head of the Centre for Plasma Physics.

The Queen's University Plasma team worked in collaboration with groups from the Universities of Dusseldorf (Germany) and Palaiseau (France) to develop the new technique. By simply directing a high-power, ultra-short laser pulse onto a thin solid foil, it is now possible to produce beams of high-energy ions, with velocities of up to one-third of the speed of light, so far only achieved employing conventional, larger-scale accelerators. By using short, intense electric fields produced by a second laser pulse, the researchers were able to select small, parallel beams of mono-energetic protons. This is an important advance as it overcomes some of the limitations that had been affecting use of laser-accelerated ion beams - for example, the tendency for beams to spread apart quickly and to contain ions of many different velocities.

The Centre for Plasma Physics is located in the new state-of-the-art International Research Centre for Experimental Physics, which opened recently. This will house the powerful TARANIS laser system, funded by a recent award of £2.1million from EPSRC. Laser-acceleration of ions is among the research topics which will be pursued with this laser.

The news of the role played by Queen's physicists in this latest scientific breakthrough follows the recent announcement that a £3.2million Science and Innovation Award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has been made to researchers in the Centre for Plasma Physics at Queen’s. The award confirms Queen's leading role in the United Kingdom in the important new developing field of Plasma Physics and will help to build up a level of theoretical, computational and experimental expertise previously unavailable in the UK.

For further information please contact: Dr Marco Borghesi, 028 9097 3516; or Communications Office, 028 9097 3087

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School of Nursing and Midwifery Jobs Fair - Keen competition for newly registered graduates

Queen's University Belfast, School of Nursing and Midwifery will host their biannual Jobs Fair on Wednesday 26 April in the William Whitla Hall between 9.30am and 12.30pm. Uniquely within Northern Ireland, Queen's provides programmes in all four branches of nursing, Adult Nursing, Children's Nursing, Learning Disability Nursing and Mental Health Nursing.

The Jobs Fair event provides an opportunity for hospital and community Trusts and some of the voluntary and independent sector employers, to meet with current students and discuss employment opportunities. It is also an opportunity for final year students to meet front-line nursing staff to discuss the varied career options that are now available.

Professor Jean Orr, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery said: "Competition between Trusts and employers to attract newly registered nurses is keen and many organisations will actually arrange for interviews at the event. The School is happy to facilitate the recruitment process and is very proud of the close links and excellent working relationships with colleagues in the Health service and voluntary and independent sectors in Northern Ireland.

"The Jobs Fair is a very important event for the School as it gives us the opportunity to link students with potential employers. It is also great to see past students representing Trusts at this event".

For further information please contact: Ms Thomasina O'Kane, School of Nursing and Midwifery, 028 9097 5709.

Notes to editors: The Jobs Fair will take place in the Sir William Whitla Hall between 9.30am and 12.30pm on Wednesday 26 April.

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Sonorities Festival feast of Contemporary Music at Queen's

The Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music at Queen's University Belfast runs from Tuesday 25 April to Monday 01 May this year and once again offers a feast of international contemporary artists. The packed programme will also mark twenty five years of one of the most boundary-crossing festivals in Europe.

Festival Chair, Pedro Rebelo, a composer and digital artist within the Sonic Arts Centre at Queen's said: "The main strength of the Sonorities Festival is its capacity for reinventing itself. This year we will present both new and up and coming artists from the world of experimental jazz, rock, new music, DJ, video art and performance.

"The Sonorities has now established a tradition in bringing to Northern Ireland innovative ideas and sounds from across the world and the 2006 Festival is no exception. Students of contemporary music will find artists from 25 countries performing more than 150 works across the six days of events.

Fred Frith and the Ulster Orchestra get things moving in the Ulster Hall on Tuesday evening at 7.45pm.

In collaboration with the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Sonorities @ the Cathedral Quarter offers on Friday 28 April a full day of events in venues around the city's cultural district including COMA playing in St. George's Market, a Lagan boat tour to the sounds of BLISS and a club night with VJ collective Stanzacrew at The Pavillion.

Director of the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen's University Professor Michael Alcorn says there is something for all contemporary music fans to look forward to in this year's Festival. "We will be delighted to welcome back established fans and look forward to making new friends this year. The international reputation of our performers and the venue here at SARC with the Sonic Laboratory Concert Hall will provide our audiences with sound projection and diffusion unique to this venue in Ireland."

The event venues this year include SARC at Chlorine Gardens, the Ulster Hall in Bedford Street, St. George's Market in May Street and the Lagan Weir at Donegal Quay.

The 2006 Sonorities Festival Programme is available from the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen's University Belfast. BT7 1NN. For bookings and programme details contact sarc@qub.ac.uk, 028 9097 4829.

For further information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Communications Office 028 9097 5320 or Dr Pedro Rebelo, 028 9097 5406, or 028 9097 4829

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Spring into learning with the new Open Learning Programme at Queen's

If the longer evenings are leaving you with more energy than usual, then why not avail of the wide variety of options on offer as part of the new Spring Open Learning Programme from Queen's Institute of Lifelong Learning.

Covering the period from May to June, the programme covers a great range of topics from regular favourites such as language and art classes and the opportunity to explore local history and World literature to new classes created specifically for the current programme.

The programme includes courses on very topical subjects, for example, A Modern History of Iraq and Television and Politics: An Intimate Relationship.

Science and technology are growing areas in the programme with innovative courses like Science of the Mundane and digital photography.

On a different note, Pet Problems and Behaviour, is sure to be a popular choice amongst animal lovers this Spring. For those keen to indulge their passion for pets, Sarah Ellis will provide an excellent first step to recognising, understanding and managing common behavioural problems in pets.

The Institute has also expanded its programme to the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, where over the course of five weeks, students can learn how to develop a puppet character, discover how different characteristics show in the puppet design, make their own puppet and undertake a short performance.

The opportunity to get out and about in the fresh air is also being offered by the several historical and gallery tours on offer.

Urging people to fulfil their learning ambitions, Dr Tess Maginess, Senior Teaching Fellow and co-ordinator of the Open Learning Programme, said:

"Spring is the season for new life and we are delighted to offer such an invigorating programme, guaranteed to lift the spirits."

Commending the programme, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson said:

"Since 1850 Queen's has been offering lectures for the citizens of Northern Ireland. Today, I am delighted to say we are not only continuing that proud tradition but also extending our range of programmes to serve the needs and wishes of the community in the 21st century. I genuinely look forward to many new enrolments at the Institute in the months ahead".

In all, over 100 courses are available and the programme also offers one-day workshops and weekend courses in a variety of subjects including law, inheritance tax, writing for profit and pleasure, relaxation and travel. There are no entrance requirements for any of these courses. Classes are open to all adults though some are offered at different levels. Credit towards the award of a certificate is available on some courses. Information on all courses available in the Spring programme may be found on the Institute's website at www.qub.ac.uk/ill or to request a copy of the programme telephone 028 9097 3323. 

For further information please contact Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office, 028 9097 5384

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Betwixt and Between

A second major international conference on issues of translation and intercultural encounter will take place at Queen's University Belfast on Tuesday 18 April - Friday 21 April. Organised by the School of English, and the School of Languages, Literatures and Performing Arts, 'Betwixt and Between: Memory and Cultural translation' explores the relationship of remembrance and historical record to issues of translation in literary, historical and political contexts.

Subjects to be discussed include representations of the Holocaust, translating the Troubles, and translation and the production of national literary histories.

Stephen Kelly, one of the Conference organisers from the School of English at Queen's said, "The international flavour of our event will welcome contributors from the US, Canada, Taiwan, Lithuania and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Ireland and the UK. We are obviously pleased to have Professors Terry Eagleton from Manchester University and Valerie Cunningham of Oxford to present Plenary Papers.

"One of the highlight events and open to the public is a dramatised reading on Tuesday 18 April at 7.30pm, of Juan Mayorga's Himmelweg: Way to Heaven. Regarded by many as the finest play by Mayorga, who recently received the Spanish National Theatre Prize, Himmelweg explores potent aspects of memory and forgetting, of seeing and not seeing, in the most painful of historical contexts. This is a new translation by Professor David Johnston from Queen's and is directed by Rachel O'Riordan, one of Ireland's most exciting young directors. The cast also includes the multi-award winning actor Richard Dormer."

The reading will last for approximately 70 minutes and will be followed by a reception in the Theatre, Film and Drama Centre at University Square. Cost of Admission £5.

For further information please contact: Stephen Kelly, 028 9097 3952.

Notes for Editors:

Betwixt and Between: Memory and Cultural Translation is organised in association with the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's University Belfast

Media opportunities will be available at the Reading on  the evening of Tuesday 18 April and at the Reception afterwards in the Theatre, Film and Drama Centre at University Square.

Full programme details available from http://www.qub.ac.uk/betwixt  

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The Wheel-A Community Initiative in Active Citizenship

Community organisations and individuals were already engaged in advance of Bertie Ahern's recent call to encourage a new culture of active citizenship in Ireland, Queen's University researcher Dr David Newman told a recent conference in Armagh. Dr Newman was reporting on a joint research programme between Queen's University Belfast, NUI Maynooth and Letterkenny Institute of Technology examining how electronic communication and computing technologies can support human consultation in Northern Ireland and border counties.

"A very important spin off in our research has been engagement with The Wheel. This is an established network of over 500 community and voluntary organisations in Ireland working together on a north-south and east-west basis. The national network has already begun to collect individual views and stories on what active citizenship means in daily life.

"How people engage on a voluntary basis, contribute to their community and in wider society are key measures in active citizenship. The Wheel has adopted a range of electronic communication technology to support the process of gathering information in a variety of forms by accessing a web site. The site (http://wheel.e-consultation.org/) has been established to make it possible to read the views and stories of others, submit your own views or story on active citizenship, fill in a form, send an e-mail, send a text message, or leave a voice mail.

"The focus of our research was to investigate how we could improve public consultation across the island of Ireland using electronic communication technologies. The Wheel is a practical example of how those engagements can and are taking place. I would certainly encourage those interested in active citizenship to visit the website and use the technology to engage in the national conversation Bertie Ahern has described.

I would also predict that as more people employ electronic technology, consultation and human engagement will become richer for it," David Newman told his audience.

For further information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Marketing, Recruitment and Communications Office, 028 9097 3087, or Dr David Newman, School of Management and Economics, 028 9097 3643, d.r.newman@qub.ac.uk

Notes for Editors

The Close Out conference was held in the city of Armagh on Wednesday 12 April

'E-Consultation: Evaluating appropriate technologies and process for citizens' participation in public policy', is one of five Projects in the Cross Border Programme for Research and Education.

Each of the Projects looks at a different at a different are where new policies and new models might be developed to support cross border activities.

The Department of Education and Science Dublin, and the Department for Employment and Learning Belfast, are responsible for the programme. This is the first time that the two government departments have jointly engaged in this type of collaborative research initiative.

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Queen's spin-out companies top £50 million turnover

Queen's University's venture capital company QUBIS Ltd is on course for record turnover this year, its Chief Executive Panos Lioulias has said. Mr Lioulias said: "We have reached a historic milestone with the turnover for our companies exceeding £50 million for the first time. This is a remarkable achievement which illustrates the innovation, commitment and entrepreneurial spirit of Queen's researchers and the vision and business acumen of our partners and investors.

"We are entering an exciting new phase of activity where we can build on our spin-out activity and business start-ups by making strategic investments in companies which are proven success stories. We hope to create many more entrepreneurs and we are very excited about the possibilities that lie ahead."

Two QUBIS companies, Meridio and Lagan Technologies Ltd, featured in the top 10 of the Deloitte Touche Fast 50, which lists the fastest growing technology companies for Ireland, and were also placed in the prestigious Sunday Times Microsoft Tech Track 100 in the United Kingdom.

QUBIS currently has 43 high value, high technology, globally trading spin-out companies employing more than 850 staff. These companies represent a significant proportion of the high technology companies in Northern Ireland and have a growing wealth creation role in the economy.

One of the most successful of these companies is Andor Technology which was successfully floated on the Alternative Investment Market in December 2004 - the first flotation of a university spin-out company in Northern Ireland.

For further information please contact: Panos Lioulias, 028 9068 2321 Anne Langford, 028 9097 5310

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Another star-studded season of cinema at the Queen's Film Theatre
Scene from the White Countess
Scene from the White Countess
Scene from La Double Vie de Veronique
Scene from La Double Vie de Veronique

It's another star-studded season of cinema at the Queen's Film Theatre this month, with exclusive new films from Daniel Day-Lewis, Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins and Tommy Lee Jones all featuring amongst the highlights of a packed programme for April and May.

As part of the Frame by Frame with Stella Artois season supported by Arts and Business, we are delighted to welcome a 2006 Academy Award winner to the Queen's Film Theatre. Peter Fudakowski, Producer of Tsotsi, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film this year, will visit the QFT on Monday 17 April to host a workshop on film production with emerging film-makers and discuss the film following its public screening at 6.30pm.

Set in a shantytown outside Johannesburg, Tsotsi (meaning "Thug") tells the story of a young hoodlum who shoots a woman, hijacks her car and flees, only to discover a baby boy in the car with him. So begins his redemption…

The Oscar theme continues with Transamerica (Friday 14 April - Thursday 27 April), the story of Bree, a perfectly adjusted conservative transsexual woman who is about to take the final step to becoming the woman she always wanted to be, when she finds out that she is parent of a long-lost 17 year-old son. Afraid to tell the teenager the truth, Bree embarks on a journey with him that will challenge and change both their lives.

Winner of the Palme D’Or at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, L'Enfant (The Child) (Friday 14 April -Thursday 20 April) depicts the lives of Bruno and Sonja, a young French couple living hand-to-mouth on stolen goods and benefits. They have recently had a child and unbeknownst to Sonja, Bruno arranges for the baby to be illegally adopted in return for quick money...

Nick Cave lends his screenwriting and musical talents to The Proposition (Friday 21 April - Thursday 04 May), a dark tale of the horrific rape and murder of a settler family by Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and his three brothers. Captured by British trooper Captain Stanley, Charlie is offered a proposition: in return for his own and brother Mikey's freedom, Charlie must kill his older brother Arthur, an outlaw.

Timothy Spall gives a breathtaking performance as Britain's best-known public executioner and last official Chief Hangman in Pierrepoint (The Last Hangman) (Friday 21 April - Saturday 27 April), a provocative exploration of capital punishment and one man's burden of conscience.

Set in 1930's Shanghai on the brink of the Japanese invasion, The White Countess (Friday 28 April - Thursday 04 May) marks the end of the Merchant-Ivory collaborative partnership, which lasted until Merchant's death last year. The story revolves around a beautiful Russian countess (Natasha Richardson), reduced to supporting her family as a bar girl and taxi dancer and the elegant nightclub created by a blind former diplomat (Ralph Fiennes) to shut out the chaos and tragedy that surround him.

Actor-director Tommy Lee Jones delivers a powerful performance in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Friday 28 April - Thursday 11 May) as Pete Perkins, a fiercely moral ranch foreman disconsolate at the murder and unceremonious burial of his Mexican ranch hand. Pete undertakes a redemptive mission to unearth the truth behind his friend's death, and wreak vengeance on those responsible as he lovingly transports his friend's corpse on mule back to his native village in Mexico.

The Squid and the Whale (Friday 05 May - Thursday 18 May) tells the touching story of two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980's. The patriarch (Jeff Daniels) claims to once have been a great novelist, but he has settled into a teaching job and when his wife (Laura Linney) discovers a writing talent of her own, jealousy divides the family, leaving two teenage sons to forge new relationships with their parents.

Daniel Day-Lewis' first new film in three years is The Ballad of Jack and Rose (Friday 5 May - Thursday 18 May), a collaboration with his writer-director wife Rebecca Miller. The result is a powerful and poetic feature about a man who has cut himself off from the world that refuses to live up to his ideals, and a young girl's sensual coming-of-age.

Junebug (Friday 12 May - Thursday 25 May) sees big city and small town collide in a funny, offbeat and beautifully observed dissection of family life. George and Madeleine, a dealer in outsider art, strike up a relationship in Chicago. They go to visit his parents in North Carolina, where Madeleine wants to close a deal with a reclusive and eccentric painter committed to his roots. However, her presence in the family home exposes fragile dynamics amongst George's family, as hidden resentments and anxieties surface.

In association with the Irish Film Institute, we'll be celebrating the Beckett Centenary Festival (Tuesday 18 - Thursday 20 April) by screening a diverse programme of films relating to the work of Samuel Beckett. Highlights include Krapps Last Tape with John Hurt and a documentary about the production of Waiting for Godot in a high security prison in Sweden.

Also celebrating an anniversary this year is one of the greatest romantic tearjerkers of all time, Brief Encounter ( Friday 21 April - Sunday 23 April), and we're pleased to mark its 60th year by screening a brand new print. New prints too of La Double Vie de Veronique (Tuesday 23 May - Thursday 25 May), arguably Krzysztof Kieslowski's most audacious attempt to explore the mysterious nature of life and Grigori Kozintsev's King Lear (Wednesday 24 May - Thursday 25 May), considered by many to be the finest Lear ever achieved on screen.

Described as "a scrumptious chocolate layer cake of a documentary" (New York Times), Ballets Russes (Friday 19 May - Tuesday 23 May) blends archival footage with interviews shot at a 2000 reunion to give an intimate portrait of a group of pioneering artists considered by many to have given birth to modern ballet.

Motorcycle fans won't want to miss Sir Anthony Hopkins in The World's Fastest Indian, the true story of New Zealand's Burt Munro who spent a lifetime perfecting his classic Indian 'Scout' motorcycle and set a new world speed record in 1967 which remains unbroken today.

Based on real events, Shooting Dogs (Friday 19 May - Thursday 25 May) revolves around a priest (John Hurt) and a teacher at a Rwandan secondary school, where hundreds of Tutsis are forced to take refuge after the ruling Hutus declare war, while UN peacekeeping forces, whose only mandate is to observe, can only watch as the horror unfolds.

VIVA! the 12th Latin American and Spanish Film Festival tours to the QFT from Monday 15 May - Monday 22 May inclusive and will bring a tasty tapas of Latino dramas, comedies and documentaries to Belfast, including a bittersweet transsexual musical from Malaga and the first Argentinean fiction feature to show the other side of the Falklands War. Staying in Latin America, Soy Cuba (Friday 02 May - Sunday 14 May) is a visually dazzling Soviet-Cuban celluloid love letter to the Castro revolution, filmed in beautiful, pellucid monochrome.

Following their recent award successes, we are delighted to bring the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain (Friday 14 May - Monday 17 April) and the stylish French thriller The Beat That my Heart Skipped (Wednesday 03 May - Thursday 04 May) back to the QFT for a return visit.

And there's plenty more to look forward to in coming months, with a Buster Keaton Season featuring a new print of The General, Francois Ozon's Time to Leave and controversial Israeli Oscar contender Paradise Now all coming soon!

For further information and booking for all QFT film events, please visit www.queensfilmtheatre.com, telephone the box office on 028 9097 1097 or drop in to the QFT at 20 University Square, Belfast.

For further information please contact: Sarah Hughes, Communications Officer, Culture and Arts Division, 028 9097 1398 s.hughes@qub.ac.uk

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New exhibition to look at links between art and medicine
An exhibit from Body of Work
An exhibit from Body of Work
An exhibit from Body of Work
An exhibit from Body of Work

A bottle of machine knitted pills and a wooden display cabinet symbolising the human body are just some of the exhibits included in Body of Work, an exhibition of the finalists in the fifth annual open art competition organised by the Naughton Gallery at Queen's and sponsored by Queen's University School of Nursing & Midwifery.

Body of Work revisits the historic links between artists and medics in the light of contemporary practice and featured works will be on display at the Naughton Gallery at Queen's University Belfast, from Thursday 13 April to Thursday 25 May.

The exhibition features 30 works from artists across the north and south of Ireland and themes explored using media from traditional oils and paint to digital imaging and installation include the perils of smoking, the use of plants in healthcare and the common syringe as both an instrument of healing and of destruction.

Shan McAnena, curator of the Naughton Gallery at Queen's said: "From the anatomical drawings of Da Vinci right through to the medical and pharmaceutical themed installations of Damien Hirst, there is a long and fascinating history of links between art and medicine. Body of Work further explores these links in the light of current art techniques and recent developments in medical technology and practice, leading to an unusual and revealing look at all aspects of health care - for mind, body and spirit.

The standard of work in this exhibition is exceptional and selecting the pieces for the show was extremely difficult. The result is an innovative, beautiful and thought-provoking exhibition showcasing some of the best of Irish contemporary art practice."

Professor Jean Orr, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen's said: "Health Care in the twenty-first century is characterised by the growing recognition of the importance of the relationship between body, mind and spirit. This is within the context of delivering health care to an increasing older population at one end of the spectrum and sustaining the life of a premature new born at the other.

"While the technical aspects of care are increasing there is a need for those delivering health care to be mindful of the unique nature of each individual and to ensure that care is given in a manner that reflects human dignity and respect.

"We've asked the artists to think about health in the broadest sense, drawing on not only body, mind and spirit at an individual level but also on the influence of culture, environment and society on the well-being of the population. The works selected reflect issues concerning both the health care professionals and the population at large in the twenty-first century."

The competition will be judged by a panel and prizes of £2,000, £1,000 and £500 will be awarded to winning artists by Professor James McElnay, Dean of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences at the exhibition preview.

Queen's University of Belfast History of Art lecturer Amanda Croft will be giving a Gallery Talk on the exhibition at the Naughton Gallery at Queen's on Saturday 22 April and Saturday 20 May at 12 noon. Admission is free.

For further information on Body of Work, please visit www.naughtongallery.org, contact the Naughton Gallery at Queen's, Lanyon Building, Queen's University, University Road, Belfast, 028 9097 3580, art@qub.ac.uk or drop in between 11.00am - 4.00pm, Monday to Saturday.

For further information please contact Sarah Hughes, Communications Officer, Culture and Arts Division, 028 9097 1398, s.hughes@qub.ac.uk

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All-Ireland Electronic Consultations Will Encourage Active Citizenship

Involving members of the public throughout Ireland in big decisions of the day is about to become easier, according to Dr David Newman from Queen's University Belfast's School of Management and Economics.

An All-Ireland collaboration between technologists from Queen's University, sociologists from NUI Maynooth, and business and community development teachers from Letterkenny Institute of Technology has concluded that electronic communication technology can be used to make future consultation more interesting and user-friendly for organisations and individuals throughout the island.

"At present, we know that it is the usual suspects who go online to read long and sometimes boring public consultation documents. Those policy advisers, academics and public affairs staff outside of government are usually hard pressed to get responses from their own constituency and up against deadlines not of their making, on issues of the day. There are even complaints of consultation fatigue as more government and public organisations on both sides of the border publish policy proposals on change for comment. The evidence we have collected shows that there does exist a wide and diverse interest among the public on influencing decision making, but it requires new and better routes to engage in the process," said Dr Newman.

"Our research set out to examine how electronic communication and computing technologies can support human consultation, negotiation and mediation in Northern Ireland and the border counties. As one partner in a number of higher education cross border projects, we have all learned that getting electronic communications technology to assist in public consultation was much easier than we expected. We now collect stories and experiences in blogs ( http://wheel.e-consultation.org/), run surveys over the World Wide Web (http://nsec.e-consultation.org), and can set up discussion forums (http://waterways.e-consultation.org) that are easy to use. So-called 'Web 2.0' technologies make it easier for lots of people to write online, not just read documents.

"The results are a significant route to more representative and better quality consultations for the future, with potential for more active citizenship on the island. The public feedback also showed that those actually preparing to consult need to promote more extensively the aims of their consultation, making it both interesting and exciting for those taking part. Giving feedback to participants on the value placed on their efforts in making an input, and how it affected the actual decision taken, is also needed to maintain both the public and individual interest for future consultations which technology can now make easier," David Newman said.

One spin off from the current research has been an investigation into active citizenship organised by The Wheel, a national network connecting over 500 Community and Voluntary organisations throughout Ireland. Members of the public can tell their own story of what it means to be an active citizen, on a web site (http://wheel.e-consultation.org/). You can read the views and stories of others, submit your own views or story, fill in a form, send an e-mail, send a text message, or leave a voice mail.

"At present we are running a trial e-consultation on diversity (http://diversity.e-consultation.org/) to show how it can be done. When that is over, we will be publishing an on-line guide to e-consultation, on www.e-consultation.org for people who want to redesign their consultation processes and take advantage of new technologies, involving more than 'the usual suspects' in future," Dr Newman said.

For further information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Marketing, Recruitment and Communications Office, 028 9097 3087 or Dr David Newman, School of Management and Economics, 028 9097 3643, d.r.newman@qub.ac.uk

Notes for Editors

The results of this All Ireland research was presented at the Close Out event in the Armagh City Hotel on Wednesday 12 April.

The Cross Border Programme for Research and Education is funded through the PEACE Two Initiative, which supported five distinct Projects with over €3 million being provided.

Each of the Projects looks at a different area where new policies and new models might be developed to support cross border activities

The Department of Education and Science Dublin, and the Department for Employment and Learning Belfast, are responsible for the programme. This is the first time that the two government departments have jointly engaged in this type of collaborative research initiative. The Higher Education Authority, Dublin, manages the programme on behalf of the two government departments.

Further information on the Programmes referred to above is on www.hea.ie  

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Alternative Agriculture Enterprise in Brittany
BAgr students from Queen's University on Study Tour in France. Left to right: John Beacom, William Moorehead, Kristie Colbert, William Rutledge, Judith McBride, William McCollum, James Brennan, Peter Kennedy, Alexandre Lecoufle (exchange student), Anne Boudon (Research Scientist, INRA, France) and Dr Alan Bell (QUB).
BAgr students from Queen's University on Study Tour in France. Left to right: John Beacom, William Moorehead, Kristie Colbert, William Rutledge, Judith McBride, William McCollum, James Brennan, Peter Kennedy, Alexandre Lecoufle (exchange student), Anne Boudon (Research Scientist, INRA, France) and Dr Alan Bell (QUB).
BAgr students from Queen's University on Study Tour in France. Left to right: Dr Peter Frost (QUB), William McCollum, William Moorehead, Kristie Colbert, James Brennan, William Rutledge, Judith McBride, John Beacom, Pierre Moizan (Beef Farmer, France), Peter Kennedy, Alexandre Lecoufle (exchange student), and Dr Alan Bell (QUB).
BAgr students from Queen's University on Study Tour in France. Left to right: Dr Peter Frost (QUB), William McCollum, William Moorehead, Kristie Colbert, James Brennan, William Rutledge, Judith McBride, John Beacom, Pierre Moizan (Beef Farmer, France), Peter Kennedy, Alexandre Lecoufle (exchange student), and Dr Alan Bell (QUB).

Queen's University students on the BSc Degree in the School of Agriculture and Food Science have just returned from a Study Tour to Brittany in France. The visit was to give students an alternative experience of agriculture under different environmental and economic conditions to those of Northern Ireland.

During an intensive week, the group visited an arable farm, intensive pig unit, an experimental dairy farm, a sheep farm on the polder region near to Mont St Michael, a Limousine beef farm and a diary farm of Normade cattle.

The itinerary was designed to give the students an opportunity to see agriculture systems in an area of France which they could compare with enterprises back in Northern Ireland. One obvious difference was the weather. While Brittany experiences a similar maritime climate to our own, the quantity and pattern of rainfall is very different, and even varies within the borders of Brittany itself. Grass growth ceases in June and does not re-commence until October. As a consequence livestock has to be housed in the summer months and feeding at this time is mainly ensiled maize.

A visit to an experimental farm operated by INRA (a French National Research Organisation) was also a key part of the visit.

"As agricultural production in Europe seeks to adjust to changing world prices, it will be students familiar with the new technologies needed to improve efficiency who will be in demand," according to Dr Alan Bell of Queen's who organised the Study Tour.

Environmental factors play an increasing role in agriculture and land management and it is important that students get to actually see and experience how others are responding to these challenges which the visit to Brittany has certainly assisted.

"Students and staff also enjoyed broadening their outlook on gastronomic matters by sampling local delights such as galettes, crepes, goats cheese with crudités and the traditional cider served in earthenware cups," according to Dr Bell.

For further information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Marketing, Recruitment and Communications Office, 028 9097 3087 or Dr Alan Bell, School of Agri-food and Land Use, 028 9025 5482

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Queen's University Triathlon Club Announces First Titanic Duathlon Series
83 year old, John McKeag, from Dundonald, a member of Ballydrain Harriers and Andrew Lee from Limavady, a member of Queen's University Triathlon Club, help launch the first ever Titanic Duathlon Series which will see four Duathlon races take place between now and July in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast. The pair, who will be competing against each other, are pictured in the former Drawing Offices at Harland and Wolff, where the Titanic was originally designed.
83 year old, John McKeag, from Dundonald, a member of Ballydrain Harriers and Andrew Lee from Limavady, a member of Queen's University Triathlon Club, help launch the first ever Titanic Duathlon Series which will see four Duathlon races take place between now and July in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast. The pair, who will be competing against each other, are pictured in the former Drawing Offices at Harland and Wolff, where the Titanic was originally designed.
Pictured in the former Drawing Offices at Harland and Wolff, where the Titanic was originally designed are 83 year old, John McKeag, from Dundonald, a member of Ballydrain Harriers and Andrew Lee from Limavady, a member of Queen's University Triathlon Club, to launch the first ever Titanic Duathlon Series which will see four Duathlon races take place between now and July in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast. The pair, who will be competing against each other, are pictured with Vicki Smyth of Titanic Quarter Ltd, who are supporting the race.
Pictured in the former Drawing Offices at Harland and Wolff, where the Titanic was originally designed are 83 year old, John McKeag, from Dundonald, a member of Ballydrain Harriers and Andrew Lee from Limavady, a member of Queen's University Triathlon Club, to launch the first ever Titanic Duathlon Series which will see four Duathlon races take place between now and July in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast. The pair, who will be competing against each other, are pictured with Vicki Smyth of Titanic Quarter Ltd, who are supporting the race.

Queen's University Triathlon Club, in conjunction with Titanic Quarter Ltd, The Port of Belfast and Belfast City Council, have announced details of the first ever Titanic Duathlon Series which will see four duathlon races take place in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast over the next three months. The first race will take place this Saturday 15 April at 3.00pm.

Helping to mark the start of the Titanic Made in Belfast Festival, which runs from Saturday 15 April to Saturday 22 April at City Hall, each race will take the format of a two mile run, a 10 mile cycle and a final two mile run. With a total of £1800 in prizes up for grabs, organisers are keen to encourage the first time duathlon competitor as well as international athletes.

Helping launch the Series, 83 year old, John McKeag from Dundonald, a member of Ballydrain Harriers, who plans to compete in all four races said: "I used to cycle here to work every day for forty years when I worked at Harland and Wolff. I would have supervised the Apprentices so I covered a lot of ground back then. It's been over twenty years since I retired and last took my bike around here, but I hope come Saturday I'll still be able to turn a corner or two. Seeing 150 cyclists coming down the Queen's Road at speed will be an impressive site and one not to be missed."

Speaking about the event, Titanic Duathlon Series Director, Paul Wilson of Queen's University Triathlon Club said: "The Titanic Duathlon Series is about having a go and taking part, rather than the competitive environment often associated with triathlons and duathlons.

"We have made our course shorter than other duathlons in the hope of encouraging people to come out and participate, particularly in the first race which is happening at the beginning of the Easter Holidays. We hope many will avail of this opportunity to rise to the challenge, whereby at the end of all four races, they will have consistently improved their times and beaten their greatest rival, themselves.

"We are reminding people all they need to take part is a bike, a pair of running shoes and a commitment to completing the fantastic course at their own pace, which will take them past many of Belfast's and the Titanic Quarter's historical landmarks. Our hope is that the Titanic Duathlon Series will become a memorable and fun annual addition to the sporting calendar in Northern Ireland."

Vicki Smyth of Titanic Quarter Ltd, who are supporting the race added: "We are delighted to welcome the Titanic Duathlon Series to Titanic Quarter and wish the organisers every success as we would like to see the Duathlon return as an annual event on the Titanic Quarter calendar."

Endorsing the event on behalf of Belfast City Council, who are sponsoring the event through the 'Support For Sport' grant scheme, Events Manager, Gerry Copeland, said: "For the past five years or so, the Council has been proactively promoting Belfast as the home of Titanic, placing the city at the heart of one of the world's most famous stories. This new event is a fitting addition to the annual programme of events organised by the Council, and others, and we congratulate the Queen's University Triathlon Club on their initiative and wish them all the best with the event."

The remaining races, will take place on Saturday 06 May; Saturday 17 June and Sat 22 July (Ulster Duathlon Championships) and entry fees are £10 per race or £30 for entry into all four races. All races begin at 3.00pm and Juniors (Under 20s), will receive a refund of 50 per cent on their entry fee on the day of the race. Entries and payment can be made online at www.queensduathlon.com until 10.00pm, Thursday 13 April. Late entries will be accepted on the day to an overall entry limit of 150 competitors.

For further information please contact Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office, 028 9097 5384.

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Quercus Flex their Mussels
Dr Jane Preston of Quercus with Alan Keys, Manager of the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery, checking juvenile pearl mussels
Dr Jane Preston of Quercus with Alan Keys, Manager of the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery, checking juvenile pearl mussels
Dr Jane Preston of Quercus with Alan Keys, Manager of the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery, checking juvenile pearl mussels
Dr Jane Preston of Quercus with Alan Keys, Manager of the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery, checking juvenile pearl mussels

Funding has been secured by scientists at Queen's University to continue a programme which will maintain and develop the Freshwater Pearl Mussel population in Northern Ireland.

Quercus, the National Research Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at Queen's University Belfast has secured funding from the Environment and Heritage Service for a 3 year project that aims to breed and re-introduce one of our most endangered freshwater species.

The freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera was at one time found commonly in many of the rivers in Northern Ireland and the species was exploited commercially in the past for its freshwater pearls. However, populations have declined and research suggests that this globally endangered species will become extinct unless adequate protection and management is provided.

The new project will build on collaborative research between Queen's University and Ballinderry Fish Hatchery into the culture of juvenile mussels. If successful, the breeding programme is expected to establish in the region of 1 million juvenile mussels for re-introduction to rivers across Northern Ireland.

Dr Jane Preston, principal scientific investigator said, "This project will make a significant contribution towards stabilising and improving the status of the freshwater pearl mussel in Northern Ireland. Pearl mussels are an important part of our social heritage and have a cultural significance beyond their ecological importance. This project will set the stage for a re-emergence of pearl mussels in the social consciousness of Northern Ireland."

Welcoming the new project, Mr Graham Seymour, Director of Natural Heritage in EHS said: "The current project will build on previous research into the culture of Freshwater Pearl Mussels and will make a significant contribution towards stabilising and improving the status of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel, a key part of Northern Ireland’s biodiversity."

NOTES:

  1. Quercus is Northern Ireland's research centre for biodiversity and conservation biology and is a partnership between Queen's University of Belfast and the Environment & Heritage Service.
  2. The mussel life cycle involves mussels releasing larvae (glochidia) into the water. These glochidia need to attach to fish gills, usually salmon or trout, for a period of about 6 months before falling onto the river bed to settle and grow in to young mussels. This life cycle has been successfully established in captivity.
  3. Historically, the species was extremely common in suitable rivers throughout most of its range. However, during the last century, habitat degradation, deteriorating water quality, decreasing abundance of host fish and pearl fishing have been responsible for the decline and fragmentation of freshwater pearl mussel populations throughout Europe.
  4. The current project will build on collaborative research that has been carried out over the last 8 years by Queen's University Belfast and Ballinderry Fish Hatchery. This previous work has been funded by EHS and the Scottish and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research (SNIFFER) initiative.
  5. Declines in the number of Freshwater Pearl Mussel Margaritifera margaritifera,populations across the UK, prompted the publication of a Species Action Plan for the species in 1995, to promote the recovery of this important shellfish. A Northern Ireland Species Action Plan was published in March 2005. The Northern Ireland Species Action Plan for this species identified a number of targets and actions aimed at improving the conditions for, and ultimately increasing the population of, the Freshwater Pearl Mussel. The main objectives and targets of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel Species Action Plan are to (i) maintain the size of existing significant populations, (ii) increase the size of these populations and (iii) re-establish populations of Freshwater Pearl Mussel in further suitable sites.
  6. A copy of the Northern Ireland Species Action for Freshwater Pearl Mussel is available at www.ehsni.gov.uk.

For more information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Communications Office, 028 9097 3087 or Dr Jane Preston, 02890 972259.

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Northern Ireland is "visitors' dream", say Queen's conference delegates

Northern Ireland is a "visitors' dream", according to representatives attending one of the largest professional conferences ever held in Northern Ireland.

Feedback from the almost 1000 delegates attending the 2006 annual conference of the Association of University Administrators at Queen’s University has included tributes to the warmth of the Northern Ireland people, the beauty of its scenery and the richness of its history.

Local AUA Organiser, Queen's Events Manager Una Reid said: "We have been delighted to host this prestigious conference. It has taken months to plan, but the comments from our visitors have made it very worthwhile.

"It has been a great showcase for Queen's and also for Belfast and Northern Ireland. In addition to the working sessions, the programme of cultural events and visits, including tours of Belfast and trips to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, the Giants’ Causeway and Bushmills Distillery, have been particularly well-received."

AUA is the professional body for higher education administrators and managers in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The Association’s 2006 conference, on the theme "Taking Giant Steps Forward”, has featured a range of expert speakers addressing a cross-section of issues, including the impact of the new approach to fees, the quality of the student experience, job evaluation and the changing role of marketing and admissions.

Among those attending are delegates from the United Kingdom and Ireland, and a number from further afield, including Nigeria, Ghana, the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

The conference’s gala dinner – one of the largest ever hosted at Queen’s – takes place tonight (Tuesday) in three different venues on campus.

For further information, please contact: Anne Langford, 028 9097 5310

Notes:

Media opportunities will be available at the pre-dinner reception from 7.00pm - 8.00pm in the Lanyon Building, Queen’s University.

To view a copy of the conference programme, please click www.aua2006.qub.ac.uk/index.html  

Queen’s University has a long history as conference host, winning a tourism award for the British Association for the Advancement of Science conference which drew nearly 3,000 visitors, including more than 100 journalists, to Belfast in 1987.

In 2003 the University hosted the Association of Commonwealth Universities meeting of more than 200 university chiefs from 54 countries and all five continents.

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Universities "must embrace change" - Gregson

Universities in the United Kingdom and Ireland must learn to embrace change if they are to compete effectively on the world stage, Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson has said.

The Vice-Chancellor was delivering the plenary address to almost 1000 university administrators at their annual conference, which opened at Queen's today. The annual meeting conference of the Association of University Administrators, which takes place until Wednesday 12 April, is the biggest residential conference ever hosted and organised by Queen's.

The Vice-Chancellor said: "The 2006 AUA conference comes at a crossroads for higher education in the UK. But the changes and challenges we face present unparalleled opportunities to make our mark on the future.

"There is, and will continue to be, major change in the identity and ethos of higher education. We must learn to embrace it - to learn from our heritage and seize the new opportunities generated by change.

"Our role is now informed by the external environment and market forces which impact directly on university priorities. The introduction of Full Economic Costing of university research and the advent of Variable Fees for our students are just two of the current challenges.

Professor Gregson said that, while it is too soon to assess the full impact of the introduction of variable fees, it is fuelling greater expectations among students.

"Universities urgently need substantial additional resources which fees will produce, and it is reasonable to expect graduates to share the rising costs of a higher education system from which they will benefit. The introduction of variable fees gives universities greater flexibility and choice, and new grants and bursaries will help to ensure that all those who can benefit from a university education have the chance to do so.

"Increasingly students see themselves as customers, rightly demanding value for money and comparing the delivery of services of one university with another. We are increasingly working in a competitive environment - and with technology it is easy for people to compare one institution's offering with another's. Universities have always been competitive in terms of academic reputation; now they are also increasingly competitive for high-quality students.

"To meet this challenge we are all investing in the experience we offer our students. At Queen's we are investing in a £44 million new library, a purpose-built student village offering ensuite, networked accommodation, sporting and cultural facilities and our Students' Union building.

"Changes in funding mean that universities have had to become more entrepreneurial, generating an increasing proportion of their income from non-governmental sources such as professional and executive education, commercialisation of research and major development programmes and overseas tuition fees.

"These projects rely upon successful fund-raising, reinforcing the rapidly changing partnership between the University and its key stakeholders. This is increasingly the way forward."

Professor Gregson said that the strong reputation of the UK university system internationally, based on its history and its tradition of scholarship, will help the sector to prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

He added: "The university sector in the UK has played a world-leading role for centuries. It has not achieved this without learning to adapt and change.

"It has a great many strengths - its commitment to excellence, its research culture, its quality assurance mechanisms, its people.

"But increasingly it needs to manage these to meet strategic goals, to market its strengths and to take an international view."

AUA is the professional body for higher education administrators and managers in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The Association's 2006 conference, on the theme "Taking Giant Steps Forward", features a range of expert speakers addressing a cross-section of issues, including the impact of the new approach to fees, the quality of the student experience, job evaluation and the changing role of marketing and admissions.

For further information please contact: Anne Langford, 028 9097 5310

Notes for editors: To view a copy of the AUA programme, please click www.aua2006.qub.ac.uk/index.html  

Queen's University has a long history as conference host, winning a tourism award for the British Association for the Advancement of Science conference which drew nearly 3,000 visitors, including more than 100 journalists, to Belfast in 1987.

In 2003 the University hosted the Association of Commonwealth Universities meeting of more than 200 university chiefs from 54 countries and all five continents.

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Sonorities Festival April feast of Contemporary Music announced

The Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music at Queen's University Belfast will take place from Tuesday 25 April to Monday 01 May this year and once again offers a feast of international contemporary artists. The packed programme will also mark twenty five years of one of the most boundary-crossing festivals in Europe.

Festival Chair, Pedro Rebelo, a composer and digital artist within the Sonic Arts Centre at Queen's University Belfast launching the Festival Brochure said: "The main strength of the Sonorities Festival is its capacity for reinventing itself. This year we will present both new and up and coming artists from the world of experimental jazz, rock, new music, DJ, video art and performance.

"The Sonorities has now established a tradition in bringing to Northern Ireland innovative ideas and sounds from across the world and the 2006 Festival is no exception. Students of contemporary music will find artists from 25 countries performing more than 150 works across the six days of events.

"We are delighted to present the visionary free jazz of Anthony Braxton, the rock/new music fusion of Fred Frith along with the Ulster Orchestra conducted by Baldur Bronnimann, the electracoustic music of SARC’s composer in residence Christian Calon, the unique performance of intermedia artist Adriana Sa and many more."

In collaboration with the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Sonorities @ the Cathedral Quarter offers on Friday 28 April a full day of events in venues around the city's cultural district including COMA playing in St. George’s Market, a Lagan boat tour to the sounds of BLISS and a club night with VJ collective Stanzacrew at The Pavillion.

As part of its celebration of creativity combining music, visual and performance arts, other festival highlights will include:

  • Wednesday 26 April: Guitar and Electronics-the ten string guitar of Stefan Cstersjo 
  • Wednesday 26 April: Rock/new fusion of Fred Frith with the cross-genre percussionist Chris Cutler
  • Thursday 27 April: Solo violin and Electronics with the veteran violinist Carlos Zingaro 
  • Thursday 27 April: Telectu and Chris Cutler
  • Saturday 29 April: This year's Festival includes a Symposium on "Performance in technology mediated environments" with keynote speakers Susan Broadhurst of Brunel University and Ben Watson who has written extensively on pop culture, punk and the influences of Frank Zappa
  • Sunday 30 April: The Sonic Arts Research Centre off the Malone Road is the lunch time venue for Gareth Davis with Clarinet and Electronics and also the Sunday evening performance by Rafael Toral and Ricardo Climent offering titled Space and Woodpeckers 
  • Monday 01 May: The May Day treat is a lunchtime performance at the Harty Room in Queen's with Spectral Voices featuring Bob Gilmore, Alfrun Schmid and Elisabeth Smalt

Director of the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen's University Professor Michael Alcorn says there is something for all contemporary music fans to look forward to in this year's Festival. "We will be delighted to welcome back established fans and look forward to making new friends this year. The international reputation of our performers and the venue here at SARC with the Sonic Laboratory Concert Hall will provide our audiences with sound projection and diffusion unique to this venue in Ireland."

The event venues this year include SARC at Chlorine Gardens, the Ulster Hall in Bedford Street, St. George's Market in May Street and the Lagan Weir at Donegal Quay.

The 2006 Sonorities Festival Programme brochure becomes available on Monday 10 April from the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen's University Belfast and for bookings and programme details please contact 028 9097 4829, sarc@qub.ac.uk.

You can visit the website http://www.sonorities.org.uk.  Entry to many of the events are free and up to 50% saving is available on the Full Festival saver and Weekend saver prices. Tickets for the Lagan Boat Tour at £5 must be obtained at www.cqaf.com. A separate free ticket to BBC Invitation Concerts must be obtained from the BBC.

For further information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Communications Office, 028 9097 5320 or Dr Pedro Rebelo, 028 9097 5406, or 028 9097 4829

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UN Decade for Elimination of Poverty fails to end child poverty in NI

Professor Eithne Mc Laughlin of Queen's University Belfast is co-author of a new report which records that as many as 170,000 children under 18 are living in poverty in Northern Ireland.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the Labour Government had missed its UK target for 2004/5 of reducing child poverty levels by one quarter. The intention to lift 1 million children out of poverty was missed by 300,000. Northern Ireland was not included in these figures nor had separate targets been set for reductions of child poverty here by the former Assembly and Executive.

A new report launched today by the Equality and Social Inclusion in Ireland Project and Save the Children is based on research carried out for The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. Child and Family Poverty in Northern Ireland sets out baseline statistics on child poverty in Northern Ireland, unravels the different approaches to measuring child poverty and examines the causes of child and family poverty. This definitive report, written by Marina Monteith and Eithne McLaughlin, shows that 112,000 children in Northern Ireland live below the UK government's poverty line and as many as 170,000 children under 18 are living in poverty in Northern Ireland. The report also recommends a broad range of actions government could take to begin to reduce child and family poverty levels.

The report indicates that children who are living in poverty are going without many things others take for granted for example: family day trips, holidays, leisure and social activities, new clothes when required and sports gear with which to participate in school and out of school activities. The most deprived and severely poor children also go without three meals a day or without the right kinds of food. They live in households where their parents worry constantly about finances and how to pay the bills. The food poverty experienced by children in Northern Ireland is partly a result of the low incomes of families on benefits and partly the result of high prices for basic food stuffs and fuel.

The report's authors Eithne McLaughlin and Marina Monteith stated "it is regrettable that the suspension of the devolved government in 2003 so seriously interrupted the development of an anti-poverty strategy in and for Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Anti Poverty and Children's strategies which government hope to introduce later in 2006 mean that although government will not have made a significant contribution to eliminating child poverty in Northern Ireland during the UN Decade for The Elimination of Poverty; it will at least have started to address the issue through research and strategic planning before the decade ends".

Some of the structural factors causing and sustaining child and family poverty and deprivation in Northern Ireland resulting in tens of thousands of children continuing to start life in poverty and distress include:

  • Low employment rates among mothers; Long-term unemployment; Low Pay especially in the private sector
  • Low levels of educational qualifications especially among lone parents; High prices for food, fuel and travel relative to GB but common benefit and tax credit income levels
  • Limited public transportation system inhibiting access to both employment and competitively priced necessities
  • Limited regulation of food, transport and fuel prices especially in deprived localities

Notes to Editors

Child and Family Poverty by Eithne McLaughlin and Marina Monteith is launched today at The Wellington Park Hotel by the Equality and Social Inclusion In Ireland Project and Save the Children. This research was funded by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

Copies of the report will be available at the launch. To book a place at the launch (places are limited to 50) please contact Gillian Purdy, g.purdy@qub.ac.uk.

Eithne McLaughlin will be available for interviews on Monday 10 April from 9.00am to 1.00pm. Contact Gillian Purdy, 028 9097 1243 to book a time.

For further information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Marketing, Recruitment and Communications Office, 028 9097 3087; Eithne McLaughlin at the Equality and Social Inclusion Project, 028 9097 5102 or Marina Monteith at Save the Children office 028 9043 1123 or 07743856455.

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Queen's Hosts All-Ireland Schools of Pharmacy Research Seminar 2006

The School of Pharmacy at Queen's University Belfast, will host the 2006 All-Ireland Schools of Pharmacy Research Seminar on Monday 10 April and Tuesday 11 April. Representatives from Trinity College Dublin (TCD), the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and University College Cork (UCC), will all be in attendance to learn of the diversity of research currently being conducted within the various universities.

The Seminar will be the 28th meeting of the Schools of Pharmacy within Ireland. Speaking about the event, Dr Gavin Andrews, Conference Organiser said: "The Seminar will offer an opportunity to build upon and strengthen relationships between postgraduates, post-doctoral research staff and academic members from the respective Schools of Pharmacy and also provide a unique platform upon which post-graduate students can exercise their presentation skills in a friendly conference style atmosphere.

"The quality and diversity of both the oral and poster presentations at this year's seminar reflects the strength of research within the pharmaceutical sciences along with clinical and pharmacy practice and gives a vital snapshot of the current research being conducted across Ireland."

The event is being sponsored by Warner Chilcott plc, The Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA), Independent Pharmacy Ownership Scheme (IPOS) and Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI).

For further information please contact Dr Gavin Andrews (conference organiser), 028 9097 5384, g.andrews@qub.ac.uk or Dr. Heather Anderson, 028 9097 2308.

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Queen's Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering PhD Student Wins Sir Bernard Crossland Award
Queen's PhD student Ruari McCool from Strabane, is presented with the Sir Bernard Crossland Prize by Sir Bernard himself. Ruari won the 9th Annual Prize for his work towards producing packaging more efficiently.
Queen's PhD student Ruari McCool from Strabane, is presented with the Sir Bernard Crossland Prize by Sir Bernard himself. Ruari won the 9th Annual Prize for his work towards producing packaging more efficiently.

Ruari McCool, from Strabane, a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering PhD student at Queen's University, has been awarded the prestigious 9th annual Sir Bernard Crossland Symposium Prize at a ceremony in Trinity College, Dublin, for his work towards producing a more efficient and waste-free method of packaging.

Awarded annually to a postgraduate student who has completed one year of research in Mechanical Engineering at a university in Ireland, Ruari was presented with his €1200 award by Sir Bernard, the man who led the scientific inquiry into the London King's Cross fire in 1987.

Entitled Tomorrows Food Packaging Today, Through Process Modelling, Ruari's final research paper involved him working in collaboration with local packaging company, Wilsanco Plastics of Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, under the supervision of Dr Peter Martin and Prof Eileen Harkin-Jones, also of Queen's University.

Speaking about his work Ruari said: "In today's world, the costs of plastic raw material are rocketing. Extreme pressure is put on packaging companies to reduce their material consumption.

"My project involved researching more efficient ways to improve the manufacture of food packaging items, such as yogurt and butter pots. In order to do this I worked alongside a local packaging company based in Dungannon, called Wilsanco Plastics. After examining their processes I worked on building computer simulations of a process that can accurately predict the final product and so cut down on wastage. I hope it will eventually be of use to many different companies."

The annual Sir Bernard Crossland Symposium is organised jointly by Engineers Ireland and the Council of Professors of Mechanical Engineering. Funding for the prizes is provided by a bequest from Sir Bernard, Emeritus Professor and former Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Queen's.

Further details on the symposium can be found at http://www.mme.tcd.ie/~godonnel/bcsymposium/index.php

For further information, please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office, 028 9097 5384

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Technology is changing approaches to Homeland Security and Virtual Borders

With the issue of Homeland Security never far from headlines, the Director of the Centre for Policy Research at the University of Albany in the United States, will deliver a guest lecture at Queen's University Belfast on Thursday 06 April on the subject of New Technology, Border Control and Homeland Security.

Professor Rey Koslowski will speak about his current research, observing changes made by the United States and other advanced industrialised countries, to selectively manage and control migration using new information technologies. The lecture entitled "Real Challenges for Virtual Borders", is hosted by the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen's and is part of an open Lecture series organised by the School.

Dr Roberto Belloni of Queen's University said that Rey Koslowski and his research has previously attracted the attention of policy-makers, academics and companies interested in the use of information technologies in matters of global governance. Dr Belloni said: "There is a growing drive to increase the productivity of international organisations, network across borders and encourage the formation of transnational public-private partnerships. This is happening in particular between governments, businesses and the larger non governmental organisations. We are very much engaged with these developments in relation to the study of International Politics and Ethnic Conflict studies here at Queen's University Belfast.

"New technology has already been impacting on the movements of people, in airports for example, but there is a new capability emerging to shape flows of human capital and meet the needs of established information technology driven and globalising economies. The key issue of Border Control and Homeland Security have been given a new priority since 9/11 not just in the United States but across all countries and continents.

"New information technologies are now a major factor in the movement and migration of people and Professor Koslowski has particular specialist knowledge to impart during his guest lecture on the most recent developments."

"Real Challenges for Virtual Borders" by Rey Koslowski, hosted by the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy will be held at 4.00pm - 6.00pm, in the Conference Room, 21 University Square, Belfast on Thursday 06 April.

Notes to Editor:
The School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy is the largest institutional centre for the study of these subjects in Ireland and one of the largest in the UK.

In the last Research Assessment Exercise both Politics and European Studies achieved Grade 5A, placing them among the very strongest of the UK's most research intensive groups in these subjects.

The International Politics and Ethnic Conflict (IPEC) cluster reflects the research interests of members of the School as well as specialists in security studies, cultural studies and international political economy.

For further information, please contact: Dr Roberto Belloni, 028 9097 3279 or r.belloni@qub.ac.uk  or Brendan Heaney, Communications Office, 028 9097 5320.

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Queen's takes "giant steps" towards biggest-ever conference
Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson and local AUA conference organiser, Queen's Events Manager Una Reid, leaf through the conference programme.
Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson and local AUA conference organiser, Queen's Events Manager Una Reid, leaf through the conference programme.

Almost 1000 representatives from universities throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland will gather at Queen's University next week for one of the largest professional conferences ever held in Northern Ireland. One of the key issues on the conference agenda will be the impact of variable fees on the higher education sector.

The event - the 2006 annual conference of the Association of University Administrators, which takes place at the University from Monday 10 April to Wednesday 12 April - is the biggest residential conference ever hosted and organised by Queen's.

AUA is the professional body for higher education administrators and managers in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. It has played a key role in underpinning the development of the university sector for many years.

The 2006 programme, on the theme "Taking giant steps forward", will cover a range of major topics facing higher education, as well as giving delegates the opportunity to update their knowledge and skills.

Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson, who will deliver the plenary address, said: "Higher education is facing a period of rapid change in a globally competitive environment. At Queen's we are responding to the new challenges through the University's new Vision for the Future. We will ensure that Queen's competes with the best universities nationally and internationally whilst embracing our leadership role in Northern Ireland.

"The AUA conference is taking place at a pivotal time for all of us in the higher education sector, I have no doubt that it will play a major role in informing future debate and in charting the way forward."

The Chair of AUA, Sue Holmes of Sheffield Hallam University, said: "Conference gives delegates a unique opportunity to look beyond their own institution and be exposed to ideas from elsewhere, both nationally and internationally."

Gerry Lennon, the Chief Executive of Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau, said: "We are delighted that this major conference is attracting hundreds of visitors to the city. Conference business is good news for Belfast and for the local economy. It generates a powerful and positive message about Belfast as a popular destination with much to offer in terms of culture, business facilities, entertainment and hospitality."

The conference will take place on the main university campus with additional facilities provided by marquees on the front lawn and in the University quadrangle.

In addition to the business programme, a series of social and cultural events have also been lined up to ensure that delegates get the most out of their visit to Belfast and Northern Ireland.

For further information please contact: Anne Langford, 028 9097 5310

Notes for editors: The AUA conference will take place at Queen's University from Monday 10 April - Wednesday 12 April. Media opportunities can be arranged by calling the above number. To view a copy of the programme, please click www.aua2006.qub.ac.uk/index.html

Queen's University has a long history as conference host, winning a tourism award for the British Association for the Advancement of Science conference which drew nearly 3,000 visitors, including more than 100 journalists, to Belfast in 1987.

In 2003 the University hosted the Association of Commonwealth Universities meeting of more than 200 university chiefs from 54 countries and all five continents.

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Queen's University Seeks Patients as Partners
Queen's seeks Patients as Partners: Eight year old Rebekah Wilson from Belvoir Park Primary School, Belfast, and Final year Queen's medical student, Julie McConahy, from Lisburn (L) discuss how a syringe works at the announcement of the new Patients as Partners scheme by Queen's University's School of Medince and Dentistry. Rebekah was one of the first applicants to apply for the Patients as Partners scheme saying she feels
Queen's seeks Patients as Partners: Eight year old Rebekah Wilson from Belvoir Park Primary School, Belfast, and Final year Queen's medical student, Julie McConahy, from Lisburn (L) discuss how a syringe works at the announcement of the new Patients as Partners scheme by Queen's University's School of Medince and Dentistry. Rebekah was one of the first applicants to apply for the Patients as Partners scheme saying she feels "it is important Doctors learn how to talk to children."

Queen's University's School of Medicine and Dentistry has adopted a novel approach to the area of communications skills training for its students, with the launch of a new scheme which will see members of the public invited to act as Standardised Patients (SPs) or 'patient actors'.

Successful applicants will undergo a period of training, after which they will undertake role-plays of various patient case studies, work with students who are practising a certain skill and assist at exam times in the evaluation of how students have learned a skill.

Following a successful pilot for the scheme, the School will begin a full training programme for new cohorts in August with the aim of having 100 SPs trained by 2007. It is hoped the scheme will also offer those who have been long term unemployed, perhaps through illness, an opportunity to take steps back into employment.

Speaking about the scheme, Dr Melissa McCullough, a lecturer in the School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen's and academic lead on the programme said: "As future Doctors and Dentists, a great deal of trust will be placed in our medical students during their professional careers. Patients as Partners will offer students opportunities to practice their skills in history taking and examination with 'real' patients to improve their communication skills and successfully relate to people of all ages and backgrounds.

"SPs come from all walks of life and bring a variety of experience with them. They generally have good communication skills, an interest in education and personal health and are patient with those who are learning new skills. We have decided to advertise in the various recruitment sections of the local press in order to reach the broadest spectrum of such people.

"We have been overwhelmed by the response from the public so far to the advertisement for the Patients as Partners pilot project which has been supported by the Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund at Queen's. The many people who have contacted us, once recruited and trained will be making a very real difference to the education of our medical and dentistry students."

One such applicant is eight year-old Rebekah Wilson from Belvoir Park Primary School in Belfast. Speaking about the scheme, Rebekah, who submitted an application for interview after seeing Patients as Partners advertised in her local newspaper said: "I wanted to apply because I think it's really important that Doctors and Dentists can talk to people, especially children. Sometimes we can get a little scared and getting doctors and dentists to practice how to talk to us and help us tell them where something hurts is a really good idea."

Gerry McCormac, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Queen's added: "Whether aged eight or eighty, everyone knows the value and importance of feeling at ease with our doctors and dentists. While Queen's University's students have been working in various communities and with 'practice patients' from the South Belfast area for many years, the Patients in Partners scheme will now provide them with access to a wider array of people from across Northern Ireland, all of whom will have received a high standard of training in portraying the wide variety of symptoms and personalities which our students will face in their careers. It is an exciting initiative and one which I'm sure will benefit very many people."

Anyone interested in applying to become a Standardised Patient should contact Dr Melissa McCullough, 028 9097 2357, m.mccullough@qub.ac.uk for further information. Informal interviews have been provisionally scheduled for Tuesday 02 May and Friday 05 May.

For further information please contact Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office, 028 9097 5384.

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£650M Northern Ireland Plastics Industry celebrates Tenth Anniversary of Queen's PPRC
Plastic Pilots: Director of Queen's University's PPRC (Polymer Processing Research Centre), Gerry McNally, pictured with two casts of a unique fighter pilots mask the Centre is currently working on for the MOD. The PPRC will celebrate it's tenth anniversary next week with a conference attended by over 200 delegates from the plastics industry worldwide.
Plastic Pilots: Director of Queen's University's PPRC (Polymer Processing Research Centre), Gerry McNally, pictured with two casts of a unique fighter pilots mask the Centre is currently working on for the MOD. The PPRC will celebrate it's tenth anniversary next week with a conference attended by over 200 delegates from the plastics industry worldwide.

Queen's University's Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC), which has played a key part in supporting the plastics industry in Northern Ireland, will celebrate its tenth anniversary on Wednesday 05 and Thursday 06 April, by hosting a major two day conference attended by over 200 delegates from the plastics industry worldwide.

Now widely recognised as one of the top Polymer Processing Research facilities in Europe, the Centre was officially opened in 1996 to provide industrially exploitable research for local plastics companies and to provide state-of-the-art laboratories for undergraduates and post-graduates. Since then, the self-financing, market-driven centre has gone on to employ over 15 highly qualified engineers and scientists and now also delivers specialised training courses on customers' premises in the UK, Europe, America, India and South Africa.

Speaking about the forthcoming conference and the PPRC's involvement with the NI plastics industry, Gerry McNally, Director of the PPRC and a Polymer Engineer said: "The main aim of this week's conference is to present the research at the Centre to a wider audience and to promote the technology transfer ethos which underpins most of what we do.

"I'm glad to report that the plastics industry in Northern Ireland is a successful one and just like the PPRC, continues to go from strength to strength. The research and training facilities made available by the PPRC have resulted in many of the plastics companies in Northern Ireland now possessing a solid competitive advantage over those in other countries.

"That advantage is evident in the annual turnover for the industry here which is estimated at around £650 million and also accounts for six per cent of the manufacturing workforce in Northern Ireland. Exports total in excess of £50 million per annum and those figures look set to rise even further as a result of a predicted rise in the medical device industry.

"Europe is facing an increasingly ageing population and with that comes the demand for more medical devices. Queen's, and as a result, the plastics industry in Northern Ireland, are well faced to meet this challenge as a result of the PPRC's work and the creation of the Medical Polymers Research Institute within the University. One of the key events at this week's conference will be the establishment of a new Medical Polymers Division within the Society of Plastic Engineers (SPE) and we anticipate hosting a major conference on medical polymers in the near future. It is certainly an exciting and dynamic time for all involved in the Northern Ireland plastics industry."

Key speakers at the event will include Peter Davis, Director General of the British Plastics Federation, Len Czuba, currently the President of the Society of Plastic Engineers, Mark Fermont, a leading figure in the European Chemical Industry and John Vlachopoulos, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Director of the renowned Centre for Advanced Polymer Processing and Design at McMaster University, Toronto.

Speaking in advance of his appearance at the Conference, Peter Davis, said: "In my opinion The Polymer Processing Research Centre at Queen's University is the Centre of Excellence in polymer processing in the UK, particularly in the areas of rotational moulding and extrusion.

Since being established it now has an excellent reputation throughout Europe and indeed world wide. It makes an extremely valuable contribution to the plastics industry in terms of research, development and training and I am delighted to be participating in this tenth anniversary conference. I am particularly looking forward to attending the technical sessions which will be reporting on the recent research carried out by the centre staff and those from other international speakers."

Those wishing to reserve a place at the conference should contact the PPRC on + 44 (0)28 9097 4700, PPRCevents@qub.ac.uk. Registration costs £95.00/€130.00.

Notes to Editors: A range of NI Business Case Studies are available.

Advance photographs will be issued via email. Media Opportunities on the opening day of the conference, Wednesday, 05 April, will be available between 1.15pm and 1.45pm at the Wellington Park Hotel, Malone Road, Belfast.

The PPRC was formally opened in 1996 with £1.2million of IRTU money.

The MPRI was formally opened in 2004 with £2.2 million support from the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (PEACE II) administered by Invest NI.

PPRC provides Fundamental Research, Applied Research Product/Process Development, Technical Support, Troubleshooting, Process Trials, Materials Testing, Materials Analysis, Information Database, New Technology Awareness, Seminars, Training & Workshops for Industry at home and abroad including Europe, America and South Africa.

For further information, please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office, 028 9097 5384

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Over 350 Psychiatrists, Neuroscientists and Pharmacologists set to visit Queen's

At a time when mental health concerns and the rising incidence of suicide are high on the Northern Ireland agenda, Queen's School of Medicine and Dentistry will play host to over 350 psychiatrists, pharmacologists and neuroscientists from across Western Europe next week in a three day conference (Sunday 02-Tuesday 04 April).

An international audience of psychiatrists interested in the impact of new and established medical drugs, alongside pharmacologists and neuroscientists involved in the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disease, will attend the conference organised by the Division of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Queen's, which is recognised as one of the key centres for research in biological psychiatry and psychopharmacology in Europe.

Speaking about the conference, Professor Gavin Reynolds a lead researcher in Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Queen’s and one of the Conference organisers said: “It is important that we can attract specialists to Belfast and Northern Ireland at a time when mental health concerns and the rising incidence of suicide are high on our local agenda.

"This forum will offer the various research centres of excellence across Western Europe the chance to share their work in tackling conditions such as depression, schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease.

"On a practical level, we will be discussing issues such as the management and influence of drug treatments. The subject of cannabis as a precipitating factor for psychosis and issues relating to the links between physical illness and psychiatric disorders will feature.

"We are also delighted to have Professor Peter McGuffin return to the city where he was born to deliver the keynote opening lecture. His group of scientists at the Institute of Psychiatry in London have pioneered work on the interaction of genes with environmental factors in the causes of psychiatric disease and won deserved international recognition. I would also like to thank Belfast City Council who are sponsoring the welcome reception."

The Presidential Symposium will lead off on Monday 03 April with Ted Dinan of University College Cork and his lecture, Bugs and Drugs. Symposium speakers are from UK, Ireland, Israel, Germany, Austria, Holland, Denmark and the United States and there will be four company-sponsored satellite symposia in the course of the three days.

The full programme can be accessed on http://www.qub.ac.uk/neurorrg/CINP.htm  

For further information, please contact: Prof Gavin Reynolds, 028 9097 5790 / 07740 651 500 or Dr. Stephen Cooper on 07710 709 972.

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