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11-2007 Press Releases

National female role models advise on 'brilliant careers'

Seven of the highest achieving women in UK academia will be in Belfast tomorrow to share their experience and advice at a national conference for female academics aiming for the top of their profession.

President of the British Academy Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve and physicist Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, both of whom were born in Northern Ireland, are among the distinguished speakers taking part in the ‘My Brilliant Career’ conference at Queen’s University.

The event has been organised by Queen’s award-winning Gender Initiative which aims to improve the profile and position of women in the University. Around 100 academic women from throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland are expected to attend.

Director for Queen’s Gender Initiative Professor Margaret Mullett said: “Women’s careers in universities can be predicted up to a certain level. Many of them will rise to the rank of professor, but very few go on to major leadership roles.

“This conference brings together female high achievers for a day’s frank and open discussion of career paths open to women. We hope that the day will be inspirational, encouraging and thought-provoking and will encourage debate on the role of women in UK and Irish universities.”

The conference is the latest initiative to be organised by Queen’s Gender Initiative which was launched in October 2000 to implement the recommendations of the Women's Forum Report (Report on Gender Imbalance at Queen's: May 2000). The Initiative has produced a stream of tangible results in relation to family-friendly policies, flexible working, enhanced childcare provision, the establishment of a central maternity fund, mentoring schemes for female staff and effecting a major change in cultural attitudes.

In March Queen’s was awarded an Athena SWAN silver award for excellence in science, engineering and technology employment in higher education. Last year Queen’s won the Opportunity Now UK education sector award. The Awards recognised employers from the private and public sectors who have made equal and inclusiveness work cultures a business imperative.

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 5320, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Queen's opens £25M Centre for Cancer Research
Queen's officially opens its new £25 million Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology.
Queen's officially opens its new £25 million Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology.

Queen’s Chancellor Senator George Mitchell will today (Nov 28), officially open the University’s new £25M cancer research centre aimed at stopping the spread of cancer.

The Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) on Queen’s Lisburn Road campus will develop new avenues for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases to help relieve human suffering.

The state-of-the-art facility houses over 300 researchers from across the world. Along with the new Northern Ireland Clinical Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital, it makes Belfast one of Europe’s leaders in the battle against cancer in the 21st Century.

The development of both facilities has also created the first comprehensive cancer centre in Ireland, promoting international quality research programmes linking Queen’s, the Health Service and other organisations funding cancer research.

The hall-mark of all the Centre’s research programmes will be a collaborative interaction between clinical and laboratory research experts from across Queen’s in fields as diverse as Chemistry, Mathematics, Clinical Trials, Immunology, Virology, Pharmacy and Cell Biology.

Declaring the Centre officially open, Queen’s Chancellor Senator George Mitchell said: “This new Centre places Northern Ireland in the front line of the worldwide crusade to tackle cancer.

“The international dimension of the Centre’s work is crucial. Cancer does not recognize boundaries or geographical frontiers. The battle to defeat it must also be waged on a global scale. It is through international research partnerships and the sharing of information that we can create a powerful synergy to combat cancer for the betterment of everyone.

“Professor Paddy Johnston’s international reputation and that of his team are a catalyst in the forging of global partnerships to relieve the human suffering from cancer.”

Such key partnerships include the CCRCB’s association with the National Cancer Institute Cancer Consortium (NCI) and the recently announced agreement with the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi, India.

Professor Patrick Johnston, Director of the new Centre, said: “Today is a major milestone for Northern Ireland and Queen’s in launching an international centre for excellence in cancer research and care. This centre will allow us to play our role as a leader in the fight against cancer.”

The Northern Ireland Cancer Clinical Trials Unit, part of the CCRCB, was this week also recognised as one of 40 Clinical Trials Units (CTUs) to have successfully gone through a new UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) Clinical Trials Unit Registration Process. Registration is designed to improve the quality and quantity of available expertise to carry out clinical trials in the UK.

Eilish McCabe, from Aughnacloy, a patient currently on a clinical trial as a result of the work of the CCRCB said: “I am delighted to see this new facility declared open today. This centre has given me new hope and I know it will do the same for many others across Northern Ireland and beyond.”

To mark the official opening of the Centre, a two day international Scientific Symposium is taking place at Queen’s Medical Biology Centre. Featuring top scientific, research and cancer experts from around the globe, Professor Neal Rosen, Head, Development Therapeutics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, will deliver the inaugural Mitchell Lecture sponsored by Hewlett Packard.

Also speaking will be Professor Paul Workman, Director of the Centre for Cancer Therapeutics, Institute for Cancer Research, London; Professor Nick Lemoine, Director, Institute of Cancer and CRUK Clinical Centre, Barts and The London Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry; Professor Gerard Evan, Distinguished Professor of Cancer Biology, University of California, San Francisco; Professor Richard Youle, Chief, Biochemistry Section, Porter Neuroscience Research Center, National Cancer Institute USA; Professor Rosemary O’Connor, Professor of Cell Biology, University College Cork; Dr Chris Takimoto, Director of Pharmacology, Institute for Drug Development, Cancer Therapy and Research Centre, Texas and Professor Caroline Dive, Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmacy, Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology Group, Patterson Institute for Cancer Research, Christie Hospital Manchester.

Further information on the CCRCB is available by visiting
www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentreforCancerResearchCellBiology/

Media enquiries to Lisa Mitchell, Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 5384, m 0781 44 22 572 or email lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk.

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Watch CCRCB Opening Online

Watch the opening of the Centre online, and hear from some of the key personalities who attended.

Click on the appropriate link below to view the video:

CCRCB Online Video
Select file version
Play Windows Media version  or    Play Apple QuickTime version

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Coursing no threat to Irish hare population say Queen's academics
The Irish hare population is not under threat from hare coursing according to a Queen's research team
The Irish hare population is not under threat from hare coursing according to a Queen's research team

A research team at Queen’s University Belfast has revealed that the Irish hare population is not under threat from hare coursing.

A team, led by Dr Neil Reid, from the School of Biological Sciences, assessed levels of hare mortality during coursing. They analysed records and independent video footage collected over 20 years to evaluate efforts made by the Irish Coursing Club (ICC) to improve animal welfare and decrease the number of hares killed.

Hare coursing is banned throughout Great Britain, but is legal in the Republic of Ireland. 

Each year the ICC captures about 6,000 hares from the wild for coursing within enclosed parks.

The Queen’s study published in the journal Animal Welfare, shows that when the ICC introduced compulsory muzzling of greyhounds during 1993 mortality dropped from 16% to 4%. Further reductions in mortality since then may be attributed to improved care in captivity.

Dr Reid said: “The most recent estimates of the hare population of Ireland suggest that mortality during coursing removes less than 0.1% of the total adult population annually. Therefore, at its current level, mortality during coursing is likely to have negligible effect.”

“Our findings support the efficacy of measures taken by the ICC to mitigate the impact of its activity on individual hares” said the Head of the School of Biological Sciences, Professor Ian Montgomery, who has led work on hares at Queen’s for over a decade.

“Further research is required to evaluate the effects of temporarily removing hares from their source population and of returning coursed hares to the wild before the wider impact of coursing on wild hare populations can be fully determined.”

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 5320, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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NHS could learn from Cuba's public health system
Dr Una Lynch who presented research for CAP into the reasons for Cuba's success in public health
Dr Una Lynch who presented research for CAP into the reasons for Cuba's success in public health

Our public health service could learn from Cuba’s, according to Queen’s public health nurse, Dr Una Lynch.

Having examined the reasons behind Cuba’s success in public health, she presented findings of her research at a recent seminar run by the Changing Ageing Partnership (CAP).

Dr Lynch found that Cuba’s success was due to: political will and the dominant position of the Cuban Ministry of Public Health in comparison to other ministries; the fact that the Cuban health service is a completely public system with an all pervading socialist ethos; the entire health system is built around Primary Care; driven by health promotion and focused on prevention and supported by a commitment to equity, education, active citizenship, and the integrative approach which permeates all aspects of Cuban governance. 

Reflecting on the differences between the Cuban health system and the NHS, Dr Lynch said: “The Cubans have succeeded in developing a health system which is flexible and responsive to current and evolving needs, a system which is truly fit for purpose. By comparison, the Wanless report (2002), the last study into the UK’s national health service, revealed a lack of strategic planning and was resoundingly critical of the lack of responsiveness in the NHS and the resulting lack of capacity.”

There is normally a direct positive correlation between a country's wealth and its health outcomes such as life expectancy and infant mortality rate. Cuba is the exception to that rule, having a developing world economy life expectancy of 77 years, comparable with the UK (79 years), Republic of Ireland (79 years) and USA (78 years), and significantly better than other developing countries such as Bolivia (65 years); Ghana (57years) and Mali (46 years). [Stats WHO, 2007]

“Cuba has in many ways been silenced and all too often we receive negative news from the country,” said Dr Lynch. “However it has managed to create a world class health system. Here in the UK, we look at where we want to go and find reasons for why we can’t get there. Cuba looks at where it wants to go and comes up with a system which is responsive to its needs. If we are to have a health system based on equity, we need community engagement in order to move forward”.

For media enquiries please contact: Roisin Duffy, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0) 28 9097 5391, roisin.duffy@qub.ac.uk Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209
 
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Queen's Asperger students scheme wins national recognition

A unique initiative to enhance the Queen’s University experience for students with Asperger syndrome is in the running for a major national award. 

The Asperger Syndrome Social Network has been short-listed in the Outstanding Support for Students with Disabilities category in the Times Higher awards, in which more than 90 per cent of UK universities entered in one or more categories. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on 29 November.

The Queen’s initiative has been described by The National Autistic Society (NAS) as "excellent".

Regina Cox, NAS National Coordinator, said: “Asperger syndrome is a lifelong, social and communication disability, yet the level of support available dramatically declines once young people reach 18. Higher education can be particularly hard for people with Asperger syndrome due to difficulties with forming friendships, coping with change and unstructured environments. Social groups like this can make a huge difference and help students with the disability to get the most out of university.”

The Network, which meets twice a month, was set up by Queen’s Disability Services unit in conjunction with the Spectrum Centre, which supports people with Asperger syndrome and similar conditions, and the NAS.

Queen’s Disability Services Co-ordinator Linda Maguire said: “We aim to ensure that students with disabilities have a positive and enjoyable student experience at Queen’s. The main aims of the Social Network are to create social opportunities for, and build confidence in, students with Asperger syndrome.  It has proved to be very popular with these students and extremely beneficial in helping them to feel less isolated and more able to enjoy similar experiences to those of their peers.”

Plans are now in hand to extend the Group to allow students from other institutions to attend and to introduce work experience schemes to boost students’ employability and team-working skills.

The Network is the latest in a series of initiatives introduced by Queen’s Disability Services unit which was established in 2000 to offer a range of support mechanisms for students with disabilities and to embed disability issues in the culture of the University.

The unit has already been recognised for its work in supporting students with disabilities. In 2004 it received the ‘Best Customer Service for People with Disabilities’ award from the Employers Forum on Disability Northern Ireland.  Currently some 785 students are registered with Disability Services.

Last month Queen’s Disability Officer Dr Gary McGladdery was appointed to Equality 2025 - the United Kingdom Advisory Network on Disability Equality. His appointment will give Queen’s, and disabled people in Northern Ireland, a national voice on disability issues.

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Dogs sniff out diabetes
Dr Deborah Wells is examining whether dogs can reliably detect changes in their owner's diabetic state
Dr Deborah Wells is examining whether dogs can reliably detect changes in their owner's diabetic state

Queen’s University researchers are appealing for volunteers to help investigate whether dogs can reliably detect changes in their owner’s diabetic state.

Dr Deborah Wells, from the School of Psychology at Queen’s, and Dr Shaun Lawson, from the University of Lincoln, are appealing for 100 Type One diabetics to complete an online survey. The researchers are also seeking video footage of dogs reacting to their owner’s ‘hypos’ or low blood sugar levels.

Dr Wells said: “Anecdotal reports suggest that some dogs can perform early warning of hypoglycaemia by using their sense of smell to ‘sniff out’ if their owner’s blood sugar levels are dropping.

“At present there are a couple of people in the UK trying to train dogs for hypoglycaemia detection, but scientific study of this phenomenon is sorely lacking and in much need of investigation.

“This study has the potential to be of enormous benefit to the medical profession. Knowledge amassed from the study will be used to inform the development of electronic non-invasive alert systems for this disorder. These are systems that are able to detect either decreases or increases in blood sugar levels similar to an electronic nose.”

Dr Wells added: “The video footage will be analysed to see if dogs exhibit any changes in behaviour or show alertness. We will also examine how similar these experiences are between dogs, how reliable they are and whether or not the dogs react in the same way every time their owner experiences low blood sugar levels.”

Anyone interested in partaking in the study should contact Dr Deborah Wells on 028 9097 4386 or email d.wells@qub.ac.uk

For media enquiries contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 5320, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Queen's commemorates NI science giant

Lord Kelvin, one of the first people to put the Giant's Causeway on the world tourism map, is to be commemorated by Queen's and the Institute of Physics, Ireland. The Belfast-born scientist, who helped create the world's first electric tram at the Giant's Causeway, will be the subject of a special event at the University next month.

Organised by Professor Andrew Whitaker from Queen's School of Mathematics and Physics, a public meeting entitled Kelvin and Ireland, will take place on Friday, 7 December.

Born William Thomson in 1824, Lord Kelvin was a giant of 19th century science. In addition to developing the Kelvin temperature scale, he was responsible for the laying of the Atlantic telegraph cable. He was a talented engineer whose work meant messages could be delivered from Ireland to the US in minutes via telegraph, rather than taking at least 10 days by ship.

Today his work is still revered by scientists and engineers worldwide and his statue stands inside the entrance to Belfast’s Botanic Gardens.

Professor Andrew Whitaker said: “Lord Kelvin was an outstanding scientist of the 19th century and someone about whom Northern Ireland should be very proud.

“While he spent much of his adult life in Glasgow, Kelvin’s Irish connections remained a strong influence throughout his life. As well as hailing from Belfast, his brother James was a Professor of Engineering at Queen’s and their conversations often inspired aspects of Kelvin’s work. His father, son of a Ballynahinch farmer and Professor of Mathematics at Glasgow University, also instilled in him a strong Northern Ireland work ethic, business sense and a devout but liberal approach to Presbyterianism.

“Whether people have an interest in Ulster-Scots, science, technology, history or engineering, I would urge them to come along to Kelvin and Ireland for a fascinating insight into the life of one of Northern Ireland’s, if not the world’s, greatest scientists.”

Professor Whitaker is also one of the contributing editors of a new collection of essays on Kelvin’s life. Kelvin - Life, Labours and Legacy, edited by Andrew Whitaker, Raymond Flood and Mark McCartney, will be available shortly from Oxford University Press.

Kelvin and Ireland will take place from 10am to 4.30pm in the Great Hall at Queen’s on Friday, 7 December. Anyone interested in attending the event should contact Professor Whitaker on 028 9097 3576 or email a.whitaker@qub.ac.uk. A registration fee of £10 is payable. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572, lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk

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International science and technology partnership to groom future leaders
Launching the new international agreement are (l-r) Minister of Information Technology, Government of West Bengal, India Debesh Das; Queen's University Pro-Chancellor, Dr Chris Gibson; and Vice-Chancellor Dr Banerjea, Bengal Engineering and Science University
Launching the new international agreement are (l-r) Minister of Information Technology, Government of West Bengal, India Debesh Das; Queen's University Pro-Chancellor, Dr Chris Gibson; and Vice-Chancellor Dr Banerjea, Bengal Engineering and Science University

One of India 's top science and engineering universities has joined with Queen's University Belfast to help develop research leaders of the future.

Queen's University, in association with Bengal Engineering and Science University, Kolkata, has launched a unique scholarship programme to allow Indian science and technology students to live and work in Belfast .

Indian students will study in the Institute of Electronics , Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), an established world-class research centre at Queen's University. Students will also engage in a range of academic, cultural and social activities. They will experience life as research students in a vibrant and international setting and work alongside specialist researchers.

Launching the unique programme Queen's Pro-Chancellor, Dr Chris Gibson said: "This innovative approach by Queen's will increase collaboration between electronic engineers in India and Belfast . The new scholarship scheme will strengthen our partnership and help identify the research leaders of tomorrow.

"The opportunities for collaboration include 'split site' studentships, staff exchanges and research partnerships. Queen's global connections depend on researchers recognising each others strengths and securing mutual benefit from this type of collaboration and cooperation.

"Today the demands on a university go beyond producing skilled graduates and world-class research. Universities are now recognised as the drivers of economic development, an essential prerequisite for a knowledge based economy. Queen's partnership with India will assist with this economic development."

Queen's University Belfast is on a ten day visit to India to strengthen its links with the country. An agreement was signed recently between Queen's Belfast and the Ministry of Biotechnology, Government of India. It involves top cancer specialists from the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi and Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, Queen's University.

To strengthen the agreement an international conference on Cancer Biology supported by the government of India and the Department of Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland ran from 14 – 16 November in New Delhi . The Northern Ireland Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey, officially opened the conference.

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572, lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Queen's help mark 200 years since the abolition of slave trade
Queen's Professor of U.S. History, Catherine Clinton is helping Northern Ireland to mark its connections with slavery and anti-slavery campaigning, by giving a lecture on America's Peculiar Institution: Slavery after 1807 at the Linenhall Library today, at 6.00pm
Queen's Professor of U.S. History, Catherine Clinton is helping Northern Ireland to mark its connections with slavery and anti-slavery campaigning, by giving a lecture on America's Peculiar Institution: Slavery after 1807 at the Linenhall Library today, at 6.00pm

Queen’s Professor of U.S. History, Catherine Clinton, is helping Northern Ireland mark its connections with slavery and anti-slavery campaigning, by giving a lecture on America’s Peculiar Institution: Slavery after 1807 at the Linenhall Library this evening at 6pm. The lecture is part of a programme of events to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slave trade. The programme will open up this aspect of the past, and to provide new opportunities for debate, discussion and understanding of slavery.

Entitled Hidden Connections: Ulster and Slavery 1807-2007, the programme will run until 30 November. Events include music and song on slavery and the ballad; a round table discussion on slavery; Blood Sugar a drama documentary devoted to the literature of slavery; a walking tour of Belfast sites associated with slavery; and a boat trip on the Lagan focusing on the port’s links with the slave colonies.

Author of Harriet Tubman: the road to freedom (2004) and Fanny Kemble’s Civil Wars (2000), Professor Clinton will talk about the gendered aspects of both slavery and antislavery, the role of women in the battle to end slavery in America, and in particular how American slaves looked to British antislavery for protection.

“It’s a pleasure to see the Linen Hall Library take a leading role in this renaissance of ideas and culture in Northern Ireland, and to sponsor programs and debates in the twenty-first century that have relevance to Belfast's role today,” said Professor Clinton. “My students are fascinated by the global implications of Ireland's role today and are interested in how slavery has had an impact on cultural developments not just in the British empire, but worldwide.

“Scholars and public historians in the U.S. today are in the process of re-examining not just the economic consequences of slavery but the social and political impact of African slavery on U.S. society. I wrote 25 years ago in my first book that ‘despite our projections, all our debates, our countless investigations, we have still to transcend the legacy of slavery.’ This is perhaps even more true for me a quarter century later, and even more challenging as a scholar of slavery at Queen's University today. We have to confront the contradictions of the past to find a better future ahead.”

For media enquiries please contact: Roisin Duffy, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0) 28 9097 5391, roisin.duffy@qub.ac.uk Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Students sweep board at awards ceremony
British Council IAESTE Trainee of the Year award winner Joanne McCaffrey with Jane Chambers, White Young Green Ireland Engineering, Mary McGeown, British Council and Fergus Devitt, DEL
British Council IAESTE Trainee of the Year award winner Joanne McCaffrey with Jane Chambers, White Young Green Ireland Engineering, Mary McGeown, British Council and Fergus Devitt, DEL
IAESTE Trainee of the Year award winner Joanne McCaffrey, second prize winner, Rachel Stanford, and third prize winner, Alan Mitchell with Mary McGeown, British Council, Fergus Devitt, DEL and Jane Chambers, White Young Green Ireland Engineerning
IAESTE Trainee of the Year award winner Joanne McCaffrey, second prize winner, Rachel Stanford, and third prize winner, Alan Mitchell with Mary McGeown, British Council, Fergus Devitt, DEL and Jane Chambers, White Young Green Ireland Engineerning

Queen’s have swept the board at the IAESTE Student of the Year awards. The University has claimed first, second and third place in the awards presented by the British Council.

First prize went to Pharmacy student Joanne McCaffrey from Kinawley, Co Fermanagh, who was named as Northern Ireland Trainee of the Year by the British Council’s International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience programme (IAESTE).

She received the award in recognition of her successful placement in Nhandera, a small town with a population of 10,000 in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Joanne worked alongside researchers from Sao Paulo University to help analyse if a nitric oxide gene might contribute to high blood pressure in women. She also spent time in a community pharmacy and a biomedical research laboratory specialising in the manufacture of heart valves for humans.

Joanne, who has completed three years of her pharmacy degree at Queen’s, said: “My placement was a life changing experience. It provided me with the opportunity to experience a variety of pharmacy-related enterprises. The placement gave me the opportunity to put my knowledge to practical use and also opened my eyes to the range of job opportunities available to pharmacists. This has now changed my outlook and the direction I intend my future career to take.”

The second prize was awarded to Alan Mitchell, a Queen’s undergraduate from Ballymena studying Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. His IAESTE placement took part in Switzerland. Third prize was awarded to Rachel Stanford, from Comber, who is studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering. She spent her summer working in Hong Kong. 

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 5320, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Queen's 'national female inventor' in running for top award
Dr Máire O'Neill, British Female Inventor of the Year, who has been short-listed for a prestigious Times Higher award
Dr Máire O'Neill, British Female Inventor of the Year, who has been short-listed for a prestigious Times Higher award

Queen’s lecturer Dr Máire O’Neill, British Female Inventor of the Year, is in the running for another top national award.

She has been short-listed in the Young Researcher of the Year category in the Times Higher awards, in which more than 90 per cent of UK universities entered in one or more categories. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on 29 November.

In April, Dr O’Neill was named British Female Inventor of the Year at the British Female Inventors and Innovators awards ceremony held in the Café Royal in London.

A lecturer and Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at Queen’s Electronics, Communications and Information Technology Institute (ECIT), Dr O’Neill has designed the fastest private-key encryption architecture and the fastest authentication architecture currently available, which can be used to provide high-speed security in applications such as satellite communications, high-speed networks and set-top boxes.

At just 29 years old, she leads ECIT’s cryptographic research group. Her research involves designing electronic chips to bridge the gap between security techniques and the applications that require security. This includes security designs for high-speed applications and low power security designs for applications such as mobile phones, PDAs and RFID tags.

Dr O’Neill said: “I am delighted to receive this recognition for my research from the Times Higher, which is read by my peers and colleagues in universities throughout the United Kingdom and further afield.”

This is the latest in a series of accolades for Dr O’Neill. In January 2007 she won the national WES (Women’s Engineering Society) award. She 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 in 2004.

Originally from Glenties in Co Donegal, Dr O’Neill is actively involved in promoting science, engineering and technology to students. She has authored one book and around 40 international conference and journal papers.  

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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India strengthens cancer links with Northern Ireland
Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey, Professor Surolia from India's National Institute of Immunology and Professor Paddy Johnston, Dean of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen's
Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey, Professor Surolia from India's National Institute of Immunology and Professor Paddy Johnston, Dean of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen's

An international research partnership to develop new ways to treat and understand cancer has been established between India and Northern Ireland. The agreement was signed between Queen's University Belfast and the Ministry of Biotechnology, Government of India. It involves top cancer specialists from the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi and Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, Queen's University.

To strengthen the agreement an international conference on Cancer Biology supported by the government of India and the Department of Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland will run from 14 – 16 November in New Delhi. The Northern Ireland Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey, will officially open the conference. 

Leading the Northern Ireland delegation is world renowned cancer oncologist, Professor Patrick Johnston from Queen's University. Speaking at the event he said: "Cancer does not recognise national boundaries and affects people across the globe. It is only through international research partnerships and the sharing of information that we can learn more about the disease. Through this collaboration we will be able to develop new treatments and improve the diagnosis of cancer to the betterment of everyone.

"India has great expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. With the beginning of this new partnership I am confident that we will take significant strides in combating one of the worlds most prevalent diseases." 

The International Symposium features over 30 speakers from the United States, Europe and India, including seven invitees from the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University.

Queen's University Belfast is on a ten day visit to strengthen its links with India.

In association with Bengal Engineering and Science University, Kolkata, Queen's will launch a unique scholarship programme at BESU on 19 November to allow Indian science and technology students to live and work in Belfast. The new scholarship scheme will help identify the research leaders of tomorrow.

Indian students will study in the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), an established world class research centre at Queen's University. Students will also engage in a range of academic, cultural and social activities.

Media enquiries to Head of Communications, Kevin Mulhern, +44 28 9097 5323 (office), +44 7813 015431 (cell), or email k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

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Opportunity knocks in the ICT sector

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry in Northern Ireland offers a rich and rewarding career to young people. As the industry continues to expand, career opportunities are becoming ever more plentiful, according to Dr Ian Graham, Chief Executive of Momentum, the trade association for this industry.

This statement comes ahead of an event this week which will see Queen’s University and the University of Ulster join forces with Momentum to encourage more school leavers to choose an ICT course at college.

Over 200 young people from across Northern Ireland will attend Y do IT in Queen’s Whitla Hall on Friday morning to learn of the abundance and variety of career opportunities available. Leading industry figures at the event will also be aiming to dispel any negative attitudes or stereotypes associated with the sector.

Dr Graham said: “The ICT industry is playing a key role in developing a knowledge based economy in the region, based on profitable, export focussed companies offering high-value added employment. The continued growth and success of this industry is crucially dependent on attracting high quality young people with the right skills to deliver globally competitive products and services. This event will, we hope, communicate this exciting message and the clear opportunities the industry offers to those attending.”

Participants will hear from Dr Graham, leading industry speakers, recent graduates and undergraduate students currently pursuing a degree in related ICT subjects.

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572, lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Stone throwing attacks upon essential services rising

Stone throwing attacks upon essential services in Belfast are rising, with 1 in 5 of these attacks in West Belfast and part of North Belfast, according to new research from Queen’s University. The research was commissioned by the Essential Services Safety Group (ESSG) and led by Dr Peter Shirlow, Senior Lecturer at the School of Law.

The ESSG was set up as a partnership between the PSNI, Translink, Ambulance, Fire and Rescue Services, and West Belfast Taxi Drivers Association, to take a proactive approach to tackling this anti-social issue.

Between 2003 and 2007, there were 8,697 offences against the ambulance and fire service, police service, postal workers, taxi drivers and Translink. Between 2002 and 2004, there was one attack upon the fire service here for every 5,000 persons in Northern Ireland compared with one attack for every 50,000 persons in the UK.

In 2006/2007 over 10 per cent of all offences in Northern Ireland were committed against individuals from the essential services (ambulance and fire services, PSNI, Translink and Taxi drivers). Between 2002 and 2005 a total of 2,765 bus windows were broken (around 13.2 per week).

MP for West Belfast, Mr Gerry Adams said: "These research findings underscore the need for effective engagement between statutory agencies and local communities. It is important that the research highlights the association between poverty and anti-social activity. To create safer communities, we must build stronger, sustainable communities. A coherent strategy for achieving that was articulated in the West Belfast and Shankill Task Force report in 2002, although there has been a failure to implement its recommendations. I hope these new research findings serve to remind everyone of the need for concerted action."

This survey work was undertaken in the parliamentary constituency of West Belfast in response to the number of incidences of stone throwing and other attacks upon emergency and essential service providers in Belfast, over the last few years.

“This form of anti-social behaviour has a negative and long-term effect upon staff and communities," said Dr. Peter Shirlow. “The attacks have a significant impact upon the public purse that includes repair to vehicles, lost working time due to injuries, health provision costs and loss of public service. We have found a strong correlation between attacks and concentrations of socio-economic deprivation. There is a need for legislative change and for greater funding for the ESSG, so that it can further develop awareness and build meaningful partnerships that challenge such violence within communities.”

Damien Bannon, Chair of the ESSG said, “The group has taken a very constructive and pragmatic approach to tackling the anti-social issues in West Belfast and other areas by directly challenging stone throwing attacks. This positive approach has resulted in extensive links being established between service providers, local community groups, schools and young people with much success. We are committed to further enhancing these relationships and would ask for the continued support of all key stakeholders in our efforts to deliver important proactive initiatives to help eradicate this problem.” 

In addition, the report highlights that whilst there is limited legislation in place in Northern Ireland there is the opportunity to introduce more comprehensive legislation to address these types of attacks upon emergency and essential services providers.

A short version of the report and a DVD on the work of the ESSG will be presented on Tuesday, 13 November, at 11 am in the Canada Room at Queen’s. Gerry Adams MP for West Belfast will be in attendance.

Members of the ESSG and academics who participated in the study will be available for media interviews. To arrange, please contact Roisin Duffy at 0790 794 4434.

For media enquiries please contact: Roisin Duffy, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0) 28 9097 5391, roisin.duffy@qub.ac.uk   Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Olympic hurdler gives 'enterprising' students a head start
Former world champion hurdler Colin Jackson bursts through a paper wall to open Enterprise SU
Former world champion hurdler Colin Jackson bursts through a paper wall to open Enterprise SU

Former world champion hurdler Colin Jackson will give ‘enterprising’ students at Queen’s University a head start today when he officially opens a new centre aimed at enhancing their opportunities in the job market.

Colin Jackson will open the new Enterprise and Employability Centre at an event sponsored by Invest NI in the Students’ Union, as part of Enterprise Week 2007. The new Centre is a major initiative which will encourage students’ creativity and entrepreneurial skills.

Sited at the heart of the Students’ Union Building, the Centre aims to engage all students in entrepreneurial activities. Potential employers will be able to advertise their opportunities on plasma screens in the Centre 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while PC terminals will be available to allow students to respond quickly to the ‘call to action’ messages that appear onscreen.

The facility will also host workshops offering essential advice on completing job application forms and preparing effective CVs as well as guidance on interview technique and business practice.

President of the Students’ Union John Roger said: “It is very fitting that this opening should take place during Northern Ireland’s fourth Enterprise Week which aims to encourage young people to become more entrepreneurial. This exciting new centre, run by students for students, will enable us to engage directly with them and help them to unlock their creative potential.”

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Brown said: “At Queen’s we are well aware that a university education is not just about gaining an academic qualification. It is also about developing skills which will enhance students’ chances in the job market and which are vitally important in today’s knowledge economy. These include leadership, teamwork, networking, communication, presentation, problem-solving and an understanding of workplace culture.

“Queen’s is dedicated to ensuring that, as part of a fully-rounded student experience, we offer the opportunity for our students to gain all of these skills.  This new centre is a hugely important student-led initiative which will make a significant contribution to the portfolio of opportunities which Queen’s already offers.”

For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Corporate Affairs, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, Mob: 07815 871 997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Queen's nets sports awards
Diarmuid Cahill and Miceal Finnegan from the Sigerson Organising Committee, Cathy Gallagher, Development Manager, Student Sport at Queen’s and Matt Leebody, from the Organising Committee of the Seidokan Karate event.
Diarmuid Cahill and Miceal Finnegan from the Sigerson Organising Committee, Cathy Gallagher, Development Manager, Student Sport at Queen’s and Matt Leebody, from the Organising Committee of the Seidokan Karate event.

Queen’s has netted two Inter Collegiate Event of the Year  awards from the Colleges and Universities Sports Association of Ireland (CUSAI).

Queen’s Men’s Gaelic Football Club won the Two Day Event award for its hosting of the Sigerson Cup, while the University’s Seidokan Karate Club picked up the One Day Event title for the Karate intervarsities. The awards are presented in recognition of the high standards of organising and delivering inter-collegiate events by student sports clubs across Ireland.

Cathy Gallagher, Development Manager of Queen’s Student Sport, said: “Organising club sport at university provides students with invaluable personal skills which can be easily transferred to future career or sporting aspirations. Last year Queen’s hosted a total of ten inter collegiate events. The University was represented in all three categories for the CUSAI awards and is delighted to scoop two titles.”

This years Sigerson Cup took place from 1 to 3 March. During those two days Queen’s also hosted the finals of the Trench Cup, the Corn na Mac Leinn and the Further Educations College Championships. A total of 57 teams took part in the competitions throughout the year.

Miceal Finnegan, Chairperson of Queen’s Men’s Gaelic Football Club, which is also celebrating its 75th anniversary said: “When Queen’s were awarded the hosting rights for the Sigerson Cup, we put in place the structures and systems to deliver the best event yet. Not only did we involve students from our own club, we also recruited a team of committed and enthusiastic volunteers from other clubs within Queen’s. It was very much a student-led event and showcased everything that is great about sport at third level. I am delighted that our hard work has been recognised with this award.”

Matthew Leebody from the Organising Committee, of Queen’s Seidokan Karate Club welcomed their victory saying: “Queen’s have set new standards for the karate Inter-Collegiate events in terms of participation and delivery. It was challenging at times to balance the organisational issues with our own preparation for participating in the competition, but this is what is unique and enjoyable about student sport.”

Queen’s Seidokan Karate Club hosted 15 colleges and universities over the course of the event, attracting the highest ever participation levels to the event.

Media enquiries to Lisa Mitchell, Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 5384 or email lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk .

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Engineering the future with Queen's and W5

Queen's University, in partnership with W5 and funded by Invest Northern Ireland, today launched an exciting new programme to help achieve the government’s target of increasing the number of students involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects at undergraduate level by 25% by 2015.

Featuring a series of events, lectures and master classes based around the theme of robotics, the programme aims to assist with the development of the next generation of innovators in this key area of enterprise.

The programme was launched at the start of Enterprise Week, an annual UK-wide week of activities and events, aimed at inspiring young people (14-30) to have ideas and make them happen. 

 The programme of events, which will take place at W5, includes:
• Master classes on Robotics for 14-16 years olds (Key Stage 3/4) 
• Robotic Lectures to AS level
• Primary 7 Mission to Mars robotic adventure
• Public events to raise the profile of a key area on Northern Ireland's research expertise and enterprise

The four target markets were chosen to ensure that pupils at key periods for decision-making, such as GCSE, A-level, university or future career choices, have access to exciting and positive events which can widen their horizons to include Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as part of developing Northern Ireland's enterprise culture.

Professor John McCanny, Head of the School of School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen's, said: "This is an excellent opportunity for students to engage with the areas of Electronics, Electronic Engineering and Computer Science in a fun but educational way, yet at the same time allowing us to get across the vital role they play in creating the technology of the future."

W5 Chief Executive Dr Sally Montgomery said: "The fields of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science make a critical contribution to our nation's economic development. If Northern Ireland wants to forge ahead and develop the local economy then we have to continue to value and promote engineering and computer science, and the skills that young people acquire through studying them.  We need to show the exciting opportunities in these cutting edge disciplines to ensure we meet the graduate needs of the economy.

“It is absolutely critical that a new generation of scientists and engineers, at all levels, is developed through the educational system.  We also need to understand that engineers and computer scientists are creative, problem-solving individuals that drive innovation, and that creativity is not the sole bastion of the Arts."

Commenting on the initiative, Graham Davis, Director of Entrepreneurship at Invest NI, said: “By encouraging an entrepreneurial focus amongst our scientists of the future, we can contribute to the development of a knowledge-based economy in Northern Ireland. This programme will encourage our young people to be more innovative and take advantage of the commercial opportunities that can arise from new discoveries.”

For media inquiries please contact Lisa Mitchell, Press and PR Unit, +44 (0) 2890 975384 or Stephanie Berkeley, Marketing Manager, W5. Tel: 028 9046 7788

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Lunch with local writers on the menu at Queen's

Writer and broadcaster Sam McAughtry and playwright Dr Marie Jones will be in the interview chairs at Queen’s next Wednesday (14 November) during the latest event in the University's 'Out to Lunch' series.

The initiative offers the chance for diners to sit in on BBC presenter William Crawley’s interviews with Northern Ireland personalities while enjoying lunch in the magnificent surroundings of the University’s Great Hall.

Queen’s Professor of Geography and Intellectual History David Livingstone will be in conversation with William Crawley during a Christmas lunch on Wednesday 12 December. The series will continue in the New Year with playwright Martin Lynch and comedy writer and performer Nuala McKeever on 23 January, writer Glenn Patterson on 6 February and community worker Baroness May Blood on 27 February.

The first lunch last month, during which the guest was Roy Foster, Professor of Irish History, Hertford College, Oxford, was a sell-out.

Tickets, priced £16, can be obtained (in advance only) from Queen’s Welcome Centre, Lanyon Building, telephone 028 9097 5252 or email queens.welcomecentre@qub.ac.uk

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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New play explores experiences of former RUC officers

Under Pressure, a new play based on interviews with former RUC officers, will kick off a season of seven plays on 13 November at Queen's. Written and directed by third year Drama student Erik Lynas from Ballymena, the play explores the true life experiences of RUC officers during the worst times of the troubles.

The series of plays is part of the University's programme Level 3 productions, designed to help students and graduates begin their careers as independent arts practitioners. Queen's will host a wide variety of productions during the season from documentary-style Verbatim Theatre, to an adaptation of Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

The programme also includes John Godber's Shakers, Kenneth Lonergan's This is Our Youth and three other new plays penned by student playwrights. Jonathan Harden, from the School of Languages, Literatures and Performing Arts, said: “Drama at Queen's is now in its tenth year, and it's fair to say that our graduates are making their mark, both in the creative industries and beyond. As our graduates continue to excel, this year's student productions are a sign of more great things to come.”

Four such Drama graduates are currently setting the stage for a memorable Belfast Festival performance of Macbeth, at Crumlin Road Gaol. Bronagh Taggart (Lady Macbeth), Neal McWilliams (Malcom) and Richard McFerran (Rosse), all from Belfast, and Rosie McClelland (Witch, Donalbain) from Rostrevor, launched their careers through their own independent projects as students at Queen’s.

As Drama Studies at Queen's continues to grow, resources for the programme have also been increased. This year, students have access to a professional voice coach - Laura Hughes, Set and Costume Designer - Anna Donnovan and directing mentor - Des Kennedy, who is also a graduate of Queen’s. Various other visiting lecturers from within the industry will join the students throughout the year.

Under Pressure will be performed at the Drama and Film Centre in Queen’s Film Theatre on Tuesday, 13 November at 7.30pm. For more information on the series of plays, please contact Jonathan Harden at 028 9097 5231 or visit
http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofLanguagesLiteraturesandPerformingArts/

For media enquiries please contact: Roisin Duffy, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0) 28 9097 5391, roisin.duffy@qub.ac.uk Out of hours pager: 07699 785 20

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Agri - environment schemes no help to Irish hares.
The Irish Hare
The Irish Hare
School of Biological Sciences Professor Neil Reid with the Irish Hare
School of Biological Sciences Professor Neil Reid with the Irish Hare

The value of government run agri-environment schemes (AESs) has been called into question by Queen’s University Belfast academics.

The Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) scheme was designed to help conserve biodiversity by paying farmers to adopt sympathetic land management practices. In Northern Ireland such schemes cost the tax payer £10 million a year and up to £350 million annually throughout the UK.

Conservation plans for vulnerable species, such as the Irish hare, rely on the schemes to deliver increase in populations by improving habitat quality.

Leading the research, Dr Neil Reid said: “The scheme did not work because it does not provide the specific mix of food and cover that hares need”.

“What’s worse is that the abundance of common agricultural pests such as rabbits and foxes is two-three times higher within ESAs than in the wider countryside.

“Aside from damage to farm businesses, the proliferation of rabbits might cause overgrazing of important plant communities, while more foxes can adversely affect ground-nesting birds and other species of conservation concern.”

The way forward, he believes, is to ensure that schemes take account of the specific needs of the species of concern.

“Our research shows that hares need a mixture of food and cover. Helping farmers to adopt these measures, together with sensitive grassland management, could help ensure buoyant populations of hares for the future.”

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 5320, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Lung cancer treatment leads to Irish honour
Queen's Dr Gerry Hanna with his St Luke's Medal for Lung Cancer Research
Queen's Dr Gerry Hanna with his St Luke's Medal for Lung Cancer Research

A new scanning technique to improve radiotherapy treatment of lung cancer has been developed by a Queen's team led by Dr Gerry Hanna from Queen’s University and Dr Alan Hounsell, Honorary Senior Lecturer at Queen's.

The technique allows medical staff to identify exactly where the tumour is located, ensuring a more accurate delivery of treatment.

Dr Hanna, a Queen’s research fellow based at the Belfast City Hospital Cancer Centre, is examining the new PET CT scanner which helps identify where the tumour is.  This research has led to his team being awarded the St Luke’s Medal in Dublin for the best radiotherapy research in Ireland.

The PET CT scan combines a CT scan and a PET scan in one scanning procedure allowing a more accurate diagnosis.

Dr Hanna explained: “Doctors need to be certain of the tumours position and size. In a PET scan a patient is injected with radiolabelled glucose which is taken up by the malignant cells. This glucose includes a molecule which emits a  radioactive ray. By measuring where this is taken up we can more accurately define where the tumour is and how active that tumour is.

“The CT scan which is taken first can take up to three minutes. Then the PET part of the scan is taken which can take up to 45 minutes. The blacker the images, the greater the activity. High activity is typical of cancer.” 

This is the first time a research team from Belfast has won the medal presented at the annual meeting of the Faculty of Radiologists of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Entries were submitted from across Ireland, the UK, Germany and Canada.

For Media enquiries contact : Eugene McCusker, Press and PR Unit, +44 (0) 2890 975320, mobile number: 07817434252.

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