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12-2007 Press Releases

Bessbrook student overcomes cancer to win top Biology award

The Institute of Biology will today honour a Co Armagh schoolboy who overcame a battle with cancer to become one of the top four A- level Biology students in Northern Ireland.

Kevin O’Reilly, from Bessbrook, attended the Abbey Christian Brothers Grammar School in Newry until June 2007. During his lower sixth year Kevin was diagnosed with cancer which resulted in amputation of part of one leg. The operation meant Kevin missed lengthy periods of teaching time from school.

Today, Kevin, who has started a degree at Queen’s in Actuarial Studies will be one of four students presented with prizes by Professor Ken Brown, Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University.

Kevin welcomed today’s award saying: “Biology was always one of my favourite subjects and I didn’t mind having to put the work in to prepare for exams. I am now studying a BSc in Actuarial Studies at Queen’s and would like to one day work as an actuary in the financial world. I believe Biology has provided me with a solid scientific background and a profound appreciation for the living world, which until I had learned so much about it, had taken for granted.”

Abbey School principal Dermot McGovern said: “Kevin is an inspiration to everybody in the school.”

Chairman of the Northern Ireland Branch of the Institute of Biology and Head of the Tissue Engineering Research Team at Queen’s, Dr Glenn Dickson, said: “Biology is contributing significantly to the development of the knowledge based economy. It is not only creating job opportunities, but also bringing about significant improvements in lifestyle and health for our population.”

Three other joint winners will also receive awards today from Professor Brown.

Caoimhe Mc Kearney, who attended St Patrick’s Academy in Dungannon, said: “What I most enjoyed about my A-level Biology course were the topics dealing with biological advancements and technologies such as genetic engineering and immunisation. These showed me how important and relevant the subject is to everyday life , and gave me an understanding of what are now very common processes.”

Caoimhe is currently studying Law at Clare College, Cambridge. Following her degree she hopes to take the Bar Vocational Course, with a view to becoming a barrister specialising in the area of criminal law.

Former Larne Grammar School pupil Catharine Semple said: “Biology was my favourite subject at school by far. I just find the human body and all its intricate subjects fascinating. My A-level course had a good balance of human biology and plant biology. My teacher was really enthusiastic about her subject so that in turn stimulated my interest. I’m studying Pharmacy at Queen’s and I’m thinking about a career in community pharmacy, but it’s still early days.”

Nicola Richardson, who attended Rainey Endowed School in Magherafelt said: “I very much enjoyed the biology course. The course let me combine my love for biology with my love for maths. My favourite topics were probably the ones which went into most detail and which combined my different subjects at school, such as genetics and respiration.

“I am currently taking a gap year, however I hold  a place to study Natural Sciences (Biological) at St John’s College, University of Cambridge next October. I haven’t chosen a specific career to pursue, though I hope to specialise in either zoology or psychology.”

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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Additional funding 'vital' for economic growth, Queen's graduates told

Additional funding for more postgraduate students is vital for the future growth of Northern Ireland’s economy, Queen’s University graduates have been told.

Speaking during graduation Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Brown said that Queen’s shares the Northern Ireland Executive’s determination to deliver an innovative knowledge-based economy which will underpin wealth and job creation.

He said: “This is one of the main priorities in the Draft Programme for Government and it is also one of our core aims at Queen’s.

“Our ambitious objectives mirror those in the Draft Programme for Government. We recognize that we are operating in a knowledge and skills-based economy and it is crucial that we produce graduates with the right blend of know-how, expertise and innovation to ensure future economic prosperity.”

Professor Brown added that the University’s plans to attract students to subjects essential for economic growth had already been welcomed by local politicians and business leaders.

He said: “From next year, the University will offer awards of £1,000 to all students achieving three As at A-level in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. This initiative will play a significant role in delivering the Programme for Government’s target to increase by 25 per cent the number of students studying these subjects by 2015. 

“We are also working to increase the number of PhD students, and we warmly welcome the Programme for Government’s commitment to increase by 300 the number of PhD research students at local universities by 2010.

“It is imperative, however, that new and additional funding for these studentships is secured from within the draft Budget, particularly in light of the fact that current European Social Fund finance will cease in March 2008.”

And he added: “In September 2007 the Sunday Times short-listed Queen’s for its University of the Year title. In its article on the awards, the paper described Queen’s as ‘a casebook study of how a university can help drive the regeneration of the city and region in which it is located’.

“This is nothing new. We have a distinguished history as a driver of local economic development. And we are working closely with elected representatives and other stakeholders to enhance this contribution further.”

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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Hunt sisters strike the right chord at Queen's
Fionnuala (right) and Una Hunt, who were awarded honorary Doctorates of Music for services to the performing arts.
Fionnuala (right) and Una Hunt, who were awarded honorary Doctorates of Music for services to the performing arts.

Two of Ireland’s most distinguished classical musicians, Belfast-born sisters Fionnuala and Una Hunt, were today honoured by Queen’s University.

At this afternoon’s graduation ceremony, they were awarded honorary Doctorates of Music for services to the performing arts.

A violinist, Fionnuala Hunt is known as a soloist, director and chamber musician. In addition to performances with the major Irish orchestras, including the Ulster Orchestra, she has been guest leader of the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Halle Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, among others.  In 1997, she led the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sir George Solti, who subsequently invited her to play with the World Orchestra for Peace in Baden-Baden.  She has also been Artistic and Music Director of the Irish Chamber Orchestra (ICO) with whom she directed performances in Europe, the USA and Australia, recorded CDs of Irish classics and gave world premieres of specially commissioned works by leading Irish composers. In 1999, she received the Sunday Independent in Ireland ‘Spirit of Life Award’.

As one of Ireland’s leading pianists. Una Hunt has played recital programmes in Britain, Ireland and the USA, and has made many appearances with Irish orchestras, giving several first performances of new works.  She and Fionnuala have also toured throughout Europe.  A noted producer and broadcaster, Una has made several ground breaking radio documentaries, particularly in relation to Irish composers and their music, giving vital exposure and new voice to Irish music, which was once forgotten and neglected. She has also been a resident artist at the Irish World Music Centre at the University of Limerick.

The citation was delivered by Queen’s Director of Marketing, Recruitment and Communications Tom Collins, Chairman of the Ulster Orchestra.  Mr Collins praised the Hunt sisters for their unique individual contributions to the musical life of Ireland as well as their collective contribution as two of the most stimulating musicians produced by this island.

He said: “This achievement is all the more remarkable in sisters.  Few families can boast such a gifted pairing."

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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Distinguished artist 'in the frame' at Queen's
Artist Neil Shawcross
Artist Neil Shawcross

One of Northern Ireland’s most significant portrait artists, Neil Shawcross, was honoured by Queen’s University today.

At this morning’s graduation ceremony, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of the University for distinction as an artist.

Born in Kearsley, Lancashire, in 1940, Neil Shawcross came to Northern Ireland in 1962.  He lectured at the former Belfast College of Art and Ulster College of Art and Design (now part of the University of Ulster) until his retirement in 2004. He also taught children and adults from all sections of the community through initiatives funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Lyric Theatre.

His works have featured in major one-person exhibitions throughout the United Kingdom and he has consistently exhibited at the Royal Ulster Academy in Belfast.  He has completed a variety of significant portrait commissions including fellow artist Colin Middleton, footballer Derek Dougan, novelist Francis Stuart and Alderman David Cook for the Lord Mayor’s Collection at Belfast City Hall. 

Described in the citation by Queen’s Curator of Art Shan McAnena as “one of the most enduring influences on the emerging artists of this island for the past 40 years”, Neil Shawcross has won the Royal Ulster Academy Gold Medal five times, and has received the Adams Prize from the Royal Hibernian Academy of Ireland. 

He is a member of the Royal Hibernian Academy of Ireland and the Royal Ulster Academy. A retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the Ulster Museum in 2005.

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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Portstewart woman named top nursing student at Queen's graduation
Laura McNabb from Portstewart, recipient of the Florence Elliott Prize
Laura McNabb from Portstewart, recipient of the Florence Elliott Prize
Award winner, Ailsa Metzing Heggarty from Broughshane
Award winner, Ailsa Metzing Heggarty from Broughshane

Portstewart woman, Laura McNabb, has been named top nursing student at Queen’s. Laura was awarded the Florence Elliott Prize at yesterday’s graduation ceremony at the University after gaining the highest overall mark in her BSc Nursing Science exams.

Laura was among nearly 250 nursing and midwifery students to graduate, including another eight who were also recognised for outstanding academic or clinical excellence.

Awards for clinical excellence were based on feedback from staff in the wards where the students did their placement in the areas of adult, children’s and mental health nursing.

Professor Jean Orr, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s said: “This year’s graduation ceremony marks ten successful years since the Nursing and Midwifery Colleges amalgamated with Queen’s. Since then Queen’s has gone on to become the foremost provider of Nursing and Midwifery education in Northern Ireland. Students such as Laura McNabb play a central role in delivering health care to us all and I congratulate Laura and her fellow award winners for their hard work and dedication.”

The full list of winners is as follows:

The Florence Elliott Prize
 LAURA McNABB
 Portstewart

The Cleland Ormond Rogers Medal for Academic Excellence in Children’s Nursing
 LISA McILMURRAY 
Newtownards

The RBHSC/Queen's University Belfast Joyce Gardiner Medal for Clinical Excellence in Children’s Nursing
 VICTORIA LOUISE HUGHES 
Newport Pagnell, Bucks


The Professor Sheila Harrisson Medal for Academic Excellence in Adult Nursing
 AILSA METZING HEGGARTY 
Broughshane


The Mary Waddell Medal for Clinical Excellence in Adult Nursing
 SARAH ANN BERNADETTE GRANT
 Newry

The Moutray/McAuley Medal for Clinical Excellence in Mental Health Nursing
 ASHLEY BROWN 
Newtownabbey

The Lawrence and Nora McAuliff Curtin Medal for Academic Excellence in Mental Health 
ANN MARIE BLOOMFIELD 
Glengormley
 
Media enquiries to the Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 3091 / 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's student joins Taoiseach's office
Lyndsey and Stephen Herron
Lyndsey and Stephen Herron
Joanne Robinson
Joanne Robinson

Queen’s will today award honorary doctorates to artist Neil Shawcross and musicians Fionnuala Hunt and Dr Una Hunt, drawing to a close winter graduation for 2007.

By 4.00pm today, over 1,800 graduates will have received their degrees, including Fergal McCarthy who has recently been assigned to the European Union and International Affairs Division in the Republic’s Department of the Taoiseach.

Fergal will graduate today with an MA in Comparative Ethnic Conflict Studies through the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy. From Dublin, Fergal has recently completed travels to the West Bank, San Cristobal, Mexico and Guatemala to witness first hand the effects of ethnic conflict.

Fergal said: “Completing the MA at Queen’s was one of the best things I’ve ever done and I look forward to dealing with some of the issues, through my work, that we touched on during my studies.”

(Fergal will graduate at the 2.30pm ceremony on Friday, 14 December)

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Also graduating at Queen’s this afternoon is Ballyclare woman Joanne Robinson, who has used her experience of having bipolar disorder as the basis of her dissertation. Joanne will today receive her MSc in Art Therapy from the School of Languages, Literature and (Performing) Arts.

Joanne wrote her dissertation about her experience of being bipolar and of using art journaling to monitor her mental health.  She said: “I find my art journaling monitors my mood swings. If I am filling too many pages it is a tangible marker to me to readjust and take some quiet time to rest and withdraw from too busy or stressful a daily life.  The routine of painting puts me in touch with the subconscious and illuminates dark days.”

Joanne has also worked for two charities close to her heart.  She volunteers for the Corrymeela Community, which was founded by a past Queen’s Presbyterian Chaplain, and previously helped the L’arche Community charity while working as a fashion designer in Paris. The charity empowers young people with a learning disability to live independently.

(Joanne will graduate at the 2.30pm ceremony on Friday, 14 December)
  
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Cookstown's Conan McIvor will be graduating with an MA in Film and Visual Studies from the School of Literatures, Languages and (Performing) Arts today.

Earlier this year, Conan supported young people from Donegall Pass and the Mornington Community Centres in a film project Bridging the Divide, facilitated by the Educational Shakespeare Company and the QFT.

He was also awarded the Bill Miskelly Award from Northern Ireland Screen. Awarded to a postgraduate student with the aim of entering the industry in Northern Ireland, the award was established by the family of Bill Miskelly in memory of his career with the BBC as a producer, director and writer.

Conan is currently involved with The Centre for Excellence in the Creative and Performing Arts (CETL) at Queen’s.

(Conan will graduate at the 2.30pm ceremony on Friday, 14 December)

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Graduation at Queen’s promises to be an extra special occasion for the Herron family from Armagh today, as brother and sister, Stephen and Lyndsey, will both graduate.

Lyndsey is set to graduate during the morning ceremony with an MSc in Ecological Management and Conservation Biology while her brother Stephen will graduate in the afternoon ceremony with an MA in Social Anthropology.  Lyndsey has recently begun studying for a PhD in Biological Sciences while Stephen has begun a PhD in Social Anthropology at Queen’s.

(Lyndsey will graduate at the 10.30am ceremony on Friday, 14 December, while Stephen will graduate at the 2.30pm ceremony).

For media inquiries please contact the Press and PR Unit. Telephone 028 90 97 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk .

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Battling student defies the odds
Shauvaun Caldwell, Ballyrobert and Ricky Barklie, Carrickfergus
Shauvaun Caldwell, Ballyrobert and Ricky Barklie, Carrickfergus
Damien McHugh from Belcoo
Damien McHugh from Belcoo

A young man who has battled against heart disease will today achieve one of his greatest ambitions when he graduates from Queen’s.

Stephen Friel from Derry City will graduate from the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering with a 2:1 BSc Honours in Environmental Planning, just months after being diagnosed with a form of Sudden Death Syndrome.

Stephen had been studying for his finals in January of this year when he was admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital with severe heart complications. Close to death, Stephen was hospitalised for over a month and subsequently underwent two operations, one of which included a defibrillator being implanted in his chest.

Stephen said: “I have been suffering with heart conditions since I was young but January was a major setback for me. I decided though that I would focus all my energy into achieving my goal of gaining my degree. After recovering from surgery I was almost three months behind my class and had to work hard to catch up. I’m extremely proud to graduate at Queen’s this week as it seemed all but impossible in January.” 

Stephen is now studying for a Masters in Rural and Urban Design at Queen’s.

(Stephen will graduate at the 2.30pm ceremony on Thursday, 13 December).

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Also graduating today is Lisburn woman, Hannah-Jane Braiden. Having used her experience as a young mother to come top of her Psychology class at Queen's in 2004, Hannah-Jane will today receive a PhD following her study into children's eating behaviours and body image.

Hannah-Jane said: "During my PhD I discovered that differences in body image perception existed between boys and girls and also among social classes. Now, I hope to increase my research skills and knowledge further as I undertake a doctorate on educational, child and adolescent psychology at Queen's.”

“Going to University to get my degree was something I always wanted to do and now I find myself embarking on a second doctorate. Having Pearce (8), made it a little more difficult but it also increased my determination. I would urge all young mothers who have a burning ambition to go on to third level education to try and fulfil that dream. It can be tough but also very rewarding.”

During her PhD studies, Hannah-Jane won the Queen's Graduate Association award.

(Hannah-Jane will graduate at the 2.30pm ceremony on Thursday, 13 December).

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At this morning’s graduation ceremony, Fermanagh nurse Damien McHugh will graduate from Queen’s, while his wife Joan has just started the Shortened Midwifery course at the University.

A registered nurse since 1995, Damien is father to Gerard (8),Cormac (6) and Paraic (2), and can now practise as a children’s nurse following his graduation from the Shortened Child Branch Nursing course. The course is aimed at enabling those already qualified in another aspect of nursing to practise as a children’s nurse. 

Currently working in the Erne Hospital in Enniskillen, Damien had to commute from Belcoo to Dundonald, Craigavon and Belfast while completing the course. Damien said: “My plans for the future involve enhancing the high-quality services already available to children within the emergency department. I hope to make it a more child-friendly environment and use my knowledge and skills to make the experience better for children.”

(Damien will graduate at the 10.30am ceremony on Thursday, 13 December).

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Also graduating during the morning ceremony will be Ricky Barklie, 43, (Carrickfergus) and his partner Shauvaun Caldwell, 36, (Ballyrobert). Having met during their studies, both will graduate today from the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Ricky will today receive a Diploma in Trauma Studies, while Shauvaun will graduate with a BSc Honours in Nursing Science.

The Diploma in Trauma Studies is offered in conjunction with WAVE, the charity which offers support to those bereaved or traumatised as a result of the violence in Northern Ireland and also to those who care for them.

Ricky said: “I decided to undertake the Diploma as a result of my work with WAVE for the last three years. WAVE does such valuable and much-needed work in Northern Ireland and I am delighted to see Queen’s now also offering a degree in Trauma Studies.”

Ricky is currently completing a Masters in Human Rights Law, having graduated from Queen’s in July with an LLB in Law on the same day Archbishop Desmond Tutu received his honorary degree from the University.

(Ricky and Shauvaun will graduate at the 10.30am ceremony on Thursday, 13 December).

The Graduation Address at Thursday’s graduations will be made by Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Outreach and Economic Development, Professor Gerry McCormac.

For media inquiries please contact the Press and PR Unit. Telephone 028 90 97 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk .

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Teaching inspires Ballymena family
Ibby Patterson, Ballymena
Ibby Patterson, Ballymena

Winter graduation begins at Queen’s this evening when over 290 graduands will receive their degrees from the School of Education in the University’s Whitla Hall.

More than 1,800 Queen’s students will graduate at five ceremonies this week. Honorary degrees will be conferred on Northern Ireland-based artist Neil Shawcross and distinguished classical musicians, sisters Fionnuala and Una Hunt at Friday’s ceremonies.

One graduate at this evening’s ceremony will be Ibby Patterson from Ballymena, who is graduating with a Diploma in Teaching and Management of Literacy and Essential Skills.

Teaching is a passion in Ibby’s family. Her son, Dr Tony Patterson, is a senior lecturer in Liverpool University, while her daughter Lynsey has obtained a teaching qualification from Charles Darwin University in Australia.

Speaking about her big day, Ibby said: “Teaching is something I enjoy because it is a challenging and inspirational job. To inspire a passion for learning in young people is remarkable. To feel a sense of achievement every day and make a difference in the lives of young people makes the job worthwhile. In fact, ‘job’ is the wrong word. It is not just a job but a path that not all people may walk. Every day is different. One day may have you tearing your hair out, the next you may think you are on cloud nine. Educators are preparing the youth of today for tomorrow.”

Today also promises to be one to remember for the winners of marketing awards within the School of Education. The InterTrade Ireland Award for top student is being presented to Gerard O’Hanlon from Finaghy. The Belfast Telegraph Award for top degree student goes to Roisin Keenan from East Belfast. The Belfast Newsletter award for top diploma student is being awarded to Sarah Drysdale from Holywood. The Anderson Spratt Group Award for the best essay by a degree student goes to Paul Deaney from Ballyclare, while the Anderson Spratt Group Award for the best essay by a diploma student will be presented to Stephen McIlwrath from Lisburn.

Media enquiries to Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk .

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Winter graduation marks end of term for leading lights at Queen's
Armagh student Lyndsey Heron, who graduates this week with an MSc in Ecological Management
Armagh student Lyndsey Heron, who graduates this week with an MSc in Ecological Management

This week’s winter graduations at Queen’s University will mark the end of term for two of Northern Ireland’s leading public figures. For Lady Brenda McLaughlin and Dr Chris Gibson the ceremonies will mark their last official duties as University Pro-Chancellors before they retire at the end of December.

More than 1,800 students will graduate at the five ceremonies from Wednesday to Friday, 12 to 14 December, beginning on Wednesday evening. Honorary degrees will be conferred on Northern Ireland-based artist Neil Shawcross and distinguished classical musicians, sisters Fionnuala and Una Hunt at the ceremonies on Friday.

Lady McLaughlin will preside at the Thursday morning ceremony while Dr Gibson will do so at the ceremony on Friday morning.

As Pro-Chancellors, both senior figures have played an essential role in the governance of the University, chairing many core committees. Appointed by Senate, the University’s governing body, they have also served as influential ambassadors for Queen’s and have participated in key ceremonial events throughout the academic year.

Lady McLaughlin is a former Chairman of the South and East Belfast Health and Social Services Trust and Vice-Chairman of the Eastern Health and Social Services Board. As Senior Pro-Chancellor at Queen’s, she chaired the University Senate in the absence of the Chancellor and chaired, and served on, many other Queen’s committees, including appointment panels for senior positions within the University.  In 1999 she helped to set up the Women’s Forum, which she also chaired, and which led to the establishment of the award-winning Queen’s Gender Initiative in 2000.

Dr Gibson is a former Managing Director UK of Golden Vale PLC, and a past Chairman of the NI region of the Confederation of British Industry. As Pro-Chancellor at Queen’s, he chaired the Planning and Finance Committee and Nominations Committee and served on a range of other key committees. He also chaired the Centre for Cross-Border Studies, in addition to serving as honorary treasurer for a short period in 1999.

Paying tribute to both Pro-Chancellors, Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Brown said: “Lady McLaughlin’s experience and knowledge of the voluntary sector and the health service, and Dr Gibson’s of the world of business and finance, have been invaluable. So too have their advice and guidance on all aspects of Queen’s activity.

“They have served at a hugely significant time in Queen’s history. They have witnessed the University’s accession to the Russell Group of the 20 leading UK universities, and they have seen the transformation of the campus as a result of our £259 million investment in staff, students and infrastructure.

“During these developments Lady McLaughlin’s and Dr Gibson’s commitment has been legendary. They have generously shared their complementary skills and expertise with Queen’s in a very hands-on way.”

Ms Rotha Johnston, deputy Chair of Invest Northern Ireland, a Director of the Allied Irish Bank (UK) plc and a National Trustee of the BBC, will take up the post of Pro-Chancellor in January 2008. She will serve alongside Sir David Fell, who will become Senior Pro-Chancellor.
 
The winter graduation ceremonies will take place as follows:

Wednesday 12 December

 7.30pm  Institute of Lifelong Learning
  
Thursday 13 December

10.30am Nursing and Midwifery
Address by:  Professor Ken Brown, Acting Vice-Chancellor
 
2.30pm Chemistry and Chemical Engineering; Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology; Mathematics and Physics; Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering; Psychology
Address by: Professor Gerry McCormac, Pro-Vice-Chancellor

Friday 14 December

10.30am  Biological Sciences; Biomedical Sciences; Education; English;
Medicine and Dentistry; Pharmacy; Former School of Agriculture and Food Science; Institute of Theology
Honorary graduand: Neil Shawcross
Address by: Dr Chris Gibson, Pro-Chancellor

2.30pm  History and Anthropology; Languages, Literatures and Performing Arts; Law; Management and Economics;
Music and Sonic Arts; Politics, International Studies and Philosophy; Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work  
Honorary graduands: Fionnuala Hunt and Dr Una Hunt
Address by: Dr Una Hunt

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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Australia seals plastics deal with Northern Ireland
Australia and Northern Ireland join together in an international partnership to develop new plastics for the world's economy, from left: University of Queensland, Head of Research, Dr Darren Martin, Queen's Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor John Mann and Queen's School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Robert Fleck
Australia and Northern Ireland join together in an international partnership to develop new plastics for the world's economy, from left: University of Queensland, Head of Research, Dr Darren Martin, Queen's Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor John Mann and Queen's School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Robert Fleck

Scientists from Australia's top Engineering University have flown into Belfast today to seal a partnership with Queen's aimed at revolutionising the plastics industry.

The agreement will be signed between the School of Engineering, University of Queensland (UQ) and the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queen's and is based around collaboration on polymer research which make up nearly 98% of plastics encountered in daily life.

Ranging from car parts to electronic packaging; from adhesives to telephones and from proteins within our body to washing up liquids; polymers are tiny molecules strung in long repeating chains which are used the world over.

Queen's research staff have been instrumental in helping local and international industry in the design and development of new machinery and products and support innovation. Examples include designing polymer packaging for the dairy industry and the pharmaceutical and medical industry.   

The global partnership will enable better coordination of Australian, Northern Ireland and EU co-funded research projects; foster undergraduate, postgraduate and staff exchanges and lead to sharing of research equipment and joint grant applications.

Professor Peter Halley, Director at the University of Queensland said: “This agreement will formalize links between internationally leading research laboratories in nanomaterials, biopolymers and polymer processing, and lead to new and exciting opportunities for student training and new international research projects.”

Dr Tony McNally, from the Polymer Research Cluster at Queen's, said: “Bioengineering and nanotechnology are playing a major part in the ‘knowledge based economy’ and this agreement will allow us to play a leading role in the development of many polymer based technologies.”

Collaborating since 1999 through staff and student exchanges, the two universities are internationally recognised in novel nanomaterials design, biomaterials, polymer rheology, polymer processing and process modeling. This agreement allows undergraduate and postgraduate students to be trained by international experts in these fields.

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

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Baroness Blood to take her place in Queen's Great Hall
Queen's Chancellor Senator George Mitchell accepts a new portrait of Baroness May Blood from the peace campaigner
Queen's Chancellor Senator George Mitchell accepts a new portrait of Baroness May Blood from the peace campaigner

Baroness May Blood, who has helped raise over £10 million for integrated education in Northern Ireland, is to have her portrait hung in the Great Hall at Queen’s University.

Queen’s Chancellor Senator George Mitchell accepted the portrait from Baroness Blood. The portrait of the baroness, who is Chair of the Integrated Education Fund (IEF), was painted by Nicola Russell from Belfast.

The painting was commissioned by the IEF’s Board of Trustees in recognition of Baroness Blood’s contribution to the development of integrated education in Northern Ireland.

Queen’s Registrar and Chief Operating Officer, James O’Kane said: “Baroness Blood’s portrait will become an important addition to the art collection at Queen’s and will be hung in the Great Hall.  As a member of the University’s Governing Body, Senate, since 2002, May’s contribution has been enormously valuable and much appreciated.”

Geraldine Tigchelaar, OBE, Chair of the IEF Board of Trustees said: “This vibrant portrait was commissioned by the Integrated Education Fund in recognition of May’s invaluable and relentless fundraising work on our behalf. Her efforts have benefited thousands of children through the growth and development of integrated education across Northern Ireland.”

Baroness Blood’s portrait will hang in the Great Hall alongside other luminaries such as Nobel Laureate poet Seamus Heaney, distinguished nephrologist Mollie McGeown and President of Ireland, former Queen’s Professor Mary McAleese.

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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Lessons on 'positive ageing' from the USA

The UK can learn from America's positive approaches to ageing, according to Dr John Copelton, Senior Careers Advisor at Queen's.

Dr Copelton was speaking ahead of a public seminar at the University this week, in which he will share his experiences of America's positive approaches to ageing. Some 77 million Americans are set to enter their sixties over the next twenty years, making America an ideal place to study community initiatives aimed at increasing the involvement of older adults.

Dr John Copelton travelled from coast to coast in the United States to examine a wide range of projects focussing on improving the quality of life of older Americans. Key to all the initiatives Dr Copleton visited was the desire to enrich the experience of the third age and to change public perceptions of ageing from being viewed as a problem to being seen as an opportunity.

Dr Copelton said: "Active participation by older adults has shown time and time again to result in healthy ageing. We can all learn from the American approach to ageing. There is a real drive to change public perceptions from the 'problems' of an ageing population to the 'opportunities' for a well-educated, healthy older generation."

The public event, the last in a current series of Changing Ageing Partnership research seminars, takes place on Thursday 6 December in the Institute of Governance, 63 University Road, Belfast at 1.00pm. Admission is free and anyone interested in attending should contact Una Lynch (CAP Research Manager) at Queen's on 028 9097 3650 or email u.lynch@qub.ac.uk

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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