04-2008 Press Releases

29/04/2008: Step back through the Lives and Times of Queen's dramatic history
29/04/2008: Research probes causes of male suicide
29/04/2008: Ireland's health system can learn from Cuba
28/04/2008: New mammal species for Ireland
Jubilee celebration as Queen's graduates mark Centenary
25/04/2008: Queen's students enshrined in fact and fiction
25/04/2008: Queen's Sport wins every time
24/04/2008: Report slates service provision for children with autism
23/04/2008: Secret of sporting success revealed
22/04/2008: From Belfast to Bangalore - trainee solicitors crowned world champions
21/04/2008: Early diagnosis vital in oesophageal cancer detection
18/04/2008: Queen's in Lisburn: VC meets business and political leaders
17/04/2008: Queen's opens £500,000 Petronas 'green chemistry' lab
17/04/2008: Queen's highlights the need for learning and disability nurses
16/04/2008: "I'm listening" - Conversations with Computers
15/04/2008: Spyfest at Queen's - a secret look at the world of MI6
14/04/2008: Fill in the gaps with part-time study at Queen's
10/04/2008: Have a ball for Queen's Centenary!
10/04/2008: Minister launches Car Share Day at Queen's
10/04/2008: Queen's researcher named astronomer of the year
09/04/2008: Children and ethnic diversity on the agenda at Queen's
09/04/2008: Queen's remembers 1968 - a year of change from Belfast to Beijing
08/04/2008: Technology Strategy Board chief to highlight innovation
08/04/2008: Good Friday Agreement begins 'Open Learning' at Queen's
08/04/2008: Man Booker prizewinner Anne Enright to read at Queen's
07/04/2008: £850,000 marine power windfall for Queen's University
07/04/2008: Queen's poet wins UK's biggest poetry competition
04/04/2008: World's largest digital camera to change view of the Universe
03/04/2008: Queen's to host conference debate on the power of the judiciary
03/04/2008: New €5m virtual research centre to focus on vulnerable groups
02/04/2008: Queen's and NASA announce exciting solar discovery
02/04/2008: Queen's hosts world forum on lessons from Northern Ireland
01/04/2008: Public invited to view Science and art of Hubble Space Telescope at Queen's
01/04/2008: Ten new planets announced at Queen's
01/04/2008: Toyota and BMW top car maker world rankings for resource-efficient production

Step back through the Lives and Times of Queen's dramatic history
Queen's University Drama students Ashleigh Stewart and Naomi Martin get ready to go back to the 1950's for their performace in Lives and Times: A Journey Through Queen's, a unique performance forming part of the University's Centenary celebrations
Queen's University Drama students Ashleigh Stewart and Naomi Martin get ready to go back to the 1950's for their performace in Lives and Times: A Journey Through Queen's, a unique performance forming part of the University's Centenary celebrations

The historic hallways of Queen’s University will come alive with voices of the past as the University gives people the opportunity to step back in time to celebrate its 100 year history.

Lives and Times: A Journey Through Queen’s is a unique dramatic and musical performance, during which the audience will be guided through Queen’s iconic Lanyon building to some of the most important and memorable times in the University’s past.

As part of Queen’s year-long centenary celebrations, Lives and Times will run at 7.30pm each evening from 6-10 May.

Professor David Johnston, Head of the School of Languages, Literature and Performing Arts at Queen’s, conceived the production as an ideal way of celebrating the University’s centenary. Professor Johnston said: “From their starting point in Queen’s Great Hall, a cast of around one hundred Queen’s staff and students will guide their audience through the historic hallways of the Lanyon building, where they will meet a host of characters from key periods in Queen’s history.

“The audience will be transported back to the dark days of the World Wars, in which many Queen’s men and women lost their lives; through the ‘Golden Age’ of the 1950’s, when students were known for their thirst for education and love of ballroom dances; to the turbulent times of the late sixties, when many Queen’s students were involved in the rise of the civil rights movement. 

“Queen’s University has a long and proud history and, as it celebrates its 100th anniversary, we are delighted to be able to bring that history alive through this unique performance. With a few dramatic surprises along the way and a rousing choral finale, Lives and Times promises to be a highlight of the University’s centenary celebrations.

“Lives and Times is set against the backdrop of the historic Lanyon building, which provides a magnificent stage for this promenade style performance, and indeed becomes the main character in the performance as the audience travels through it.

“The performance is also an ideal way for us to celebrate 10 years of Drama Studies at Queen’s. For the past decade, Queen’s has been preparing students for careers in the performing arts. Lives and Times brings many of our current and former students together for the first time, along with some of Northern Ireland’s leading actors and dramatists.

“The Choral Finale is directed by Anna Newell, the Artistic Director of Queen’s Centre for Excellence in the Creative and Performing Arts, and brings together staff and students from across the whole of the University.”

Tickets for Lives and Times cost £10 (£8 concession) and are available online at (click on L for Lives and Times), or at the QFT Box Office. Due to the nature of the performance, special arrangements will be made for wheelchair users. Please contact David Grant on 028 9097 3329 for details. Because of the promenade style of the performance, it is not suitable for very young children. Only 100 tickets are available for each performance, so book early to avoid disappointment.  

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, +44 (0)7814 415451

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Research probes causes of male suicide

Researchers at Queen's and the University of Ulster are urging young men in north and west Belfast who have considered suicide to speak to them in a bid to help others in this situation.
They hope to speak confidentially to men aged between 16 and 34 who have thought seriously about or acted with the intention of suicide, in order to develop care and support programmes for those at risk.

During the interview the men will be asked to talk about issues in their lives that have influenced their thoughts about suicide and the types of help and support that they have used when feeling suicidal.

Around 50 of the 242 people registered in 2007 in Northern Ireland as taking their own lives were men in this age group according to statistics released this month by NISRA.

Dr Joanne Jordan, from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen's, is leading the study, which is entitled Providing Meaningful Care: Learning from the Experiences of Suicidal Men.

Those who take part will be able to access counselling free of charge with a counsellor accredited by the British and Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and will receive information about support services in their area.

Dr Jordan said: “The rise in suicide in Northern Ireland over the recent past is now a matter of record. In large part this increase has been prompted by a rise in male suicide, particularly among young men. Although the latest statistics suggest that suicide among this group may be beginning to level off from the previous few years, this does not mean that we can afford to be complacent.

“Suicide continues to claim far too many young men’s lives, making it imperative that we learn about the circumstances in which they are led to consider it.”

Dr Jordan will work with a team from the University of Ulster including Professor Hugh McKenna, Dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, Dr Sinead Keeney, Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Nursing Research, and Mr Iain McGowan, Lecturer in the School of Nursing.

Professor McKenna said: “Talking directly to young men about their experiences means that we will be able to hear about ways of developing care and support that make sense to them. We want to hear from young men who have sought help from services as well as those who have not. It’s important that we learn from their experiences so that the recommendations we develop for policy and practice are realistic and relevant.”

Over the next few months the research will be extended to include the Banbridge and Craigavon areas.

Any young men living in the north and west Belfast area who are interested in taking part in the study should contact Iain McGowan on 07894 646690 or email for more information.

Interviews will be arranged for a time and a place that suits the participants. The researcher and the interviewee will agree the arrangements before meeting.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit, 028 90 97 5391 or 07980 013 362, or David Young at University of Ulster on 028 9036 6074 or 07808 911 343

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Ireland's health system can learn from Cuba

The health service in Ireland could learn a lot from Cuba’s approach to public health, according to an expert from Queen’s University, Belfast.

Dr Una Lynch from the School of Law at Queen’s has examined the reasons behind Cuba’s success in public health. She recently presented her findings to Irish health care professionals, academics and students at the University of Limerick, and to members of the MRSA and families network.

Dr Lynch said: “In November 2001, the Department of Health and Children in Dublin launched a new health strategy, placing the development of Primary Care at the centre of the Irish health service. Since then, however, there has been a lack of progress against this strategy.

“Cuba, on the other hand, placed Primary Care at the centre of its health service in the mid 1980’s and has since developed a highly effective model for delivering healthcare.

“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.

“Unlike Ireland, Cuba is an economically poor country. Both countries spend about 7% of GDP on health but, because of economic differences, Ireland is spending ten times more on its health service. Nevertheless, infant mortality in both countries is the same and life expectancy is very similar - 78 in Ireland and 77 in Cuba.

“Health outcomes, such as infant mortality and life expectancy are closely correlated with a country's wealth and GDP. Countries with higher GDP generally have better health outcomes. Cuba is different in this regard. Despite being described as a third-world country, life expectancy and infant mortality in Cuba are comparable with Ireland and other high income countries.

“Cuba has in many ways been silenced and all too often we receive negative news from the country. It has managed to create a world class health system, however. Here in Ireland, and 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 to ensure that citizens are actively involved and that service development is responsive to current and future needs.”

Teresa Graham, Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Limerick, said: “It was an eye-opening experience to be presented with a model of health care which is truly patient-centred. The common-sense nature of the approach to public health in Cuba is a challenge to those of us who have been used to analysing an approach which concentrates on administration and organisations, rather than the bottom line of providing the best health care possible for people. I certainly feel that we have much to learn from Cuba.”

Peader Kirby, Professor of International Politics and Public Policy  at University College Limerick said: “Dr Lynch's presentation examined in first-hand detail a subject that has been muddied in a fog of ideology and prejudice. I only wish that her presentation could be seen by health workers and planners the length and breadth of Ireland. As a nurse, she was able to evaluate the Cuban medical system in a far more incisive way that could most social scientists and so has produced a body of evidence that is of major significance. This significance is heightened by her ability to contrast Cuba's achievements with the Republic of Ireland's prevarication and vacuous rhetoric in its attempts to improve its health system. She showed herself to be a critical and even sceptical investigator but was not afraid to acknowledge excellence when she found it.”

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320,

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New mammal species for Ireland
The greater white-toothed shrew
The greater white-toothed shrew

A postgraduate Queen's student has discovered a mammal which has never been seen before in Ireland. The shrew, which has been spotted in Tipperary and Limerick, is only the third new mammal to be found on the island in almost 60 years.

Dave Tosh, from the School of Biological Sciences, found the greater white-toothed shrew Crocidura russula in Tipperary and Limerick while working with University College Cork and BirdWatch Ireland. Its natural range is in parts of Africa, France and Germany and before now the closest it has been spotted to Ireland is in the Channel Islands.

As part of his PhD, Dave was studying the diet of the Barn Owl in Ireland. Last winter John Lusby, Barn Owl Research Officer from Bird Watch Ireland, sent him pellets (regurgitated food remains) from owls in Tipperary and Limerick to help with the study.

Dave explained:  “It was among a batch that I was about to dry in an oven, that I noticed a very large shrew skull. Having looked at hundreds of pellets from Ireland already I knew that what I was looking at was very unusual as our native pygmy shrew is very small in comparison. 

"I ended up looking through more and more pellets and discovered more and more of the strange shrew skulls.”

In March seven greater white-toothed shrews were trapped at four locations in Tipperary and their existence has just been recorded in the scientific journal Mammal Review.

Professor Ian Montgomery, Head of the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s, says the animal is likely to have been introduced recently to Ireland and the discovery of a new mammal species in Ireland is extremely rare.

 “Most species which occur in Ireland also occur in Britain but the nearest this species of shrew has been found is on the Channel Islands and the Scilly Isles.

“These records are evidence of at least one recent introduction event, probably accidental, from continental Europe to Ireland and has resulted in a rapid increase in numbers over a short period.”

The discovery, however, raises issues related to ecological impact and control which need to be further researched. While the shrew is likely to sustain threatened birds of prey including the barn owl, it could lead to the loss of small native mammals including the pygmy shrew.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 9097 5391, Mob 07980 013 362,

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Jubilee celebration as Queen's graduates mark Centenary

The largest ever gathering of Queen’s graduates will take place on campus on Thursday (17 April).  Alumni from around the world, including the USA, Australia, Barbados, Africa and mainland Europe, are returning for a double celebration – a Golden Jubilee Reunion and to mark the University’s Centenary.

Around 300 alumni who graduated between 1950 and 1961 will attend the event which starts with a welcome by rugby legend Jack Kyle.  The reunion programme includes a campus tour, a visit to the Naughton Gallery, a concert by the Queen’s Big Band, Breakfast in Tiffany’s at QFT, a performance by Queen’s drama students and a talk by award-winning author and journalist Alf McCreary.  The day concludes with dinner in the Great Hall.

Queen’s Director of Development and Alumni Relations Norma Sinte said: “Queen’s has made tremendous strides in the last few years and is now a member of the prestigious Russell Group of the UK’s 20 leading research-intensive universities.  The campus is also being transformed as the result of a major investment in staff, students and infrastructure. This would not have been possible without the generous support of our alumni who have contributed to the Annual Fund.  Participants at Thursday’s event have made a generous Class Gift to Queen’s.  This money will be used to fund scholarships and areas of general need for today’s students. 

“We are grateful to five distinguished graduates from this period who encouraged others to join them for this special day:  Dr Jill McIvor, Professor Dame Ingrid Allen, Dr Gordon Millington, Sir George Quigley and Professor George Walmsley.”

The reunion is part of Queen’s year-long series of celebrations to mark its 100th anniversary as a university. From high-profile international events to ceremonial, cultural and social occasions, the programme marks Queen’s 100 years as an international centre of academic excellence rooted at the heart of the local community.

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email

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Alumni video link

To watch the QTV footage of the Alumni event, click on the appropriate link below:

Select file version
Play Windows Media version   or     Play Apple QuickTime version

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Queen's students enshrined in fact and fiction

The adventures of two fictional Queen’s students, during an archaeological dig in Turkey, are the subject of a forthcoming book by a North American writer.
Julie Raymond from the Rocky Mountains area of Wyoming, is visiting Belfast to research her historical novel, The Well Of Time.

The two Queen’s fictional characters, Aine Bell (29) and Samaria Khan (25), are on an archaeological dig at a prehistoric site in Northern Turkey.

Ms Raymond describes the novel as an Indiana Jones meets Back to the Future account of the human experience of five women on a dig.

She said: “Aine, the heroine, makes a discovery within herself and within history that evolves her perspective of ancestral secrets and revives the long forgotten.

“Queen’s University is absolutely beautiful. I’ve also found everyone connected with the university to be very knowledgeable and friendly. The Queen’s University writers' group run by Ian Sansom is particularly enjoyable and the library’s archaeology collection is incredibly impressive.”

The book is due for publication later this summer.

Meanwhile, a factual account of Queen’s architecture students’ one week workshop in Istanbul has been published. The 104-page book Rediscovering the Golden Horn, is co-edited by Queen’s architecture lecturer Conall O Cathain. The book contains suggestions for collaborative projects between staff and students of architecture from Istanbul Technical University and Queen’s University.   

Mr O Cathain said: “Some of the ideas contained in the book are practical suggestions such as boat stations and cycle routes that will encourage people to use cars less. Other students intend that their projects will make a ‘big splash’ and capture the imagination of the people of the city by the use of floating exhibition spaces. All emphasise the aim of cultural activities.

“We hope that one or more of these ideas will be adopted by the City and be built as real projects for Istanbul when it is European City of Culture in 2010. We could see Queen’s architecture students making a cultural contribution at the other end of Europe.”

Rediscovering the Golden Horn can be purchased from the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, priced £15, telephone (028) 9097 4006.

For media enquiries please contact: Communications Office. Tel: (028) 9097 3087 or email

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Queen's Sport wins every time
NIU Men's Hockey team
NIU Men's Hockey team
Kevin Murray with Laura Willinghan
Kevin Murray with Laura Willinghan

Queen’s University has received two accolades at the inaugural Lucozade Sport Physical Activity and Sport Awards ceremony.

Held at Belfast Castle, the great and the good of sport joined Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers and former Ulster Rugby captain, Simon Best, to honour the unsung heroes of Belfast’s sporting world.

Second year Queen’s student, Laura Willighan, from South Belfast, was recognised for her significant contribution and impact as a ‘sport volunteer’. She won the award for Third Level in the Education category.

Queen’s Physical Education Centre received the award for the Best Facility Supporting High Performance in the Performance category.

Maureen Cusdin, Director of Queen’s Sport, said: “This event was the first key milestone in the delivery of the new strategy for Physical Activity and Sport in Belfast.  For many years Queen’s and other key partners involved in sport have worked together to promote and develop opportunities for the population of the city.  The new Belfast Strategy will provide sporting opportunities for all and will assist in making Belfast more active.”

Councillor Rodgers added: “The men and women we honour have gone, in many cases, more than one step further for their sport and I am delighted that the Council is working in partnership with Sport Belfast to recognise the achievements of these unsung heroes.”

Meanwhile, at the British University Games held in Edinburgh, Theology student Ivan Steen captained the Northern Ireland Universities side to gold, with a victory over hosts Scotland.

One of 32 Queen’s students representing NIU, Ivan also won a Player of the Tournament award.

The multi-sport event is the top competition in third level sport and brings together elite athletes from Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales.  Former Queen’s Sports Achievement winner Caroline O’Hanlon, was also one of five students who helped NIU retain their netball title.

Cathy Gallagher from Queen’s Sport, Manager of NIU, said: “Yet again, the high standard of this competition has produced a fantastic week of sporting action for students from Northern Ireland. It highlighted a great camaraderie across all codes in a unique multi-sport arena.”

The facilities at Queen’s PEC, including an 80m x 40m synthetic grass pitch outdoor training facility, suitable for sports such as soccer, rugby and gaelic football, are open to the public. Information on the PEC and Queen’s Sport is available by visiting or by telephoning (028) 9068 1126.

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572,

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Report slates service provision for children with autism

A hard-hitting report on the lack of statutory services for children with autism and their parents and carers will be published this week.

The report, Meeting the Needs of Families Living with Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, was compiled by researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, University of Ulster, and autism charity, PEAT, supported by funding from the Royal Irish Academy.

A total of 95 parents, representing 100 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and 67 multi-disciplinary professionals took part in the research which covered both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The report concluded that there is a severe lack of statutory service provision, in particular in Northern Ireland. Amongst the recommendations of the report are: 
• Quicker diagnosis of children with ASD 
• Better training for staff involved in making diagnosis
• Early intervention and regular revision of children’s education and care plans
• That the cost benefits of early intervention are taken into account
• More support for Applied Behaviour Analysis training and education and better parent/professional partnerships

Dr Karola Dillenburger from the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s said: “Nearly 3000 school-age children in Northern Ireland have autism, and it is thought that more than 300 children born every year will later be diagnosed with the condition. The lack of evidence-based treatment for these children is unacceptable.

“As part of my work with Queen’s, I recently visited Brock University in Ontario, Canada as Invited Scholar and presented this report to the Ontario Association of Developmental Disability Research Group. The people I spoke to were astonished at the lack of support for Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) in Ireland. Ontario was in a similar situation ten years ago but, based on extensive cost-benefit analyses and evidence of effectiveness, has now turned this around by making Intensive Behavioural Interventions based on ABA available to every child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Brock University is offering training that is accredited by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board to professionals who work with these children.

“By analysing a child’s behaviour and tailoring intervention treatments to their own specific needs, ABA can help break down the barriers that isolate autistic children from the rest of the world and allow them reach their full potential.”

Dr Mickey Keenan, from the University of Ulster’s School of Psychology said: “There are deficiencies in the formation of parent/professional partnerships; prolonged waiting times for diagnosis and the issuing of Special Educational Needs Statements and the absence of a coherent view on science-based policy and practice.

“While parents and professionals largely agreed about future needs, there were some discrepancies with regard to the basis of interventions. The research uncovered considerable lack of knowledge and application of the science of behaviour analysis amongst professionals that can be directly linked to the non-inclusion of suitably qualified behaviour analysts in local governmental reviews and reports.”

Dr Tony Byrne, chairperson of PEAT and one of the researchers, as well as the father of two children with ASD, said: “While this report may make uncomfortable reading for some, it is necessary to show those in positions of power that current services are neither adequate nor effective.

“The research has allowed PEAT to identify our priorities to help families and to develop a strategy for the next five years. Effective training for parents and carers can help to make a real difference for their kids, but they need the full support of health and education professionals in their struggle with autism”.

The report will be launched at the Hilton Hotel, Belfast on Friday, April 25 at 12 noon.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded at

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320,


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Secret of sporting success revealed
Gaining a Mental Edge: Dr John Kremer and Chris Cochrane from Queen's Rugby & the Ireland U20 squad.
Gaining a Mental Edge: Dr John Kremer and Chris Cochrane from Queen's Rugby & the Ireland U20 squad.

A Queen’s University doctor, who has worked with local and international teams and individuals, has co-authored a new book giving athletes, players and coaches an insight on how to develop a mental edge and maximise ability.

Renowned sports psychologist, Doctor John Kremer, from Queen’s University and Professor Aidan Moran from University College Dublin (UCD), have, for the first time, brought together sound theory and examples of good practice in Pure Sport: Practical Sport Psychology.

The ‘secrets’ contained within the book will help readers realise their true sporting potential.

Aimed at anyone with an active involvement or interest in sport, inspiring pictures are teamed with techniques for channelling and harnessing mental skills; all with the ultimate goal of improving sporting performance.
Both authors have and continue to work with a wide range of individuals and sporting teams at both club and international level, including sports as diverse as golf, swimming, gaelic football, cricket and athletics.

Drawing on their combined experience as academics and applied sport psychologists, the authors pinpoint what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to performance enhancement.

Dr John Kremer from the School of Psychology at Queen’s said: “Pure Sport goes back to basics by highlighting practical concerns for those involved with competitive sport at every level. The practical examples have been tried and tested in competitive settings and I am confident they will help readers achieve that elusive mental edge.

“At the end of the day, consistently playing your sport to the best of your ability is what matters most. No one dimension should ever be focused on more than another. Instead it is the relationship between them all that will maximise a person’s potential.”

Pure Sport: Practical Sport Psychology is published by Routledge.

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, 028 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572,

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From Belfast to Bangalore - trainee solicitors crowned world champions
Mary Traynor, Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS), Conor Houston, Niall Hargan and Anne Fenton, Director of IPLS
Mary Traynor, Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS), Conor Houston, Niall Hargan and Anne Fenton, Director of IPLS

Two of Belfast’s budding young lawyers have beaten stiff competition from around the globe to triumph at one of the legal world’s most prestigious international competitions.

Niall Hargan and Conor Houston, who are training to be solicitors and attended the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s University Belfast, claimed first prize at the World Final of the Louis M Brown International Client Counselling Competition at the National Law School of India University in Bangalore.

Speaking about their victory, Conor said: “It was a huge honour for Niall and I to represent the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s and the entire legal profession of Northern Ireland at the competition. It was a unique and wonderful experience to be able to compete against young lawyers from around the world and share with them our ideas and approaches to lawyer-client relations.

“The competition was a real test of the skills that are needed to succeed in the legal profession. We hope that we can continue to use these skills throughout our careers, to provide the best possible service to our clients.”

Niall Hargan said: “The competition promotes greater client empowerment and encourages lawyers to be more client-centred. Conor and I had to complete a series of mock lawyer-client interviews, during which we had to listen carefully to our clients, empathise with them, try to better understand their needs and suggest the best possible solutions to their legal problem.

“We are obviously delighted to have won. We would like to thank the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s for the excellent training they have provided, and also Carson McDowell and John J Rice and Company - the law firms with which we are currently doing our apprenticeships - for supporting us during the competition.”

Anne Fenton, Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s said: “We are thrilled at Niall and Conor’s achievement. They are excellent ambassadors for the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, for Queen’s and for the Northern Ireland legal profession.

“Representing Northern Ireland, they competed against teams from 18 countries, including Australia, Canada and the USA. Considering that the team from the United States was selected from students at around 180 law schools, it is quite an achievement that Niall and Conor, who represented the smallest jurisdiction in the competition, emerged victorious.

“This is the second time students from the Institute have won the world title. It is a great tribute to the Institute, and to the high standard of training it provides, that they have returned home from India as world champions.”

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, 028 9097 5320, 07814 415 451

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Early diagnosis vital in oesophageal cancer detection

People with oesophageal cancer are often enduring serious symptoms for over a year before seeking help, according to a report launched by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry at Queen’s.

The report, entitled "Monitoring Care of Patients with Upper Gastrointestinal cancers: 2005", compares care for patients diagnosed with cancers of the oesophagus and stomach in 1996, 2001 and 2005.

It provides insights into changes which took place as a result of the Campbell Report, published in 1996, and recommended major improvements to cancer services in Northern Ireland. 

Each year around 200 people in Northern Ireland are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. It’s twice as common in men as women, is seen more often in deprived groups of the population and survival rates are generally poor. The most common symptom is having difficulty swallowing, one that 80% of patients reported to their GP. 

But the good news in the report is a 10% increase in observed survival rates for oesophageal cancer patients one year after surgery.  69% of patients operated on in 1996 were alive a year after their operation while those who underwent surgery in 2005 had 79% survival rates one year later.

Dr Anna Gavin, Director of the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry said: “The research we have undertaken has shown improved survival for those oesophageal cancer patients who were selected for surgery. This reflects enhanced use of sophisticated diagnostic facilities which have allowed clinicians working in expert teams to select those patients who are most likely to benefit from surgery. 

“There was evidence of improved communication between professionals and with patients and increased use of dietetic support for patients which would improve their quality of life. Oesophageal cancer is a serious disease with the risk factors including smoking and alcohol.  Most patients had difficulty swallowing. Anyone experiencing difficulty swallowing should contact their own doctor and have their condition assessed, as early diagnosis of any cancer improves the survival.”

The full report can be read at

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572,

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Queen's in Lisburn: VC meets business and political leaders
The Vice-Chancellor (centre) with Alderman Edwin Poots, Minister for Arts, Culture and Leisure, and Stephen Barr of Almac Group Ltd at the University's Roadshow in Lisburn
The Vice-Chancellor (centre) with Alderman Edwin Poots, Minister for Arts, Culture and Leisure, and Stephen Barr of Almac Group Ltd at the University's Roadshow in Lisburn
The Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McCormac with Managing Director Eugene Lynch (left) and Board member Orla Corr at the McAvoy Group site in Lisburn
The Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McCormac with Managing Director Eugene Lynch (left) and Board member Orla Corr at the McAvoy Group site in Lisburn

Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McCormac will visit Lisburn today (Friday) to meet local business, education and civic leaders.

The visit - part of a series of University roadshows - aims to build on Queen’s existing links with the area and to enhance dialogue with its key stakeholders.

The itinerary includes a meeting with senior managers in the McAvoy Group in Knockmore Hill Industrial Estate, with which the University already has a significant  partnership. The Northern Ireland Technology Centre at Queen’s was actively involved in the design of the Group’s new factory facilities in Lisburn and has also recently completed a number of product design projects for the nearby Hilden Brewery.

This will be followed by a round-table discussion with head teachers from local schools. More than 700 students from the Lisburn area are currently enrolled at Queen’s, including more than 350 entrants last September. 

Speaking in advance of the visit, the Vice-Chancellor said: “Queen’s University is home to many students from Lisburn and the surrounding district, and we also have close links with many local businesses and elected representatives. We want to continue to build on these connections and to learn about how we can best continue to work together.

 “As a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s 20 leading research-intensive universities, we offer a first-class university experience right here in Northern Ireland. Our research strengths are reflected in the quality of our teaching. More than 20 of our courses are cited in The Times Top 20 universities by subject area. 

“A first-class student experience demands first-class facilities and the University is currently investing more than £250 million to ensure that we provide these. Major projects include the Sir Anthony O’Reilly Library, due to open next year, and the Elms Student Village, which has just been completed. These two projects alone cost almost £100 million. Recent refurbishment to the Students’ Union and a new extension to our Physical Education Centre have created some of the best student facilities in the United Kingdom and Ireland. And a new Student Guidance Centre, bringing together all our student services under one roof, opened in August last year.”

“Queen’s is committed to underpinning the region’s reputation as an international centre of learning. That is why we have just introduced a major new scholarships programme. The scheme offers awards across all Queen’s subject areas and includes scholarships of £1,000 to all students achieving three As at A-level (or equivalent) and enrolling on a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subject at Queen’s.”

The Vice-Chancellor also referred to the University’s contribution in driving forward local economic prosperity.

He said: “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.

“For the second year running, the University is the leading higher education institution in the UK in terms of the annual turnover of its spin-out businesses created by its knowledge transfer company, QUBIS Ltd. In 2008 this figure is expected to reach a new record when it hits £90 million. These businesses represent a significant proportion of the high technology companies in Northern Ireland, and have created almost 1,100 jobs.

“Northern Ireland is looking towards a positive and successful future as a dynamic region powered by the innovation and creativity of its people. In Lisburn, as in other parts of the region, our graduates contribute in areas ranging from healthcare to law, from education to engineering and from culture to business and commerce. We already have many effective working relationships with schools and businesses in the Lisburn area and I hope that this visit will provide an opportunity to build these relationships further and learn about the needs and expectations of the community we serve.”

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email

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New research provides insight into children's views on ageing

The Changing Ageing Partnership (CAP) has completed the largest ever review of research into children’s perceptions of ageing. For the first time, researchers from Queen’s University, on behalf of CAP, have brought together the findings of thousands of pieces of research projects conducted worldwide.

The researchers at Queen’s Institute of Child Care Research hope their review will influence a change in the policies and practices that contribute to the negative stereotypes of older people that exist amongst children.

Dr Laura Dunne from the Institute of Childcare Research is one of the co-authors of the research, entitled ‘Looking Forward: A Systematic Review of Children’s Perceptions of Ageing’.

Dr Dunne said: “Northern Ireland, like many other parts of the world, has an ageing population. 16 per cent of the population here are of pensionable age, and this is expected to rise to 24 per cent by 2013. As the proportion of older people in our society increases, it is important to understand how they are perceived by younger generations.

“Our review aims to answer a whole host of questions around what children think about old people and the prospect of ageing. It seems that children often have negative attitudes towards old age. They view it as something to be afraid of or worried about.

“With life expectancy increasing, it is important that these misconceptions are addressed so that today’s children can approach ageing and older people in a more positive way. They must be made aware of the realities of growing old so that they can plan for a longer lifespan in terms of their career, finances and health.

“Our review will provide an extensive resource for other researchers to help them find out more about the factors that contribute to children’s attitudes towards ageing. It will also be invaluable to those in education and policy-making, who must address the negative stereotypes that are formed in early childhood and facilitate more positive contact between young children and older people.”

Professor Ellen Douglas Cowie, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Queen’s, said: “I welcome this research, which is the largest ever review of literature in this area. This is the latest in a series of CAP research projects which aim to identify and challenge attitudes to ageing.

“I hope this project will mark Queen’s University as a leading centre for intergenerational research, which looks at the relationships and gaps between people of different generations. We have already secured funding for a PhD student to take this research forward over the next three years and build upon the excellent work that has already been done.”

Dr Laura Dunne will present key findings from the research at a seminar at the Institute of Governance at 1pm on Thursday 17 April.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, +44 (0)7814 415451

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Queen's opens £500,000 Petronas 'green chemistry' lab
Sir Reg Empey MLA, Minister for Employment and Learning, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson and PhD student Norfaizah ab Manan
Sir Reg Empey MLA, Minister for Employment and Learning, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson and PhD student Norfaizah ab Manan
Datuk Zainal Abidin b Hj Kasim, Rector of Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) and Professor Ken Seddon
Datuk Zainal Abidin b Hj Kasim, Rector of Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) and Professor Ken Seddon.

A £500,000 laboratory, which will see Queen's University Belfast build on world-leading 'green chemistry' research with the potential to impact on people's daily lives, is being officially opened today by Sir Reg Empey MLA, Minister for Employment and Learning.

The new laboratory is based in Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL). It has been refurbished by the University to provide suitable accommodation for a £5.25 million research contract from Petronas, the Fortune 500 oil and gas corporation owned by the Malaysian government.

The new facility is the first Petronas academic-based laboratory of its kind in Europe and will enable QUILL to expand its research capacity in the ionic liquids field. An extra 20 work spaces have been created and scientists from nine different nationalities will work on the collaborative research projects with Petronas.

Ionic liquids are salts that are liquid below 100°C. Currently, many of the organic solvents used in the chemical industry are hazardous because they are volatile, flammable and toxic. Ionic liquids tend to be non-flammable, do not evaporate under normal conditions and do not omit vapours.

Professor Ken Seddon, Co-Director of QUILL said: “Research on ionic liquids has the potential to impact on the daily lives of everyone in the world; massively reducing industrial pollution, improving working conditions and enhancing job and wealth creation.

“Ionic liquids are the basis of a whole new industrial technology and research from QUILL is the global driver of this industry. Petronas’ vision in working with QUILL to establish this lab will have a positive impact on life in Northern Ireland, Malaysia and around the world. Ionic liquids is a fast moving industry, where research translates into industrial application five times faster than the norm. Industrial collaborations such as this partnership with Petronas, will ensure Queen’s retains its place as leader in this revolutionary field.”

Petronas is one of 17 industrial members of QUILL. Other members include BP, Merck, Shell and Proctor and Gamble and the centre has individual contracts with companies based in Switzerland, Australia, Korea and France.

Professor Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s said: “The forging of international industrial links is crucial in today’s global higher education marketplace. Under the direction of Professors Ken Seddon, Jim Swindall and Robin Rogers, QUILL is demonstrably leading the world in the development of an exciting new scientific process, inspiring a whole new generation of international researchers and delivering solutions to a problem of global proportions.”

In March of last year, Queen’s signed a partnership with the Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) in Malaysia to focus on the collaborative research in the area of green chemistry and particularly ionic liquids. Speaking at the official opening, Datuk Zainal Abidin b Hj Kasim, Rector of UTP said: “Petronas funds and collaborates with QUILL because of its reputation as a world player in ionic liquid research. The work emanating from QUILL helps us to develop our capability and has the potential to support Petronas in its key business areas for the future.”

Ionic liquids research at Queen’s is also playing a significant role in the International Green Network which was initiated in 2005 by a leading group of G8 research ministers and science advisors. The United Kingdom’s Centre is located at Queen’s under the leadership of Professor Seddon who is also Vice-Director of the network.

Further information on QUILL is available at

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572,

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Queen's highlights the need for learning and disability nurses

The need for more mental health and learning disability nurses in Northern Ireland is being highlighted at an event at Queen’s University on Friday.

Head of Nursing and Midwifery Professor Jean Orr has urged anyone wanting to find out more about career options in nursing to come and meet front-line nursing staff at the school’s Jobs Fair.

Queen’s is the only university in Northern Ireland to offer all four branches of nursing – adult, children’s, learning disability and mental health.

Representatives from the five Health and Social Care Trusts will be at the fair as well as voluntary and independent sector employers.

Professor Orr said: “We are aware of the need for more mental health and learning disability nurses particularly in the light of the Bamford report and the concerns about mental health in the community. 

“We work with the Department of Health to heighten awareness of the opportunity in these areas of practice and from next year we will be offering a shortened programme for learning disability and mental health for existing qualified nurses.”

“Competition to attract newly registered nurses is keen. The School is happy to facilitate the recruitment process and is very proud of the close links and excellent working relationships with colleagues in the Health Service and voluntary and independent sectors in Northern Ireland.”

The event will take place in the Sir William Whitla Hall between 9.30am and 12.30pm on Friday 18 April.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 9097 5391, Mob 07980 013 362,

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Quill and Cancer video files

To watch footage of Sir Reg Empey MLA, Minister for Employment and Learning launch the new Petronas Lab, and a visit to the Cancer Registry by Mister for Health, Micheal McGimpsey, click on the appropriate link below:

Select file version
Play Windows Media version   or     Play Apple QuickTime version

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"I'm listening" - Conversations with Computers
GRETA - an embodied conversational agent. Looking on are Prof Roddy Cowie of Queen's and Prof Maja Pantic from the University of Twente in Holland who is also a Reader in Imperial College London
GRETA - an embodied conversational agent. Looking on are Prof Roddy Cowie of Queen's and Prof Maja Pantic from the University of Twente in Holland who is also a Reader in Imperial College London

A computer system that can carry on a discussion with a human being by reacting to signals such as tone of voice and facial expression, is being developed by an international team including Queen’s University Belfast.

Known as SEMAINE, the project will build a Sensitive Artificial Listener (SAL) system, which will perceive a human user’s facial expression, gaze, and voice and then engage with the user. When engaging with a human, the SAL will be able to adapt its own performance and pursue different actions, depending on the non-verbal behaviour of the user.

SEMAINE is led by DFKI, the German centre for research on Artificial Intelligence: the other partners are Imperial College, London, the University of Paris 8, the University of Twente in Holland, and the Technical University of Munich. The European Commission awarded it a grant of €2.75 million after it was ranked first out of 143 bids for medium-sized projects in the area of cognitive systems and robotics.

Professor Roddy Cowie, from the School of Psychology, leads the team at Queen’s. He said: “A basic feature of human communication is that it is coloured by emotion. When we talk to another person, the words are carried on an undercurrent of signs that show them what attracts us, what bores us and so on. The fact that computers do not currently do this is one of the main reasons why communicating with them is so unlike interacting with a human. It is also one of the reasons we can find them so frustrating,” said Professor Cowie.

“SEMAINE and projects like it will change the way people interact with technology. They mean that you will be talking to your computer in 20 years time. When you do, pause for a minute, and remember that the human sciences at Queen’s helped to lay the groundwork.

“These new developments depend on connecting technology to the relevant understanding of people, and it is recognised worldwide that we have a distinctive strength in bringing psychology, linguistics and ethics to bear on the process of developing the new systems.”

SEMAINE follows on from another project, entitled HUMAINE, which was led by Professor Cowie. The HUMAINE Project (Human-Machine Interaction Network on Emotion) received €4.95 million to develop interfaces that let humans use computers in a more natural way. In 2006 it won the “Grand Prize” for the best Information Society Technology Project website. HUMAINE continues in the form of a world-wide organisation for emotion-oriented computing, the HUMAINE Association ( ), of which Professor Cowie is president.

Professor Cowie added: “Today when we use technology we adopt a style of communication that suits the machine. Through projects like HUMAINE, SEMAINE, and others linked to them, we will develop technology that will eventually communicate in ways that suit human beings.”


Notes to editors
Photographs and captions to accompany this story can be found by clicking on the link at the bottom of the original email containing this release.

SEMAINE stands for Sustained Emotionally coloured Machine-human Interaction using
Nonverbal Expression.

Further information on the HUMAINE project, can be found by clicking on the following link which has been created to help provide background information for journalists:

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572,

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Spyfest at Queen's - a secret look at the world of MI6

A Queen’s University academic who is writing the first ever official history of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, is to give Queen’s staff and students a unique insight into the secretive world of spies, spooks and espionage.

'Spyfest at Queen’s' has been organised by Professor Keith Jeffery from the University’s School of History. Professor Jeffery has been given unprecedented access to MI6 archives in order to compile the first official history of this highly secretive organisation.

He will share some of his findings at Spyfest on Wednesday 16 April, which will examine the role of MI6 and other secret agencies in the Second World War.

Professor Jeffery said: “For years people have been fascinated with the mysterious world of the secret services but, for most of us, our knowledge of spies and secret agents is limited to what we’ve seen in the Bond movies.

“Spyfest brings together leading experts to discuss the important role played in the Second World War by intelligence-gathering and the work of secret agents.

“The practicalities of getting agents in and out of occupied Europe during the war, the strains of running covert missions and co-operation between intelligence services in the UK and America are just some of the topics that will be discussed.

“One hundred years on from the birth of Ian Fleming - the creator of the world’s most famous MI6 agent, James Bond - historians at Queen’s and elsewhere are studying real spies in real wartime situations, which are just as exciting and intriguing as any spy fiction.”

Spyfest takes place at Queen’s from 10am to 4pm on Wednesday, 16 April. A limited number of places are available to members of the public at a fee of £20. Anyone who wants to attend should contact Keith Jeffery by email at 

For more information visit

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320,

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Fill in the gaps with part-time study at Queen's
Gareth Amos fills in the gaps with part-time study at Queen's
Gareth Amos fills in the gaps with part-time study at Queen's

Queen’s has launched a range of part-time courses aimed at those people who want to gain a university qualification, but don’t have the time or resources to invest in full-time education.

Queen’s School of Education offers more than 40 courses at all levels across a wide range of areas, from Management and Human Resources, to Community Development and Counselling.

Professor Tony Gallagher, Head of the School of Education at Queen’s said: “If you want to improve your promotion prospects and earning potential, Queen’s part-time professional development courses can help develop your employability skills and maximise your potential.

 “If you fancy a career change or if you are returning to work after a long absence, Queen’s vocational qualifications provide a solid foundation on which to build your new career.

“People who already have jobs, careers and families sometimes feel that there are gaps in their professional or personal lives that could be filled by returning to education. However, because of their work or family commitments, they don’t feel able to commit to a full-time university course.

“Part-time study at Queen’s offers these people the opportunity to gain a qualification from one of the most respected university’s in the UK, whilst continuing with their lives at home and in the workplace.

“From those who already have a degree to those who are coming to university for the first time, Queen’s has a part-time course to suit everyone. The choice has never been wider, and each one comes with the guarantee of excellence that distinguishes the standard of teaching and facilities at Queen’s.”

Dr Joe Allen now lectures part-time students at Queen’s, having come full circle from being a part-time student himself. Dr Allen said: “When I left school I went to work for my family’s business as a landscape gardener. But after a few years, I decided that I wanted to try something new. Having been out of formal education for almost a decade, I found out about the opportunity to study part-time at Queen’s and signed-up for a degree in General Studies. This gave me the flexibility to ease myself back into education, studying a broad range of subjects, whilst continuing to work and earn a living.

“I enjoyed the part-time degree so much, that I decided to take the leap to full-time education. It had always been my lifelong ambition to become a teacher, so I applied to do a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education at Queen’s, which qualified me to teach Maths and IT in secondary schools.

“Having spent some time building up my teaching experience, I have now returned to Queen’s as a lecturer in Work-Based Learning. I now teach people from all walks of life who, like me, have returned to education in order to help themselves on their way to a career change, a promotion or to fulfil a personal goal. My students are in the same position as I found myself in all those years ago, and I hope that part-time study at Queen’s proves as invaluable and life-changing to them as it did to me.”

Gareth Amos from Co. Down is currently studying for a Diploma in Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations. Gareth said: “Part-time study at Queen’s is an amazing experience. I started this course as the next step in my professional development at work. Once I complete the diploma I hope to progress to a part-time degree. I see this as a new and exciting challenge that will develop my skills and develop my opportunities both inside and outside the workplace.

“Having a young family of my own, the course fits in perfectly as it does not have a negative impact on my work-life balance.  The tutors on the course have made the classes interesting, enjoyable and interactive.”

The new ‘Something Missing?’ brochure of part-time courses at Queen’s can be downloaded at For more information please contact the School of Education at or telephone 028 9097 5941/3323. Applications should be received no later than 13 June 2008.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320,

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Have a ball for Queen's Centenary!
Jazz sensation Ray Gelato, who will be one of the headline acts at Queen's Centenary May Ball
Jazz sensation Ray Gelato, who will be one of the headline acts at Queen's Centenary May Ball

Headline music sensations Ray Gelato and Scanner, and a troupe of exotic artistes will help Queen’s University celebrate its100th anniversary in style at one of the social events of the year - the Centenary May Ball.

The finishing touches are currently being put to the 3 May event which will be one the highlights of the University celebrations.  Guests will have the option of a three course dinner in the historic Great Hall before proceeding to the Whitla Hall which will be transformed to recall University formals of years gone by with a distinctly contemporary twist.  The evening will culminate in a vintage disco. Meanwhile, the nearby One Hundred Club will feature a cabaret of exotic artistes provided by Penguin People and headlined by new music maverick Scanner.

Co-ordinator Shan McAnena said: "The May Ball will be an unmissable evening, featuring sensational performances from world-renowned artists. Everyone is welcome to celebrate Queen’s centenary in style, whether they are graduates, staff, students or friends of the University."

From high-profile international events to ceremonial, cultural and social occasions, Queen’s Centenary programme marks the University’s 100 years as an international centre of academic excellence rooted at the heart of the local community.

Winner of the Best UK Small Group at the Ronnie Scott’s 2007 Jazz awards, Ray Gelato and his band have played at venues and festivals all over the world, including private events for Sir Paul McCartney and Richard Branson.

Since 1991, Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner has been intensely active in sound art, producing concerts, compositions, installations and recordings, hailed by critics as innovative and inspirational works of contemporary electronic music. 

Tickets, priced at £65 to include dinner in the Great Hall, or £40 to include light refreshments, are available online at or from the Welcome Centre or Naughton Gallery, Lanyon Building, Queen’s University Belfast.

For further information contact Anna Patrick on (028) 9097 5353 or

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

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Minister launches Car Share Day at Queen's
Launching Car Share Day 2008 at Queen's are (front) student Anya McClintock and Students' Union President John Roger, and (back) students Martin Duffy and Amy Milligan.
Launching Car Share Day 2008 at Queen's are (front) student Anya McClintock and Students' Union President John Roger, and (back) students Martin Duffy and Amy Milligan.

Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy today urged employers to set up car share schemes to ease congestion in busy towns and cities across the north.

Speaking as he launched Car Share Day 2008 at Queen’s University, the Minister praised the University for its efforts in joining forces with Travelwise NI to encourage more commuters to car-share.

"Since Queen's set up its Car Share Club, it already has 144 registered members and has saved 62,546 miles of travel equating to £6,255 and 19 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

"The University’s pro-active approach to sustainable travel is evidenced through its implementation of an institutional Travel Plan in 2005. The Travel Plan aims to promote all forms of sustainable travel of which car sharing is a key component.

"Not only is the support of Queen’s University, as a major local employer, extremely important but it will also help to alert more young people, in particular, to the growing importance of sustainable transport in today’s society.

“Commuters are spending more and more time in their vehicles due to traffic congestion so there is a real and urgent need to reduce the volume of cars on our roads. This event aims to show that car-sharing can help cut traffic levels and journey times as well as reduce the negative environmental and financial impact of car travel. I would strongly encourage employers and commuters to take advantage of these benefits and set-up their own car-share schemes.”

Queen’s University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said he hoped the launch would boost student and staff participation levels in the car-share scheme.

"Queen’s is committed to the principle of sustainable travel. Since the University’s Travel Plan was approved in 2005, the numbers of staff and students using sustainable modes of transport, such as cycling and walking, have increased significantly. One of the most effective ways of contributing to sustainable travel is through car sharing, and the University is delighted to support Northern Ireland Car Share Day 2008.”

Queen’s Students’ Union President John Roger said that the case for car-sharing was very convincing and that students needed to be persuaded of its benefits to encourage higher participation levels. He said: “Many students rely on cars to commute to and from Queen’s, citing reliability, flexibility and safety as key reasons why they choose this particular mode of transport. Increased tuition fees, rent and bills have forced more students to remain at home with parents and increased their need for a reliable form of transport to get to lectures on time.

“These factors, coupled with pressure on parking space in South Belfast, mean that Queen’s is very keen to encourage more students to find car-share partners and to get across the message that car-sharing has many benefits. Not only can it help students to save time and money but it will also have a major positive impact on our environment.”

For further information on the Travelwise Car-Share Scheme telephone 0845 378 0908 or register your details at

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Queen's researcher named astronomer of the year

A Queen's researcher has won 'The Young Astronomer Award 2008' from the Astronomical Society of Japan.

Dr Hideko Nomura was presented with the award in recognition of her outstanding research achievements and contribution to astronomy over the past five years, including her part in a $800m telescopic project in Chile.

She won the prize for her work on developing physical and chemical models of massive star-forming cores and proto-planetary disks around low mass stars.

Her models will provide observational diagnostics for revealing star formation and planet formation processes for the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array) interferometer in Chile. An interferometer is made up of separate telescopes which combine their signals to obtain the angular resolution of a much larger telescope.

ALMA is a joint US - European - Japanese project to build over 60 12 metre telescopes at an altitude of 5,000m in the Atacama Desert and will cost around $800m by the time that it is fully operational in 2012.

As a research fellow funded by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, Dr Nomura has worked closely with Professor Tom Millar in the Astrophysics Research Centre in the School of Maths and Physics at Queen’s.

She also worked with him at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology as postdoctoral fellow.

Dr Nomura said: "I have had a very fruitful time at Queen's University. My experience will have a great impact on my future work in Japan."

Professor Millar said Dr Nomura was highly deserving of the award: “Hideko’s work over the past five years has been aimed at solving some of the most fundamental problems in astronomy today and has resulted in a number of seminal publications.

Her work in Queen’s has done much to establish the molecular astrophysics group here.” Her prize, which includes a medal and a cheque, was awarded at a ceremony during the annual spring meeting of the Astronomical Society of Japan in Tokyo.

In May she will take up a lectureship in the Department of Astronomy at Kyoto University, where she previously studied.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362,

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Children and ethnic diversity on the agenda at Queen's

Queen’s University will host an international conference tomorrow (Thursday 10 April) on the need to help children understand and respect ethnic diversity.

‘Children and Ethnic Diversity: Challenges for Research and Practice’ is organised by the Joint Learning Initiative on Children and Ethnic Diversity (JLICED).

Professor Paul Connolly from Queen’s School of Education is Co-Director of JLICED. Professor Connolly said, “Racial and ethnic divisions are a fact of life across the world. Sadly, we hear in the news every day of the negative and often devastating effects of such divisions on children, families and whole communities.

“The JLICED is a groundbreaking global network of some of the leading researchers, policy-makers and practitioners internationally who are working with children and families in racially and ethnically divided societies.

“At this conference, members of the JLICED will share their experiences of working in places as diverse as Kenya, Colombia, Australia, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Canada and South Africa. The importance of acknowledging diversity issues in the curriculum, children’s rights and working in partnership with families and communities as well as the consequences of racial and ethnic divisions are amongst the important issues that will be discussed.

“The JLICED has an ambitious programme of work ahead that will also be launched at the conference. This work will, over the coming years, will involve working in partnerships with local organisations in regions characterised by racial and ethnic divisions to develop new early childhood programs that aim to play a role in building more inclusive and respectful communities. Given our own experience here in Northern Ireland it is particularly fitting, and also a huge privilege, for Queen’s to be playing a leading role in this global initiative”

For more information on the conference visit

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320,

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Queen's remembers 1968 - a year of change from Belfast to Beijing
Dr Brian Kelly and Dr Todd Weir from Queen's School of History at the 'Turning Point 1968' exhibition in Queen's Welcome Centre
Dr Brian Kelly and Dr Todd Weir from Queen's School of History at the 'Turning Point 1968' exhibition in Queen's Welcome Centre

Queen’s University will launch a series of events tomorrow (Thursday 10 April) to mark the 40th anniversary of 1968 - a year of change around the globe.

‘Turning Point 1968: A year of change from Belfast to Beijing’ will involve a series of public lectures, conferences, films and an exhibition at Queen’s Welcome Centre to mark four decades since the cultural and political revolution of the late sixties.

On Thursday, local civil rights and political activist Eamonn McCann will join Queen’s lecturer Dr Brian Kelly for a public talk on Martin Luther King and the American civil rights movement, and the links between the civil rights movements in Northern Ireland and the USA. It will be followed by the opening of an exhibition of 1968 posters, pamphlets and memorabilia in Queen’s Welcome Centre, which offers a glimpse of the events that took place in Belfast and elsewhere in the late 1960’s.

Dr Todd Weir from Queen’s School of History said: “1968 was a turning point in the history of Northern Ireland and many other countries around the world. The rise of the civil rights movement here, in which many Queen’s students played a leading role, the student protests in Paris, the growth of feminist and gay rights movements, and the global protest against the Vietnam War were expressions of a new political culture that was emerging across the globe.

“Although forty years have passed, the impact of these events on politics, culture and the arts can still be seen and felt around the world. Over the coming months, ‘Turning Point 1968’ at Queen’s will explore the events of the late sixties, their lasting impact on society and connections between what happened in Northern Ireland, and indeed at Queen’s University, and other events around the world.”

Over the coming months, members of the public are invited to attend lectures and workshops by international and local scholars and former political activists, as well as special screenings of 1960’s films at Queen’s Film Theatre.

Dr Brian Kelly added:  “As we approach the fortieth anniversary of his assassination, Martin Luther King is still viewed as an icon around the world. However, few people on either side of the Atlantic will recall that he spent the last few days of his life standing shoulder-to-shoulder with striking black bin men in Memphis, Tennessee.

“Four years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, Memphis’s black community fell in behind some of the lowest-paid workers in the US to insist that freedom was meaningless if, along with civil and political rights, it did not also deliver social and economic equality.

“My talk will explain the background and significance of the Memphis strike, outline King’s response to the rapidly changing situation confronting the black freedom movement in 1968, and offer some remarks about history and the ongoing debate over the public memory of the American civil rights movement.”

Eamonn McCann said: “The huge US influence on the Northern Ireland civil rights movement was symbolized by the transatlantic chorus of ‘We Shall Overcome’. The slogan ‘You are now entering Free Derry’ was taken from Berkeley, California. In debates within the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, the contradiction in the US between moderates who looked to the Kennedys, and militants who looked to the 'brothers off the block' often operated as a surrogate for divisions within NICRA ranks. These differences continue to underlie politics, especially Nationalist politics, in Ireland today.”

For more information on ‘Turning Point 1968’ please visit ‘Seminar Programmes’ at   

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320,

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Technology Strategy Board chief to highlight innovation

Northern Ireland’s business leaders will have the chance to hear about the importance of innovation to the UK’s future economic competitiveness from Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the UK Technology Strategy Board, on Thursday night (10 April).

In his address to Queen’s University’s Chief Executives Club Mr Gray will talk about the work of the Technology Strategy Board and its support for companies wishing to innovate and engage in research and development. 

Iain Gray said recently: "We need to innovate to respond to today's many challenges, such as sourcing renewable energy, handling traffic congestion, delivering healthcare for an ageing population and managing environmental pollution and waste. We recognise that such challenges present major opportunities for British business, both at home and in global markets.

“The Technology Strategy Board has a key role to play in addressing these opportunities and accelerating innovation.  We will work closely with partners in a leadership role, co-ordinating support for innovation. Our initiatives and investments will make new connections; we will act as an innovation catalyst for business, making a real difference to the prosperity and competitiveness of the UK."

The Technology Strategy Board’s vision is for the UK to be seen as a global leader in innovation and a magnet for technology-intensive companies, where new technology is applied rapidly and effectively to create wealth. It promotes and supports the research, development and exploitation of science, technology and innovation to benefit business, increase economic growth and improve the quality of life in the UK.

Formerly Managing Director of Airbus UK, Iain Gray joined the Technology Strategy Board as Chief Executive in November 2007, following its establishment as an executive non-departmental public body. He is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, Chairman of the Business and Industry Panel of The Engineering and Technology Board (ETB), a Governor of the University of the West of England and a Board Member of SEMTA and the Energy Technologies Institute.

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email

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Good Friday Agreement begins 'Open Learning' at Queen's
Spanish language tutor Ximena McLaughlin looks forward to Queen's Open Learning Spring Programme
Spanish language tutor Ximena McLaughlin looks forward to Queen's Open Learning Spring Programme

Queen’s new Spring Open Learning programme will begin with a course on the  legacy of the Good Friday Agreement entitled ‘The Agreement -Ten Years On’.

The course will examine social and political developments since 1998 and assess how the peace process has evolved. It will also show how the various political ideologies of Northern Ireland have responded to the political climate created by the Agreement.

Other courses include ‘Spring Clean Your Life’ which will explore what you truly want from the important areas in your life. These include health, work, family, relationships, financial, social and spiritual life.

Keeping you up to date with all the issues is also part of the value of taking an Open Learning course. ‘Television: Some Topical Issues’ is a five week course that will examine how television is changing. With 500 channels now available the course will evaluate past and present television schedules and the changing roles of television.

For those who want a more active role, there is Kate Fletcher’s  ‘Change the World in Song’. Songs will be in harmony, and learned by ear, and written music will be available. You can draw on a range of cultures including African, South American, Balkan and European to explore how song is used to express a desire to change the world for the better.

Many people want to get out and about in Spring and the new programme features a number of courses which will help you get the most out of the great outdoors. You can explore the beauty of Belfast’s Colin Glen with Mark Cooper and Peter McConvey, in ‘An Introduction to the Geology of Northern Ireland, a case study of Colin Glen’ or you can take up golf and improve your skills with Wesley Ramsey.

Those of a more literary temperament might want to join Tess Maginess for ‘Owls, Pussycats and Ruined Choirs: The Many Arts of Poetry’. The course will offer an entertaining guide to reading and writing poetry, considering both comic and serious examples.

Speaking about the programme, Open Learning co-ordinator, Dr Tess Maginess said:  “ We have courses galore across many subject areas from history to self-help to literature to art.

“And it’s really easy to enrol. You can telephone, (028) 9097 3323/3539, enrol by post, or call with us at 20 College Green.”

People can enrol for courses up to the first week of classes, which will be 28 April. You can also enrol online by going to

Contact: Tess Maginess, (028) 9097 2512, 07754 064 599, email:

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 2576,
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Man Booker prizewinner Anne Enright to read at Queen's
Man Booker prizewinner Anne Enright will read at Queen's on Thursday
Man Booker prizewinner Anne Enright will read at Queen's on Thursday

Man Booker prize winner Anne Enright will read from her latest work at a public event at Queen’s University on Thursday, April 10.

The Dublin-born acclaimed author was the surprise winner of the literary prize last year with her book The Gathering.

She will be visiting Queen’s as part of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry’s Spring Events programme. 

Anne Enright’s first book was a collection of short stories, The Portable Virgin, which won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. Her novels include The Wig My Father Wore, The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch and What Are You Like?, which won the Royal Society of Authors Encore Prize. She has also written a book of essays, Making Babies.

Her most recent book is a collection of short stories, Taking Pictures, which was published in March by Jonathan Cape.

Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre, Professor Ciaran Carson, said: "Anne Enright's work is profoundly intelligent, stylish, and sometimes very funny. Before she won the Booker Prize she was known as 'a writer's writer'. But of course she is also a reader's writer and I would encourage people not to miss this wonderful opportunity."

She will be reading in G9 Lecture Theatre, Lanyon North, (Queen’s main campus) at 7pm on Thursday. The event is free and you don’t need to register.

Also on the Spring Events calendar is a reading by Polish poet, translator and literary critic Jerzy Jarniewicz on Thursday 17 April. On 1 May The British Academy Warton Lecture, by Dr Matthew Campbell from the University of Sheffield, takes place.

For more information go to

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 9097 5391, Mob 07980 013 362,
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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£850,000 marine power windfall for Queen's University

Queen’s University is celebrating a marine energy windfall with the award of an £850,000 grant for an energy research consortium.

The Marine Renewable Energy Group in the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering at Queen’s received the grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The group’s work will support the emerging industry in wave and tidal stream energy conversion.  The industry is developing marine renewables which will reduce dependency on fossil fuels and help combat the carbon emissions which contribute to climate change.

Professor Trevor Whittaker, Head of the Marine Renewable Energy Research Group, said: “Queen’s is one of the world’s leaders in marine renewable energy. Our pioneering research has already resulted in the construction of Britain’s first two wave power plant off the Isle of Islay on the West coast of Scotland.  A third type of system, Oyster, is to be launched this year off Orkney. This award recognises the contribution which has been made by Queen’s during the past 30 years and will help to support the research team as it develops new technologies both in wave and tidal stream. This track record and the new laboratory facilities enables Queen’s to successfully compete for research contracts internationally.”

In a separate project, Queen’s marine laboratory scientists will also carry out monitoring of seals, porpoises (whales, dolphins) and seabird activity in Strangford Narrows, in the vicinity of the £10 million tidal turbine recently installed in Strangford Lough by Marine Current Turbines. With the turbine generating sustainable electricity for 1000 homes, the two-year study will assess any changes in the activity of animals in these three groups as a result of its deployment.

A survey of animals will be carried out on the seabed at critical sites adjacent to the turbine to establish the influence of changes in the water flow pattern from the presence of the turbine’s blades. Queen’s scientists will also assist with the measurement of currents in the vicinity of the turbine and carry out a survey of local opinion on the deployment of the tidal turbine.

Graham Savidge, Queen’s University Marine Biology Senior Lecturer welcomed the survey and the arrival of the new turbine saying: “This shows the value of the Strangford Narrows site as a test area for such a device.”

Further information on the wave power projects can be found at the web sites of the industrial partners.

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 2576,

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Queen's poet wins UK's biggest poetry competition

Well-known Queen’s poet Dr Sinead Morrissey has been named the winner of the UK’s biggest poetry competition.

Dr Morrissey’s poem Through the Square Window took the top prize of £5,000 in the Poetry’s Society’s 2007 National Poetry Competition, announced at the October Gallery in London.

The competition, now in its 30th year, attracted over 8,000 entries, They are judged without the authors being identified and judges unanimously voted her poem the winner.

Through the Square Window reflects a major change in her life, the birth of her son in 2006, which she says has greatly influenced her writing.

She said: “I'm thrilled about the win and delighted that a single poem made it to the top of the pile out of 8,000 entries. It's made me excited, too, about the poems I'm writing at the moment towards my fourth collection, which will include Through the Square Window.”

Portadown-born Dr Morrissey has published three collections with Carcanet Press. There was Fire in Vancouver, Between Here and There and The State of Prisons, earning her a reputation as one of Ireland’s most talented younger poets.

She lecturers in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry in the School of English at Queen’s. The centre is now celebrating its fifth year.

It’s the latest in a long line of awards for Dr Morrissey who was awarded a Lannan Literary Fellowship worth $75,000 in November for her work. Other accolades include the Patrick Kavanagh Award, an Eric Gregory Award, the Rupert and Eithne Strong Award and the Michael Hartnett Prize for Poetry. She has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize twice.

Professor John Thompson, Head of the School of English, said: “Once again we have convincing evidence that the Seamus Heaney Centre and our colleagues in the School who work there are truly world class in their aspirations and achievement as ‘local’ poets.” 

You can read the winning poem on the Poetry Society’s website at

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 9097 5391, Mob 07980 013 362,

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World's largest digital camera to change view of the Universe

Our view of the Universe is about to be changed by the largest and most detailed 'map' of the heavens ever produced.

The new ‘map’ will be discussed at Queen’s University Belfast today, by the driving force behind the construction and operation of the largest digital camera ever created, Doctor Nick Kaiser from the University of Hawai’i.

Speaking at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting at Queen’s, Dr. Kaiser will explain how the first component of the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) is about to change our view of the Universe. By surveying the whole sky visible from the top of a dormant Hawaiian volcano, the Pan-STARRS1 (PS1) telescope will discover a myriad of asteroids, comets and exploding stars. In the process it will create the largest and most detailed map of the heavens ever produced.

“The Pan-STARRS project system has been designed to scan the sky very rapidly and will effectively generate a time-lapse movie of the entire visible sky. It exploits the combination of recent advances in detector and computer technology with the superb image quality obtainable at observing sites in Hawaii,” explained Dr. Kaiser.

The digital camera attached to the telescope contains 1300 Megapixels; the average digital camera in a high-street store has roughly only ten Megapixels. The PS1 telescope also has a field of view equivalent to that of 35 full moons and as a result the images taken by PS1 are of astounding quality and size.

Dr Kaiser added: “The observatory will take up to 1000 exposures per night and will generate mind boggling amounts of data. These will be made available for scientists to study via a revolutionary data archiving system.”

Dr Kaiser will also discuss the telescope’s hunt for dangerous asteroids.

Calculations led by Dr. Robert Jedicke at the University of Hawai’i indicate that PS1 by itself may discover up to five times as many near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) as all other survey telescopes put together.

Starting this summer, astronomers at Queen’s, led by Professor Alan Fitzsimmons of the Astrophysics Research Centre, will start a programme of studying small NEAs that up to now have been difficult to detect.

“The Pan-STARRS project is very sensitive to the smaller asteroids that pass by our planet” said Professor Fitzsimmons.

“Although so-called dinosaur-killer asteroids have been well studied, we know relatively little about the smaller objects. These can wipe out an area the size of Northern Ireland if they hit. We will use the PS1 discoveries to study their properties en-masse.”

Queen’s University is part of a UK consortium (along with Edinburgh and Durham Universities) that has invested in PS1 to support the three and a half year mission. In return Queen’s scientists will be able to study new asteroids, stars, galaxies and supernovae discovered by PS1 over the course of its mission.

PS1 will commence operations later this year, but it is just the beginning. It is a pathfinder for the full Pan-STARRS system that should be ready around 2011-2012. This will comprise four telescopes the size of PS1 and will continuously scan the sky for unknown astronomical objects.

For media enquires, please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press and PR Unit, 028 9097 5384,

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Queen's to host conference debate on the power of the judiciary

The cream of Northern Ireland's legal profession will gather in Belfast this weekend (Friday 4 - Saturday 5 April) to discuss the power held by judges and the role they play in the judicial system.

The first annual conference of Queen’s University’s School of Law will bring together one of the most distinguished group of judges, barristers and solicitors to be gathered in Belfast for some years. High-profile speakers include the now retired Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, former Lady Justice of Appeal; Eleanor Sharpston QC, one of the eight Advocates-General at the EU’s Court of Justice in Luxembourg; and Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns of Ireland’s Supreme Court.

Professor Colin Harvey, Head of Queen’s School of Law, said, “Queen’s is one of the leading centres in the UK and Ireland for legal scholarship and research. In this new post-conflict era in Northern Ireland, the School of Law is keen to build upon its international reputation by bringing legal experts to Queen’s from around the world to address lawyers, as well as representatives from community, voluntary and statutory organisations, about the legal issues that matter to them.

“The particular focus of this timely event is the judicial role and we hope that it will contribute to current debates on what the rule of law means today. What should the judicial role be in a post-conflict society and in the context of a peace agreement underpinned by principles of human rights and equality?

“By highlighting the views of experts from the UK, Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands and Israel, this conference hopes to stimulate debate and encourage discussion on what further constitutional reform may be required concerning the role of the judiciary in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the UK and Ireland.”

“On behalf of the School of Law, I am delighted to welcome all those who are taking part in this conference, which we hope will become an annual event.”

Professor Brice Dickson from Queen’s School of Law - who has been involved in organising the conference - said, “In recent years, judges have been known to clash with the Government on issues such as human rights, immigration and sentencing. Whilst some people view the judiciary as the last line of defence in protecting the people from draconian laws, others criticise judges - who are after all unelected - for getting involved in policy-making without the relevant expertise. This conference will explore both sides of this argument and discuss what the limits of a judge’s power should be.

“Most lawyers agree that the judicial arm of the state should be independent of the Government and Parliament, but they often disagree over what precisely this means. Should judges have the last say on the legality of going to war? Should they have the power to invalidate an Act of Parliament because it breaches human rights? Should policies that have profound implications for social and economic equality first have to be approved by the courts? In short, at what point should judges be kept away from decision-making?”

For more information on the conference visit:

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320,

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New €5m virtual research centre to focus on vulnerable groups

A Queen's academic will play a major role in researching medication prescribed to vulnerable groups, especially the elderly, through a new €5m virtual Health Research Centre which is being launched today.

Professor Carmel Hughes from the School of Pharmacy will take part in a five year programme through the Health Research Board's Centre for Primary Care Research.

It aims to improve the health of the elderly, pregnant women and drug users across Ireland. The project also involves researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College, the Coombe Hospital, Tallaght Hospital and St James’ Hospital, all in Dublin.

The team will examine the quality of care provided to vulnerable patient groups and aims to identify quality standards for safely prescribing medicines. It also hopes to improve diagnosis in primary care and develop new information and communications technologies to improve patient care and promote self-management among patients with chronic illness. Professor Hughes said: “‘I will be working in close collaboration with colleagues from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Trinity College Dublin and will focus on projects associated with prescribing in a number of vulnerable groups particularly older people.

“We hope that this extensive five year research programme will result in the development of new approaches to improve the health of those living in the community on the island of Ireland.”

Professor Tom Fahey, Principal Investigator at the Centre, said: “Funding is important because it recognises that we can do more to identify and improve the quality of medical care that vulnerable patient groups in Ireland receive.”

The Health Research Board has received €10m funding from the Irish government through the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation to set up two virtual centres. The second will focus on diet, diabetes and obesity. The centres will provide a hub for health research efforts of 11 universities, institutions and hospitals throughout Ireland.

The funding will be announced this morning by Mary Harney, Irish Minister for Health and Children, in Dublin.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362,

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Queen's and NASA announce exciting solar discovery
The launch of EUNIS from White Sands Missile Range
The launch of EUNIS from White Sands Missile Range

As a result of intensive collaboration with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington, astronomers at Queen’s University Belfast have announced an exciting discovery that could pave the way to solving a problem which has been baffling solar physicists for years.

The fact that the temperature increases as you move away from the surface of the Sun has had scientists perplexed for decades. Many believe that waves travel from the surface of the Sun and release their energy in the outer layers of the solar atmosphere; similar to ocean waves travelling across the sea before releasing their energy when they crash into land.

Researchers from the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s and NASA have now shown that certain types of waves are unable to travel to the outer reaches of the Sun.

The discovery came after the use of compact and lightweight components allowed for the highly sensitive Extreme Ultraviolet Normal Incidence Spectrograph (EUNIS) to be launched from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

During this NASA rocket flight, an unprecedented 145 spectral images of the outer atmosphere of our Sun were captured in under six minutes. Traditionally, such pictures taken by satellites would run at one per minute, while EUNIS provided images at a rate of one per 2.5 seconds at a massively lower cost.

David Jess, a current PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast, has used the data from this flight to investigate processes occurring within our Sun’s atmosphere.

“The sun is the building block of our lives. We rely on it for heat, light and so much more. Common sense tells us that the further you travel away from a heat source, the cooler the air will be. The Sun, however, doesn’t obey common sense. The fact that the temperature increases as you move away from the surface of the Sun has been baffling solar physicists for decades. EUNIS has allowed us to test mechanisms for heat transfer to these outer reaches of the Sun’s atmosphere,” explained David Jess.

“Using the unrivalled data rates provided by EUNIS, we have shown that certain waves appear to hit a barrier at approximately 3000 km above the surface of the Sun, in a region called the corona. The corona can be seen during total eclipses. The amount of material, or density, at this height drops dramatically and we have revealed that this is the most likely cause for the dip in strength of the waves,” according to Jess.

The Queen’s University Solar Physics Group, led by Dr. Mihalis Mathioudakis, has been at the forefront of rapid wave observations in the Sun for many years.

“This is an amazing discovery as we try to aim to raise the understanding of waves in our Sun and finally comprehend why the outer layers of the Sun are hotter than its surface. The involvement of our group with NASA is providing a huge impact on the solar physics community.” said Dr. Mathioudakis.

“Queen’s University will be key players in a future flight of EUNIS scheduled for mid-2010.”

EUNIS is currently undergoing extensive modifications at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to improve sensitivity and resolution for the 2010 launch.

For more information on the National Astronomy Meeting 2008 please go to

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Queen's hosts world forum on lessons from Northern Ireland

Political and academic leaders from around the world will gather at Queen's University in May to examine how Northern Ireland’s recent transformation can inspire others in conflict zones across the globe.

Named after Queen’s Chancellor, Senator George Mitchell, who helped to broker the 1998 Belfast Agreement, the conference will discuss the lessons to be learned from Northern Ireland’s experience of peace-building and regeneration. 

The event, on 22 and 23 May, is one of the highlights of Queen’s Centenary celebrations. It is supported by Co-operation Ireland, Titanic Quarter and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

Among those taking part will be former President of Ireland Dr Mary Robinson, Secretary of State Shaun Woodward MP, Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern TD, Lord Trimble, Albert Reynolds, Seamus Mallon and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. They will be joined by politicians, academics, lawyers, and community and youth workers.

Senator Mitchell, who will deliver the opening address, said: "Northern Ireland has come a long way in the past 10 years. The fabric of society has changed beyond all recognition and its people are enjoying the benefits of a settled society. This conference will play a crucial role in enabling others to learn from the Northern Ireland experience. Its potential to help other societies working towards a resolution of conflict is enormous.”

Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: "This major international conference is a centrepiece of the University’s Centenary programme.

“As Northern Ireland enters a new era of stability and prosperity, this event is a timely opportunity for us to look to the future and for the international community to discuss the lessons we have learned and how they can help others.” 

Christopher Moran, Chairman of Co-operation Ireland, one of the major sponsors of the Mitchell Conference, said: “For over 25 years, Co-operation Ireland has dedicated itself to promoting better relations between the people of Northern Ireland and of the Republic of Ireland and we are delighted to be playing such an active role in the Mitchell Conference.” 

Keynote speakers will address a range of post-conflict issues, including policing, human rights, and economic development and the role of business in reconstruction.

The conference will further strengthen the academic links between Georgetown University in Washington DC, and Queen’s.  In September 2006 Queen’s and Georgetown signed a formal agreement committing both universities to co-operation on a programme of shared activities and interests
The programme includes a series of academic workshops, including one on ‘Education in Divided Societies’, to be led by Professor Tony Gallagher from the School of Education at Queen’s and Dr Jeff Helsing from the United States Institute of Peace in Washington. Another workshop, led by poet Dr Sinead Morrissey from Queen’s and Professor Mark McMorris from Georgetown, will explore ‘Literature in Post Conflict Societies’.

Full details on the conference can be obtained by visiting

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email

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Public invited to view Science and art of Hubble Space Telescope at Queen's

Queen's University is inviting members of the public to attend a talk by Lars Lindberg Christensen, the Head of the Hubble European Space Agency Information Centre, at 7.30pm tomorrow (Wednesday, 2 April).

The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most successful scientific projects of all time, both in terms of its scientific output and in terms of its almost iconic public appeal.

In his talk, Adventures with the Hubble Space Telescope, Lars Lindberg Christensen will show how the Hubble Space Telescope has built a bridge between science and art. The event will also feature a presentation of the latest scientific study of Hubble galaxy images by Queen’s astronomers.

Christensen is also author of the book Hubble - 15 Years of Discovery (Springer, 2006). His lecture, is one of several public events to be held at The Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting (NAM) 2008 which is taking place at Queen's this week (31 March to 4 April).

The lecture is a community outreach initiative between Queen’s University and the Irish Astronomical Association.

Christensen said: “Hubble's exquisite image quality has enabled astronomers to gain entirely new insights into the workings of a huge range of different astronomical objects and provided the visual overview of underlying astrophysical processes taking place in planets, stars and galaxies.”

Queen's astronomers, led by Professor of Astronomy Stephen J. Smartt, have been using Hubble to take stunning images of galaxies.

As Hubble is above the Earth’s atmosphere its exquisite resolution allows the study of individual stars in these galaxies. Massive stars in the Universe die in immense explosions called supernovae; but exactly what type of stars explode and what is the lowest mass star that can produce an explosion is not known. Mark Crockett, a student at Queen’s, is working on this problem with Hubble data for his PhD thesis.

"Massive stars are up to 10,000 times brighter than the Sun," Crockett explained. "At the end of their lives, these stars have cores made entirely of iron. When the cores collapse the stars explode as supernovae, enriching the Universe with all the different chemical elements.  Everything around us, including ourselves is made of stardust.”

When a supernova is discovered in these distant galaxies, Crockett and Smartt begin a painstaking search of galaxy images that Hubble has taken previously. They pinpoint the exact position of the supernova on the earlier images to locate the star that exploded; one of often hundreds of millions of stars in the galaxy. If they find it, they can work out the mass and type of star from its brightness and colour.

Only six such stars have been identified before they exploded and the team from Queen’s has discovered the nature of five of them.

In their latest work on Hubble images, to be presented at the NAM meeting, the Queen's team revealed the results of their ten year search for these elusive stars.

It appears that stars as low as seven times the mass of the sun can explode as supernovae. They have not found any very massive stars that exploded, which suggests that the most massive stars may collapse to form  black holes producing either no supernova or one that is too faint to observe.  This intriguing possibility will be discussed at the meeting.

Admission to the talk is free of charge. Members of the public wishing to attend should call 028 90 97 3541 or email The lecture takes place at 7.30pm on Wednesday 2 April in the Larmor Lecture Theatre, Physics and Astronomy Building at Queen’s.

For more information on the National Astronomy Meeting 2008 please go to

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Ten new planets announced at Queen's

The discovery of 10 new planets will be announced today at the Royal Astronomical Society’s largest ever National Astronomy Meeting (NAM), taking place at Queen’s University. 

In the last six months an international team, including astronomers from Queen’s, has discovered the planets using cameras in the Canary Islands and South Africa. They are known as extrasolar planets, in orbit around other stars.

The results from the Wide Area Search for Planets project (SuperWASP) will be announced by team member Dr Don Pollacco from the Astrophysics Research Centre in the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s.

The event is part of the five day NAM 2008 programme which runs until Friday and has brought up to 650 of the world’s leading space scientists and astronomers to the university.

Scientists have found more than 270 extrasolar planets since the first one was discovered in the early 1990s. But making these discoveries has depended on looking at each star over a period of weeks or months so the pace of discovery is fairly slow and it gives very little information about the planets.

SuperWASP uses a different method. The two sets of cameras watch for events known as transits, where a planet passes directly in front of a star and blocks out some of its light, so from the earth the star temporarily appears a little fainter.

The cameras work as robots, surveying a large area of the sky at once. Each night astronomers have data from millions of stars that they can check for transits. The transit method also allows scientists to deduce the size and mass of each planet.

Many of the new planet discoveries stem from observations through the Canary Islands International Time competition which was won by Dr Pollacco, the principal investigator, and other collaborators in 2007/8.

Dr Don Pollacco said: “SuperWASP is now a planet-finding production line and will revolutionise the detection of large planets and our understanding of how they were formed. It’s a great triumph for European astronomers. Queen’s and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council funded the first SuperWASP on La Palma. The camera was designed and built at Queen’s.”

Each potential planet found using SuperWASP is then observed by astronomers working at the Nordic Optical Telescope on La Palma, the Swiss Euler Telescope in Chile and the Observatoire de Haute Provence in southern France. They use precision instruments to confirm or reject the discovery. Further observations can lead to detailed information on the planet including its size and density.

Forty five planets have now been discovered using the transit method, and since they were set up in 2004 the SuperWASP cameras have found 15 of them - making them by far the most successful discovery instruments in the world.

The SuperWASP planets have masses between a middleweight 0.5 and a huge 8.3 times that of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. Some of these new worlds are quite exotic. For example, a year on WASP-12B - its orbital period - is just 1.1 days. The planet is so close to its star that its daytime temperature could reach a searing 2,300 degrees celsius.

For more information on the National Astronomy Meeting 2008 please go to

Images of the SuperWASP cameras can be found at:
- a close up of the 8 SuperWASP-North cameras.
- an aerial view of the SuperWASP-North cameras
- the SuperWASP-South instrument.

Dr Don Pollacco is available for interview and can be contacted on 077 8899 2294.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 9097 5391, Mob 07980 013 362,

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Toyota and BMW top car maker world rankings for resource-efficient production

Toyota and BMW are leading the global automotive industry in terms of efficient use of resources during production, according to a major new report.

The study is the first in the world to assess the sustainability performance of automobile manufacturers using the Sustainable Value approach which enables efficiency gains to be expressed in a single monetary figure. It was carried out by Professor Frank Figge and Ralf Barkemeyer of the School of Management at Queen's University Belfast, and Dr Tobias Hahn of the Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment in Berlin.

Entitled ‘Sustainable Value in Automobile Manufacturing’, the study compares the efficiency with which vehicle manufacturers use their economic, environmental and social resources. It analysed the sustainability performance of 16 of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers using financial, environmental and social data reported and published by the companies themselves.

Professor Figge said: “The survey's findings are unambiguous - Toyota and BMW are leading the industry when not only capital use but also the use of environmental and social resources is included in the monetary assessment.

“Automobile manufacturers compete for the reputation of being the most climate-friendly carmaker. So far, the debate has almost exclusively focused on the usage phase of automobiles and related CO2 fleet emissions, while the substantial environmental burden created during the production phase has - as yet - been largely ignored. Our survey attempts to close this gap.”

The survey identifies those car makers that use their resources in the most efficient way in automobile production. It examined a set of nine environmental, economic, and social resources which included capital use and water use, as well as waste generated and emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, and volatile organic compounds along with employment and work place safety.

The report found that, in 2005, Toyota generated an absolute Sustainable Value of €6.5 billion, followed by BMW with a Sustainable Value of €2.93 billion. This indicated that Toyota generated €6.5 billion more profit than the average automobile producer would have achieved with the same set of resources. Toyota led the industry throughout the seven-year assessment period of 1999 to 2005 and also showed the most positive performance trend.

Toyota and BMW are also leading their peers when differences in company size are taken into account. To assess the sustainability performance of companies of different sizes the researchers looked at how much Sustainable Value was created relative to car sales. In this scenario, the medium-sized manufacturer BMW outperforms its peers. In 2005, BMW generated € 6.3 Sustainable Value per €100 of car sales. With 5.9% Sustainable Value return on Sales Toyota comes in as a close second.

Dr Hahn said: “Once company size is taken into account, BMW ranks top in six of the seven years assessed and therefore also outperforms its competitor Toyota.”

At the end of the table and therefore well into negative territory are General Motors and FIAT Auto, losing €8.9 and €4.8 Sustainable Value per € 100 of car sales, respectively.

One of the survey’s key findings is that, on average, Asian manufacturers outperformed their European and North American competitors. Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan, Honda, and - to a certain extent - Suzuki, consistently generated a positive Sustainable Value.

Apart from BMW, results for European manufacturers were mixed. DaimlerChrysler created a positive Sustainable Value in five out of the seven years assessed. Meanwhile, PSA, Renault, and Volkswagen did so only in up to three years during the seven-year review period. FIAT Auto consistently fell behind throughout the entire review period, although its data for 2006 signaled a reversal of this trend.

A number of car manufacturers such as Porsche and KIA, or Indian and Chinese manufacturers, were not included in the survey as their data was not adequate for the assessment. Ralf Barkemeyer said: “The state of sustainability reporting of some automobile manufacturers is patchy at best, rendering a meaningful assessment of these companies’ sustainability performance impossible.”

The Sustainable Value approach was developed by researchers of Queen’s University and IZT. The system has already been used in two comparative studies funded by the European Commission and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. BMW Group expressed an interest into how its efficiency gains documented would translate into an evaluation of its sustainability performance compared to its peers and provided substantial financial support for the present survey.

Professor Figge said: “The study reveals ample differences in sustainability performance in automobile manufacturing. This shows that not only fleet consumption but also the production process itself bears considerable room for improvement in this respect.

“If similar differences were found in economic performance the very survival of companies would be put in question. As the sustainability debate moves on this might also turn out to be the case for the inefficient use of environmental and social resources. In the light of this study perhaps automobile manufacturers should adapt their production processes to increase their contribution to sustainability.”

For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Corporate Affairs, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, Mob: 07815 871 997,

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