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07 - 2011 Press Releases

29/07/2011: 500 international scientists in Belfast for a meeting of minds
28/07/2011: International students ‘migrate’ to Queen’s for human rights summer school

27/07/2011: Sharing Education Programme gets UK recognition at TES Schools Awards

26/07/2011: The 11th International Irish Studies Summer School kicks off at Queen’s

14/07/2011: The sky's the limit for astronomical lectures at Queen's

08/07/2011: It’s double vision at Queen’s as Lurgan twins graduate

08/07/2011: World renowned broadcaster and leading mathematician both honoured by Queen’s

07/07/2011: Computer-crazy Stan logs in to dream job

07/07/2011: Award Winning Nurses at Queen’s

07/07/2011: Niamh’s teenage brain tumour recovery inspires academic career

07/07/2011: Former US Economic Envoy and medical leader both honoured by Queen’s

07/07/2011: ‘Our Man in the Vatican’ and NASA student scoop Queen’s University awards

06/07/2011: Talented playwright under the spotlight at Queen’s graduations

06/07/2011: Triple graduation success for Glenarm sisters

06/07/2011: It’s a sister act as grandmothers Kate and Marion graduate from Queen’s

06/07/2011: Award winning author and US hotelier honoured by Queen’s University

05/07/2011: Four Degrees of Non-Separation for Best Friends

05/07/2011: UK IT Industry Pioneer and the Vice-Chancellor of the Open University Malaysia honoured by Queen’s

05/07/2011: Kellogg’s placement gives County Down student a career kick-start

04/07/2011: Degree gives Lisa opportunity to Taste The World

04/07/2011: World leading scientists and local environmentalist both honoured by Queen’s

500 international scientists in Belfast for a meeting of minds

The latest advances in the treatment of brain tumours by non-surgical means, space science and non-fossil fuel energy generation, are among the topics being discussed by over 500 international scientists at Queen’s University this week.

The physicists, from Europe, the USA, China, Japan, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Brazil and Israel, are attending a week-long conference to discuss the latest developments in atomic and molecular and laser physics. The 27th International Conference on Photonic, Electronic and Atomic Collisions (ICPEAC) is one of the largest and most prestigious Physics Conferences in the world.

Among the keynote speakers are:

  • Professor Yasunori Yamazaki, a world leader in studies of antimatter at the CERN antiproton facility where cold anti-hydrogen has been successfully formed and trapped.
  • Dr Walter Meissl (Atomic Physics Laboratory, RIKEN, Japan), an experimental physicist currently working in Japan investigating radiation damage to DNA with importance applications in future Cancer Therapy.
  • Professor Ara Chutjian (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California), a leading scientist involved in the NASA space science programme.
  • Dr Chris Calvert, Queen’s University Belfast, who is working on a new technique using state of the art ultrafast laser flashes to study bio-molecules such as components of DNA, important for future cancer therapies.

The internationally-acclaimed scientific meeting is taking place in the UK for only the third time since its establishment in New York in 1958. The selection of Queen’s as a venue acknowledges the international profile of the University’s School of Mathematics and Physics in atomic physics.

Media inquiries to: Anne Langford on 028 9097 5310, mob. 07815 871997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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International students ‘migrate’ to Queen’s for human rights summer school
Fifty students from 16 countries will migrate to Queen’s next week for a unique two-week summer school on the human rights issues arising from migration.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Summer School, organised by the Human Rights Centre in the University’s School of Law. Among the topics to be discussed will be the history of mobility since Neolithic times, ethnicity and ethnicisation, national identity, treatment of refugees, implications of economic and technological globalisation, the Irish diaspora and trafficking in human beings.

Summer School Director Dr Rory O’Connell said: “In the context of contemporary debates on globalisation and multiculturalism, few topics are more pressing than the movement of people across borders.

“The issue of migration offers numerous opportunities for our young people to study or work abroad in an increasingly globalised world and the opportunity to celebrate a more diverse multicultural society at home. It brings with it challenges too – public sector and civil society groups for example have recently highlighted the plight of the victims of human trafficking in Northern Ireland. Fundamentally, migration forces us to think about our attitudes to basic questions of identity and equality.”

Participants will have the chance to meet members of local civil society groups involved in protecting the rights of migrants, as well as interacting with the teachers, doctoral researchers and guests, including local MLA Anna Lo.

The opening day will include a special celebration to mark the 10th anniversary of the summer school. Among those taking part will be Belgian author Chika Unigwe and Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission Bob Collins.

Full details on the event, which runs from 1 to 12 August, are available at www.bordersofeurope.eu

Media inquiries to: Anne Langford on 028 9097 5310, mob. 07815 871997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk 

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Sharing Education Programme gets UK recognition at TES Schools Awards
Queen’s University’s Sharing Education Programme (SEP), which encourages Northern Ireland schools to make cross-community partnerships an integral part of everyday life for their pupils, has received UK recognition at the Times Educational Supplement Schools Awards.

Shimna Integrated College in County Down won the Outstanding Community Partnership Award for its work in developing shared classes and building partnerships with a number of different schools in the community. The model is particularly interesting as it involves not only cross-community collaboration but also primary / post-primary schools working closely together.

Leading educationalist Sir Tim Brighouse, one of the award judges, said:  “The main hope for Northern Ireland’s peaceful and prosperous future lies in its schools and the brave pioneers who are devising shared education programmes between educators in either sector. Shimna’s example is at once humbling and inspirational.”

Mark Baker, who co-ordinates the Sharing Education Programme in Queen’s School of Education, said:  “We are absolutely delighted that the schools involved in the Sharing Education Programme are getting the recognition their commitment deserves.  We congratulate Shimna Integrated College on its well-deserved award. This is further acknowledgement of the need for sharing education between our communities in Northern Ireland.”

The Sharing Education Programme (SEP) supports cross-sectoral sharing and collaboration through accredited curriculum based activities. The resulting sharing provides educational, societal and economic benefits to the schools, communities and pupils involved. Recently the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Education Committee made Sharing Education its key priority for 2011.

Since 2007 the programme has been funded by the International Fund for Ireland and Atlantic Philanthropies and is managed by the School of Education Queen's University. Over this time the programme has supported 24 partnerships involving over 120 of Northern Ireland’s schools.

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

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The 11th International Irish Studies Summer School kicks off at Queen’s
Dr Dominic Bryan
Dr Dominic Bryan
Students from Brazil, Russia, the United States and Australia are in Belfast to take part in the 11th Irish Studies Summer School at Queen’s.

The three-week Summer School run by the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s University provides students with a broad education in the history, culture, literature and politics of Ireland and the particular relationships captured in the recent history of Northern Ireland.

Students will learn about Seamus Heaney, the Giant’s Causeway, the Walls of Derry and Orange parades. They will visit the Bogside and the Titanic Quarter and talk to politicians from all of the major political parties. They will also have the opportunity to ask community workers and police officers about working in the city of Belfast.

Amongst the highlights this year they will be spending an evening discussing politics with Rt. Hon. Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA and another evening looking at how the conflict in Northern Ireland has been depicted by Hollywood.  They will also get the opportunity to question key Church leaders on various topics.

Dr Dominic Bryan, Director of the Summer School, said: “The Irish Studies Summer School is now in its 11th year and proves a huge success year on year.  We know from previous years that once students have experienced life at Queen’s they come back for more. We currently have four postgraduate students at the Institute who originally came to previous Summer Schools.

“Internationally acclaimed scholars will deliver lectures on everything from history and politics to music, film, theatre, literature, the Irish language and Ulster-Scots.  We do not avoid the difficult issues. Students get to talk to people who have to deal with ongoing issues at interfaces. This includes meeting with PSNI officers.”

Claire Mason, a postgraduate student in the Institute from Laramie, Wyoming, said: “Participating in the Irish Studies International Summer School Programme was an engaging and intellectually stimulating experience.  In fact, the programme was so enjoyable that I decided to return to Queen's University Belfast for an MA in Irish Studies.  I greatly enjoyed my time in the programme and highly recommend it to anyone interested in a well-rounded and interdisciplinary look at Ireland.”

For media enquiries please contact the Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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The sky's the limit for astronomical lectures at Queen's

This summer sees the first in a new series of lectures at Queen's University where the public can learn the truth behind tales of monstrous black holes and dangerous asteroids, from international scientists who are leading the work.

The Michael West Public Lectures in Astronomy will be held each year to explain some of the latest and most exciting discoveries in the world of astronomy. They are named after Dr Michael West, a graduate of Queen's who is supporting scientific research and public outreach in the University’s Astrophysics Research Centre.

The first talk, on "SuperMassive Black Holes", will be held on Friday 22 July in the University's School of Mathematics and Physics. It will be delivered by Professor Reinhard Genzel, Director of the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, an international expert on investigating black holes that weigh millions of times more than our Sun. In 2008 he won the prestigious Shaw Prize for establishing the existence of a huge Black Hole in the centre of our own Milky Way.

The second talk, on "Killer Asteroids", will be given on Wednesday 3 August by Dr Robert Jedicke from the University of Hawaii. Dr. Jedicke is a renowned asteroid hunter, and is leading the search for dangerous asteroids with the new Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii.

Professor Stephen Smartt, Director of the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen's, and a member of the Pan-STARRS team, said: "This telescope is one of a kind, and is allowing us to discover everything from nearby asteroids to exploding stars in the most distant galaxies."

Both talks will take place in the Larmor Lecture Theatre at Queen's. Attendance at the talks is free of charge, but seats must be booked either by phone at 028 9097 3202, or by visiting the website http://tinyurl.com/MichaelWestLecture

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

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It’s double vision at Queen’s as Lurgan twins graduate
Sarah and Riona Morgan
Sarah and Riona Morgan
Twin sisters from Lurgan will be giving their parents double the joy as they graduate from Queen’s University today (Friday 8 July) after 16 years of studying together.

Sarah and Riona Morgan are both graduating in a BSc(Hons) Degree in Mathematics from the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s. They are the final two out of six children in their family to graduate from Queen’s.

Sarah said: “It was never by design that we have done the same things. We have both always had the same interests since we were children. We share the same love for gaelic football as well as sharing the same academic interests. At school we always got the same grades and often we would receive the exact same marks in some of our modules.”

Riona said: “We actually asked to be put in separate classes when were at school and to try and do different subjects but we would always end up doing the same things. Maths was always one of our strongest subjects and we wanted to follow in our sister Aoife’s footsteps as she did got a BSc in Mathematics at Queen’s and is now an accountant.

“All the hard work has finally paid off so we’re going travelling to Thailand together for the summer to meet up with friends and unwind.”

Both Sarah and Riona have secured jobs as trainee accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers beginning in October.

Riona and Sarah will celebrate their graduation alongside their parents Rita and Brendan their brother James, sister Aoife and older twin sisters Orla and Ciara.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk 

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World renowned broadcaster and leading mathematician both honoured by Queen’s
World renowned broadcaster and leading mathematician both honoured by Queen’s
A world renowned broadcaster and leading mathematician will be honoured by Queen’s University today (Friday 8 July).

Sir Mark Tully is a distinguished writer and broadcaster and former Chief of Bureau of the BBC in New Delhi.  He will receive an honorary doctorate for services to broadcasting.  World-leading mathematician, and Fields Medal winner, Efim Isaakovich Zelmanov will receive an honorary doctorate for distinction in science.

Professor Yvonne Galligan from Queen’s School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy will deliver the citation for Sir Mark Tully at this morning’s graduation ceremony.  She said: “Sir Mark Tully has chronicled the great events on the Indian sub-continent for over a generation. He reported on the Bangladeshi war of independence, the assassinations of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, and the Bhopal gas tragedy. Sir Mark’s BBC World Service dispatches became recognised as the most reliable source of uncensored news about major events for millions in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

“His commitment to reporting with integrity springs from his deep understanding of India’s cultural life.  What makes his work special is the empathy with India, its people, and its cultures that he conveys.  In his writing and broadcasting, Sir Mark has always sought to represent the other view. In his own words he “struggled to try to portray the other sides of India without denying there was poverty”.  Recently, he is optimistic for the future of his native country, predicting that India will soon be a model of democracy.
“In conferring this honorary doctorate on Sir Mark Tully, Queen’s University is paying tribute to an incomparable foreign journalist, a man of wide vision, a leader in broadcasting.  His unwavering commitment representing India in all its aspects tells its own story of embracing diversity and understanding difference.  Sir Mark has made a huge difference to our understanding of our complex world, and will continue to do so. Queen’s is delighted to honour him for that today.”

Professor Francis Keenan, Head of the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s, will deliver the citation for Efim Isaakovich Zelmanov. He said: “Efim has made a world-leading contribution to algebra throughout his career. His work on associative algebras were enough to guarantee him a place as one of the great mathematicians of the 20th century.

“In 1991 he settled one of the most fundamental unsolved problems in an area of mathematics - The Restricted Burnside Problem.  His solution in 1991 has been described as “awesome”.  For this work he was awarded a Fields Medal at the 1994 International Congress of Mathematics. There is no Nobel prize in Mathematics and the Fields Medal is regarded as being its nearest equivalent for mathematicians. 

“Efim is well known all over the world for his great activities on promotion of the public understanding of science. Professor Zelmanov readily collaborates with various institutions in Ireland/Northern Ireland and recently delivered a public lecture at Trinity College, Dublin. He has visited Queen's on several occasions, including participating as a plenary speaker at the British Mathematical Colloquium, organised by the University in 2004.

“In awarding Efim Isaakovich Zelmanov this honorary degree, Queen’s honours a world leading mathematician and advocate for the sciences.  He has made a huge impact on mathematics and algebra throughout his career and no doubt will contribute much more, and Queen’s is delighted to honour him for that today.”

For more information about Queen’s Summer Graduations visit www.qub.ac.uk/home/Graduation

Media inquiries to Anne Langford at Queen’s Press and PR Unit on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5310, 00 44 (0)7815 871997 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Computer-crazy Stan logs in to dream job
Stanley Jewhurst
Stanley Jewhurst

A computer-mad Queen’s student who overcame severe health problems to land his dream job will graduate from Queen’s University on Thursday.

Stanley Jewhurst, from Saintfield, will receive his MEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering on Thursday evening. He was described as ‘an inspiration’ by Queen’s Student Transitions Co-ordinator, Julie-Ann McAlinden, his line manager during his part-time job in the University’s Student Guidance Centre.

Born with a defective aortic valve, Stan first underwent surgery at 14 months old and again when he was two. Shortly after his eighth birthday, he had a valve replacement which lasted until he was 16 and had just sat his GCSEs. He then developed acute endocarditis and had to have extensive reconstructive heart surgery and an artificial aortic valve fitted, along with a pacemaker.

But none of this interfered with his studies or his early love of computers. At an age when most young boys were playing with Lego or Meccano, he was already addicted to the world of technology.

He said: “My father was an early convert to computing and I remember, as a child, we had a very early Amstrad in the house. We were one of the few families to have a computer in the home, and I was fascinated by it. In P5, I started using word processing programmes to do my homework and printed it out for the teacher, much to her surprise. I then went on to develop an interest in computer hardware and performance computing. I think the appeal was that this enabled me to work both with my hands and my head.”

Now Stan has lined up a job as an Associate Networking Consultant Engineer with worldwide leader in networking Cisco Systems. He said: “Cisco is an exceptional company and I’m really looking forward to taking up my post with them. My employment will start with seven months intensive training in Brussels, and I can’t wait!”

While at Queen’s, Stan worked part-time in the Student Guidance Centre where he helped to develop the Centre’s website.

His line manager, Julie-Ann McAlinden, said: “In addition to completing a demanding course, and despite a few short stays in hospital, Stan also developed a range of employability skills. These include exceptional communications gifts that were enhanced through delivering presentations, training sessions and working with staff across many different organisations. He even undertook an 11-month placement as a security specialist with Intel Ireland.

“Not only this, but he also developed a remarkable entrepreneurial ability via his freelance web design and other multi-media projects. He really is an inspiration and a role model for other students.”

Watching Stan graduate will be his proud parents, Jim and Vi, brother David, and fiancee Kendal.

For the Jewhurst family, it was a double celebration this week.  Stan’s sister Fiona graduated from Queen’s with a BSc in Biological Sciences on Monday.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Award Winning Nurses at Queen’s
Thomasina Duff
Thomasina Duff

Double award celebrations at Queen’s today for Nursing and Midwifery student Thomasina Duff who won the Royal College of Nursing Student Nurse of the Year award and the Queen’s award for Clinical Excellence in Learning Disability Nursing.

Thomasina was nominated for the RCN award for her Learning Disability placement, where she taught a group of patients healthy eating and food preparation skills.

Thomasina said: “I’m privileged and overwhelmed to have achieved two personal awards and feel it really recognises the work I’ve carried out as a Queen’s student. It has been a great experience studying Learning Disability Nursing at Queen’s and I would highly recommend this course. The skills learnt here will help me develop and progress throughout my future career.”

Also celebrating is Melissa Steele from Antrim after being named this year’s best overall nursing and midwifery graduate. Voted for by School teaching staff and staff on the wards where the students carried out placements, the Florence Elliott Prize recognises outstanding academic and clinical achievement.

Awards for Academic Excellence are awarded to the nursing students with the highest marks from the University-based aspect of the degree, while Clinical Excellence awards are given to those who have received outstanding feedback from staff in the wards where they completed their nursing placements.

Professor Linda Johnston, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s said: “The School of Nursing and Midwifery is delighted to reward the hardwork and dedication of our students on their graduation day. Our graduates play a central role in delivering healthcare to us all and I congratulate Thomasina, Melissa and their fellow award winners for their hard work.”

During the graduation ceremony all students will receive their certificate and Nursing Badge before reciting the Queen’s Nursing Pledge, written by Marianne Moutray Associate Head of School and Director of Education (Nursing).

Media inquiries to Judith Rance at Queen’s Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 5292 or j.rance@qub.ac.uk 

Prize/Medal TitleWinner(s)Home town
The Florence Elliott Prize Melissa Steele Antrim
Dame Mary Uprichard Prize for Academic Excellence in Midwifery Sciences Wiebke McFadden Moneymore
Elizabeth Rainey Prize for Clinical Excellence in Midwifery Sciences  Claire Kent Londonderry
The Edward and Ann Smyth Prize for Academic Excellence in Learning Disability Nursing Louise Clarke Banbridge
The Hill-Rom Prize for Clinical Excellence in Learning Disability Nursing Thomasina Duff Belfast
The Professor Sheila Harrisson Prize for Academic Excellence in Adult Nursing Serena Liggett  Antrim
The Mary Waddell Prize for Clinical Excellence in Adult Nursing Pauline Woods Rosetta, Belfast
The Lilian Bradley Prize Sinead Watson Downpatrick

 

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Niamh’s teenage brain tumour recovery inspires academic career
Niamh Kennedy
Niamh Kennedy
A student whose recovery from a brain injury while a young teenager inspired her to study rehabilitation techniques which could help others, will graduate with a PhD from Queen’s University’s School of Psychology on Thursday morning.

Niamh Kennedy, from south Belfast, now a lecturer in stroke recovery at the University of East Anglia, was only 14 when she fell ill with what she and her family believed to be a bad dose of ‘flu.

She said: “When I got worse instead of better, my family took me to the doctor. That led to a series of medical tests which revealed that I had a tumour in the lining of my brain behind my right eye. This led to three episodes of neurosurgery, the last one of which led to complications.

“I lost the power of speech and movement on my right side and had to re-learn how to speak but, thanks to the dedication and professionalism of staff in the Royal Victoria Hospital, I made a full recovery.”
Although Niamh lost some six months of school, she was able to continue in her year and go on to study her GCSEs a year later.

She added: “I was very, very lucky, and I felt even luckier when I became aware that some of my fellow patients were not making as good a recovery. That made me curious and it inspired me to try to find out why. I went on to study Psychology to further understand the workings of the brain, and did my undergraduate thesis on the experiences of children returning to school after suffering brain injuries.

“I really enjoyed research in this area so I went on to investigate techniques that could be used in stroke rehabilitation which led to me receiving my PhD. In my view, we need more research into brain injury and strokes, and therapies to overcome them. You could say that my experiences at the age of 14 set me on the path to my future career.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Former US Economic Envoy and medical leader both honoured by Queen’s
Declan Kelly
Declan Kelly
Professor Teodoro Forcht Dagi
Professor Teodoro Forcht Dagi

The former US Special Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly, who helped to bring hundreds of jobs to the region, will be honoured by Queen’s University today.

At this evening’s graduation ceremony, Mr Kelly will be awarded an honorary doctorate for services to business and commerce. 

Declan Kelly was appointed to the post of Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on 11 September 2009. Until July 2010, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Integration Officer of FTI Consulting, one of the world’s leading international consulting companies. During his appointment as US Economic Adviser to Northern Ireland, he made a significant contribution to the local economy, including the creation of the US/NI Mentorship Programme, which benefits many Queen's students.

Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie, who will deliver the citation, said: “Mr Kelly was a strong and effective advocate for Queen’s and Northern Ireland, with an impressive record in securing record levels of inward investment.

“He accompanied Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her visit to Queen’s in October 2009, and returned in February last year to meet our business students and to learn more about the University’s commitment to entrepreneurship education. He paid tribute to the academic and research excellence of Queen’s, and the high calibre of our graduates, and was extremely generous both to the University, and the wider business community, with his support and advice. “

The leading international neurosurgeon, medical scientist and entrepreneur, Professor Teodoro Forcht-Dagi, will be honoured on Thursday morning for services to medicine and for public service.

Professor Forcht-Dagi is a partner at HLM Venture Partners, a dedicated Boston-based life sciences fund, with $500 million under management.  He is also a Professor at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is a board-certified neurosurgeon. 

His interests include social entrepreneurship, public-private partnerships, the applications of technology in emerging economies and international disaster assistance.  He is a Fellow of the College of Critical Care Medicine and has been director of a number of public and private companies, schools and foundations.  He has received numerous clinical research awards, including the US Humanitarian Service Medal. 

Dean of Queen’s School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences Professor Patrick Johnston, who will deliver the citation, said: “Professor Forcht-Dagi is an international leader in neurosurgery, bioscience and venture capital in the healthcare sector. 

 “In his work with the US Government he is a major ambassador for healthcare development in under-privileged and conflict areas of the world.  He is currently Chairman of the International Advisory Board for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences and in that capacity his advice and guidance to the University have been invaluable.”

Professor Forcht-Dagi has edited five textbooks and over 150 articles, serves on the editorial boards of Neurosurgery, the Journal of Clinical Ethics and the Journal of Biolaw and Business.

Media inquiries to Anne Langford at Queen’s Press and PR Unit on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5310, 00 44 (0)7815 871997 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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‘Our Man in the Vatican’ and NASA student scoop Queen’s University awards
Northern Ireland man Francis Campbell, whose work was featured in the recent BBC series Our Man in the Vatican, is this year’s Queen’s University Graduate of the Year.

Francis played a key role in securing the Papal visit to the UK last September and was instrumental in helping develop a new level of understanding between Westminster politicians, civil servants and the Holy See.

Following his graduation from Queen’s in 1992 with a BA in Politics, Francis joined the Foreign Office fast-stream and worked at the European Commission and the UN Security Council.  He then moved to 10 Downing Street – first as a policy advisor to the Prime Minister and then as Private Secretary. His next role saw him being posted to Rome as First Secretary at the British Embassy to Italy, before a sabbatical year as senior policy director with Amnesty International.

But it was in 2005 that he made history by becoming the first Catholic to be appointed Ambassador to the Vatican since the Reformation. At just 35 years old, he was the youngest of all Britain’s ambassadors at the time of his appointment.

He was, according to BBC’s veteran Rome correspondent David Willey, ‘One of the best British ambassadors to the Holy See, capable of successfully mixing religion and politics and inspiring confidence and respect from his colleagues in the Vatican’. He is now the British Deputy High Commissioner, Karachi and the Director, Trade and Investment for Pakistan.

Therese White, from Mayobridge Co. Down, a medical student who has made an outstanding contribution to the Students Working Overseas Trust (SWOT), and was the only student from the UK and Ireland selected for a medical placement with NASA, is this year’s Student of the Year.

Despite having to deal with Cystic Fibrosis, Therese, as President of SWOT, has been the driving force behind raising £30,000 and was one of the main organisers of the charity’s fashion show.

In addition to her charity work, Therese was selected as one of only two worldwide students to attend a four-week aerospace medical placement with NASA at the Kennedy Space centre in Florida. Only one student from the USA and one student from Europe are selected to attend annually.

The Graduate and Student of the Year Awards, now in their 12th year, were launched in 1999 by the Queen’s Graduates’ Association and the University’s Development and Alumni Relations Office, with the support of First Trust Bank.

The Awards aim to recognise excellence, achievement or service by Queen’s alumni and students, either to the University or to the wider community. The student winner receives a trophy and £500 and the graduate winner also receives a trophy.

Gary McMurray, Regional Manager, First Trust Bank, University Road, First Trust Bank is delighted to support the Awards. He said: “We have been sponsoring the Awards since their conception and are very proud to be associated with such an important event in the Queen’s University calendar.  Our endorsement of these Awards recognises and celebrates the achievements of Queen's students and graduates who make such an invaluable contribution to life in Northern Ireland.”

Jonathan Hill, President of the Queen’s Graduates’ Association, believes that the awards can add value and bring great benefits to those who are successful.

He said: “These awards recognise passion and drive in individuals. These are qualities that help people succeed in life and we are pleased that students and graduates can receive the recognition they deserve.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Talented playwright under the spotlight at Queen’s graduations
Seamus Collins
Seamus Collins
One of Northern Ireland’s most promising young playwrights will be centre stage when he graduates from Queen’s University today (Wednesday 6 July).

Seamus Collins, from Maghera, Co. Derry, has written two acclaimed plays. He will graduate with a BA (Hons) in Drama Studies with French from Queen’s School of Languages Literatures and Performing Arts.

Seamus’ first play, And of the Son, represented Queen’s at the Irish Student Drama Festival in Galway on 11th March 2011, and his second, Please Patricia, will continue with its impressive run of achievements when it is staged at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival later this summer. Seamus wrote both plays while spending a year studying and teaching in France – an option available to all students studying a language at Queen’s.

Earlier this year, Seamus beat tough competition from around the globe to become one of only 15 students nominated for the World Student Drama Trust's International Student Playscript Competition, for Please Patricia.

He was also one of only ten UK winners in the BBC Writersroom 10 competition which aims to invest in emerging writers. Thanks to this success, Seamus is now looking forward to working with the Lyric Theatre in Belfast to write a brand new play as well as beginning a year-long mentoring scheme with the BBC. He is also preparing for a rehearsed reading of Please Patricia at the Lyric in the coming months, and has been accepted to Tinderbox Theatre Company’s ‘Fireworks’ Young Writers Programme.

Seamus said: “I have always had a passion for the theatre, and my studies at Queen’s have allowed me to broaden my scriptwriting horizons and get my career off to a great start. None of my achievements would have been possible if not for the support and guidance of my mentor, playwright Owen McCafferty; his advice is invaluable for young writers such as me.

“Both my plays were staged at the Brian Friel Theatre at Queen’s earlier this year. The Theatre is a fantastic facility for Queen’s drama students and it was a great experience to work alongside my friends and fellow students to bring my plays to the stage.

“I have no doubt that Queen’s world-class facilities, such as the Brian Friel Theatre and Centre for Theatre Research, and the University’s strong links with professional theatre, have helped me get to where I am today, and I am looking forward to returning to Queen’s next year to begin a Masters in Creative Writing.”
Seamus will celebrate his graduation alongside his younger brother Niall, who is graduating with a BA (Hons) in Modern History and Social Anthropology.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Triple graduation success for Glenarm sisters
Sorcha, Caoimhe and Ailbhe Niclochlainn
Sorcha, Caoimhe and Ailbhe Niclochlainn
It’s a triple celebration for one Co. Antrim family today (Wednesday 6 June) as a trio of Irish-speaking sisters prepare to graduate from Queen’s.

Sorcha, Caoimhe and Ailbhe Niclochlainn, from Glenarm, will all graduate from Queen’s School of Languages, Literatures and Performing Arts, where they studied Irish and Celtic Studies - bringing to eight their family’s impressive tally of degrees from the University.

This will be Sorcha’s third graduation celebration at Queen’s. She will be awarded a PhD for her research into gaelic folksongs in Ireland and Scotland. Sorcha already has an undergraduate and a Masters degree from Queen’s.

Caoimhe will pick up her second Queen’s degree – a Masters in Irish and Celtic Studies, having graduated with a BA in Irish and Celtic Studies in 2009. She has now started her PhD studies at Queen’s, where she is researching Irish children’s literature.

Youngest sister Ailbhe will also join in the celebrations when she graduates with a BA in Irish and Celtic Studies with English.

The sisters will celebrate their graduation alongside their parents Marie and Brian, who are also Queen’s graduates. 

Sorcha said: “We were brought up in an Irish speaking household and wanted to pursue our interest in the Irish language through our University studies. The Irish and Celtic Studies courses at Queen’s have allowed us to fine tune our language skills while deepening our knowledge of Irish culture, history and society.

“This is the third time I will graduate from Queen’s, and while every graduation day is a special, graduating alongside Caoimhe and Ailbhe will make today one to remember for a long time to come.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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It’s a sister act as grandmothers Kate and Marion graduate from Queen’s
Sisters Kate McGahey (58) from Twinbrook and Marion Molloy (57) from Dunmurry celebrate their graduation with their 81 year mother May Brownlee
Sisters Kate McGahey (58) from Twinbrook and Marion Molloy (57) from Dunmurry celebrate their graduation with their 81 year mother May Brownlee
Two sisters from West Belfast will graduate from Queen’s University today (Wednesday 6 July), over 40 years after leaving school without any qualifications.

Kate McGahey (58) from Twinbrook and Marion Molloy (57) from Dunmurry, will graduate with BA degrees in Modern History and Social Studies. The sisters decided to return to education in the 1990’s and after studying for their GCSEs and doing an Access Course they enrolled in a part-time degree degree at Queen’s in 2006.

Kate said: “I left school in 1969 and Marion left in 1970 without any qualifications. In those days, we weren’t encouraged to stay in education, so we went out to work and had our families. When our children had grown up, we decided the time was right to go back to education and, once we had been bitten by the learning bug, we just couldn’t stop.

“I hope that other people will be encouraged by our story and realise that higher education is open to anyone, regardless of their age. In fact, our experience has already inspired other members of our family to go back to education, proving that it is never too late to learn.”

Marion said: “Between us, Kate and I have nine children and seven grandchildren. I returned to study at Springhill Community House and got great help from Fr Des Wilson. Part-time study at Queen’s allowed Kate and I to juggle a busy work, home and family life with getting an education - it was a great way to learn.

“When I left school in 1970, I would never have imagined that one day I would graduate from Queen’s alongside my sister. We are both extremely proud of our achievements and this is a day neither of us will ever forget.”

Marion went on to say she works part-time at DCAL’s Public Records Office of Northern Ireland and would like to thank her employers and work colleagues for  their support over the years.

Marion and Kate will celebrate their graduation alongside their 81 year old mother May Brownlee from Turf Lodge and family and friends.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Award winning author and US hotelier honoured by Queen’s University
Ruth Dudley Edwards
Ruth Dudley Edwards
John Fitzpatrick
John Fitzpatrick

One of New York’s leading hoteliers and a prizewinning author will be honoured by Queen’s University today (Wednesday 6 July).

John Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Fitzpatrick Hotel Group which operates two hotels in New York City, will receive an honorary doctorate for services to business and commerce; while successful novelist and academic Ruth Dudley Edwards will pick up an honorary doctorate for distinction in literature.

Norma Sinte, Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Queen’s, will deliver the citation for Mr Fitzpatrick at this morning’s graduation ceremony. She said: “Fitzpatrick Hotels became the first Irish owned hotel company to operate in the United States after John Fitzpatrick moved from Ireland to New York in the late 1980’s to expand the family business.

“As well as being an astute businessman, John is committed to charity work in the US and here in Ireland. Through a memorial fund set up in honour of his late parents, he has been instrumental in raising over €1.3 million for various charities, including the Corrymeela Community and Barretstown, an organisation dedicated to bringing joy and comfort to children with cancer and other illnesses in Ireland.

“In August 2008 John received an OBE in recognition of his exceptional contribution to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and in 2010 he was named Irish American of the Year in recognition of his humanitarian and charitable commitments. I am delighted that today he can add an honorary degree from Queen’s to that list of accolades.”

Ruth Dudley Edwards is the prizewinning author of ten books on Irish and British history, a successful crime novelist and a regular media contributor.

Professor Ed Larrissy, Head of the School of English at Queen’s, will deliver the citation at this afternoon’s graduation ceremony. He said: “Ruth Dudley Edwards is an outstanding academic, a major crime fiction writer, a key opinion former in respect of British-Irish relations, and an honoured and respected advocate of reason, understanding and fairness in Irish politics and affairs. 

“Her extensive writing on Irish history includes interpretations of events in Northern Ireland, most notably in her book Aftermath: The Omagh Bombings and the Families’ Pursuit of Justice, which told the story of the successful landmark civil action brought against the Omagh bombers by the victims’ families.

“Ruth Dudley Edwards’ many-faceted career has seen her fulfil successful roles in education, business, public service and the media, for which she has won many accolades, and we are delighted to honour her at Queen’s today.”

For more information about Queen’s Summer Graduations visit www.qub.ac.uk/home/Graduation

Media inquiries to Anne Langford at Queen’s Press and PR Unit on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5310, 00 44 (0)7815 871997 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Four Degrees of Non-Separation for Best Friends
Lisa Rutherford, Zelda Dawson, Olwyn Daswon and Claire Wilson
Lisa Rutherford, Zelda Dawson, Olwyn Daswon and Claire Wilson

Four best friends will graduate with the same degree at Queen’s University today (Tuesday 5 July).

Claire Wilson and sisters Zelda and Olwyn Dawson from Lisburn and Lisa Rutherford from Belfast have been friends for over a decade, and completed their studies while working at Queen’s. They will graduate with BA(Hons) in Management and Business Studies from Queen’s University Management School. 

Claire, Zelda, Olwyn and Lisa studied their degree on a part-time basis while they continued to work full-time at Queen’s University. Sisters Zelda and Olwyn will graduate with first class honours and Claire and Lisa will graduate with a 2:1 degree.

Claire said: “It’s not surprising that we’re all graduating together we seem to be inseparable. The four of us are dearest friends who have known each other for such a long time. We have studied and worked together as well as socialising together - we were all bridesmaids for Zelda’s wedding in Sri Lanka in 2008.”

Lisa said: “It has been a pleasure and a joy to study with such a wonderful group of friends and to complete our degree together. It is an honour to celebrate our achievements with our close families.  May our longstanding friendship continue.  As we consider our options for the future for the first time in five years, we will stand alone to consider our varying career paths. Zelda, who recently joined the Department of Justice, is enjoying her current position and is considering an accountancy course to further develop her skills. Olwyn is considering the MBA at Queen’s and Claire and I plan to continue working at Queen’s and hope the degree will provide opportunities to further our careers.”

Zelda and Olwyn will celebrate their graduation alongside their parents Coral and Winston Dawson, Zelda’s husband Francis Hearst, and Olwyn’s partner Christopher Darling.  Claire will celebrate her graduation alongside her partner Keith Gardiner and parents Barbara and Stewart Wilson and brother Andrew. Lisa will celebrate her graduation with her grandparents Hannah and Alfie Kerr, father and step-mum Mervyn and Gillian Rutherford, sister Caryn and brother Mathieu.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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UK IT Industry Pioneer and the Vice-Chancellor of the Open University Malaysia honoured by Queen’s
John Lillywhite
John Lillywhite
Professor Anuwar Ali
Professor Anuwar Ali

A Pioneer of the UK IT Industry and the Vice-Chancellor of the Open University Malaysia will be honoured by Queen’s University today (Tuesday 5 July).

John Lillywhite, one of the founding fathers of the IT industry in the UK, will today receive an honorary doctorate for services to business and commerce. Economist and exponent of higher education Professor EmeritusTan Sri Anuwar Ali, is the Vice-Chancellor and President of the Open University Malaysia. He will receive an honorary doctorate for education and business and commerce.

Gordon Bell, Chairman of QUBIS Ltd will deliver the citation for John Lillywhite at this morning’s graduation ceremony.  He said: “John Lillywhite, a Fellow of the Institute of Management Accountants, has been a stalwart of the IT industry for the best part of half a century, in a career that falls into two distinct halves.  John progressed from an apprentice in International Computers Limited (ICL) in the 1950’s to being the company’s Group Finance Director.  John’s ‘second career’ was kick started through his links with Northern Ireland. In 1990 ICL had been involved in the start-up of a small software company – Kainos – with Queen’s University.

“John very quickly became a key player in the emerging IT industry in Northern Ireland, working with, and becoming Chairman of, a number of start-up and young technology companies, among them Lagan Technologies, Meridio, APT, and Lo-Q, taking them to significant financial success.  Many of the companies in which John has been strategically involved are within the portfolio of QUBIS Ltd, the University’s vehicle for creating and managing spin out companies.

“Given John’s extensive and substantive experience – in terms of both length of service and breadth of service across so many roles and companies – it is fair to conclude that John has been one of the pioneers and founding fathers of the IT industry in the UK, and of the emergence of that industry as a strong and vibrant part of the industrial landscape in Northern Ireland.  It is for this contribution that we honour him today.”

Queen’s Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Tony Gallagher will deliver the citation for Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Anuwar Ali.  He said: “Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Anuwar Ali, an economist and exponent of higher education, has vast experience in education spanning more than 30 years.  In this time he has established himself not only as an economist but also as an academic leader. 

“Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Anuwar Ali is no stranger to Queen’s University as he graduated from a BSc in Economics here in 1970.  He is currently the President / Vice-Chancellor of Open University Malaysia (OUM).  Prior to joining OUM, he was the Director of Higher Education at the Ministry of Education (1995-1998) and later, moved on to become the Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

“Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Anuwar Ali, as one of the leading figures in the academic field in Malaysia, has placed particular importance on the education of teachers and the constant upgrading of teaching standards.  Throughout his distinguished career he has proven the importance of lifelong learning and the need to continually work to ‘quicken the minds’ of students so that they are best prepared to be the future leaders of society.  It is for this and his contribution to education and business and commerce that Queen’s is delighted to honour him today.”

For more information about Queen’s Summer Graduations visit www.qub.ac.uk/home/Graduation  

Media inquiries to Anne Langford at Queen’s Press and PR Unit on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5310, 00 44 (0)7815 871997 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Kellogg’s placement gives County Down student a career kick-start

A County Down student will receive a three-year training contract commencing September 2012 with Ernst & Young after he graduates today (Tuesday 5 July).

Ryan Kerr from Newtownards, who will graduate from Queen’s with a 2:1 degree in BSc in Accounting secured the coveted job off the back of his placement with Kellogg’s, which he did last summer.  The placement, which wasn’t compulsory, saw Ryan fight off stiff competition to represent the company in their costing and general ledger departments as well as designing and pitching new packaging for their products.

Ernst & Young were among a number of companies to offer contracts to Ryan based on his experience at Kellogg’s. The accountancy firm are also sponsoring Ryan to do a Graduate Diploma in Advanced Accounting commencing September 2011 which will enable him to complete his CAP2 set of accounting exams for the Chartered Accountants Ireland Institute in one academic year.

Ryan said:  “I feel proud of my achievements over the past twelve months - to have secured such a prestigious work placement last summer and for it to lead me to securing a job with one of the world’s biggest accountancy firms is a dream come true.”

“Working for Kellogg’s was challenging and demanding but very rewarding as I gained a real insight into business and accounting in a highly respected worldwide company. I remember taking a company car for the day and driving to Wales to meet the packaging producers for Kellogg’s and discussing my ideas with them – it was then that it really sunk in how fortunate I was to be given the opportunity to work for such a big company.”

“As a result of my placement I later received a number of job offers from companies who were very impressed by my time spent with Kellogg’s. I kept a learning log of my time at Kellogg’s which I included with my CV.  A summer placement is something I would definitely recommend to all students, especially those who like me, who did not have any compulsory placements within their course.”

Ryan will celebrate his graduation with his parents William and Jennifer Kerr.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Degree gives Lisa opportunity to Taste The World
Lisa Quinn
Lisa Quinn
A Monaghan student will take up the opportunity to travel the world while gaining valuable work experience after she graduates from Queen’s University today (Monday 4 July).

Lisa Quinn will graduate with a BSc(Hons) degree in Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition from Queen’s School of Biological Sciences. Thanks to a valuable work placement with Sainsbury’s, which she completed as part of her course, Lisa has now been offered a place on the company’s Taste The World Scheme.

Before taking up full-time employment as a Product Technologist at Sainsbury’s next year, the Taste The World Scheme will allow Lisa to travel for up to twelve months while working with Sainsbury’s suppliers and partners around the globe.

Lisa said: “Together, my studies at Queen’s and Sainsbury’s The Taste The World Scheme will give me an exceptional start to my career in the food industry.

“All Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition students have the chance to complete a work placement as part of their studies. I was lucky enough to secure a one year placement at Sainsbury’s head office in London, which has opened doors to opportunities I could only have dreamed of.

“By the time I had finished my placement and returned to Queen’s for my final year of study, I had already secured a graduate job with Sainsbury’s. With all the pressures that final year brings, it was a huge relief to know that I had a good job to go to after graduation. As if things couldn’t get any better, I was accepted to the Taste The World Scheme, which will allow me to travel the world working with four of Sainsbury’s suppliers, in destinations of my choice.

“It has always been my ambition to graduate from University with a good degree, to embark on a good career and, if at all possible, to see the world. To be able to combine all three of these ambitions is beyond anything I could have imagined.”

Lisa will celebrate her graduation alongside her mother Gladys, father Leslie and boyfriend James.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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World leading scientists and local environmentalist both honoured by Queen’s
Lady Dufferin, the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava.
Lady Dufferin, the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava.
Professor Hasnain
Professor Hasnain
One of India’s leading scientists and the owner of Clandeboye Estate in Co. Down will be honoured by Queen’s University today (Monday 4 July).

Professor Seyed E. Hasnain is a world-renowned biological scientist and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hyderabad in India, with which Queen’s has close links. He will receive an honorary doctorate for services to science and medicine. Environmental champion, Lady Dufferin, The Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, will receive an honorary doctorate for services to the environment.

Professor Stuart Elborn from Queen’s School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences will deliver the citation for Professor Hasnain at this morning’s graduation ceremony. He said: “Professor Hasnain is one of the world’s leading biological scientists. He is perhaps best known for his extraordinary contribution to the study of Mycobacterium tuberculosis - the bacterium that causes TB, taking one human life every 15 seconds. As the first Director of the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics at Hyderabad, he was instrumental in making the Centre a gold standard for DNA analyses services and research in basic biology.

“Professor Hasnain has won almost all India’s major science awards alongside a number of international accolades. I am pleased that today he can add an honorary degree from Queen’s to that long list of achievements. 

“Professor Hasnain is a long-time friend of Queen’s. As Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hyderabad, he played a pivotal role in helping Queen’s develop its relationships with Indian universities. Links between Queen’s and the University of Hyderabad go back to the 1980s and include research collaborations and staff and student exchanges in literature, language and translation. We hope that relationship will continue to grow and strengthen in the years to come.”

Later this evening, Professor Hasnain will give a public lecture entitled Controlling TB: The World’s Deadliest Infectious Bacterial Disease Remains a Grand Challenge. In his lecture, Professor Hasnain will highlight why TB remains an ongoing challenge to scientists and stress that trans-national political, social and economic commitments are required to intervene successfully against this dreaded, but otherwise curable disease. The lecture will take place at 6.00pm at Queen’s Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at the Belfast City Hospital site (behind Queen’s Medical Biology Centre).

Professor Chris Elliott from the Institute of Agri-Food and Land Use at Queen’s will deliver the citation for Lady Dufferin. He said: “Lady Dufferin has led a series of visionary initiatives to safeguard and enrich Northern Ireland’s rich natural heritage, and Queen’s is delighted to honour her for that today.
“Lady Dufferin has been instrumental in the regeneration and sustainable development of the 2,000 acre Clandeboye Estate, which includes Clandeboye Farm – some 600 acres of parkland and arable land, which she has transformed into a thriving and sustainable business enterprise, with close links to Queen’s.

“In collaboration with the University, Clandeboye Estate has been exploring ways to manage local woodlands with a view to mitigating future climate changes. Together, we are developing a postgraduate programme for training and research in environmental sciences. The estate’s natural habitats – woodlands, lakes, streams and meadows, which form the basis of study in ecology and environmental sciences – provide a unique resource which will enhance our understanding of the natural world and its sustainable use.

“The continued development of the estate as a centre of postgraduate research and education will benefit not only Queen’s and Clandeboye, but the wider rural community here in Northern Ireland and further afield.

“In awarding Lady Dufferin this honorary degree, Queen’s honours a powerful advocate for Northern Ireland, and a woman whose vision for one of our national treasures is helping make this region a role model for sustainability for the rest of the world.”

For more information about Queen’s Summer Graduations visit www.qub.ac.uk/home/Graduation  

Media inquiries to Anne Langford at Queen’s Press and PR Unit on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5310, 00 44 (0)7815 871997 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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