Connect

12-2008 Press Releases

Archives Archives Campus News Events  What's on at Queen's - REDIRECT Contact Us Contact Us Special Features Special Features


Additional InformationTo see November 2008's press releases, please click here
Additional InformationTo see October 2008's press releases, please click here
Additional InformationTo see September 2008's press releases, please click here
Additional InformationTo see August 2008's press releases, please click here
Additional InformationTo see July 2008's press releases, please click here
Additional InformationTo see June 2008's press releases, please click here
Additional InformationTo see May 2008's press releases, please click here
Additional InformationTo see April 2008's press releases, please click here
Additional InformationTo see March 2008's press releases, please click here
Additional InformationTo see February 2008's press releases, please click here
Additional InformationTo see January 2008's press releases, please click here.

New £1.5M cross-border cancer research project

New treatment options for cancers with low survival rates are to be developed as the result of a new £1.5 million project between Queen’s University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin.

Researchers at Queen’s have identified a number of biological targets, such as suicide genes in cells, which they hope will be stimulated by new drug compounds. Along with colleagues at Trinity, researchers at Queen's will design, synthesize and test the new compounds.

The funding for the cross-border project comes from Northern Ireland’s Department for Employment and Learning.

Professor Dennis McCance, Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology said: “Queen’s has expertise in identifying potential biological targets which could react to drug compounds. Our partners in Trinity are leaders in computational chemistry, whereby computers are used to design drugs given the structure of the target in the body.

“Therefore, putting our medicinal chemistry expertise along with Trinity’s expertise in computational chemistry will help ease a potential bottleneck in drug discovery across the island of Ireland, leading to new treatment options for those cancers with poor survival rates.”

The project is the first cross-border project of its type and will create in the region of 12 jobs initially. It is hoped that discoveries arising from the project will lead to spin-off companies and an increase in related jobs at pharmaceutical companies through the licensing of any new drugs.

The project is the latest in a round of projects at Queen’s to be awarded funding from the Department for Employment and Learning.

Earlier this month, the University received £7 million under the Cross-Border Research and Development Funding Programme.

The £7 million is being used to create five world-class research centres.

The centres will focus on the areas of next generation mobile networks, safety and traceability of agri-foods, diet and obesity, biomedical informatics research to accelerate drug discovery and identifying novel therapeutics of importance to many chronic diseases.

The centres will establish the island of Ireland as a significant force in addressing global challenges and indigenous industry and the all-ireland research base which will both be strengthened as a result of the investment.

Top of Page

RAE - Queen's confirmed as top 20 UK University QTV News Story
Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson
Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson

 RAE

Queen’s University has established itself in the premier league of UK research-intensive universities.

The UK wide research assessment exercise (RAE), announced today, shows Queen’s has 11 subject areas ranked within the top 10 in the UK and 24 in the top 20. With almost 800 staff submitted, every area had research assessed as world leading.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: “Queen’s has strengthened its reputation as a major force in research. The research power index, which measures the quality and quantity of research, places us in the top 20 universities in the UK.

“Northern Ireland has, in Queen’s, a world-class university and today’s results demonstrate that Queen’s is a world leader in areas central to our future including: engineering, medicine and the humanities.

“With all of engineering in the top 10, Queen’s is well placed to make a really strong contribution to economic development and the Programme for Government in Northern Ireland. We have cemented our position in the professions as reflected by excellent performances in Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, Education and Management.”

Professor Gregson also highlighted the University’s strong performance in English and Music.

“Queen’s contribution to the Northern Ireland economy can be seen in its capacity to lever significant inward investment. Over the past seven years the university has received £160 million of government funding and leveraged an additional £261 million of external research funding.

“This money is subject to competition and our RAE performance shows that we can compete effectively with the best universities in the UK. This in turn means Northern Ireland is competitive nationally and internationally.”

Professor Gregson said the future of Northern Ireland as a successful knowledge-based economy was dependent upon there being a world-class university within the region.

"The announcement last month that Queen’s is to host the £25 million National Centre for Secure Information Technology is a good example of how the research investment in Queen’s, highlighted in the RAE results, generates high quality research, and benefits directly the citizens of Northern Ireland"

For more information visit our RAE section on the website.
 
Media inquiries to Kevin Mulhern, Head of Marketing and Communications,
tel: 028 9097 5323, m07813 015431 or email
k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

Top of Page

Universities should encourage female entrepreneurs
Fiona McCartan receives the Queen's University Science Shop Student Award from Queen's Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McCormac
Fiona McCartan receives the Queen's University Science Shop Student Award from Queen's Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McCormac

Universities can play an important role in encouraging women to follow entrepreneurial career paths, according to the winner of Queen’s University’s 2008 Science Shop Student Award.

Fiona McCartan, from Belfast, received the Science Shop award for research undertaken during her community-based research project with Women in Business.

The Science Shop awards are presented each year to students who have completed the best community-based research projects with voluntary and community organisations across Northern Ireland.

Fiona, who also graduated last Friday with an MSc in Management from Queen’s,
was presented with her Science Shop award and prize of £650 by the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gerry McCormac. Her research examined the factors that might influence female undergraduate students in taking entrepreneurial career paths.

Fiona said: "There are a growing number of female entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland. An increasing number of female graduates see self-employment as an attractive, alternative career option to the traditional route of employment and choose to start their own businesses. The majority, however, do not have the confidence to take the leap to self-employment and lack the self-efficacy needed to do so.

“I worked with female undergraduate students at Queen’s to find out more about what would encourage, or indeed hinder them from starting their own business. The project concluded that universities should embed entrepreneurship training within undergraduate degree programmes, so that all students are equipped with the basic knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in business.

“Mentoring schemes, whereby established businesses provide advice and support to women, could also be vital in encouraging females to pursue their dreams of owning their own business."

Congratulating Fiona, Professor Gerry McCormac, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Queen’s said: "The judging panel felt that Fiona’s work really met the needs of her placement organisation, Women in Business.

“Fiona’s work has highlighted a growing area of importance for Queen’s. The University’s commitment to encouraging entrepreneurship was highlighted earlier this year when it was shortlisted for Entrepreneurial University of the Year in the national Times Higher Education Awards.

“Enterprise education is now embedded into the degree pathways in all sciences, with around 2,000 students awarded certificates for their work each year. The University has also created Enterprise SU, a new enterprise centre which is the first of its kind in the UK, provides information on enterprise and employability opportunities."

The runner-up in the competition was Queen’s Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition student Kathryn Fay, who received £350 for her work with the Ulster Cancer Foundation.

Kathryn said: "I looked at information from a range sources about cancer prevention and diet. I was particularly interested in the length of time it can take fruit and vegetables to make their way through the food supply chain, from the farm to the shop and on to our kitchen tables.

“I found that while nutritional value may decrease if food is stored incorrectly during travel, the legislation in place helps control and monitor this and is generally successful in ensuring that only high quality produce enters the UK."
 
Dr Emma McKenna from Queen’s University Science Shop said: "Our judging panel felt that both Fiona and Kathryn’s work really met the needs of the voluntary organisations they worked with."

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk , 07814 415 451.

Top of Page

Queen's students bank on top sports awards
Eithne Bradley, Queen's Sport and Stephen Cruise, Ulster Bank with World University Equestrian champion Ben Crawford
Eithne Bradley, Queen's Sport and Stephen Cruise, Ulster Bank with World University Equestrian champion Ben Crawford

Northern Ireland’s next generation of sporting stars has been given a valuable boost by Queen’s University in association with Ulster Bank.

25 local athletes have been presented with a high performance support package by the University which will guarantee them access to the latest scientific sports services on offer from Queen’s Sport.

In addition to the University’s bursary programme, the cutting-edge package includes access to sport-specific laboratory testing, strength and conditioning facilities, injury management, free access to the University's sport facilities, top-quality coaching, clothing and overall lifestyle management.

This year's top award went to Civil Engineering student Ben Crawford who took Gold at the recent World University Equestrian Championships in Algeria. Other recipients included Amy McFarland (hockey), Heather Campbell (rowing), Ian Chisholm (swimming), Jessica Morrow (karate) and a range of talented students representing 20 different sports.

Queen’s has a long history of helping to produce some of Ireland’s top athletes including Olympic rower Richard Archibald, Commonwealth Games Judo Silver Medallist Lisa Bradley, and World Squash No. 11 Madeline Perry.

All the recipients of the package are competing at provincial, national and international level and have a proven track record at junior and senior level.  With support from sponsor Ulster Bank and investment by Queen’s Sport, the athletes will develop significantly during their time at the University.

Acting Director of Queen’s Sport, Eithne Bradley highlighted the importance of providing the best possible services to the athletes: "Queen’s Sport prides itself on delivering a service to all students at all levels. This includes creating the right environment for our top performers to achieve at the highest level. Our talented and proven sports development team will mentor and guide these athletes through all aspects of their sporting experience during their time at Queen’s.”

Stephen Cruise of Ulster Bank said: “Ulster Bank is delighted to be sponsoring these bursary awards for the fourth consecutive year. This relationship outlines our ongoing support of Queen's sport and commitment to the students of Queen's University, whose athletes have gone on to become Commonwealth and Olympic competitors. We hope these bursaries will continue to assist these talented young men and women to give of their best, both on and off the sports field."

Sport Bursary Awards 2008 by County

Co. Antrim

Barr Niamh Water Polo Finaghy Antrim Bronze
Campbell Heather Rowing Finaghy Antrim Silver
Chisholm Iain Swimming Belfast Antrim Silver
Crawford Ben Equestrian Larne Antrim Gold
Donnelly Jonathan Water Polo Dunmurray Antrim Silver
Graham Peter Table Tennis Belfast Antrim Bronze
Murray Aisling Basketball Belfast Antrim Bronze
Owens Kirsty Netball  Lisburn Antrim Bronze
Patterson James Golf Belfast Antrim Silver

Co. Down

Coyle Catherine Badminton Carryduff Down Bronze
Graham Andrew Athletics Saintfield Down Bronze
Higgins Patrick Orienteering Ballynahinch Down Bronze
Hyland Ashleigh Swimming Holywood Down Bronze
Loughlin Laura Athletics Hilltown Down Bronze
McKee Alexander Downhill M Bike Banbridge Down Bronze
McMillan Hannah Hockey Saintfield Down Bronze
Morrow Jessica Karate Comber Down Silver
O'Hanlon Caroline GAA Newry Down Silver
Patterson Suzanne Martial Arts Newtownards Down Silver
Pollock Paul Athletics Holywood Down Silver
Rowan Emma Canoe Polo Castlewellan Down Bronze

Co. Derry

Doherty Emma Netball Derry Derry Bronze
Gallagher Fiona Tennis Limavady  Derry Bronze

Co. Tyrone

Largey Ciara Orienteering Omagh Tyrone Bronze
McFarland Amy Hockey Omagh Tyrone Silver

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

Top of Page

Graduates to sparkle during Queen's Christmas graduations QTV News Story
Jennie Sims (L) and Rosie Hanna (R), School of Nursing and Midwifery graduates
Jennie Sims (L) and Rosie Hanna (R), School of Nursing and Midwifery graduates

 archive

One of the world’s leading solar physicists and the founder of a top Northern Ireland IT company will be honoured by Queen’s this week during its Winter Centenary Graduation ceremony.

Dame Carole Jordan and Frank Graham will both receive Doctorates of Science from the University, as 2,000 students graduate in five ceremonies this week. The first of the ceremonies takes place on Wednesday evening (7.00pm on 10 December) in The Sir William Whitla Hall.

Professor Jordan, the first female president of the Royal Astronomical Society, will receive her award for distinction as a solar physicist and for services to astronomy on Thursday afternoon, while Frank Graham, the founder of Kainos, will be honoured for his services to business and commerce on Friday afternoon.

By the time graduation ends on Friday afternoon, 6,000 students will have graduated in the University’s Centenary year, compared with just 400 in 1908. This brings the total number of students who have graduated from Queen’s in the last century to almost 300,000.

Queen’s President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson, said:  “During 2008, Queen’s celebrated its Centenary.

“Now, as we look to the future, I congratulate our latest graduates. The exploitation of the knowledge they have acquired during their studies, coupled with their skills and imagination will ensure that Queen’s University Belfast will continue to make a unique contribution to society in Northern Ireland and around the world.”

Ciarnan Helferty, President of the Students’ Union, said: “It is an honour for our students to graduate from a university with such a rich past and a bright future. The Queen’s Experience provides not only a gold standard education but excellent cultural, social and sporting opportunities.”

This week’s graduation ceremonies will be streamed live online via www.qub.ac.uk

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

Top of Page

Credit crunch creativity: Fours plays staged for £25 at Queen's

Students from The Centre for Excellence in Creative and Performing Arts at Queen’s will take part in a challenge to create and perform four new plays in 24hours this weekend.

At 7pm today, four student writers will be given a picture and mystery objects as inspiration to write a seven minute play. They will then have 12 hours to write it.  The writers will also be told how many people they are writing for and the gender of the actors.

On Saturday morning the finished scripts will rushed to press and straight into the hands of four professional directors.  The cast, made up of students, will then have until the doors open to the public at 8.30pm on Saturday 13 December to perfect their performances.

Backstage, the waiting crew, also made up of students, will begin work on scenery, costumes, sound and lighting plans, with only a few hours and £25 to spend.

The idea for the event came from Creative Writing PhD student Emily DeDakis, “I took part in something similar in Los Angeles and had a great time, so I suggested the idea to Anna Newell, the Artistic Director for the Centre of Excellence in the Creative and Performing Arts at Queen’s. She agreed to run it.  I took part in the first year as an actor, in the second year I assisted Anna in organising it.  Now, in the third year I am in charge the event, but Anna is still on hand to provide me with support and guidance.

“Apart from the four professional directors, everyone taking part will be a student, from the Assistant Directors to the lead actor.  It will be a great test and a chance to develop talent under pressure.   Most importantly it is really good fun, for both the cast and crew and the audience. 

“For the audience there is the added thrill of watching something that didn’t exist 24 hours before, as well as the chance to see the premiere of a piece by upcoming playwrights.”

Tickets for the plays, held in the Studio Theatre, Drama and Film Centre at Queen’s can be reserved by emailing j.licinic@qub.ac.uk or purchased at the door.  Priced £2 the money will be used for future projects by the Centre of Excellence in Creative and Performing Arts.

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

Top of Page

Theology soul mates

A husband and wife team have made the long journey from India to graduate together at Queen's University.

Jaison and Jessy Thomas will graduate today with PhDs in Theology. The couple are from Kerala in southern India, where Jaison is the Principal of New India Bible Seminary and Jessy is a Professor at the Department of Practical Theology and Counselling at the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies in Bangalore. They came to Belfast to pursue their passion for theology.

Jaison said: “Jessy and I love to walk together through life, service and study. Through our strong links with the Belfast Bible College, we realised that Queen’s was the ideal place for us to fulfil our dream of completing a PhD together in Theology. With the outstanding service we received from both the Institute of Theology at Queen’s, the Belfast Bible College and a number of great friends in Belfast, we successfully completed our studies – together.

“Queen’s is beautiful and lively. It has such an inspiring life spreading everywhere. We have carried that life to inspire the field of theological education in India. Now we travel across India together, inspiring hundreds of our students.”

Jessy said: “Queen’s has shaped our thinking in many ways with its crucial focus on personal, academic and professional effectiveness. Doing PhD together as a couple, with our two boys in schools – Methodist College and Dunmurry Primary School – was an amazing and adventurous experience. Our home in Dunmurry became a mini research centre for three years while we completed our studies. The highlight of our experiences here is receiving our PhDs together today. We have travelled all the way from India to Northern Ireland for this - just because we want to share this joy together.

“We love Northern Ireland dearly but chose to return to India to serve our hundreds of students with the skills and training we received at Queen’s.”

Media inquiries to the Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 3091 / 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

Top of Page

First Interdisciplinary Arts graduates from Queen's

A Choreographer, a singer and a teacher will be amongst the first ever students to graduate with a unique Masters degree in Interdisciplinary Arts at Queen's today.

And graduation is set to be just one special occasion over the coming months for two of the students.

American student Jen Moeller is due to give birth any day now, and choreographer Stevie Prickett and his wife, who live in Castlerock, are expecting a baby in the new year. The other graduates are Janice Kernoghan from Newtownabbey, Colette Thompson from Holywood and Jane Murdoch from Scotland.

Anna Newell, Director of the Centre for Excellence in the Creative and Performing Arts at Queen’s, said: “The MA in Interdisciplinary Arts brings together students from across a range of arts disciplines, who undertake modules in core subjects such as drama, film studies and music.

“The unique part of the course is that all the students are brought together for a series of ‘Adventures’. They are asked to meet at a specific location – maybe on campus, or maybe in an old disused building or an open space – where they are presented with their Adventure. This might involve putting together a performance piece, an installation, a recording or a piece of creative writing.

“Led by arts industry experts, the students are encouraged to use their imagination, think outside their normal sphere of thought, work under pressure and generally cope with being thrown out of their comfort zone. Although Arts based, it helps them develop the skills necessary for any career path.

“I am delighted to congratulate the five students who are graduating today. They are the first students ever to be awarded this degree and I am sure it will serve them well in their future careers, whether in the performing arts or elsewhere.”

Media inquiries to the Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 3091 / 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

Top of Page

Hi-tech leader to be honoured

One of Northern Ireland's leading business figures will be honoured by Queen's University today in recognition of his distinguished contribution to business and commerce.

Frank Graham, who was founder of thriving Belfast firm Kainos and Managing Director of leading worldwide software provider, Meridio, will receive an honorary degree. He will be the final honorary graduate of the University’s centenary year, during which honorary degrees were also conferred on Nelson Mandela, Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair.

After leaving university in 1967, Frank Graham went straight into a computer software career, working as a programme for Rolls Royce in Derby and Dundonald. In 1970 he joined the ICS Computing Group, where he stayed for 16 years, spending two years in California running the company’s US office.

In 1986 he set up Kainos Software, one of Northern Ireland’s first ‘campus’ companies established in a joint venture between Fujitsu and Queen’s Business Incubation Unit (Qubis). He remained Managing Director from then until 2001 when he became Managing Director of Meridio - a new company emerging from Kainos.

Kainos is now Northern Ireland’s largest home-grown hi-tech company, with over 260 consultants in five locations, while Meridio is the leading worldwide provider of enterprise Document and Records Management (eDRM) software.

Having retired in 2005, Frank Graham remains a Director of Kainos and is a past Chairman of Momentum and a Director of Qubis.

On receiving his Doctorate of Science in Economics (DSc(Econ)), Mr Graham said: “I am proud to receive this award on behalf of the many hundreds of young Northern Ireland IT graduates who work for and have worked for Kainos and Meridio over the last 21 Years. Their industry and excellence continue to be the bedrock of a sector which excels for Northern Ireland, even in the hard times.”

Media inquiries to the Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 3091 / 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

Notes to editors:
Frank Graham will be presented with his honorary degree at the closing ceremony of Queen’s Winter Graduations at 2.30pm on Friday 12 December.

Top of Page

MSc in Multimedia just the medicine

An MSc student who hopes to increase the quality of online information about Down Syndrome will graduate this afternoon from Queen’s University.

Dr Khaled Abbas El-Hayes, an Obstetrician Gynaecologist in Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry, is developing a website as part of a series called Health problems at a glance, which aims to cover a range of health problems women and families are concerned about.

Dr El-Hayes, who has worked in Daisy Hill Hospital for seven years, began to develop the website as part of his MSc in Educational Multimedia in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

He said: “There is an increasing range of information and advice published about Down syndrome on the Internet. However, much of this information is misleading, inaccurate, unreliable, not up-to-date and not credible by scientific evidence. Our project will provide freely-available, up-to-date, reliable, evidence-based online information as well as advice to explore all concerns about Down syndrome.

“The aim is to use multimedia resources such as video clips, animations, interactive diagrams as well as the facilities for the public to upload their own videos to make the website more informative and interesting.”

Dr El-Hayes began his part-time MSc two and half years ago. Explaining why he chose the degree, he said: “I am involved in medical teaching for medical staff using multimedia as a technique. I developed a complete comprehensive intranet site for Daisy Hill Hospital called OGWW covering Obstetric and Gynaecology. During the development of this intranet I felt that my skills could be improved by completing an MSc.”
 
“Completing my degree was a great challenge especially working full-time, but I got great support and encouragement from Queen’s staff.”

Dr El-Hayes will be joined at the graduation ceremony by his wife and four children.

For further information please co11ntact the Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

Top of Page

Award Winning Nurses At Queen's

Nearly 250 student nurses will graduate from Queen's this morning, most of whom have already begun working in hospital wards across Northern Ireland. Among them are nine students who have also been recognised for outstanding Academic or Clinical Excellence.

During the graduation ceremony students will receive their certificate and Nursing Badge which are worn on the wards before taking the Nursing Pledge.

Awards for Academic Excellence are given to the nursing students with the highest marks from the University-based aspect of the degree. Selections for the Clinical Excellence awards are based on feedback from staff in the wards where the students completed their nursing placement.

The Florence Elliott Prize is awarded to the best overall student, and is the highest award given. This year’s award has been given to two recipients, Linda Davies-Jones from Belfast, and Dunmurry girl Michelle Beresford.

Professor Linda Johnston, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s said: “This is my first graduation at Queen’s, and I am delighted at the quality of students. Queen’s has become the foremost provider of Nursing and Midwifery education in Northern Ireland. Students such as Linda Davis-Jones and Michelle Beresford play a central role in delivering health care to us all and I congratulate Linda, Michelle and their fellow award winners for their hard work and dedication.”

The full list of awards are winners is:

 Prize Title  Winner(s)  Hometown
The Florence Elliot Prize
Linda Davies-Jones
Michelle Beresford 
Belfast
Wales 
The Cleland Ormond Rogers Proze for
Academic Excellence in Children's Nursing
 Gillian Whyte

Portglenone, Ballymena
 
The RBHSC/QUB Joyce Gardiner Prize for
Clinical Excellence in Children's Nursing
 Alison Orr
Ballyclaire 
The Professor Sheila Harrisson Prize for
Academic Excellence in Adult Nursing
 Nuala Lavery

Moira
 
The Mary Waddell Prize for
Clinical Excellence in Adult Nursing
NualaCrilly
Tracy McAllister 
Belfast
Newtownabbey 
The Moutray/McAuley Prize for
Clinical Excellence in Mental Health Nursing
Charlene Coyle
 
Coalisland, Dungannon
 
The Lawrence and Nora McAuliff Curtin Prize for
Academic Excellence in Mental Health
Bernadette Kerr

Newcastle
 

Top of Page

Queen's plays leading role in Europe-wide tests for safer food
Professor Chris Elliot
Professor Chris Elliot

A top food scientist at Queen’s is playing a major role in a £4m European project to develop new techniques to detect chemical contaminants in food and animal feed.

Professor Chris Elliott, Director of the Institute of Agri-Food and Land Use at Queen’s, will lead a team of scientists in developing new tests aimed to protect the public from potentially fatal toxins in a wide range of foods including meat, poultry, milk, seafood and cereals.

He believes that the project will result in safer food being made available to consumers across Europe.

The project, entitled Conffidence, is being co-ordinated by the RIKILT Food Safety Institute in The Netherlands and involves 17 partners from ten European countries. Queen’s has been awarded over £300,000 for its role in the project.

Professor Elliott said: “The presence of chemical contaminants in food is a major concern for both European governments and consumers, as seen with the recent pork scare across Ireland in recent days. 

“Thankfully the presence of chemical contaminants in food are fatal in only a small number of cases. However, the true effects of long term exposure to these toxins are far from clear and may present significant heath risks.

“Regulatory Authorities and the food industries spend large amounts to monitor and control the safety of both food products and animal feed. 

“This monitoring often uses expensive methods that can only detect one specific chemical so there is an urgent need for replacement of current methods by validated screening tools, which are simple, inexpensive and rapid and are able to detect as many chemical contaminants in parallel as possible.

“Queen’s main focus will be on developing highly innovative means of detecting natural toxins, produced by plants and fungi, in a wide range of foods.”

The Conffidence project has been designed to provide long-term solutions to the monitoring of a wide variety of chemical contaminants. These include pesticides, persistent organic pollutants, veterinary pharmaceuticals including antibiotics, heavy metals, plant and natural toxins.

Tests will be developed and validated for products including fish and fish feed, cereal-based food and vegetables. The tests will also study the transfer of harmful contaminants from feed to eggs and meat.

New technology is set to be used, including dipstick tests used in the same way as pregnancy tests, as well as low-cost high-volume laboratory-based methods.

The methods devised will then be used to carry out international food surveys that will help measure consumer exposure to chemical contaminants.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, press officer on 028 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362, a.clements@qub.ac.uk


Top of Page

Triumph over tragedy at Queen's

A Portadown man has triumphed over tragedy to graduate from Queen’s today.

Forty-nine year old Gregory Skelton was just one week away from completing his nursing studies when he was involved in a serious road accident in June 2007. He spent 10 months in hospital, and was in a coma in the Royal Victoria Hospital for several weeks. He was later admitted to the brain injury unit in Musgrave Park Hospital.

Doctors warned his family that the prognosis was not good and that he was likely to be in a permanent vegetative state and paralysed down his right side.

But, despite the odds against him, he made remarkable progress after gaining consciousness and since being discharged from hospital in March he has continued on the path to recovery.

Today, Queen’s will award Gregory a first class honours BSc in Health Sciences.

Gregory says graduation day is a very important one for him. “I am so lucky to be alive to see this day. I worked and studied very hard for my degree and I am delighted with the outcome.

“I have a way to go to get back to where I was before my accident, but with every passing day the future is looking rosier. “The tutors and staff at Queen’s School of Nursing and Midwifery visited me often during my time in hospital and maintained contact with my family to monitor my recovery.

“They were very supportive to me and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my family.

“This graduation day is a milestone in my life. It marks the culmination of all my hard work as a nursing student together with my efforts towards a wholesome recovery. I dedicate this special day to the memory of my father who passed away in October.”

His sister Lorainne Mullin, who visited Gregory every day in hospital, congratulated her brother: “Gregory has made a miraculous recovery. He is independently mobile with the use of a walking aid and his memory is really good. His speech is also improving all the time. Every day there is a new revelation. He has full mental competency, exudes intelligence and is very witty. We’re very proud of him.”

Media inquiries to the Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 3091 / 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

Top of Page

Sisters on the wards
Jennie Sims and Rosie Hanna from Banbridge
Jennie Sims and Rosie Hanna from Banbridge

It will be a double celebration for two Banbridge sisters who graduate from Queen’s as nurses today.

Jennie Sims graduates in Mental Health Nursing while Rosie Hanna will receive her degree in Children’s Nursing.

Two of the girls’ other sisters are also studying at Queen’s. Jill Savage is set to graduate in Midwifery next year, while Lesley Hanna, who graduated in Biological Sciences in July, is now undertaking a Masters in Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

Jennie, 34, who is now working at the Mater Hospital in Belfast, said that enjoying the Queen’s experience with her sisters made it even more special.

“During our three years of training, Jill, Rosie and I offered emotional and educational support to each other which I know each of us valued immensely.

“I hadn’t studied in eight years and being a mature student, who is married with two children, I feel that the support of all my sisters during my training made it, not only a very rewarding time but also an extremely enjoyable experience.

“During exam time and even in the run up to assignment deadlines, we would meet in each other’s houses or the Seamus Heaney library.

“Some of us were also involved in the School of Nursing and Midwifery panto to raise money for local charities, a fun experience none of us will ever forget!”

Rosie is now working at the Royal and is also studying for a Masters in Children’s Nursing.

Media enquiries to the Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 3091 / 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

Top of Page

Physics star to be awarded honorary degree at Queen's
Professor Dame Carole Jordan
Professor Dame Carole Jordan

One of the world’s leading solar physicists will be awarded an honorary degree from Queen’s University today (2.30pm on Thursday, 11 December) during one of its Winter Centenary Graduation ceremonies.

Professor Carole Jordan, who was the first female president of the Royal Astronomical Society and was appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2006, will receive a Doctorate of Science (DSc) for distinction as a solar physicist and for services to astronomy.

For over three decades, she has been the leading UK solar physicist and is seen as one of the world's leading experts in this area.  More recently, she has used her expertise to make important contributions to the investigation of stellar coronal and chromospheric activity. She has also taken a leading role in the development and exploitation of European, Japanese and American satellite missions to observe ultraviolet and X-ray spectra of the Sun and other stars. 

Professor Jordan was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1990 and awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2005 for her work in solar physics.

In addition to her research and teaching, Professor Jordan has served at a senior level in various organisations. She was President of the Royal Astronomical Society from 1994 - 1996, a member of Council for both the Science and Engineering Research Council and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, and Vice-President (Science) of the Institute of Physics (2003 - 2008). 

Professor Jordan said: “I was delighted to hear that I am to receive an Honorary Degree from Queen's University.  Researchers in physics and astronomy at Queen's have made major contributions to the fields of astrophysics and atomic physics that bear on my research and I regard it as a great honour to be recognised in this way by Queen's. I am looking forward very much to the degree ceremony.”

Media inquiries to the Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 3091 / 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

Top of Page

Queen's students ask 'Surveillance - protection or intrusion?'

The lengths to which the state can use surveillance and other covert activities to protect its citizens will be explored by students at Queen’s University on International Human Rights Day (Wednesday, 10 December).

Students at Queen’s School of Law Human Rights Centre will discuss the laws that allow the state to carry out surveillance and other covert activities, and how they impact on human rights.

The talk forms part of a day of events to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The celebrations also include an exhibition of artwork and creative writing by local school children, depicting their impressions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a discussion on the global impact of the Declaration, and the screening of human rights themed documentaries.

Dr Sylvie Langlaude, lecturer at the Human Rights Centre at the School of Law said: "The balance between protecting public safety and upholding human rights is frequently debated by the public, media and politicians. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) allows for state surveillance and information gathering for crime prevention purposes. Now more than ever, with the constant threat of global terrorism, the use of spooks, spies and espionage is deemed necessary to protect the public.

“RIPA, however, is about much more than anti-terrorism. It affects all of us on a daily basis. Our movements are followed on CCTV, our internet browsing habits and mobile phone calls are monitored, and from next year the Government plans to hold our personal information, including photographs and finger prints, on a national identity register.

"Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, however, states that ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence’ and ‘Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference’.

“The shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes in 2005 highlighted the difficulties faced by state players in treading the fine line between protecting its citizens and upholding human rights.

“The state very clearly faces a clash of priorities. On one hand they are expected to do everything they can do protect their citizens, while on the other hand they are expected to protect those citizens’ basic right to privacy. On Human Rights Day we will explore how they can get the balance right.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was intended to dramatically change international attitudes towards human rights. It aimed to secure global recognition of basic human rights and promote respect for those rights. Sixty years after it was adopted by the UN, we want to explore its impact around the world.

“Guest speakers from around the world - the USA, UK , Europe, Asia and Africa - will offer their views on the impact of the Declaration in their particular region, including areas where progress has been made, or where clear human rights violations still occur.

Dr Langlaude will chair the international discussion panel on 60 Years On: Impact of UDHR at 2.30pm at the Institute of Governance at Queen’s on 10 December. The talk on RIPA and Its Engagement with Human Rights: A Clash of Priorities will take place at 11am, also at the Institute of Governance.

In welcoming the events planned for International Human Rights Day,  Professor Colin Harvey, Head of the School of Law and Professor of Human Rights Law at Queen's, said:

"This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration was drafted in the post-war period and remains an inspiring document. It includes a full range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and continues to offer hope to those struggling for human rights across the world. Its global and inclusive vision is one that I hope we can all identify with and support.

“I am particularly pleased to see this student-led initiative at Queen's to celebrate International Human Rights Day and to mark the occasion. These Law students are to be commended for organizing this significant event and for seeking to promote an informed debate around issues which impact on the rights of us all."

For more information on Human Rights Day events, or to register for any of the events email Hannah at hrussell06@qub.ac.uk For more information on the Human Rights Centre at Queen’s visit www.law.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofLaw/Research/HumanRightsCentre/   

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk 07814 415 451.

Top of Page

Heaney helps centenary celebrations go with a bang at Queen's QTV News Story
Seamus Heaney, Professor Peter Gregson and Nick Ross
Seamus Heaney, Professor Peter Gregson and Nick Ross
Seamus Heaney, Professor Peter Gregson and Nick Ross
Seamus Heaney, Professor Peter Gregson and Nick Ross

  

A festival of fireworks and song will greet Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney at Queen’s tonight when he receives a Lifetime Achievement Award (Tuesday 2 December) during the University’s Centenary Charter Day celebration.

The former Queen’s lecturer will receive his award after the world premiere of Anahorish, a piece of music inspired by Heaney’s poem of the same name.

Commissioned by Queen’s Graduates’ Association (QGA) to honour one of its most notable living graduates, the piece was composed by Queen’s graduate Deirdre Gribben, whose father William is originally from Anahorish. The piece will be sung by soprano Linda Barrett, one of a quartet formed for the occasion.

Also present at the Centenary celebration will be Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and well known broadcaster Nick Ross, a former Deputy President of Queen’s Students’ Union.

The special guests will join over 300 of the University’s staff, students, graduates and friends at the dinner which is taking place in the Sir William Whitla Hall at Queen’s.

Queen’s President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: “One hundred years ago today, Queen’s officially became a university in its own right when King Edward VII granted its Royal Charter.

“Throughout our Centenary year we have celebrated with students, staff and alumni from around the world. During a Royal visit earlier this year, Her Majesty the Queen unveiled the Centenary Stone, on which is carved the Centenary Stanza, penned to mark the occasion by Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, one of our most distinguished graduates.

“I am therefore delighted that Seamus is with us tonight to receive his lifetime achievement award. His impact on arts and literature has achieved global recognition and his contribution to Queen’s University has been immense. I cannot think of a more fitting way to close our Centenary celebrations than by honouring one of the most eminent graduates in the University’s one hundred year history.

 “Tonight is also an international gathering, a point reinforced by the presence of our guest of honour, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma.

“International connections are vital in today’s higher education environment and we have welcomed visitors from around the world to help celebrate our Centenary. This includes those who attended the Mitchell Conference in May, when honorary degrees were conferred upon former UK and Irish premiers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, while in July Nelson Mandela joined the Queen’s family when he became the University’s Centenary Honorary Graduate. We have given thanks for Queen’s in a ceremony at St Anne’s Cathedral hosted by the four main Churches in Northern Ireland, and we have been honoured by Belfast City Council.

“Most importantly though, we have marked the year by doing what we do best, and what we were founded to do - research and education. The lasting legacy of this Centenary year will be the cutting edge research we have undertaken and the thousands of men and women who have graduated from this fine University.

“As we enter our second century, we are looking towards a future in which our presence will be felt even more strongly on the world stage. We do so with confidence, recognising the enormous support of all our graduates, partners and stakeholders.”

QGA President, Bernard Fitzpatrick, who will deliver the citation for the Lifetime Achievement Award, said: “Tonight is the culmination of a memorable year for Queen’s Graduates’ Association. It is with great pride that we will present Seamus Heaney with his lifetime achievement award in recognition of both his endeavour and success, surrounded as he will be, by fellow graduates.”

After receiving his award, Seamus Heaney will recite the Centenary stanza he wrote especially for the University’s Centenary year.

The quartet performing Anahorish consists of Simon Mawhinney, pianist, School of Music at Queen’s; Cliona Doris, harpist, Dublin Institute of Technology; Niamh McGowan; violin, from Royal Northern College, Manchester and Linda Barrett, soprano, Methodist College, Belfast.

Other events being held to mark the occasion include a tree planting Ceremony in the Quad at 2.30 pm today by Mr John Andrews, a descendant of Professor Thomas Andrews.

At 6.15pm a special bell ringing toll will also take place in St Thomas’ Church, Eglantine Avenue, Belfast

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

Top of Page

Neo-natal services set to benefit from top nurse's research
Professor Linda Johnston
Professor Linda Johnston

One of Australia’s top nurses, who has taken over as Head of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University, says she intends to extend her research into neonatal intensive care units in Northern Ireland.

Professor Linda Johnston has joined Queen’s from the University of Melbourne and worked for many years in neonatal intensive care in the USA, Australia and the Middle East.

She wants to raise the university’s profile as a world leader in nursing education and research.

Her latest research has focused on how to assess and manage pain in babies in intensive care, finding that a sugar solution can block pain.

Professor Johnston is also studying the emotional and social impact on families of babies which have complex health needs.

She said: “Both projects have important implications for babies and families in Northern Ireland and I plan to extend the findings of my research into neonatal intensive care units in the region.

 “Doing research work makes a difference to patients and clients and their families and I want to see our school raise its profile as a world leader in patient-related research.

“It’s not about navel gazing - we want to improve patients’ outcomes, using a multi-disciplinary approach with health trusts.

“There is a growing research focus here on themes including maternal and child health and the evaluation of complex healthcare interventions.”

One of the reasons she gives for being keen to take up the position at Queen’s is the cutting-edge work being done in patient care by the School of Nursing and Midwifery along with students from other university schools.

“I’m pleased to come to Queen’s, which offers internationally-recognised high quality programmes.

“Projects like those run through the Centre for Excellence in Interprofessional Education including the use of Sim babies (highly realistic manikins) show real innovation across disciplines. The University’s approach to teamwork has huge implications for how healthcare professionals relate to each other in their future careers.

“Excellent teaching is also taking place through the clinical skills lab and there is a lot of support from personal tutors helping students through their educational pathway.”

Professor James McElnay, Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduates, said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have been able to attract Linda to lead this very important School within the University.  She brings a wealth of experience in academic management and nursing education, while her research fits in very well with the University’s programme of research on Improving Children’s Lives.”

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, press officer on (0)28 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362, a.clements@qub.ac.uk

Top of Page

More people describing themselves as 'Northern Irish'

Ten years after the Good Friday Agreement, an increasing number of people in Northern Ireland are choosing to describe themselves as ‘Northern Irish’ or ‘equally Irish and British’. That’s according to a report published by Queen’s University.

The findings are based on information from the 2007 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey conducted by ARK, a joint research initiative by Queen’s University and the University of Ulster.

The research, which explored the extent to which people feel an attachment or loyalty to national and religious group labels, such as Irish, British, Catholic or Protestant, found that while the national and religious identities that have underpinned difference and division in Northern Ireland still remain, an increasing number of people are moving away from the traditional labels of ‘Irish Catholic’ and ‘British Protestant’.
 
Professor Orla Muldoon, the author of the report from University of Limerick said: "As you might expect, Catholics in Northern Ireland are more likely to describe themselves as being Irish, while Protestants are more likely to describe themselves as British. Almost two thirds (59 per cent) of those who responded to the survey identified themselves as British Protestants or Irish Catholics.

“There was, however, an increase in the number of people who identified themselves as being ‘Northern Irish’, with around one in four (25 per cent) opting for this label, compared to around one fifth (20 per cent) in previous surveys.

“Within this group, around one third described themselves as being equally British and Irish. They did not see Britishness or Irishness as being mutually exclusive and rejected the notion that these identities are ‘opposites’. This indicates a shift away from the traditional national and religious identities that underpinned the Troubles."

Researchers also presented the 1179 people who took part in the research with emblems or historical images that might be viewed differently by people with different identities, and gauged their responses to these images. Professor Muldoon continued:

“Emotional responses to iconic images, such as flags and emblems, were stronger among respondents with traditional identities. Those who described themselves as Irish Catholic said they were more likely to feel uneasy or annoyed when presented with an image of a Union Jack or a photo of a news presenter wearing a poppy. British Protestants, however, were more uneasy or annoyed when presented with an Irish Tricolour or an Irish language letterhead.

“While this research has confirmed that national and religious identity in Northern Ireland are often interlinked, it has also highlighted that an increasing number of people are moving away from the traditional labels that have for so long been used by the majority of people here to describe themselves. We hope to use the information gathered in future research to establish the extent to which this positive trend will continue."

The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The report, and all the findings from the 2007 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, are available online at www.ark.ac.uk

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk , 07814 415 451.

Top of Page

Industry reaps rewards from first major investment in science north and south

The first major investment in science north and south is set to create five world-class research centres. The centres will establish the island of Ireland as a significant force in addressing global challenges.

13 research posts at Queen's University Belfast in the areas of next generation mobile networks, safety and traceability of agri-foods, diet and obesity, biomedical informatics research to accelerate drug discovery and identifying novel therapeutics of importance to many chronic diseases are now being advertised.

The posts have been created as the result of a £7 million investment in Queen’s from Northern Ireland’s Department for Employment and Learning under the Cross-Border Research and Development Funding Programme.

Indigenous industry and the all-ireland research base which will both be strengthened as a result of the investment. It supports projects which consolidate further the world-leading research of Queen’s and its partners throughout Ireland.

Companies such as Dunbia, Dale Farm, Moy Park, Intel, Hewlett Packard and organisations such as the Health Research Board will all benefit from the work of the posts currently being advertised.

In addition to established links with TCD and UCD, the University will now build partnerships with leading groups including The Tyndall Institute, the Royal College of Surgeons, and Ashtown Food Research Centre.

Professor Peter Gregson Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s said: “The creation of these five world-class North South Centres will establish the island of Ireland as a significant force in addressing global challenges.

“Our leaders, policy-makers and companies north and south, will be informed by the results from this important research when devising future strategies in the areas of medicine, public health, food science and telecommunications.

“The five centres will support indigenous companies and provide the research base needed to attract foreign direct investment.

“The Minister and the Executive are to be congratulated for implementing what I hope will be the first phase of a number of investments to build on Queen’s world-leading research and strengthen the all-island research base through aligning Northern Ireland’s investment in research with that of the Irish government.

 “Continuing in the spirit of strengthening the all-Ireland research base, I look forward to being able to welcome the top students from across Ireland to work on these projects at postgraduate level.

 “Expanding on our science base is essential for a successful and prosperous knowledge-based economy.”

The new centres include the Centre for Food: ASsured, SafE and Traceable food (ASSET). Food production is the largest industry in NI and ROI, and despite the drive towards a knowledge based economy, agriculture still dominates the employment agenda. ASSET will harness the scientific knowledge and know-how which exists both north and south and translate it into opportunities for improving the economic development within the agri-food sector.

The funding will also expand the world-class research in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s by strengthening biomedical informatics research to accelerate drug discovery and enhance the development of personalised medicine. The grants will also enable the creation of new research programmes to address the needs of other chronic diseases through the identification of novel therapeutics.

In a major collaboration with the Tyndall Institute in Cork, a wireless project will build on Queen’s earlier investment in information and communication technologies and will focus on the development of next generation mobile wireless communications. It represents a further development in the leading edge research within Queen’s Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), located in the Northern Ireland Science Park, which just days ago was named as the £20 million home of the UK’s lead Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT).

Research on diet, obesity and diabetes will also take place in the recently established Wellcome funded Centre of Excellence in Public Health.

Further information on the posts advertised can be found by visiting www.qub.ac.uk/sites/QUBJobVacancies/

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

Top of Page

Academic to academician - leading Queen's researchers honoured
Professor Tony Gallagher
Professor Tony Gallagher
Professor Ken Brown
Professor Ken Brown

Two of Queen’s University’s leading academics will be honoured in London tomorrow (Friday) for their outstanding contributions to the social sciences.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students Professor Ken Brown and Head of the School of Education Professor Tony Gallagher will both be conferred with the title of Academician by the Academy of Social Sciences. For Professor Brown it marks a double celebration - he celebrates his 65th birthday on the day of the conferment.

The title is awarded to notable scholars and practitioners from academia and the public and private sectors who have demonstrated a significant achievement in the field of social sciences and commitment to the aims of the Academy. The Academy's mission is to promote social sciences in the United Kingdom for the public benefit.

Congratulating both Professors, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: "This well-deserved honour recognises the calibre of two of the University’s most noted researchers and senior members of staff.

“It is also a fitting acknowledgement of the University’s contribution to research and education in the wide-ranging area of social sciences through which we play a pivotal role in contributing to society in Northern Ireland and further afield."

A distinguished economic historian, Professor Brown, who retires in 2009, has been a member of staff at Queen’s since 1969.

The author of several books and numerous papers on the labour, business, and religious history of modern Britain and Japan, Professor Brown is a member of the Northern Ireland Higher Education Council and the NI Advisory Board of the British Council.

Professor Tony Gallagher is an eminent researcher in the role of education in divided societies. From 1998 to 2000 he co-directed a major research project on the effects of the selective system of secondary education in Northern Ireland and subsequently acted as an advisor to the Post Primary Review Body. He is currently leading the Sharing Education Project which is working towards practical models for effective collaboration between schools to promote improved performance and reconciliation. The project aims to make inter-community contact an integral part of everyday life.

Professor Gallagher also serves as Chair of Public Achievement (Northern Ireland) and is a member of Healing Through Remembering.

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

Top of Page

A bridge to success - Queen's-Macrete project cuts construction costs
KTP Associate Abhey Gupta receives the Award from Invest NI Chief Executive Leslie Morrison. Included are Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McCormac, Dr Mary Flynn, KTP Centre at Queen's and Dr Su Taylor
KTP Associate Abhey Gupta receives the Award from Invest NI Chief Executive Leslie Morrison. Included are Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McCormac, Dr Mary Flynn, KTP Centre at Queen's and Dr Su Taylor

An innovative concrete ‘flat pack’ bridge which could slash construction costs has been developed by Northern Ireland-based business Macrete Ireland Ltd in partnership with Queen’s University and Invest Northern Ireland.

The successful collaboration - announced last night as Northern Ireland’s best Knowledge Transfer Partnership for 2008 - has already attracted market interest from throughout Europe, the United States, India and Bangladesh.

The two-year project was carried out with Macrete by KTP Associate Abhey Gupta under the supervision of Su Taylor and Professor Emeritus Adrian Long of the University’s School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering. Invest NI also offered financial backing for the investment by Macrete in the research and development (R&D) project.

Its success was announced at a Knowledge Transfer Partnership gala event at Queen’s University, which honoured Northern Ireland’s most dynamic businesses undertaking innovative projects with the universities and colleges.

This Partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme (KTP).  KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK Knowledge Base, in this case Queen’s University.  KTP is funded by the Technology Strategy Board along with the other government funding organisations, including Invest NI.

Northern Ireland’s top partnership in 2008 had been set up to develop a novel flexible ‘flat pack’ concrete arch to ensure a durable and structurally efficient bridge system.  Its success also resulted in KTP Associate Abhey Gupta winning the 2007 Northern Ireland Business Leader of Tomorrow Award.  Eight of the flexi-arch bridges have already been built for various clients, including Newtownabbey Borough Council and the Department for Regional Development.

The partners are now undertaking a new £2.1 million project to develop low energy lightweight concrete, partly funded by the Technology Strategy Board.

Macrete Director Iain Hogg said that the partnership has led to a much more innovative culture within the company.

He said: "Due to the highly innovative nature of this project, and the enthusiasm of the Associate from the outset, our market position has been greatly enhanced. Our staff are now much more inclined to offer up new ideas."  

The Macrete-Queen’s KTP will now go forward to the National KTP Awards final in London in March 2009. 

The guest of honour at last night’s event, which honoured 20 local companies who had completed KTP programmes within the past year, was Leslie Morrison, Chief Executive of Invest Northern Ireland.

Mr Morrison said: "By making use of the strong academic and research capability that exists here, Northern Ireland companies can increase productivity levels and be better equipped to weather the current difficult global economic conditions. Macrete’s flexible arch bridge system, also backed by R&D funding from Invest NI, is an excellent example of how industry-based graduate research through the Knowledge Transfer Programme can identify and develop products which could open up new commercial opportunities."
.
Congratulating the winners, Professor Gerry McCormac, Queen’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Planning and External Relations, said the success of the KTP scheme in Northern Ireland demonstrated the tangible benefits of knowledge transfer activity.

He said: "Knowledge Transfer Partnerships bring together the key elements which underpin research and development and lead to economic prosperity. By merging innovative and entrepreneurial businesses with the expertise and skills within higher and further education, the KTP has proved to be a driving force in local wealth and job creation." 

The following businesses received awards at the dinner:

For Knowledge Transfer Partnerships with Queen’s University - Bapco Closures Ltd, Blaney Motor Company, Bombardier plc,  CDE Ireland Ltd Devenish Nutrition Ltd ,Foyle Chipping Co, John J Huddleston Engineering Ltd,  Perfecseal Ltd, Rosemount Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Ryobi Aluminium Castings Ltd, Seagate Technologies Ltd, T G Eakin Ltd, UPU Industries Ltd.

For Knowledge Transfer Partnerships with the University of Ulster - BMI Trailers Ltd, Garment Geraphixs Ltd, JPM Contracts Ltd, North West of Ireland Printing and Publishing Co, Petal Posting Ltd.

For a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Belfast Metropolitan College - Mo Team SAI

For a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Newcastle - Opt2vote.

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

Top of Page