31/05/2007: Queen's Vice-Chancellor Becomes a Member of Royal Irish Academy
31/05/2007: Tyrone family enjoy Deane's at Queen's visit.
29/05/2007: Getting fit is easy with Queen's Sport - Virtually!
29/05/2007: Global cancer expert ushers in new era for Medicine at Queen's
29/05/2007: Scanner donation welcomed by Queen's
25/05/2007: Queen's in Enniskillen: VC meets Principals and Fermanagh Opinion Formers
23/05/2007: No sex please, we're female sharks!
22/05/2007: Human trafficking conference at Queen's
22/05/2007: Summer Membership Sizzler from Queen's Sport
18/05/2007: Open Day at Queen's for Part-Time Learners
18/05/2007: Students mean business
17/05/2007: World-Class Bioimaging Unit Established at Queen's University
15/05/2007: Queen's lecturer demands national boxing commission
15/05/2007: Primary Schoolchildren tell of a World of Colourful Science at Queen's
11/05/2007: Queen's climbers scale heights for charity
11/05/2007: Greener Offices at Queen's University
11/05/2007: Queen's Sport Helps Forestside to Foyleside Charity Challenge
10/05/2007: Lifetime Achievement Award for leading Queen's engineer
09/05/2007: Queen's celebrates Green Gown Commendation for Gibson Institute
09/05/2007: UK in danger of lagging behind in forensic arms race according to Queen's academic
04/05/2007: Singing students perform opera first in Northern Ireland
04/05/2007: Queen's research shows diabetes damages sperm and may affect fertility
03/05/2007: North-South Masters Bursaries
02/05/2007: Queen's awarded Best Employer by Fairtrade Belfast
01/05/2007: Queen's researcher appointed to lead agenda for change in local government
01/05/2007: Award winning poets visit Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's
01/05/2007: Queen's lecturer wins National Female Inventor award
01/05/2007: Belfast choir sings to win international success
01/05/2007: Neo's story of Queen's University life wins 'international student' title
Professor James Slevin PRIA (L), Professor Dorota Iwaniec MRIA and Professor Peter Gregson MRIA.
Queen’s University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson, who is renowned for his work in the fields of advanced aerospace aluminium alloys and the performance of load bearing medical devices, has been elected as a member of the esteemed Royal Irish Academy (RIA).
The RIA is Ireland’s academy for the sciences, humanities and social sciences and membership of the Academy is the highest honour that can be attained by scholars and scientists working in Ireland. It currently has 385 Members from across the island of Ireland elected in recognition of their academic achievement.
Also receiving her membership at the ceremony was Professor Dorota Stanislawa Iwaniec, who was born in Poland where her family suffered under the Nazi occupation. Professor Iwaniec was founder of the Centre for Child Care Research at Queen's University and is renowned worldwide for her work on childhood trauma.
The two Professors from Queen’s were among 24 newly elected members. Other well-known Academy members include: Dr Garret FitzGerald; Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney; Mr Dermot Gleeson; Mr Peter Sutherland; Professor Joe Lee; Professor Ronan Fanning; Mrs Mary Robinson; Professor David McConnell (TCD Geneticist); Professor Richard Kearney and current President of Ireland, Mary McAleese.
Welcoming the new members, Professor James Slevin, President of the Royal Irish Academy said: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome these outstanding members to the Academy,” said. “Throughout its history, the Academy has recognised the scholarship and public contributions of the leading thinkers in Ireland. I am confident that these new Members will continue that tradition of developing Ireland's intellectual culture, which is so vital to our continued success in today's knowledge society.”
Those elected are entitled to use the designation ‘MRIA’ (Member of the Royal Irish Academy) after their name.
Notes to Editor
An image to accompany this story has been sent to all picture desks: Professor James Slevin PRIA (L), Professor Dorota Iwaniec MRIA and Professor Peter Gregson MRIA.
HUMANITIES & SOCIAL SCIENCES - John Bartlett, Trinity College Dublin; Sean Cromien, former Secretary General, Department of Finance; Victor Dixon, Trinity College Dublin; Adrian Hardiman, Supreme Court; Dorota Iwaniec, Queens University Belfast; Philip Lane, Trinity College Dublin; Colm Lennon, National Universtiy of Ireland, Maynooth; Christopher Morash, National University of Ireland, Maynooth; Carmel Naughton, Chairman of the National Gallery's Board of Governors (1996-2002); Ruairí Ó hUiginn, National Universtiy of Ireland, Maynooth; Jennifer O’Reilly, University College Cork; William Schabas, National University of Ireland, Galway; Jennifer Todd, University College Dublin.
SCIENCES - Ruth Byrne, Trinity College Dublin; James Dolly, Dublin City University; Eugene Freuder, University College Cork; Peter Gregson, Queens University Belfast; Brian Harvey, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; Peter Heffernan, Marine Institute, Galway; Desmond Higgins, University College, Dublin; Michael Kane, National University of Ireland, Galway; Brian MacCraith, Dublin City University; Ciaran Regan, University College, Dublin; Samson Shatashvili, Trinity College, Dublin.
A Tyrone family have won a meal for four at Deane's at Queen’s and it’s all down to their young son.
Antoinette Taylor from Strabane and her son Conor visited Queen’s campus in the Spring as part of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board promotion, ‘Be a Tourist at Home’. Conor completed a treasure trail which took him around various parts of the university including the QFT and Queens PEC. A draw for a meal for a family of four at Deanes was made at the end of the fun trail which the Taylor family won.
Keeping with the fun theme, Antoinette penned her own account of winning the prize:
“We went to Belfast for the day. We won a prize hip hip hooray. A table for four in a restaurant called Deanes. They are sure to serve better than chips and beans! This is our story what do you think! An evening out at Michael Deanes. Definitely the place, not to be heard but to be seen.”
Recalling her day out at Queen’s, Antoinette said: “We all wanted to visit Queen’s. On arrival at the Visitors centre, we were offered the chance to participate in a treasure hunt much to our son’s delight. The whole family had great fun exploring the Queen’s complex and the new leisure centre. It is definitely a worthwhile visit and we recommend the trip to everyone.”
Lynn Corken from the Queen’s Visitors Centre spoke of the success of the treasure trail promotion.
She said: “The Visitors’ Centre was delighted to take part in the Northern Ireland Tourist Board ‘Be a tourist at Home’ promotion which ran on weekends from Saturday 24 March to Sunday 22 April.
“The aim of the campaign was to get people out and about and visiting tourist attractions at home with ‘two for the price of one’ entry prices. The Visitors Centre ran campus tours (two for the price of one) and a free treasure trail for kids with free gifts for all completed entries, (Cadbury’s cream egg, pencil, rubber) and prize draw for a meal for four at Queen’s. “
The areas of Queen’s involved in the promotions included the Naughton Gallery, the QFT, the Bookshop at Queen’s, the PEC and StopGo café at the PEC and Clements Café Students Union.
During the period of the promotion there was over 1000 visitors to the Queen’s Visitors Centre.
Deane’s at Queen’s opened in January 2007 in College Gardens and now provides a continental style eating experience. Deane’s is open to the public, as well as servicing staff and students at the University, and has transformed the former Varsity Restaurant.
The restaurant is open seven days a week. Monday and Tuesday: 11.30am to 9.00pm. Wednesday to Saturday: 11.30am to 10.00pm and Sunday: 1.00pm to 7.00pm.
Notes to Editor
Antoinette Taylor is available for interview.
For further information please contact Eugene McCusker, Communications Office. Tel: 02890 975320.
CAPTION: Queen's Fitness Adviser Heather Quinn and Queen's Sport member, Ian McGlade, help launch the new Technogym Wellness System at Queen's PEC. Ian will be using the new system as he prepares to compete in the 2,900 mile Atlantic Rowing Race in December.
Queen's Sport is set to offer its members their very own 'virtual' personal trainer each time they visit the University's Degrees Fitness gym in the Physical Education Centre (PEC), Botanic Park, Belfast.
Open to the public, Degrees Fitness members can now access a state-of-the-art system which will automatically adjust equipment to the resistance levels required, keep track of every workout undertaken and guide users through the equipment - all by simply plugging in a small pre-programmed electronic key. It will also keep a record of the calories accumulated, keep a record of the distance travelled and enable users to record any non-gym or free-weight activities.
Helping launch the new system was Queen's Sport member, Ian McGlade from Castlereagh. As part of his fundraising for the Northern Ireland Hospice, Ian will be taking part in the formidable and challenging Atlantic Rowing Race in December. Along with his rowing partner Andy Watson from Kent, Ian will be aiming to row from La Gomera, Canary Islands to the idyllic English Harbour in Antigua and will be using the new system as a key part of his training regime. The distance between the two points is a total of 2,900 miles and competitors row from between 60 to 80 days in order to complete the challenge.
Speaking about his upcoming training for the event, Ian said: "Having access to state-of-the-art equipment such as the new Technogym Wellness System will be of great assistance in preparing for my daunting journey. I will know if I am accurately meeting my targets rather than having to guess and will therefore hopefully achieve my true potential. I would recommend the system to everyone, be they beginners or more experienced gym-goers. It really helps motivate you and we all know how vital that is."
Proven on a global level to be an effective motivational tool, the advanced Technogym Wellness System also makes exercise safer, effective and much more fun. Queen's Sport is the only major public facility in the Belfast area to operate the new advanced system.
Speaking about the new system, Maureen Cusdin, Director of Queen's Sport,
said: "Struggling to adjust equipment and accurately remember your exercise programme is going to be a thing of the past for members of Queen's Sport.
The new Technogym key system will not only guide existing and new members through a personal programme devised by our highly qualified fitness advisors but will also deliver the fitness results - guaranteed!
"Queen's Sport is a world-class facility based firmly in the Northern Ireland community and I would urge people to come in and make the most of our fantastic facilities. The installation of this new system is just one of several developments Queen's Sport will be undertaking in order to lead the way in encouraging greater participation in sport for the benefit of both our students and the local population."
Just last week the PEC also won the Community Benefit Award at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors 2007 Awards for Excellence in the Built Environment. The award paid special tribute to Queen's Sports investment in community participation and the consultation regarding the planning process.
The building was also awarded Best Overall Building.
Free tours of the facilities at the PEC are available by contacting Queen's Sport. For further information on Queen's Sport visit www.qub.ac.uk /sport
For further information on Ian's challenge or to make a donation then please visit http://www.woodvale-challenge.com/Atlantic+Rowing+Race+2007
Notes to Editor
Images (with embedded captions) of Ian McGlade and Heather Quinn to accompany this story have been sent to all picture desks. CAPTION: Queen's Fitness Adviser Heather Quinn and Queen's Sport member, Ian McGlade, help launch the new Technogym Wellness System at Queen's PEC. Ian will be using the new system as he prepares to compete in the 2,900 mile Atlantic Rowing Race in December.
Double Olympic Gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes officially opened the new facility at the PEC in February of this year.
Additional facilities at the PEC include a 25m swimming pool, diving pool, sauna, two storey climbing wall over 10m in height and 20m wide, with an abseil tower, chimney and bouldering facilities, a Strength and Conditioning Suite with the latest hydraulic assisted systems, an indoor cycling studio and two new exercise studios which enable Queen's Sport to offer over 80 Dance, Fitness, Aquatic and Mind & Body classes. Users of the centre can also avail of a new arrival on the dining scene in South Belfast with the opening of StopGo Restaurant which features an outside decking area overlooking the River Lagan.
For further information please contact:
Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer
Tel: 028 9097 5384
Fax: 028 9097 3401
One of the world's top cancer research specialists is to lead the development of a new international Medical School at Queen’s University Belfast.
Professor of Oncology Paddy Johnston, who is Director of the world renowned Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen's, is to become Dean of Queen’s School of Medicine and Dentistry in September. His mission will be to transform medical education and research in Northern Ireland, bringing together world class strengths in Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen's.
An international review group will make recommendations on the future shape of medical education and research at Queen's, identifying how it can build on existing strengths to meet the needs of the next 30 years.
Professor Johnston said: "Northern Ireland can be a global player in medical research and education, and I believe Queen's will be the catalyst which helps transform its health services.
“Queen's is already a global player in cancer and we can build centres of world excellence in other areas of medicine too. “We have a track record in delivering, and my job - along with my colleagues - is to create an internationally leading Medical School with the aim of becoming a world player in health care.
"Devolution, and the new arrangements for managing the National Health Service in Northern Ireland, have created opportunities to establish new partnerships, allowing Queen's and the five new hospital trusts to respond imaginatively to the 21st century's challenges.
“I want Northern Ireland to be recognised internationally as providing the highest quality care to our community, and to be seen as a leader in patient care, research, and education and training. Patients will have access to the latest treatments and innovations, and the international community will look to Queen's for leadership in this area."
Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: "This is an important milestone for Queen's and the local health service. Professor Paddy Johnston is an outstanding leader and has the combination of skills to develop and deliver a vision for medical research fit for the 21st century.
"Medicine and Dentistry at Queen’s is being transformed. The University is currently investing more than £45 million in new buildings and equipment for the Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences. The number of medical students has been increased by a third – to 250 a year – and a new purpose-built facility is currently underway. Through world-class research, we are providing the technologies and treatments of tomorrow.
"Paddy Johnston’s reputation is second to none. He has a track record in delivering transformational projects, and he is a man who combines vision with the determination to deliver it.”
Professor James McElnay, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences said: “I am absolutely delighted that Paddy Johnston has agreed to take on this challenge. His reputation is outstanding, and the rapid development of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology shows he is a man who gets things done. I’m confident he will take Medicine and Dentistry at Queen’s to new heights in education and research, and I very much look forward to working closely with him in the months and years ahead.”
For further information, please contact: Kevin Mulhern, Head of Communications, 028 9097 5332/ 07813 015 431
Notes to Editors
Patrick G Johnston MD, PhD, FRCP, FRCPI Professor Patrick Johnston is Professor of Oncology and Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen's University Belfast. Professor Johnston received his MB BCh degree in Medicine with distinction from University College Dublin in 1982. This was followed by internal medicine and medical oncology training at the Mater and St James’s University teaching hospitals in Dublin until 1987. In 1987 he obtained a Fellowship at the National Cancer Institute NIH, USA, where he began to pursue further clinical training in Medical Oncology and his post-doctoral studies in molecular pharmacology and drug development. Professor Johnston was subsequently promoted to senior investigator status at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1991.
In 1996 he was appointed Professor of Oncology at Queen’s University Belfast. Since then he has led the development of a comprehensive cancer centre for Northern Ireland, encompassing a state-of-the-art clinical cancer centre (£65 million) which opened in March 2006 and a £25 million major cancer research complex (the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology) at Queen's which has as its major emphasis translational research.
This interdisciplinary research centre, housing more than 300 researchers from all over the world, opens in June 2007. Professor Johnston has also led the development of a number of international research collaborations, most notably the creation of the NCI–All Ireland Cancer Consortium which was signed in 1999 and recently renewed in 2006. This Consortium, encompassing the Departments of Health in Ireland, north and south, and the Departments of Health and Human Services in the US (www.allirelandnci.org) has created training opportunities and collaborative research programmes for a large number of professionals involved in cancer care and cancer research throughout the island of Ireland.
Over the past 20 years Professor Johnston’s research work has focused on the understanding of mechanisms of cancer resistance to therapeutic agents. Currently his laboratory is focused on the use of genomic tools as companion diagnostics and the development of potential novel therapies for colorectal cancer.
His work has resulted in a number of prestigious landmark publications, over 20 patents and in excess of £6 million pounds in prestigious grants over the past three years from Cancer Research UK, the MRC and the Department of Health and NIH.
In recognition of his leadership, contribution and personal commitment to the global life science community, he was recently honoured by President Mary McAleese who presented him with the Biolink USA-Ireland life Science award at the fifth annual BioLink Life Science Conference in New York. He has also received the Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Technology Award from the National Cancer Institute, USA.
In addition to his academic work Dr Johnston is a founder of Almac Diagnostics, the Northern Ireland based biotech company which recently expanded to open a facility in Durham in North Carolina. Along with his co-founders Professor Paul Harkin and Sir Allen McClay they have developed the first disease-specific transcriptome-based genomic tools which allow access to molecular gene expression studies in patients. He is also the founding Chairman of the All-Ireland Cancer Foundation, and founder and Deputy Chair of the Society of Translational Oncology.
Queen’s University Belfast Professors have welcomed a £25,000 donation towards the purchase of a new scanner to aid research work into wet age related macular degeneration of the eye. This is the commonest cause of severe sight loss in older adults.
The donation from the Royal Victoria Hospital Ladies Committee was gratefully received.
Professor Usha Chakravarthy pointed out that a key area of the Centre for Vision Sciences work is exploring detectable changes in the retina through high resolution imaging of the eye.
She said: “At present we are limited by the lack of a new piece of equipment which undertakes three dimensional imaging of the retina. The Fourier Domain OCT has only just become available. A number of our ongoing studies which are exploring prevention of progression to wet AMD and as well as understanding of the pathological changes in age related macular degeneration (AMD) and as well as understanding of the pathological changes in early AMD would benefit hugely by access to the Fourier Domain OCT which retails at £50,000.”
Wet AMD is the term used to describe the presence of leaking blood vessels in the macular retina of the eye.
The Centre for Vision Science is a focused research grouping within the School of Biomedical Sciences. The centre itself has recently refurbished a 1000 metre £3 million ophthalmic research facility at the Royal Victoria Hospital. This incorporates state of the art cell biology laboratories, molecular biology facilities, a microscopy suite and histologogical services.
The Royal Victoria Ladies Committee was formed in 1939 and have down the years raised money for furniture, fittings and equipment items for the hospital. To raise the £25,000 donation a number of events were held including a pancake sale in the hospital, bridge evenings, dinners and wine and cheese evenings.
Heather Calwell, Chairman of the RVH Ladies Committee welcomed the initative saying: “We are absolutely delighted and thrilled to have been able to raise these funds and indeed that the request has came in. I have personally talked to Professor Chakravarthy and this new scanner is something spectacular.”
For further information please contact Eugene McCusker, Communications Office 028 9097 5320.
Notes To Editor
Professor Usha Chakravarthy is available for interview.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry MCormac with Sean Quinn Group Chief Executive Officer Liam McCaffrey during their visit to the Group's headquarters in Derrylin, part of the Queen's roadshow to Enniskillen.
Queen’s University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson and Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gerry McCormac, will be in County Fermanagh today (Friday, 25 May), to meet with leading industry figures, School Principals and other opinion formers from the area. The Professors will also be meeting with new Environment Minister, Arlene Foster and Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle Gildernew at a lunch for University stakeholders in the Killyhevlin Hotel.
Currently more than 1,250 students from Enniskillen and its surrounding area are enrolled at Queen’s. Today, Professors Gregson and McCormac will host a round table discussion with School Principals and opinion formers from the area to discuss better ways of working together.
The Queen’s delegation will also pay a visit to the headquarters of the Quinn Group in Derrylin. The Quinn Group, along with Acheson & Glover, Tracey Concrete, Lough Shore Development Ltd and James Balfour & Sons Ltd are among several leading businesses based in the Fermanagh area to have been involved in successful research collaborations with Queen’s.
Speaking about the visit, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson said: “Today’s event is about enhancing our relationship with the West. Queen’s already has strong links with this area, and we want to build on these. Amongst the 333 new students from the Enniskillen area last year was one of the University’s top entrants. Emma Foy, who won a Queen’s Entrance Scholarship, and is now studying Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition with Professional Studies at the University, is a former pupil of Mount Lourdes Grammar School.
"As a member of the Russell Group – the Ivy League of UK universities – Queen’s is an international centre of academic excellence rooted at the heart of the local community. In Enniskillen, as in other parts of Northern Ireland, our graduates contribute in areas ranging from healthcare to law, from engineering to education and from culture to business and commerce.
“There are many ways in which we at Queen’s and our key stakeholders in Enniskillen can work together for mutual benefit. We already have many important connections and I hope that this visit will help them to grow and flourish in the future.”
Also attending today’s event will be several local MLAs and Councillor John O’Kane, Chairman of Fermanagh District Council.
Notes to Editor:
Media opportunities are available at 12.45pm in the Lisgoole Foyer, adjacent to the Riverside Room in the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen.
For further information please contact Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5384.
Female sharks can reproduce without having sex, scientists have found. A female hammerhead shark has given birth without mating with a male and its offspring has no paternal DNA.
An international team of researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University in Florida and the Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska has found evidence that sharks can reproduce asexually by an unusual method known as “parthenogenesis”. This is the first scientific report of asexual reproduction in sharks.
Head of the Queen’s research team and study co-author, Dr Paulo Prodöhl, from the School of Biological Sciences, said: “The findings were really surprising because as far as anyone knew, all sharks reproduced only sexually by a male and female mating, requiring the embryo to get DNA from both parents for full development, just like in mammals.”
“The discovery that sharks can reproduce asexually by parthenogenesis now changes this paradigm, leaving mammals as the only major vertebrate group where this form of reproduction has not been seen.”
The long-term study was prompted by the unexpected birth of a baby hammerhead shark in an aquarium at the Henry Doorly Zoo in December 2001. The astonishing thing about the birth was that none of the three candidate mother hammerheads in the tank, all of whom been caught in Florida waters as babies themselves, had been exposed to any male hammerhead sharks for the three years since their captivity.
Initial thinking was that the mother had mated with a male before capture, and then somehow stored the sperm for over three years before finally fertilizing her eggs in the aquarium, or alternatively, perhaps the hammerhead female had mated with a male shark of a different species that was in the tank.
By using DNA profiling techniques to examine the genetic makeup of the baby hammerhead and the three candidate mothers, the researchers were able to identify which of the three females was the actual mother. Surprisingly, the baby shark’s DNA only matched up with the mother’s – there was no DNA of male origin in the baby shark! This finding eliminated the possibilities of earlier mating with a male hammerhead followed by sperm storage, or hybridization with another shark species in the tank.
Females of only very few vertebrate species can give birth to fully formed young without requiring their eggs to be first fertilized by a male’s sperm. This unusual reproductive ability, known as “parthenogenesis”, is only very occasionally seen in some vertebrate groups such as birds, reptiles and amphibians. However, it has never before been seen in other major vertebrate lines such as mammals or sharks.
Co-author Dr Mahmood Shivji, who led the Guy Harvey Research Institute team, said: “We may have solved a general mystery about shark reproduction – our findings suggest that parthenogenesis is the likely explanation behind the anecdotal but increasing observations of other species of female sharks reproducing successfully in captivity despite not having contact with males.
“It now appears that at least some female sharks can switch from a sexual to a non-sexual mode of reproduction in the absence of males. Unfortunately, this occurrence is not benign because it results in reduced genetic diversity in the offspring since there is no new genetic variation introduced from the paternal side.”
The researchers found that the most likely form of asexual reproduction that had occurred was a specific type called “automictic parthenogenesis” that leads to less genetic diversity in the offspring compared to even the mother.
“During this process the unfertilized egg, which contains about half of the mother’s genetic diversity, is activated to behave as a normal fertilized egg by a small, genetically nearly-identical cell known as the sister polar body. The resulting baby shark therefore gets a double-dose of genetic disadvantage”, says lead author Dr Demian Chapman, who took part in the study while he was a graduate student at the Guy Harvey Research Institute.
The discovery raises concerns about the genetic and reproductive health of dwindling shark populations.
Now Head of Shark Research at the Pew institute for Ocean Science, Dr Chapman continued: “Not only does it experience reduced genetic diversity because it has no father, but around half of the genetic variation present in the mother is not passed on to the offspring.”
“Female sharks might reproduce like this more often when they have difficulty finding mates at low population densities. This could hasten the erosion of population genetic diversity and perpetuate the production of genetically disadvantaged offspring.”
Dr Prodöhl added: “The bottom line is that we have to include a whole new dimension to our thinking about shark reproduction and its influence on population health. If the ability of female sharks to switch from sexual to asexual reproduction is widespread under conditions of low encounter rates with males, incorporating this new information into our management and conservation efforts will be imperative to prevent further declines in genetic diversity for an intensely, and many instances over exploited, group of fishes.”
The research team’s paper will be published in the Royal Society journal, Biology Letters, on Wednesday 23 May 2007. It can be found at www.pubs.royalsoc.ac.uk/.
Human trafficking will be the subject of a major conference at Queen’s University this week which will include the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, Professor Jorge Bustamante.
Organised by the Human Rights Centre at Queen’s and sponsored by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, Professor Bustamante will speak on ‘Trafficking and Vulnerability of Migrants: A Conceptual Framework’ at the conference on Friday May 25.
Statistics suggest that approximately 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year. Some eighty per cent are women and girls, while fifty per cent are children.
The aim of the conference, entitled ‘Human Rights and Human Trafficking’ is to promote a human rights framework to address trafficking of human beings among stakeholders in the UK and Republic of Ireland. The conference will identify human rights norms and principles applicable to the practice and see how they can be implemented at national and regional level.
Professor Michael O Flaherty, a member of the UN Human Rights Committee will speak on ‘Human Trafficking: Recent Trends in the Practice of the United Nations Human Rights Committee’.
This part of the Conference will be chaired by Dr Tom Obokata, Assistant Director, Human Rights Centre at Queen’s.
Dr Bustamante is a leading expert in the field of international migrations and spoke on the area in TV programmes such as 60 Minutes. He has been UN Special Rapporteur since July 2005.
In recognition of his commitment to the profession and promotion of the human rights of migrants, Mexico’s Congress nominated Professor Bustamante for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
Conference Organiser Dr Tom Obokata is the Assistant Director of the Human Rights Centre at Queen’s. He currently serves as a Specialist Advisor to the UK Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights in Westminister. He has also published a book last year entitled, ‘Trafficking of Human Beings from a Human Rights Perspective.’
Explaining the thinking behind the conference Dr Obokata said: “ This conference is important for several reasons. First, it is an international conference which brings together stakeholders at the national, regional and international levels, including representatives of the governments, non governmental organisations and international organisations such as the United Nations. Second, it provides an opportunity to identify and analyse various human rights issues inherent in trafficking of human beings and facilitate a victim centre approach. Third, the conference will serve as a platform for information exchange, networking and co-operation among these stakeholders. Finally, the conference will hopefully raise awareness here in Northern Ireland as trafficking is becoming a serious problem.”
The day’s events at Queen’s will conclude between 2.30-4.30pm when a roundtable discussion will be held on Human Rights and Human Trafficking in the UK and Ireland. The Chair for this session will be Mr Eamonn MacAodha, Director, Human Rights Unit, Department of Foreign Affairs. Those attending will include Professor Monica Mc Williams, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, Dr Rosemary Byrne, Irish Human Rights Commission and Ms Emma Hopkins, Home Office.
For further information please contact Eugene McCusker, Communications Office. Tel: 02890 975320.
Notes to Editor
Media Opportunities will be available between 9.00am and 9.45am and 2.00pm to 2.30pm on Friday, May 25. Interview opportunities may also be available outside these times. Please contact Eugene McCusker on 028 90 97 5320 to arrange.
Professor Jorge Bustamante is a Mexican sociologist with a PHD from the University of Notre Dam. In 1995 he was a member of a binational group of researchers appointed by the governments of Mexico and the United States, to conduct research on various aspects of the Mexican migration to the US.
Professor Michael O Flaherty is a Professor of Applied Human Rights and Co Director of the Human Rights Law Centre at the University of Notttingham. He has extensive field experience and worked in countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sierra Leone.
Professor Monica McWilliams is a Chief Commissioner for Human Rights in Northern Ireland. Previously, she was Professor of Women's Studies and Social Policy at the University of Ulster and served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly in Northern Ireland from 1996 to 2003. She was the co-founder of the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition, a political party involved in the Northern Ireland Forum from 1996 to 1998. She was an elected member of the Multi-Party Peace Negotiations and a signatory to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
Dr. Rosemary Byrne is a Human Rights Commissioner for the Irish Commission for Human Rights and serves as a member of the Commission’s Committee on Racism, Trafficking and Migration. She is also a Senior Lecturer in International Law at Trinity College Dublin and has worked extensively in the areas of migration law and international criminal justice. She has graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School.
Ms Emma Hopkins is a barrister and the Head of the Serious Organised Immigration Crime Team in the Home Office. She is in charge of an overall policy on trafficking of human beings for the UK Government and has played a key role on the development of the UK Action Plan and the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention.
Human Rights and Human Trafficking will take place in Room 212 of the Peter Froggatt Centre at Queen’s University on Friday, 25 May. The conference timings are below:
9.00-9.45: Registration and coffee
10-11.30: Human rights, Human Trafficking and international Migration
11.45- 13.00: Human Rights and the Fight against Human Trafficking in Europe
14.30-16.30: Roundtable discussion: Human Rights and Human Trafficking in the UK and Ireland.
16.30: Closing Remarks.
With summer on the horizon, Queen's Sport has unveiled details of five new summer membership options which will allow members of the public to access the world-class sporting facilities at its Physical Education Centre from only 98 pence per day.
Opened by double Olympic gold medallist, Dame Kelly Holmes, earlier this year, the new packages available are £120 for four months if joining in June, £100 for three months if joining in July, £70 for two months if joining in August and £40 for one month joining in September. Summer Pay & Play membership is also available by paying a £40 joining fee plus £5 per activity (£4 concessionary rate).
Speaking about the new Summer memberships, Maureen Cusdin, Director of Queen’s Sport said: “I would urge all those thinking of trying to shape up for summer to come and visit us in the PEC. In addition to our student members, many members of the community in South Belfast are already enjoying the benefits of our world-class facilities. So, instead of sitting in traffic on the way into work or on the commute home, why not make the most of the longer mornings and evenings by finding a new you for summer with the help of Queen’s Sport.”
Amongst the facilities available to members are the state-of-the-art Degrees fitness suite, a 25m swimming pool, diving pool and sauna, climbing wall, badminton courts, squash courts, numerous classes, the Outdoor Training Facility and the Stop Go Café.
Membership of the PEC is open to everyone and more details can be found at www.qub.ac.uk/sport
Further information from Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5384
A pioneering new course in Emergency Planning will be one of several new part-time study programmes to be showcased at a major education open day on Thursday 24 May at Queen’s University Belfast. Hosted by the School of Education, the open day will present an array of undergraduate and postgraduate courses designed for both vocational and recreational learners.
The innovative Certificate in Emergency Planning is the first of its kind to be offered in Northern Ireland following the introduction of new local legislation. It is directed at those charged with emergency planning preparation and response and offers a ‘hands on’ operational approach that would benefit private and public industry, education and library boards, government organisations, health trusts and local councils.
The School of Education is also offering two new Certificates programmes in Business Management and Community Learning and Development. These unique courses provide a framework which allows candidates to work towards a Certificate by acquiring and accumulating credits from a range of optional short courses.
Marc Forte, Continuing Professional Development Co-ordinator, said: “Improving knowledge, skills, quality and competitiveness in local, private and public sector organisations underpins the provision of the short course training programme. Now, with the complementary Certificate in Business Management, delegates who attend these short courses have the opportunity to gain a more formal recognition of their achievements by applying the knowledge, skills and experience of their studying back in the workplace.”
The study programmes available range from professional qualifications in business & management, personnel, guidance and counselling and the teaching of literacy and essential skills to a degree in Arts, Culture and Society, community development opportunities, and a variety of short term accredited courses. They are offered at Masters, Degree, Diploma and Certificate levels.
The open day, part of the nationwide Adult Learners’ Week, will be held at 20 College Green between 12.30pm and 7pm. Staff members will be available to discuss part-time learning options and there will be a short presentation on the full range of courses on offer at 1.30pm and at 6pm. Refreshments will be provided.
For further information or for a copy of the prospectus, contact the School of Education on 028 9097 3323 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information, contact Sarah Williams, Communications Office on tel: 028 9097 5391.
Up for a job! Queen's students lining up for summer placements with local organisations and businesses.
Summer work placements are currently being sought with companies and businesses across Northern Ireland. The Developing Employability Skills Programme at Queen’s University Belfast has some 100 highly motivated and enthusiastic students available for paid placements of, ideally, eight weeks or longer during the June – September vacation period.
After a successful first year in 2006 where employers said the students had either met or exceeded expectations – with over a fifth exceeding them – nearly half of the companies extended their placements. This year the popularity of the Programme has meant that it is open to a broader range of businesses and organisations.
Programme Manager, Philip Clarke, said: “Now in its second year, we have proved this Programme is a successful and cost-effective means of meeting important business requirements. The programme can match a suitable and highly motivated individual to an organisation’s needs and make an effective contribution to projects and tasks, adding value to businesses. This year we would particularly like to hear from small/medium businesses, media-related and public sector organisations.”
Managed by Queen’s Careers Service, the Programme is a one-year personal development course which aims to develop students’ work-related skills and to add value to local businesses and organisations through the quality of work delivered on the placement.
Participating students come from non- and less-vocational degree disciplines, such as the arts, humanities, maths and social sciences, including psychology and law. Areas of work particularly suitable for placements include: business/ commercial projects; marketing, PR and events management; finance; administration; research; media; web/IT-related and care-related. Other areas of work can also be considered.
Payment for paid placements is recommended at least at National Minimum Wage levels, currently £4.45 for 18-21 year olds and £5.35 for those over 22 years. A small number of voluntary placements are also possible.
For more information contact Philip Clarke, Programme Manager, on 028 9097 5596, or email: email@example.com
For further information, contact Sarah Williams, Communications Office on 028 9097 5391
Professor Peter Hamilton, Director of the new Bioimaging Unit at Queen's pictured at the University's MBC building which houses the new facility.
Professor Peter Hamilton, Director of the new Bioimaging facility at Queen's University (R) and Stewart Church, Unit Manager (L), use some of the latest confocal microscopy technology contained with the new Unit.
Queen’s University has established a new £2.2 million Bioimaging Core Technology Unit unique within Ireland and the United Kingdom. Equipped and resourced to the highest specification, the world-class facility establishes for the first time a Core Technology Unit to support the use and implementation of established and novel bioimaging techniques for the biomedical research community within Queen’s and also for outside organisations.
Funded by an award to Professor Peter Hamilton and Dr Paul Duprex from the Science Research Investment Fund (SRIF2), the aim is to grow the Unit in order to provide extensive imaging facilities for a range of applications. This initiative will significantly enhance the capability and performance of Queen’s research in the biomedical sciences.
Representing a range of specialist microscopy techniques that allows researchers to visualise cells and molecular processes within cells at very high resolution, bioimaging is a vital tool in understanding better how cells function in health and what causes them to malfunction in disease.
The equipment contained within the new unit, which is housed within the School of Biomedical Sciences in the University’s Medical Biology Centre, has applications which will benefit a broad spectrum of research areas, including biomedical sciences, the biosciences, pharmaceuticals, drug discovery and applications within the engineering fields.
Speaking about the importance of the new Unit, Peter Hamilton, Director of the Unit said: “We are delighted to have received funding to support this major initiative. Bioimaging techniques are at the core of modern biomedical research and require dedicated facilities and experienced staff. We have one of most well equipped units in Europe and I have no doubt that this will significantly strengthen the research being carried out by the university.”
Commenting on the establishment of the Unit, Professor Bert Rima, Professor of Molecular Biology and Head of the School of Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s added: “Thanks to the dedicated facilities and experienced staff supported by the funding provided for this major initiative from SRIF, Queen’s can now build on its growing reputation for research and leadership in Bioimaging. We look forward to working in partnership with academia and industry in order to provide support in developing some of the most innovative, leading-edge products and technologies.”
The Bioimaging Unit is now open for use by researchers and is currently supporting a wide range of research activities both within the University and with academic and industrial groups outside of Queen’s. The unit also runs courses on a range of bioimaging techniques.
Notes to Editor
Images to accompany this story have been sent to all picture desks.
Caption 1: Professor Peter Hamilton, Director of the new Bioimaging facility at Queen’s University (R) and Stewart Church, Unit Manager (L), use some of the latest confocal microscopy technology contained with the new Unit.
Caption 2: Professor Peter Hamilton, Director of the new Bioimaging Unit at Queen’s pictured with some of the latest confocal microscopy technology contained within the new Unit.
Caption 3: Professor Peter Hamilton, Director of the new Bioimaging Unit at Queen’s pictured at the University’s MBC building which houses the new facility.
For further information please contact Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5384 or m 0781 442 572. Email: Lisa.Mitchell@qub.ac.uk
A Queen's University law lecturer has called for a national boxing commission in the UK to regulate the sport.
In his new book, 'A Punch Drunk Love?', Dr Jack Anderson assesses the legal response to prize fighting and undertakes an analysis of the status of boxing in both criminal legal theory and practice.
Over 240 pages, the School of Law lecturer exposes boxing’s exemption from contemporary legal and social norms. By reviewing all aspects of boxing- historical, legal, moral, ethical, philosophical, medical, racial and regulatory Anderson’s book reaches a number of conclusions and:
- suggests that the sport is extremely vulnerable to prosecution and might in fact be illegal under English criminal law.
- outlines the physical and financial exploitation suffered by individual boxers both inside and outside the ring, suggesting that standard boxing contracts are coercive thus illegal and that boxers do not give adequate levels of informed consent to participate.
- advocates a number of fundamental reforms, including possibly that the sport will have to consider banning blows to the head.
- proposes the creation of a national boxing commission in the US and a similar entity in the UK.
Dr Anderson makes the point that by rewarding brain damage with points boxing is different from other sports and says: “The most efficient way to win a boxing match is by way of knock out. A knock out results in the temporary and acute infliction of brain damage. Cumulatively, blows to the head can result in chronic brain trauma. This book demonstrates that international medical evidence on the incidence of brain injury in boxing suggests that anything between two-thirds and three-quarters of professional boxers suffer from measurable brain damage as a result of their career.
“Professional boxing is also an administrative farrago consisting of an alphabet soup of international sanctioning organisations. Promoters, such as Don King, dominate the sport. The attitude of these impresarios to their clients, and to general ethical standards of business, is poor, as epitomised by the fact that promoters are not even required to provide insurance or pension provisions for their fighters.
“In conclusion, this book argues that it would be better if the sport of professional boxing was given a chance to save itself. In many ways, the solution is straightforward: the professional code should adopt many of the safety features of the amateur sport. Medical research demonstrates that amateur boxing is a commendably safe pursuit. Admittedly, the brain cannot tell the difference between a punch thrown for money and one thrown gratuitously. Even so, the provision of headgear, the closer monitoring of boxers’ weight and hydration levels and enhanced powers for medical officers to stop fights - all features of the amateur sport - would help the professional code address some of its more egregious faults.
“In the United States, Senator John McCain has long led a campaign for a Federal Boxing Commission. This book suggests that Britain should do likewise, and the government should establish a National Boxing Commission.”
Anderson’s research specialisation is the area of sports law and he has published widely and internationally on various aspects of the topic including issues of sports violence.
For further information please contact Eugene McCusker, Communications Office. : 028 9097 5320.
Notes to Editor:
Jack Anderson lectured in law at the School of Law, University of Limerick from 1998 to 2002. In that year, he was appointed a Senior Research Scholar by the Irish Research Council for Humanities & Social Sciences. The following year he was a Visiting Fellow at the Faculty of Law, Australian National University , Canberra . He currently teaches contract law, criminal law and the law of torts, and is the Law Society of Ireland's internal examiner in property law. His primary research interest is the relationship between sport and the law, and he has recently completed a monograph entitled The Legality of Boxing: A Punch-Drunk Love? (Routledge-Cavendish, 2007). He is also a qualified arbitrator, and is a member of a number of sports dispute resolution tribunals including the UK Sports Dispute Resolution Panel.
The book publisher Routledge Cavendishcan be contacted at:
David Armstrong, Marketing Executive, Informa plc, telephone: 02070176028 or by e mail David.firstname.lastname@example.org
Lauren Pratchett from Round Tower IPS, Co. Antrim and Richard Walker from the Research and Regional Office talk about The World of Colour.
Primary schoolchildren from across Northern Ireland are set to explain how the worlds of Science and Colour often merge at a special Queen’s University event this week.
Almost 200 pupils will present the findings of their own research projects on the topic of The World of Colour - Bridging Art and Science, to an invited audience of scientists and educationalists in the University’s Mandela Hall on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
A new outreach project from the University’s Research and Regional Services Directorate, The World of Colour - Bridging Art and Science, has been designed to encourage Primary Seven pupils to undertake scientific investigation into the world of colour, while also promoting an artistic exploration of the area.
The schoolchildren will also have the opportunity to watch a stimulating show on colour by Paul McCrory, a popular science presenter who runs ‘think differently’, an education consultancy specialising in engaging people in science, technology and maths and promoting new ways of playing, thinking and learning.
Speaking about the rationale behind the event, Richard Walker, Regional Projects Officer with Queen’s explained: “Young people are often fascinated by the world around them and The World of Colour programme from the Research and Regional Office at Queen’s has been created to provide wonderful opportunities for discovery, creativity and innovation amongst Primary Seven pupils. We hope that The World of Colour will build on the success of our previous programme Primary Connexions and continue to inspire teachers and their pupils to explore and connect with Science.”
Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gerry McCormac, added: “Outreach programmes such as The World of Colour are of tremendous importance to Queen’s. Not only do they help the University connect with primary school pupils, but they also exploit the power of experiential learning. >From a young age, the participants learn about taking risks, how to think in original ways, realise practical outcomes and make fascinating, previously unseen connections, something which we hope will inspire them to stay with science in years to come.”
Those schools partaking in the World of Colour on 16 May include: St James PS, Newtownabbey; Carnlough CIPS; Seaview PS, Glenarm; Cranmore Inegrated PS, Finaghy; Round Tower IPS, Antrim; Strand PS Class 1, Belfast; Strand PS Class 2, Belfast and St Anne’s PS, Corkey, Ballymoney. Those schools partaking in the World of Colour on 17 of May include: Antrim PS; Ligoneil PS, Belfast; Rathcoole PS, Newtownabbey; Campbell College Junior School, Newtownards; St Nicholas’ PS, Carrickfergus; St Therese of Lisieux, Belfast; Suffolk PS, Belfast; Our Lady Queen of Peace PS, Dunmurry and St Mary’s PS, Bellaghy.
Notes to Editor
Media Opportunities are available from 1.00pm in the Mandela Hall, Queen’s Students’ Union.
Photographs of the pupils from each school will be sent to all relevant local media outlets.
For further information please contact Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5384 or m0781 44 22 572
From front left to right: Queen's University Belfast Mechanical Engineering students Nick McDaid (from Belfast), Jonathan McCloy (from Magherafelt) and John Orr (from Banbridge) practising scaling the heights ahead of their planed trip to ascend a mountain on an uninhabited island in Greenland next year.
Students from Queen’s University Belfast have climbed to the height of Mount Everest. The feat, which took place at the climbing wall of Queen’s PEC on Wednesday 9 May, involved some 100 students continuously scaling the walls for six hours. Over 800 ascents were needed to reach the height of the mountain.
The challenge, initiated by Queen’s Mountaineering Club, was to raise money for the charity Action Cancer and to raise awareness of the club’s planned expedition to Greenland in 2008 to climb previously unclimbed peaks.
The event, hosted by Queen’s Sport at the newly-extended PEC, raised over £300 for Action Cancer.
For further information, contact Sarah Williams, Communications Office on 028 9097 5391.
Colette Donnelly from the Purchasing Office in Queen's gets her hands on some 'niceday' recycled paper, one of 1,000 greener products now available to staff at the University through a new contract with Office Depot.
There will be Greener Offices at Queen’s University from today thanks to a new office supplies deal with environmentally friendly Belfast company, Office Depot.
Office Depot based in Boucher Road, Belfast, has recently been awarded the Environmental Responsibility Award for the third year running and now Queens have appointed the company as their new supplier for paper, stationery and computer consumable needs.
Collette Donnelly from Queen’s Purchasing Office welcomed the move pointing out: “There are potentially 20% savings to be gained per year by users purchasing environmentally friendly options from Office Depot. These savings are representative of a complete move to environmental products from the outset of the new contract and require full support from all users throughout the university.”
The key benefits for Queen’s includes less deliveries to the university through using the one supplier, which helps reduce the environmental impact.
There will also be reduced administration costs when dealing with the one supplier and an increased use of environmentally preferable products.
Damien Hillen, Office Depot Business Development Manager explained the benefits to Queens of obtaining the three year contract with Office Depot.
“Across the globe Office Depot have three environmental aspirations, to ‘buy green’, to ‘be green’ and to ‘sell green’. We are pleased to be working in partnership with Queen’s University in pursuit of these goals.
Environmental procurement is of increasing importance to the public sector. We will be sending out ‘The Green Book’ to Queens staff with this contract. The book contains more than 1,000 quality green products and solutions. It includes important information designed to help companies understand the real business benefits of utilising environmentally friendly products.”
Staff at Queen’s can now lead the way within the local university community in terms of how to operate a greener office. Currently of the 60 million inkjet cartridges used each year in the UK only around 10% are recycled. This means 57 million cartridges get thrown away each year. It is also known that one tonne of recycled paper uses 64% less energy, 50% less water, 74% less air pollutant and saves 17 trees from one tonne of paper from Virgin wood pulp.
The ‘Office Depot’ team are holding workshops for Queen’s staff next week on campus to discuss any queries or requirements staff may have. These workshops are on Wednesday April 25 2007, 10am -4pm, Foyer, The Peter Froggatt Centre, Thursday April 26th 2007, 10am-4pm, Foyer, The Peter Froggatt Centre and Friday April 27th 2007, 10am-3pm, Foyer, Medical Biology Centre.
On the world stage Office Depot is one of the second largest online retailers in the world.
For further information please contact Eugene McCusker, Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5320.
One of Northern Ireland’s leading engineers, Queen’s Professor Emeritus Sir Bernard Crossland, has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from Engineers Ireland. The award was made at a ceremony at Stormont Castle this morning.
The Lifetime Achievement award is presented periodically to an engineer who has made an exceptional contribution to Irish engineering through practice or education. For the duration of his career Sir Bernard Crossland has been, and continues to be, an engineering educator who is an enthusiastic advocate of strong links and integration between industry and education. On hand to honour his contribution was Bruce Robinson, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Finance and Personnel in the Northern Ireland Executive.
Sir Bernard called on Northern Ireland’s engineers to learn from their colleagues’ experience in the Republic to assist with rejuvenating the North’s manufacturing base. He said: “In the 1960s there were the first stirrings of the Celtic Tiger with extensive discussions on technical education in the Republic in which I was involved. Out of these discussions came the Regional Technical Colleges, which have been the lifeblood of the Celtic Tiger. In the intervening years, I have observed the growth of the manufacturing base in the Republic whilst in the North our manufacturing base has been in great decline.”
He continued: “We have much to learn and perhaps now that our politicians have agreed to a power sharing Assembly, we can begin to learn and implement the lessons provided by the Republic’s experience. Engineers Ireland could have an important role to play in such a development.”
Sir Bernard is currently Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast. A former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University, he was Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s from 1959 to 1982 when he was appointed to a special Research Chair. He retired in 1984 and was awarded a knighthood in 1990. He began his engineering career in 1940 as a trade-apprentice and then was promoted to an engineering apprenticeship in Rolls Royce, gaining his education through part-time study culminating in the award of a PhD from the University of Bristol in 1953.
Sir Bernard has played a leading role in in the technical investigation of some major disasters such as the King’s Cross Underground fire in 1987, the Bilsthorpe Colliery roof fall in 1993, the Ramsgate walkway collapse, the Southall high speed train crash and the Ladbroke Grove rail crash. He has lectured and written extensively throughout his career and recently published his memoirs, “The Anatomy of an Engineer”.
He has been awarded ten honorary degrees and won numerous prizes and medals including the James Watt International Medal of the IMechE for which he was nominated by Engineers Ireland.
Engineers Ireland is the largest professional body in Ireland with over 22,000 members. Members come from all engineering disciplines across industry, public service, semi-state bodies and academic institutions.
Queen’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson (centre) presents the Green Gown Award to Dr Claire Cockerill, Degree co-ordinator of the MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development and Dr Peter Doran, who established the programme.
Queen’s innovative MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development, which is delivered by the University’s Gibson Institute for Land, Food and Environment, has been Highly Commended in the annual Green Gown Awards.
Highlighting and celebrating the best energy, environmental management and environmental initiatives undertaken by UK universities and colleges, the awards are organised by Higher Education Environmental Performance Improvement (HEEPI), an initiative funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
Welcoming the commendation, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson, said: “Such a commendation for the MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development is welcome recognition of Queen’s commitment to research and teaching in the area of sustainability. We are building a cadre of champions who have the competence and confidence to become twenty-first century leaders in sustainability. This award validates the imaginative and challenging approach to sustainable development taken by the Gibson Institute.”
Professor George Hutchinson, Director of the Gibson Institute added: “This award demonstrates that the Gibson Institute is now a major force in sustainability teaching and research. We currently have 98 full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled on sustainability and rural development degrees, including 10 PhD students. Managing sustainability is one of the most challenging and rapidly growing areas in both the private and public sector and our students are well placed to take this agenda forward.”
An intensive 12 month programme, Queen’s MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development, is delivered in partnership with a range of organisations such as NGOs, government, media, rural and business sectors, where managing sustainability is key. It is designed to equip students with the understanding of knowledge, its application and evaluation and with the skills and personal qualities that those aspiring to leadership and decision-making roles within these sectors will require.
Queen’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson presented the award to Dr Claire Cockerill, Degree co-ordinator of the MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development and Dr Peter Doran, who established the programme. Dr Doran is now a Lecturer in the School of Law and is developing a LLM degree in Law and Governance with a specialism in Sustainable Development.
Notes to Editor
Pictures to accompany this release have been issued to all picture desks. CAPTION: Queen’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson (centre) presents the Green Gown Award to Dr Claire Cockerill, Degree co-ordinator of the MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development and Dr Peter Doran, who established the programme.
The Institute delivers the full-time MSc in Rural Development and Project Management and a full-time MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development from September 2005. The Institute also delivers the part-time MSc in Rural Development at the Rural College, Draperstown.
Higher Education Environmental Performance Improvement (HEEPI) is a project funded under the Leadership,
Governance and Management initiative of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The project is based at, and led by, the University of Bradford.
For further information please contact Dr Claire Cockerill, Gibson Institute for Land, Food & Environment at Queen’s. Tel: 028 90 97 6516 or Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5384.
Dr Wolfram Meier-Augenstein
Vital tools to assist the war against terrorism and serious and organised crime need funding according to a leading Queen’s University Belfast academic.
Dr Wolfram Meier-Augenstein, Senior Lecturer in Stable Isotope Forensics at Queen’s, has stated that better forensic intelligence concerning terrorists and terrorist suspects could be delivered to frontline security agencies if urgent funding would be made available in order to help academics develop and validate the emerging technique of Stable Isotopic Fingerprinting.
Dr Meier-Augenstein is urging all stake-holders in national security, public safety and serious and organised crime to invest in isotope fingerprinting, also dubbed ‘Chemical DNA’ (as opposed to Biological DNA), stating that it should be utilised as a major weapon in the counter terrorism war. According to Dr Meier-Augenstein, we are lagging far behind the United States in the allocation of funding for the area of Stable Isotope Forensics to help deliver the technique to frontline security and law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom.
“The US Department of Homeland Security have dedicated significant funding to Isotope Forensic Attribution. Similarly, the FBI’s Counterterrorism & Forensic Science Research Unit has set up a dedicated Stable Isotope Forensics laboratory to conduct research on applications of stable isotopes to support the FBI’s case working lab. Counter terrorism intelligence in the US is reaping the benefits of such an investment and we are appealing for urgent funding to carry out the research necessary to develop and validate this technique for the benefit of national security and public safety.”
Explaining the importance of the technique in today’s war on terror, Dr Meier-Augenstein said: “A terrorist suspect may state they have spent the last six months in the UK with no travel or stay abroad. While the police may know or suspect this to be untrue, it can be hard to prove due to the easy availability of false passports and people smuggling routes bypassing point-of-entry security checks. Isotope fingerprinting will quite easily disprove or confirm such a statement thus giving security agencies justifiable cause to detain them further.”
The same technique can also aid in the identification of mutilated or deteriorated bodies after mass disasters such as the 2004 Tsunami, assist in identifying areas worthy of further search when looking for human remains and also help crack down on organised crime by identifying transit hubs and routes for people and drug trafficking across Europe.
Using Stable Isotopic Fingerprinting, Dr Meier-Augenstein was instrumental in helping the Garda build their case in the recent infamous Scissor Sisters case in the Republic of Ireland. Speaking about the breakthrough provided by the technique, the senior lecturer said: “Although the torso and limbs were recovered in the Scissor Sisters case, the head was missing from the lower neck up and never recovered. Using stable isotope signatures we were able to identify the Horn of Africa as the most likely place of birth of the victim and we could also state when and where he was likely to have entered Ireland prior to his death. This gave the Garda sufficient grounds to pursue a particular avenue of enquiry when their case had stalled enabling them to confirm the victim’s identity by DNA cross-matching, which in turn lead them to the perpetrators.”
At least nine police forces throughout the UK have used isotope techniques in well known investigations such as Adam: Torso in the Thames or the Seaham Beach Case in Durham. Stable Isotopic Profiling of explosives has already been carried out in the ‘Shoe Bomber’ case involving British citizen Richard Reid and his convicted accomplice Sajid Badat.
Notes to Editor
Also known as Isotope Fingerprinting, SIP works on the basis that many common elements, such as oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon, have different forms that are known as isotopes and the abundance of these isotopes varies with source (e.g. who or what made a particular compound) and origin (i.e. the geographical location where the compound was made). The various isotopes are taken up into the human body through food and drink. This means that by measuring the ratio of different isotopes in the hair and nails of a suspect or bone of a murder victim, scientists may be able to tell something about their dietary habits, where they originally came from or their recent movements.
The technique can also be applied to identifying major drug trafficking routes and links between drugs and terrorist networks. Dr Meier-Augenstein is currently working to develop a database of the isotopic signatures of drugs, operating like the national DNA database. Drug enforcement authorities can then match the drug fingerprints to the source and batches found from the user to the source, whichever country the drug has come from.
Further information on Dr Meier-Augenstein’s work is available at
For further information please contact Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office. Tel: 00 44 28 90 97 5384 or m 00 44 781 44 22 572.
Eight singing students from Queen’s University Belfast will present part of an 18th-century opera at a unique public performance next week (Thursday 17 May). It is the first time that Giovanni Bononcini’s opera, Camilla, has been performed in Northern Ireland.
The tale of star crossed lovers and a princess poised to recapture her throne will be presented using authentic baroque gesturing and movement. The recital marks the end of a series of workshops where the students have received expert coaching from Ian Caddy, the principal director of baroque acting and staging in Europe.
Lecturer Dr Sarah McCleave, from Queen’s School of Music and Sonic Arts said: “For most of these young singers, it is the first time they have performed music from this era. They have had to learn distinctive musical and gestural languages – the classical art of rhetoric – which, today, is a nearly lost art form. The gestures complement the meaning of the words, and preachers, politicians, as well as actors of the time would have used them as a matter of course.”
Camilla had its first English performance at London’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1706. It was an instant hit.
The public performance will take place at 1pm on Thursday 17 May in the Harty Room at Queen’s University. For further details, contact email@example.com
Sperm from diabetic men have greater levels of DNA damage which may affect their fertility, research has found.
In the first study to compare the quality of DNA in sperm from diabetic and non-diabetic men, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast showed that the DNA in the nuclei of the sperm cells had greater levels of fragmentation in diabetic men, and that there were more deletions of DNA in the tiny, energy-generating structures in the cells called mitochondria.
Queen’s research fellow, Dr Ishola Agbaje, said: “As far as we know, this is the first report of the quality of DNA in the nucleus and mitochondria of sperm in diabetes. Our study identifies important evidence of increased DNA fragmentation of nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA deletions in sperm from diabetic men. These findings cause concern, as they may have implications for fertility.”
Dr Agbaje and his colleagues examined sperm from 27 diabetic men in their thirties and found, that although semen volume was significantly less in diabetic men, there were no significant differences in sperm concentration, total sperm output, form and structure of the sperm or their ability to move. However when they measured DNA damage they found that the percentage of fragmented nuclear DNA was significantly higher in sperm from the diabetic men and that the number of deletions in mitochondrial DNA was also higher.
The incidence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes is increasing rapidly worldwide. While diet and obesity are known to be key factors in the increase of type 2 (or late onset) diabetes, type 1 diabetes which is usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, is increasing by three per cent a year in European children, although the reason for this is not entirely clear. Genetic factors that make people more susceptible, or environmental factors such as viruses that may trigger the onset of type 1 diabetes, could play a role.
Dr Agbaje, continued: “Infertility is already a major health problem in both the developed and developing world, with up to one in six couples requiring specialist investigation or treatment in order to conceive. Moreover, the last 50 years have seen an apparent decline in semen quality. Sperm disorders are thought to cause or contribute to infertility in 40-50% of infertile couples. The increasing incidence of systemic diseases such as diabetes may further exacerbate this decline in male fertility. However, it is not clear to what extent clinics consider information about the diabetic status of their patients when investigating fertility problems.”
Professor Sheena Lewis, of Queen’s Reproductive Medicine Research Group, said: "Our study shows increased levels of DNA damage in sperm from diabetic men. From a clinical perspective this is important, given the growing body of evidence that sperm DNA damage can impair male fertility and even the health of future generations. While the female egg has a limited ability to repair damaged sperm DNA, fragmentation beyond this threshold may result in increased rates of embryonic failure and pregnancy loss.”
However, Professor Lewis added: “that it was not possible to determine from this current study whether the DNA damage caused by diabetes would have the same effect on men's fertility as DNA damage caused by other factors such as smoking.
"This is just one, relatively small study that highlights a possible concern. Further studies need to be carried out in order to understand the precise nature of the diabetes-related damage, the causal mechanisms and the clinical significance," she said.
For further information, contact Sarah Williams, Communications Office, tel: 028 9097 5391
Following the announcement of a major collaborative research partnership between Queen’s University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin, Queen’s is supporting the further development of North/South collaborations by promoting an all-island bursary scheme for postgraduate students.
The bursaries are being offered by Universities Ireland, which promotes collaboration between universities in Northern Ireland and the Republic, and the Joint Business Council of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation and the Confederation of British Industry, which promotes North-South business co-operation. The eight bursaries are available for students undertaking a recognised Masters course (taught or research) in the other Irish jurisdiction. Dublin Institute of Technology is also a partner in this scheme.
Six of these bursaries, worth €20,000 (approx. Stg£14,000) each, will be in areas of study of particular relevance to business and industry, and will be co-sponsored by individual companies in these areas. Two more, worth €15,000 (approx. Stg£10,500) each, will be in other areas (particularly arts and social sciences) and will be funded by Universities Ireland alone. These bursaries must be taken up for the academic year 2007-2008.
The bursaries are open to students currently registered at an Irish or Northern Irish university or Dublin IT (or who have graduated within the past two years) proposing to take up a place on a Masters course which would require them to relocate to the other Irish jurisdiction. They are also open to currently registered students at an Irish or Northern Irish university or Dublin IT (or who have graduated within the past two years) wishing to follow a cross-border Masters course involving some study in the other jurisdiction.
Examples of areas of particular relevance to business are ICT, biotechnology, chemistry, engineering, environmental sciences, finance, logistics, food science, commercial law and business administration. Candidates should contact the Centre for Cross Border Studies for advice on other relevant subjects.
To be considered for this award, applicants will be required to write a short essay (1400-1500 words) explaining why they wish to study in the other Irish jurisdiction and how they believe their studies will enhance understanding of innovation and business development on the island of Ireland in their chosen subject (for the business-sponsored bursaries); or understanding of all-island perspectives in their chosen subject (for the general bursaries).
The closing date for applications for this scholarship is Wednesday 16 May (5 m). The winning applicants will be selected by a high-level panel comprising university presidents and business leaders, chaired by Dr Don Thornhill, Chairman, National Competitiveness Council (RoI) and former chairman, Higher Education Authority.
The successful applicants will be informed of the panel’s decision by early July. Those students receiving business-sponsored awards will meet their sponsoring company between July and September to discuss a possible work placement or other collaboration to assist them in their studies.
Recipients of the bursaries will be required to furnish proof that they have been offered a place on a recognised Masters course in the other Irish jurisdiction or a cross-border Masters course. The organisers reserve the right not to award the full number of bursaries if the standard of applications is insufficiently high.
For further information, including an application form, contact Andy Pollak or Patricia McAllister, Universities Ireland, The Centre for Cross Border Studies, 39 Abbey Street, Armagh BT61 7EB, Northern Ireland.
Tel: 028-37-511550 [048 from the Republic of Ireland]
Models from Queen’s Students’ Union Fairtrade Fashion Show join Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gerry McCormac (L) as he is presented with the Best Employer award from Christopher Flack, Chair of Fairtrade Belfast
Queen’s University has been named Best Employer at the first ever Fairtrade Belfast Awards. The awards were announced during the 2007 Queen’s Students’ Union Fairtrade Fashion Show in the Mandela Hall, hosted by BBC Northern Ireland’s Thomas Kane.
Accepting the award on behalf of the University, Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gerry McCormac said: “The staff and students of Queen’s are delighted that their efforts to promote Fairtrade have been recognised with an award by Fairtrade Belfast.
“Today, there are over 550 certified Fairtrade producer organizations, representing over 800,000 families of farmers and workers (about 5 million people in all), from over 58 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, who benefit directly from what Fairtrade does. It’s good to be able to help them.”
The awards were presented by Chris Flack, Chair of Belfast Fairtrade. Speaking about the decision to present the award to Queen’s, Chris said: “Fairtrade Belfast has presented Queen's with the Best Employer award in recognition of the work the University has done to date. As well as achieving Fairtrade Status, Queen’s has shown an unrivalled commitment to the ethos and principles of Fairtrade and promoting it throughout its entire campus to staff and students alike.
“Switching so many of its products to Fairtrade, selling Fairtrade products throughout its cafés and shops and organising a range of events, including the Fashion show, highlights a commitment by the University and The Students’ Union which will impact on every member of staff, every student and every visitor to the campus. It offers a huge platform from which to raise awareness in Belfast City and it is one that should be applauded and recognised, so well done to all involved.”
Other awards announced during the Fairtrade Fashion Show were: Best Supermarket: The Co-operative Best Independent Retailer: Pueblos Best Café: Common Grounds Best Bar or Restaurant: The John Hewitt.
The awards were were judged by a combination of blind visits undertaken by Fairtrade Belfast volunteers and nominations from the general public.
Last year’s Students’ Union Fairtrade Fashion Show raised £1000 for the victims of the Pakistan earthquake. Speaking about his hopes for this year’s show, Organiser and Queen’s Students’ Union Deputy President, Peter Quinn, said: “This event gives us the opportunity to highlight the funkier side of Trade Justice, while this year supporting Concern’s vital work in Darfur. Over the years Queen’s students and staff have demonstrated commitment to supplying and supporting fairly traded products and events such as the Fairtrade Fashion Show help raise awareness of Fairtrade even further.”
Notes to Editor:
An accompanying image has been issued to all picture desks.
For further information please contact Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5384
Queen’s University Belfast researcher, Dr Bill Smith, has been appointed as an Independent Expert Advisor by the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA).
Dr Smith will support the Association in developing its capacity to work for strong democratic local government and improved services for the people of Northern Ireland following the Review of Public Administration. He will also provide high level advice on the issues to be addressed by the Strategic Leadership Board, the partnership between central and local government which is steering the local government modernisation agenda.
Commenting on his appointment, Dr Smith said: “A strong united NILGA has a tremendous opportunity to contribute to the process of strengthening and improving reform of local government, and I am delighted to be working with NILGA’s Office Bearers and Staff Team at this critical time. Local government has already established good precedents for cooperation across Councils and amongst the political parties, and NILGA will be building on these in the new context for public administration after 8 May.”
Sally Wheeler, Director of the Institute of Governance at QUB, welcomed Dr Smith’s appointment. She said: “Dr Smith brings considerable expertise to this key advisory role, informed by his previous work within government, at the European Commission and with social partners. His appointment underlines the Institute’s commitment to enhancing governance capacity and leadership in Northern Ireland.”
Dr Smith, a former Director in OFMDFM and DHSSPS, is now an independent adviser on issues of public policy, strategic planning and organisational development. He is a Senior Fellow with the Institute of Governance, where he is completing a research project for the US Institute of Peace.
For further information, please contact: Sarah Williams, Communications Office, tel: 028 9097 5391.
Culture vultures are in for a treat at Queen’s University in the coming weeks with two major poets and an eminent American critic giving lectures as part of their visit to the Seamus Heaney Centre.
On Thursday, 3 May, the American critic Professor Jahan Ramazani will give a lecture on ‘Travelling Poetry’. The Charlottesville poet is a Professor of English at the University of Virginia and his interests include contemporary poetry and post colonial literature. Among the works he has produced include Yeats and the Poetry of Death, as well as Poetry of Mourning: the Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney. The latter was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Professor Ramazani is currently writing a book about the transnational dimensions of modern and contemporary poetry in English.
Meanwhile on May 10 two award-winning Irish poets will give a lecture. Gerald Dawe who was born in Belfast is a fellow of Trinity College Dublin where he directs the Graduate Writing programme. He has published six collections of poetry including The Lundys Letter for which he was awarded the Macaulay Fellowship in Literature and most recently in 2003, ‘Lake Geneva’. He has a book of essays, ‘The Proper Word’ due out in 2007.
Elected a fellow of TCD in 2004 and in 2005, he held the Burns Chair in Irish Studies at Boston College. Gerald was educated at Orangefield Boys School, Belfast College of Business Studies and the University of Ulster.
Cork-born Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin will also speak. She has published six collections of poetry including The Magdalene Sermon in 1989 which was shortlisted for the Irish Times/Aer Lingus Award. Her awards include the Patrick Kavanagh prize and the O’Shaughnessy award of the Irish American Cultural Institute.
The citation for the 1992 O’Shaughnessy Award read: “Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin employs a poetic point of view that is displaced, unspecified, and often enigmatic, her poetry resonates with ancient rites and presences from a spiritual otherworld. She is a unique poet who has influenced younger writers, broadened the scope of Irish poetry, and earned her place among the very best poets of her generation.”
Eiléan is a founding editor of the literary review Cyphers, and a member of Aosdána, the affiliation of Irish artists engaged in literature, music and visual arts. Educated in Cork and Oxford she is a fellow of TCD.
For more information contact Mrs Gerry Hellawell in the School of English on 02890 971070 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information please contact Eugene McCusker, Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5320.
John McParland from London Metropolitan University presents Dr Maire McCloone with her British Female Inventor of the Year Award.
Queen’s University lecturer Dr Maire McLoone has been named British Female Inventor of the Year at the British Female Inventors and Innovators (BFIIN) awards ceremony held in the Café Royal in London.
Dr McLoone, a lecturer and Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at Queen’s Electronics, Communications and Information Technology Institute (ECIT), received the award after inventing a product that enhances security mechanisms to protect the public from cyber criminals, such as hackers, and also helps identify thieves.
Congratulating Dr McLoone, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Peter Gregson said: “This is a prestigious award which recognises Dr McLoone’s excellent research in this area and her place as a role model for encouraging innovation among all engineering students.”
Dr McLoone, said: “I was honoured to be named winner of both the ITEC innovation award and the overall Female Inventor of the Year award at the recent BFIIN ceremony. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire event and was highly impressed at the quality of innovation on display. I wish to sincerely thank Dr Elizabeth Pollitzer, director of Equalitec, for nominating me for these awards and I would highly recommend the BFIIN showcase and conference to anyone with a novel idea they wish to commercialise.”
News of Dr McLoone’s award was welcomed by Professor John McCanny, Head of the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen’s and Director of ECIT said: “This is a very prestigious award which recognises the outstanding quality of Dr McLoone’s innovative research.
Dr McLoone is an excellent role model for women inventors and has been highly recommended for her work in promoting science, engineering and technology for many years. this award is further recognition of her excellent work.”
The award is the latest success this year for Dr McLoone. In January 2007 she was announced the winner of the national WES (Women’s Engineering Society) award.
She has previously won the Science, Engineering and Technology Student of the Year 1999 and the Vodafone award for her research at the Young Engineer for Britain Awards.
Originally from Glenties in Co Donegal Dr McLoone is actively involved in promoting science, engineering and technology to students. She has authored one book and over 35 international conference and journal papers.
Notes to Editors:
Photographs of Dr Maire McLoone receiving her award have been sent to all picture desks captioned in IPTC Info. CAPTION: John McParland from London Metropolitan University presents Dr Maire McCloone with her British Female Inventor of the Year Award.
The provision of security for applications such as communications networks, satellite communications, IPTV and set top boxes is essential, and provides an assurance to internet users that any data they transmit online remains secure. The nominated innovation involves the development of high speed security hardware IP architectures for the provision of data security in these real time applications.
The awards event, now in its ninth year, is organised by the Global Women Inventors and Innovators Network (GWIIN), a global network which aims to increase the number of innovative women embracing enterprise.
Equalitec: The Advancing Women in ITEC Project is a partnership between employers, professional bodies and organisations, all working towards greater participation of women in Information Technology, Electronics and Communication. Equalitec sponsors the Information technology, electronics and communication, (ITEC) innovation category in which Dr McLoone won the award.
For further information please contact Eugene McCusker, Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5320.
The Concentio Chamber Choir which won first prize in the 14th International Choral Festival.
Belfast-based Concentio Chamber Choir has won first prize in the 14th International Choral Festival, held this year in Bangor. The 16-member choir, aged between 19 and 22, fought off stiff competition from 30 choirs across the UK and Europe to take first place.
The prize of £1000 and an engraved Tyrone crystal vase was presented to choir founder and conductor, Jonathan Ireland, by Alan Lesley, Mayor of Bangor.
Commenting on the record entries in this year's competition, Festival Director, Joan Houston, said: "The inclusion of such high calibre choirs made this year's competition the most intense and exciting in its fourteen-year history. This is only the second year that Concentio has participated and, despite such tough opposition, they give a very fine performance to win the Open Choral competition. We are delighted to see such a young, up and coming choir win and look forward to them returning for many years to come".
Concentio was established just two years ago by Queen's University Belfast music student, Jonathan Ireland, 21 and is made up of present and past students of the university's School of Music and Sonic Arts. He said: "We are truly delighted to have won this award, especially as the competition this year was so tough. All the choirs taking part were excellent. The choir has worked hard to achieve such a high standard and it has finally paid off."
Concentio rehearses weekly and is much in demand for concert performances, church services and weddings. The choir has already received many exciting offers since the competition, including an invitation to perform in London, and plans to record a CD in the near future.
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International Student of the Year Yu Huai Zhang (Neo) pictured with Queen's Senior International Officer Monica Yang and Lord Kinnock, Chair of the British Council
Chinese student Yu Huai Zhang's inspirational story of his experiences at Queen's University Belfast and in Northern Ireland has earned him the title of International Student of the Year 2007. Yu Huai, who is known as Neo to his fellow students, beat off stiff competition from more than 2000 students representing 130 nationalities, to win the title and the £2,000 prize.
The competition - the British Council annual Shine International Student Awards - highlights the unique contributions of international students to life in the United Kingdom. Neo, who comes from Shenzhen and who studies Management at Queen's, had previously been named Northern Ireland's International Student of the Year.
The first Chinese national to become a student officer at Queen's, Neo has been active in promoting multi-culturalism and diversity by organising events, writing articles for the University's newspapers and presenting a talk-show on Queen's Radio. As Deputy Convenor of the National Union of Students and Student Union of Ireland (NUS-USI), he organised a cross-campus "Multicultural Awareness Training" event, which resulted in his being asked to help translate a prisoners' handbook into Mandarin and Cantonese. He also served as NUS-USI's Student Volunteering Officer.
During his internship with Invest Northern Ireland he was voted Best Newcomer 2006 by his colleagues, in recognition of both his work performance and his commitment to voluntary activities.
Congratulating Neo on his achievement, Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson described him as 'a role model' for all students.
Professor Gregson said: "Neo's enthusiasm for university life and his commitment to raising the profile of international students and promoting the benefits of a multi-cultural student body have been exceptional. Queen's is proud of its international students who do so much to enrich the university experience for all of us. Neo's well-deserved success reflects the contribution which these students make, not only to life at Queen's, but to Northern Ireland as a whole."
Neo said: "I am very privileged and exhilarated to win this award. It will spur me on to contribute more and fulfil my dream to become an entrepreneur.
"I came to Queen's because I wanted to experience a different culture and Queen's is a very good university with a long history, more than 150 years. I have really enjoyed my time here and I am delighted that sharing the story of my Queen's experience helped me to win this award.'
Entrants to the competition were asked to write a personal 'letter home' in English, detailing the out-of-class achievements that helped make their time in the United Kingdom so rewarding. Neo recounted his experiences at Queen's in a letter to his father.
The Rt Hon Lord Neil Kinnock, Chair of The British Council, said; "All the students' stories have been detailed, perceptive - and sometimes very moving - personal accounts. All have been impressive pieces of work, providing thousands of fine examples of how international students engage in an almost endless variety of extra-curricular activities to add value to their education and to enrich their personal development, their confidence, independence of mind, and understanding of humanity.
"The International Student Awards show how much our campuses and communities would lose if we didn't have that diversity of cultures, talents and ideas from all over the planet."
For further information contact:
Yu Huai Zhang (Neo), Tel 07877 350956
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