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05 - 2011 Press Releases

Queen’s clinician scientist recognised with UK appointment
Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council Sir John Savill, Chair of the Translational Research Strategy Board of the Medical Research Council Professor Patrick Johnston and Vice Chancellor of Queen's University Professor Peter Gregson
Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council Sir John Savill, Chair of the Translational Research Strategy Board of the Medical Research Council Professor Patrick Johnston and Vice Chancellor of Queen's University Professor Peter Gregson

One of the world’s top cancer clinician scientists has been appointed Chair of the Translational Research Group of the Medical Research Council (MRC), which is responsible for developing and implementing the MRC’s research strategy in the UK.

Professor Patrick Johnston, Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, will Chair the influential body, which invests in high-quality medical research across a wide range of diseases and disciplines.

Announcing the appointment at Queen’s University, Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council, said: “Professor Johnston’s appointment is extremely important. The role as chair of the Transitional Research Group is key to its success in the UK, which is one of our main objectives. The MRC has to deliver the economic benefits from its investments and getting the right strategy to achieve that is essential. Professor Johnston is very committed to translational research; he has particular expertise in cancer and is clearly someone who has chosen a very receptive translational research environment at Queen’s.”

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Johnston said: “This appointment is not only an honour for me but also for Queen’s University and Northern Ireland. It is also a major recognition of the research work undertaken in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences.

“It will allow me to further develop translational research across the UK and also direct research at Queen’s into areas that will be more successful.”

Professor Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, said: “Queen’s University is delighted that Professor Johnston has been honoured through his appointment to this key strategic role within the Medical Research Council. It is testament to his research reputation and his contribution, made through Queen’s, in the area of translational research. Importantly, it places Northern Ireland at the heart of strategy and policy development in the MRC.”

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814 422 572 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Deanes at Queen’s chef bids for Great British Menu title

Having won the Northern Ireland heat of cult TV show the Great British Menu, Chris Fearon from Deanes at Queen's restaurant is returning to the competition this week (Monday 30 May) to go head-to-head with other regional winners in the thrilling national finals.

This year the overall theme for the series is ‘Cooking For The People,’ with the idea of creating food perfect to share with friends and neighbours at a street party, proving that food has the power to bring people together in a way that almost nothing else can.

This year’s series of the Great British Menu will make household names of many of these competitors, as it always has in the past, so the challenge and the competition is, as always, fierce. Every competing chef wants to make it through to the final, where their menus will be judged by food luminaries Oliver Peyton, Prue Leith and Matthew Fort, and where their food will be included in the ultimate street party, The People’s Banquet.

Last year almost a million people took part in the nationwide, one-day event that uses the recipes from the Great British Menu and encourages people to cook and eat with their neighbours.

Chris Fearon has worked with Deanes for almost three years, and his menu designed for the Great British Menu reflects his confident, relaxed and sociable approach to this specific task – Season & Shake Coronation Chicken as a starter, a Celebration of Preserved Salmon and My Fancy Dressed Piggy to follow, with Lemonicious for dessert – perfect for big groups of friends out to have a good time!

“This year the focus is on a summer street party to encourage people to interact over food,” says Chris, “so I tried to think about all the elements from a visual point of view as well as being absolutely delicious, and linking to the idea of how good everything seemed to taste when you were a kid. Strong, bold flavours based on familiar ingredients – not cheffy, or intimidating, but warm, friendly and inclusive.”

Deanes at Queen's is a relaxed and approachable place too, due in no small part to its talented head chef, with a bright airy space, flooded with light and surrounded by great views, inviting you to sit back and enjoy the sophisticated approach to superb, chiefly local produce and the friendly service.

For head chef Chris, the feeling in the restaurant is almost as important as the menu. “Here at Deanes at Queens we know our food is really good,” he says, “so we’re pretty confident about that. What we do want to be sure of is that everyone who chooses to eat with us has an enjoyable time, is well looked after, and gets great value for money.”

Good luck Chris!

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Minister of State pays surprise visit to Queen’s University
(L-R) Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster MLA, Queen’s University Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson and Minister of State for Universities and Science, The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, at the Northern Ireland Science Park. Mr Willetts visited the Queen’s Institute for Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), during a tour of the University’s world-leading research facilities.
(L-R) Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster MLA, Queen’s University Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson and Minister of State for Universities and Science, The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, at the Northern Ireland Science Park. Mr Willetts visited the Queen’s Institute for Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), during a tour of the University’s world-leading research facilities.

The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science has visited Queen’s University Belfast (Thursday 26 May), where he had an opportunity to meet with staff and students and to experience some of the world-class research and education taking place at one of the UK’s leading universities.

During his visit to Queen’s, the Minister of State learned of some of the innovative work being undertaken to engage with Schools and Employers to ensure the talents of students from all disciplines are harnessed to benefit employers from public and private sectors.

He visited a number of internationally recognised research facilities including: •

  • The Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB), where over 300 researchers from across the world work with other medical institutions in developing innovative cancer treatments
  • The Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), which is the anchor tenant of Northern Ireland Science Park and brings together pioneering research groups in key areas of advanced digital and communications technology
  • CSIT, the Centre for Secure Information Technologies, which is the UK’s leading cybersecurity research hub and creates the security infrastructure needed to safeguard the trustworthiness of information stored electronically, both at home and in the workplace
    and
  • Ansin a £7.5 million international research hub, which is bringing major advances in computer hard drives.

On his visit to Queen’s University, Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “The UK’s world-leading research base is crucial to boosting growth, improving public services and creating the jobs of the future. It’s always exciting to see first-hand those institutions undertaking research with the potential to make such a significant contribution to both the economy and people’s lives.”

Welcoming the Minister, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: “The global impact of research is a defining feature of Queen’s University. Our staff and students make an enormous impact on the world, they are pioneers of progress who change society for the better.

“Queen’s is a magnet for talent in Northern Ireland. The high quality of our graduates is a key driver of inward investment and the research centres which have been highlighted today show the breadth and depth of the contribution that Queen’s makes to society and the economy. It is particularly pleasing that the Minister of State, David Willetts has had the opportunity to see these centres at first-hand.”

During the visit Mr Willetts also met student leaders and academic staff and discussed a range of issues including education and the student experience. 

Media inquiries to Head of Communications, Kevin Mulhern at 0044 (0)28 9097 3259 (office), 0044 (0)7813 015431 (mobile), or email k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s students leapfrog to success in computer game competition
Queen’s students Josh Lockhart, Stephen Madden and Gareth Smith were successful in the recent Games Fleadh in County Tipperary
Queen’s students Josh Lockhart, Stephen Madden and Gareth Smith were successful in the recent Games Fleadh in County Tipperary

Computer Science students from Queen’s have won three national awards in a recent computer games competition.

Three teams from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science all picked up crystal in their respective competitions at the national Games Fleadh in County Tipperary, Ireland’s largest computer and console games programming festival.  The theme this year of the XNA Game Studio Ireland Challenge was based around the well known ‘Frogger’ game which is currently celebrating its thirtieth anniversary.  All teams were required to develop a modern version of ‘Frogger’.  One team received the award for Best in Visual Engineering from Mr Michael Meagher, Academic Engagement Manager for Microsoft Ireland whilst another team got the award for Best in Game Design and the third team took the overall runner up award in the competition.

Russell Kane, Lecturer in Computer Science at Queen’s and the Mentor to the teams said: “This is an exceptional achievement for the students.  It is the first time Queen’s has entered the competition and to have this level of success at a national level is a huge achievement which reflects the high calibre of students and teaching on the computing courses at Queen’s.

 “The School this year introduced a new module on the computing courses, ‘Tournaments in Computing’, which is focused on entering external competitions so students may gain experience in developing and promoting their software in a competitive environment to representatives of the computer gaming profession.  It is hoped that through participation in the competitions and opportunity to network with the leading computer gaming professionals that the students will successfully pursue a career in the profession.”

Another team from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science was also recently successful in making it through to the final of the recent Microsoft Ireland Imagine Cup.  The team were selected by Microsoft as one of the top twelve teams in Ireland through to the final to compete for a place in the World Wide finals in New York City.  The Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition.  Following their success in the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition, the team have subsequently gone on to enter other competitions with success.  The team intend to release a phone application to the public in July.

 
For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814 422 572 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Future vision for education training in Northern Ireland showcased at Stranmillis
Professor John Gardner
Professor John Gardner
The vision for the new Stranmillis School of Education at Queen’s is today (Tuesday 24 May) being showcased to key Northern Ireland stakeholders.

Format for the day will include a series of presentations by senior staff from both Stranmillis and Queen’s and range from improving education through research, to international engagement and teacher education for Northern Ireland. The former Director of the London Institute of Education, Professor Geoff Whitty, will also present on the challenges facing teacher education in modern society.

The purpose of the day is to highlight the benefits of the proposed merger to key stakeholders in the education system of Northern Ireland, and to develop and strengthen relationships.

The Stakeholder’s Workshop is aimed at people who have a strong interest in teacher education in Northern Ireland. Participants will include key stakeholders in government, advisory, trade union, religious and educational sectors.

Speaking about the day, Dr Anne Heaslett, Principal, Stranmillis University College said: “The proposals which have emerged during the extensive consultation process, reflect the vision for the development of a world-class centre for teaching and research, on education generally and teacher education in particular.  The presentations will give stakeholders a flavour of some of the collaborative work which has been taking place between staff in Stranmillis and Queen’s and gives an essence of the exciting opportunities and challenges which are ahead.”

Welcoming the workshop, Professor John Gardner, Head of the School of Education at Queen’s University said: “This event is an opportunity for Queen’s University and Stranmillis University College to highlight to our key stakeholders the various synergies and new initiatives, both local and international, which will be made possible by the merger. I look forward to hearing the views of our stakeholders on the potential for the proposed new Stranmillis School of Education at Queen’s.”

Media inquiries to the Communications Office at Queen’s University Tel: 028 9097 3091

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Future vision for education training in Northern Ireland showcased at Stranmillis
Professor John Gardner
Professor John Gardner
The vision for the new Stranmillis School of Education at Queen’s is today (Tuesday 24 May) being showcased to key Northern Ireland stakeholders.

Format for the day will include a series of presentations by senior staff from both Stranmillis and Queen’s and range from improving education through research, to international engagement and teacher education for Northern Ireland. The former Director of the London Institute of Education, Professor Geoff Whitty, will also present on the challenges facing teacher education in modern society.

The purpose of the day is to highlight the benefits of the proposed merger to key stakeholders in the education system of Northern Ireland, and to develop and strengthen relationships.

The Stakeholder’s Workshop is aimed at people who have a strong interest in teacher education in Northern Ireland. Participants will include key stakeholders in government, advisory, trade union, religious and educational sectors.

Speaking about the day, Dr Anne Heaslett, Principal, Stranmillis University College said: “The proposals which have emerged during the extensive consultation process, reflect the vision for the development of a world-class centre for teaching and research, on education generally and teacher education in particular.  The presentations will give stakeholders a flavour of some of the collaborative work which has been taking place between staff in Stranmillis and Queen’s and gives an essence of the exciting opportunities and challenges which are ahead.”

Welcoming the workshop, Professor John Gardner, Head of the School of Education at Queen’s University said: “This event is an opportunity for Queen’s University and Stranmillis University College to highlight to our key stakeholders the various synergies and new initiatives, both local and international, which will be made possible by the merger. I look forward to hearing the views of our stakeholders on the potential for the proposed new Stranmillis School of Education at Queen’s.”

Media inquiries to the Communications Office at Queen’s University Tel: 028 9097 3091

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Queen’s means business for UK and China

Business experts from Queen’s University are joining forces with the Chinese Embassy in London to forge closer trade links between theUnited Kingdom and China.

Representatives from Queen’s University Management School will host a major networking forum in London on Tuesday (24 May) to address the role of higher education and entrepreneurship in building science and technology links with the country.

The China Britain Business Council, the China Innovation and Development Association and the British Council are also involved in organising the event.

Keynote speakers will include Professor Richard Harrison, Director of Queen's University Management School and Chair of the University’s China Management Research Institute (CMRI), and the Institute’s Director, Dr Yu Xiong.

The CMRI encourages local entrepreneurs to look towards China as a source of new trading partners and markets and undertakes education exchange and research programmes. The Institute works with a diversity of Chinese organisations, including educational institutions, businesses and local government.

Professor Harrison described Tuesday’s forum as “a unique opportunity” to enhance business links between the United Kingdom and China.

He said: "China is an increasingly important economy on the world stage and is emerging as a major research and education centre, which is investing heavily in science and technology. 
  
“The fact that we at Queen’s were invited to host this event with such prestigious partners recognises our work in leading research into Chinese management and business practices.

“Next week’s discussions will provide an excellent opportunity for the business and science communities in both the UK and China to explore future areas of research collaboration and business partnership.”

The Embassy’s Minister Counsellor for Science and Technology, Mr Futao Chen, will also address the forum, at which he will reveal planned developments in science and technology in China over the next five years.

Media inquiries to: Anne Langford, Communications Office, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, mob. 07815 871 997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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International experts gather in Belfast to discuss cities in conflict

As Northern Ireland takes the next step in its shared future with the naming of a new power-sharing Executive, experts from around the world are gathering at Queen’s University Belfast to find out how violently divided cities can learn from each other to resolve conflict.

Around 180 community workers, policy makers and researchers will attend the Conflict in Cities conference at Queen’s from 19-21 May. The event will explore how cities like Belfast have been shaped by ethnic, religious and national conflicts, and how urban life can be used to help resolve conflict.

The conference is part of a five-year Conflict in Cities and the Contested State project involving Queen’s, the University of Cambridge and Exeter University and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

The project’s research is mainly focused on Belfast, Jerusalem and other violently divided cities in Europe and the Middle East. The conference will feature papers on urban conflicts from many other parts of the world including Africa, North America, and Asia. Professor Liam O’Dowd, who leads the project at Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, said: “The purpose of the conference is to explore how cities are affected by conflicts over states, identity, culture and borders, and alternatively, how urban life can moderate and transform such conflicts.

“The cities we study are often at different stages of conflict. Some, like Belfast and Bilbao, are on the road to peace while others, like Jerusalem, Beirut and Sarajevo are characterised by deepening problems. Our aim is to find out how we can learn from each by creating cities which can minimise violent antagonisms and improve the prospects for peace and prosperity.

“For over a century, Queen’s has played a central role in the life of Belfast, a city that has moved from being violently divided to being increasingly peaceful, prosperous and shared. As such, our researchers are uniquely placed to explore the nature and legacy of urban conflict, and we will share our expertise with colleagues from around the world during this week’s conference.”

Conference highlights include a keynote speech by renowned scholar Professor Saskia Sassen from New York’s Columbia University, and an exhibition of photography from contested cities around the world. The Northern Ireland Community Relations Council will host a discussion on Policies and Progress on Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland Cities, while Nigel Roberts, co-director of the World Development Report 2011, will lead a World Bank-sponsored discussion on Cities, Conflict and Development.

Dr Wendy Pullan from the University of Cambridge is Principal Investigator of the Cities in Conflict and the Contested State project. She said: “Much of the research of Conflict in Cities has been devoted to understanding how ethno-nationally contested cities are both like and unlike each other, and what we can learn from making such comparisons. By bringing together researchers and practitioners who focus on a wide variety of cities, we expect to further comprehend these highly complex situations, with the hope of working towards ways of dealing with them.”

For more information visit www.qub.ac.uk/sites/UrbanConflictsConference and www.conflictincities.org

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5320 email anne-marie.clarke@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s scientists teaming up to cure premature baby blindness

Scientists from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University are teaming up to develop a cure to an illness that can lead to blindness in premature babies, thanks to funding from children’s charity Action Medical Research.

Two teams from the Centre for Vision and Vascular Science at Queen’s are taking different approaches to a condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). The condition can lead to blindness in premature babies, putting the youngest, sickest and smallest babies most at risk, including over 3,000 babies who are born more than 12 weeks early each year in the UK.

ROP is caused by blood vessels in the eye growing abnormally and causing damage to the retina – the light-sensitive inner lining of the eye. Evidence suggests it develops in two stages:

  • Stage 1. Premature babies have poorly developed lungs and need extra oxygen to help them breathe. Unfortunately the blood vessels that supply the eye’s light-sensitive retina are damaged by this additional oxygen and stop growing properly, meaning the retina does not get enough nutrients.
  • Stage 2. Eventually, in response to this damage, new vessels grow, in an attempt to rescue the retina, but they are abnormal and actually damage the eye, causing vision loss.

The first team, led by Dr Denise McDonald, has the aim of tackling the disease at a very early stage, which will minimise the damaging effects of ROP.

The second team, led by Dr Derek Brazil, is investigating whether stem cells from babies’ own umbilical cords might have the power to repair their damaged eyes and save their sight.

About one in ten babies with ROP develops severe disease, which threatens his or her sight.  If this is detected early enough, laser treatment can save the most important part of a baby’s vision – the sharp, central vision we need to look straight ahead. However, this causes permanent loss of a baby’s peripheral vision and may induce short-sightedness. What’s more, it doesn’t always work, meaning some babies still go blind.

Dr Brazil believes it may be possible to protect babies from ROP, and save their sight, by treating them with a special type of stem cell taken from their own umbilical cords. Dr Brazil and his colleagues Dr Michelle Hookham, Dr Reinhold Medina and the Centre Director Professor Alan Stitt, were awarded a two-year grant by Action Medical Research, to undertake this important work.

He said: “We hope our laboratory work will reveal whether vascular stem cells have the potential to repair damage to babies’ eyes and save their sight. If so, it is possible that in the future vascular stem cells could be taken from a baby’s own umbilical cord just after birth and then grown in the laboratory in case treatment is needed.

Taking a different approach, Dr McDonald and her team are exploring a key step in the early stages of the disease process. While laser treatment tackles stage 2 of the disease process, by stopping abnormal blood vessels from growing, by this stage the disease can already be quite severe.

Dr McDonald and her team are looking for possible new treatments which will protect the retinal blood vessels from the effect of high oxygen which occurs in stage one.

Evidence suggests that certain cofactors protect and encourage normal growth of the delicate blood vessels that supply the retina, as long as they are present in sufficient quantities. In contrast, low levels of these cofactors seem to be linked to the destruction of blood vessels. The researchers are investigating the role of specific cofactors and ways to enhance their function as a possible treatment for ROP.

Dr Denise McDonald and her colleague, Dr Tom Gardiner, were awarded a two-year research grant from Action Medical Research for the project.

Dr Alexandra Dedman, Senior Research Evaluation Manager from Action Medical Research, said: “We are delighted to be funding these two expert research teams in Belfast who both have longstanding track records, recognised internationally. Their work in this area has the potential to change the lives of babies around the world suffering from this condition.” 

Both Dr Brazil’s and Dr McDonald’s teams are based at the Centre for Vision and Vascular Science at Queen’s University Belfast, which contains state-of-the art facilities and equipment. The centre has a long history of successful research into many of the leading causes of vision loss. Both projects involve collaboration with Dr Eibhlin McLoone, consultant paediatric ophthalmologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital. 

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814 422 572 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s scientists train in technology to treat cancer and strengthen security

Scientists at Queen’s University are playing a key role in a new, national centre of excellence to train the next generation of researchers in technology which could improve cancer therapy and strengthen homeland security.

Queen’s has joined forces with the Universities of Strathclyde, Huddersfield and Surrey to set up a new Centre for Doctoral Training. The Centre will train more than 30 PhD students in the practical applications of innovative accelerators – powerful, compact devices driven by lasers or by intense high-frequency electric fields. 

The CDT is to receive £2 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), with matching support from the universities and industry.

This is the first time that a Northern Ireland university has been involved in a Doctoral Training Centre, which is one of the main postgraduate funding routes in the mainland UK.

The CDT will involve academics across Queen’s Centre for Plasma Physics and the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology.

Professor Marco Borghesi, from the University’s School of Mathematics and Physics, said: “This is a very exciting development in an area which has the potential to make a very real social impact.

“It builds on two world-leading areas of research at Queen’s – plasma accelerators in the Centre for Plasma Physics and radiobiology in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology. The expertise and the excellent resources available to the two centres will provide a unique training environment and a key contribution to the CDT.”

The intensive training will cross traditional academic boundaries, combining physics with biology and medicine. It will also offer students the opportunities to work with industry and health authorities, and to gain experience in leadership, entrepreneurship and management.

Media inquiries to: Anne Langford, Communications Office, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, mob. 07815 871997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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RICS President formally accredits new Queen’s degree

The top man in a 100,000 member global organisation was at Queen’s today to accredit an important new degree course.

President of RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Robert Peto met with Queen’s staff and toured the University’s impressive award-winning McClay Library, and formally welcomed the University’s BSc in Land Use and Environmental Management into the RICS and Queen’s partnership.

This means that six courses at Queen’s now meet RICS standards. They are:

  • BSc Hons Environmental Planning
  • BSc Hons Land Use and Environmental Management
  • MSc Construction and Project Management
  • MSc Environmental Planning
  • MSc Spatial Regeneration
  • MSc Urban and Rural Design

Welcoming Robert Peto on behalf of the School of Biological Sciences, Head of School, Professor Christine Maggs said: “We are delighted to receive RICS accreditation for our Land Use and Environmental Management degree. This is the culmination of a long period of hard work by the course team from the Gibson Institute within the School. 

“We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Gibson Trust in funding the Institute, which provides Northern Ireland’s farming and rural communities with world-class teaching and research in rural land management subjects, agricultural and food marketing, and sustainability.”

Mr Peto said: “Sustainability, land use and diversification are increasing challenges globally. RICS and its members are committed to creating and maintaining a healthy environment, not only for today but also for future generations.

“I’m delighted to be in Northern Ireland to meet with local members and to be able to formally welcome this new degree course into the RICS partnership.

“As a result of the many changes affecting the natural environment today, new and challenging career opportunities are emerging for those familiar with issues of sustainable development, conservation and environmental protection and management.

“A fundamental knowledge and understanding of the physical, social, economic and cultural aspects of land use is essential to appreciate the interaction between land use and the environment and how this drives policy.”

Career options for graduates of the new course include private and public sector environmental management, environmental consultancy and conservation.

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke on +44 (0)28 9097 5320 email anne-marie.clarke@qub.ac.uk

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Robert Brunner has designs on Queen’s
Robert Brunner
Robert Brunner
One of the world’s leading product designers, who has worked with Lady Gaga and Dr Dre to develop some of this century’s most iconic products, will talk about his work and ideas later this week at Queen’s University Belfast.

Robert Brunner, founder of San Francisco-based design company Ammunition, will share his unique approach to product design during a presentation at Queen’s on Thursday 12 May.

Some of Brunner’s most exciting projects include collaborating with pop star Lady Gaga to develop a wearable camera in the form of a pair of sunglasses with embedded LCD displays, which was launched earlier this year. He also worked with record producer and rap icon Dr Dre to develop the popular Beats by Dr Dre headphones – now the most sought after brand in personal audio.

In his first address to a UK university, Mr Brunner will talk about the emotion behind design and how ‘ideas not objects’ are driving change in the market. He said: “A successful product must be more than just a thing. It must be desirable as well as functional, embodying an idea that people can understand and emotionally connect with. A well designed product will create an experience that will delight costumers and, ultimately, achieve business success.”

The talk is organised by the Chief Executives’ Club at Queen’s in association with the Northern Ireland Technology Centre.

Professor Shane O’Neill, Dean of Queen’s Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences said: “We are delighted to welcome Robert Brunner to Belfast. As a designer, Robert has pursued a lifelong fascination for high-tech products. His work has spawned brand-defining designs for companies such as Barnes and Noble, Kohler, Williams Sonoma, Adobe and Apple, where he spent seven years as director of industrial design. His work can be found, not only in homes and offices around the world, but also in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and San Francisco.

“Robert Brunner is undoubtedly one of the world’s leading creative professionals and we are delighted that he has chosen Queen’s as the venue for his first ever talk at a UK university.”

During his visit, he will address University staff involved in product and graphic design, local business representatives and those who work in Northern Ireland’s creative industries.

Robert Brunner’s talk, Ideas not objects, will take place at 6pm on Thursday 12 May at Queen’s Sonic Arts Research Centre, Cloreen Park, Belfast. Admission is free but spaces are limited and anyone who wants to attend is asked to register by emailing brenda.carabine@qub.ac.ukor phone 028 9097 1153.

His visit is facilitated by Queen’s in collaboration with the University of Ulster, Colleges Northern Ireland, the Department for Employment and Learning, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, and the Northern Ireland Design Alliance.

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5320 email anne-marie.clarke@qub.ac.uk

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Science Park visionary gets top academy award
Professor John McCanny
Professor John McCanny
One of the people behind the creation of the Northern Ireland Science Park is to be recognised for his outstanding contribution to engineering by the Royal Irish Academy.

Professor John McCanny, Director of the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) at Queen’s University Belfast, will receive the Royal Irish Academy’s Cunningham Medal, the Academy’s premier award at a special ceremony later today.

The medal, which is presented every three years, recognises the outstanding contribution to scholarship and the objectives of the Academy by a member.  Previous recipients of the award include Sir William Rowan Hamilton, Sir William Wilde, Sir Bernard Crossland and most recently Seamus Heaney in 2008.

President of the Royal Irish Academy, Professor Luke Drury said: “Professor McCanny is one of the world-leading authorities in the field of Microelectronics Systems design, to which he has made many pioneering and ground breaking contributions.  Today, silicon chips based on his research are used in a wide range of everyday devices, which we take for granted, including mobile phones, digital televisions, video cameras and DVD recorders.

“It is only right and proper then, that the Royal Irish Academy bestows its highest and most prestigious honour – the Cunningham Medal - on Professor McCanny, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to scholarship.  As a Cunningham Medallist, Professor McCanny joins a distinguished list of world famous recipients, stretching right back to 1789.”

Professor John McCanny said: “I am very deeply honoured to be awarded the Royal Irish Academy’s Cunningham Medal.  As those who know me are aware, one of my core passions is coupling university research with economic impact.  This is now on the agenda of many western nations, not least the UK and Ireland.  I am therefore very pleased that the Academy has decided to recognise this aspect of my work.

“Success in this area is difficult to achieve and requires a strong team contribution rather than that of a single individual. In accepting this medal, I do so on behalf of the teams of people I have had the pleasure of working with over many years.

“One of the recent recipients of the Cunningham medal was the late Professor Sir Bernard Crossland, a true gentleman and probably one if not the most influential engineers to have lived in these islands. Sir Bernard was a great inspiration to those that knew him. To receive this most prestigious honour so soon after his passing is therefore a very proud and humbling experience.”

Within Queen’s Professor McCanny was heavily involved in developing the vision that led to the creation of the Northern Ireland Science Park, its £37M ECIT research flagship and more recently the £30M UK Centre for Secure Information Technology.  Prior to ECIT opening in 2003, the Science Park, located on the former Harland and Wolff shipyard, was a derelict “brown field” site.  Today it hosts over 100 advanced technology companies employing over 1800 people and generating an estimated £75M per annum, in salaries alone, for the local economy.

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814422572 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Minister of State pays surprise visit to Queen’s University
(L-R) Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster MLA, Queen’s University Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson and Minister of State for Universities and Science, The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, at the Northern Ireland Science Park. Mr Willetts visited the Queen’s Institute for Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), during a tour of the University’s world-leading research facilities.
(L-R) Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster MLA, Queen’s University Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson and Minister of State for Universities and Science, The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, at the Northern Ireland Science Park. Mr Willetts visited the Queen’s Institute for Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), during a tour of the University’s world-leading research facilities.

The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science has visited Queen’s University Belfast (Thursday 26 May), where he had an opportunity to meet with staff and students and to experience some of the world-class research and education taking place at one of the UK’s leading universities.

During his visit to Queen’s, the Minister of State learned of some of the innovative work being undertaken to engage with Schools and Employers to ensure the talents of students from all disciplines are harnessed to benefit employers from public and private sectors.

He visited a number of internationally recognised research facilities including: •

  • The Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB), where over 300 researchers from across the world work with other medical institutions in developing innovative cancer treatments
  • The Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), which is the anchor tenant of Northern Ireland Science Park and brings together pioneering research groups in key areas of advanced digital and communications technology
  • CSIT, the Centre for Secure Information Technologies, which is the UK’s leading cybersecurity research hub and creates the security infrastructure needed to safeguard the trustworthiness of information stored electronically, both at home and in the workplace
    and
  • Ansin a £7.5 million international research hub, which is bringing major advances in computer hard drives.

On his visit to Queen’s University, Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “The UK’s world-leading research base is crucial to boosting growth, improving public services and creating the jobs of the future. It’s always exciting to see first-hand those institutions undertaking research with the potential to make such a significant contribution to both the economy and people’s lives.”

Welcoming the Minister, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: “The global impact of research is a defining feature of Queen’s University. Our staff and students make an enormous impact on the world, they are pioneers of progress who change society for the better.

“Queen’s is a magnet for talent in Northern Ireland. The high quality of our graduates is a key driver of inward investment and the research centres which have been highlighted today show the breadth and depth of the contribution that Queen’s makes to society and the economy. It is particularly pleasing that the Minister of State, David Willetts has had the opportunity to see these centres at first-hand.”

During the visit Mr Willetts also met student leaders and academic staff and discussed a range of issues including education and the student experience. 

Media inquiries to Head of Communications, Kevin Mulhern at 0044 (0)28 9097 3259 (office), 0044 (0)7813 015431 (mobile), or email k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s students leapfrog to success in computer game competition
Queen’s students Josh Lockhart, Stephen Madden and Gareth Smith were successful in the recent Games Fleadh in County Tipperary
Queen’s students Josh Lockhart, Stephen Madden and Gareth Smith were successful in the recent Games Fleadh in County Tipperary

Computer Science students from Queen’s have won three national awards in a recent computer games competition.

Three teams from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science all picked up crystal in their respective competitions at the national Games Fleadh in County Tipperary, Ireland’s largest computer and console games programming festival.  The theme this year of the XNA Game Studio Ireland Challenge was based around the well known ‘Frogger’ game which is currently celebrating its thirtieth anniversary.  All teams were required to develop a modern version of ‘Frogger’.  One team received the award for Best in Visual Engineering from Mr Michael Meagher, Academic Engagement Manager for Microsoft Ireland whilst another team got the award for Best in Game Design and the third team took the overall runner up award in the competition.

Russell Kane, Lecturer in Computer Science at Queen’s and the Mentor to the teams said: “This is an exceptional achievement for the students.  It is the first time Queen’s has entered the competition and to have this level of success at a national level is a huge achievement which reflects the high calibre of students and teaching on the computing courses at Queen’s.

 “The School this year introduced a new module on the computing courses, ‘Tournaments in Computing’, which is focused on entering external competitions so students may gain experience in developing and promoting their software in a competitive environment to representatives of the computer gaming profession.  It is hoped that through participation in the competitions and opportunity to network with the leading computer gaming professionals that the students will successfully pursue a career in the profession.”

Another team from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science was also recently successful in making it through to the final of the recent Microsoft Ireland Imagine Cup.  The team were selected by Microsoft as one of the top twelve teams in Ireland through to the final to compete for a place in the World Wide finals in New York City.  The Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition.  Following their success in the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition, the team have subsequently gone on to enter other competitions with success.  The team intend to release a phone application to the public in July.

 
For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814 422 572 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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