April 2013 press releases

‘Big Bang’ machine comes to Belfast

The world’s largest science experiment, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and the man behind the Higgs particle theory, are coming to Belfast as part of a week-long public exhibition hosted by Queen’s University.

Over the May bank holiday weekend and for the rest of the week Queen’s is inviting members of the public to walk through a full-size replica of a section of the LHC tunnel as well as having the chance to meet physicists involved in answering some of the biggest mysteries of the universe by re-creating conditions just after the Big Bang.  Visitors will also be able to get hands-on with a number of interactive exhibits collectively creating a feel for what it's like to be a particle physicist working on the world’s most powerful atom smasher.

Developed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the week-long exhibition will also feature a lecture from Physicist Professor Peter Higgs, the man behind the Higgs Boson, and Queen’s graduate Dr Steve Myers, who is Director for Accelerators and Technology at CERN, the organisation that built and operates the LHC in Switzerland.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Myers said: “As a Queen’s graduate I’m delighted to return to the University for such a special event.  For many people it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the real life application of physics and science in such a setting.  Queen’s is one of the UK’s leading research universities and it gave me the skillset, foundation and opportunity to go on and become a key part of the world’s largest science experiment, so I am honoured not only to return but to also share the platform with Professor Peter Higgs.”

Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, from the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s, said: “This is the first time a major exhibition on the work on the LHC has come to Northern Ireland.  It is a unique opportunity for members of the public, young and old, to get an insight into what takes place in the Large Hadron Collider and to meet those physicists and scientists who are having a huge impact around the world.  Queen’s graduates have gone on to work at CERN as well as other major scientific organisations like NASA and the European Space Agency. This is an opportunity for potential students and the public alike to see how Queen’s and physics is having a real impact and where a career in the subject could take them.”

STFC Chief Executive Professor John Womersley said: "This visit by the life-sized model of the LHC to Belfast is a wonderful way to remind the people of Northern Ireland of just how big a part Northern Irish scientists, researchers and engineers have contributed to the work at CERN that recreates the conditions that existed just milliseconds after the Big Bang.

"The visit is also a great way to recognise the work of Queen’s in producing very successful physics graduates. Graduates such as Steve Myers, the man who leads the department at CERN with the responsibility to make the LHC work. Steve is currently leading the team that is undertaking the major maintenance and upgrade work of the LHC to enable it to run at twice the energy when it turns back on in 2015."

For further information on the exhibition and how to get involved visit:

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814 415 451 or

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Queen’s University women strike gold in UK gender equality awards

The School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s has been awarded the prestigious Athena SWAN Gold award in recognition of its outstanding progress in promoting gender equality and addressing the unequal representation of women in science. It is the first School of Biological Sciences in the UK to achieve this prestigious award, with Queen’s becoming one of only three UK universities to hold a Gold departmental award.

The Athena SWAN Charter was introduced in 2005 to advance the representation of women in science, engineering and technology and to address gender inequalities and improve career progression for female academics. The  Athena SWAN awards recognise and celebrate good practice in recruiting, retaining and promoting women.

Also celebrating is the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences after receiving an Athena Silver award, confirming Queen’s position in the UK as the university with the most departmental silver awards.  Queen’s was the first UK university to hold an Athena SWAN institutional Silver award.

Welcoming this latest success Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “This is a proud day for Queen’s University and its staff – both women and men. Receiving an Athena Gold departmental award confirms our commitment in promoting gender equality and makes Queen’s a recognised leader in equal opportunities.

“I pay tribute to all involved in this achievement.    I want Queen’s University Belfast to be known nationally, and internationally, for the excellence of its research and teaching environment, and to do this we must offer the best opportunities for our staff.  Our recognition from Athena SWAN sets us apart, and we have already seen staff choosing to come to Queen’s because of our reputation for gender equality.”

Director of Queen’s Gender Initiative, Professor Yvonne Galligan said: “We share in the delight across the University at winning a prestigious Gold Athena Swan award, and the equally landmark Silver award. These rare awards indicate exceptional achievement by the Heads of School and SWAN Champions Dr. Alison Cameron and Dr. Karen McCloskey along with their self assessment teams.

“The awards also confirm Queen’s as a national leader in Higher Education for supporting women in science. The University’s capacity to attract and retain excellent scientists – women and men- helps Northern Ireland to create an internationally competitive research base. These SWAN awards signal that Queen’s is firmly committed to ensuring that women scientists can have fulfilling careers in their chosen fields. This is national recognition for the University’s work in promoting gender diversity in scientific leadership to the benefit of science and society.”

Instrumental in helping Biological Sciences achieve the award, Head of School, Professor Christine Maggs said: “I am absolutely delighted about the wonderful news that we have won a SWAN Athena Gold award.  We are only the third department in the UK to win Gold, and the first in Biological Sciences. 

“I want to take this opportunity to thank particularly my co-authors of our winning submission,and all who shared their stories and confirmed the difference that our commitment to SWAN Athena has made for them and their work-life balance.  The Queen’s Gender Initiative has consistently supported the School throughout the six years it has taken us to achieve this award, and we thank them for their invaluable help."

Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry said: “I would like to congratulate Queen’s University Belfast in receiving both a gold and silver Athena SWAN award. Education and Research in key STEM areas will prove vital in generating economic growth in Northern Ireland and it is important that these areas attract the brightest minds, both male and female. Women have traditionally been under-represented in science and engineering and I am delighted that the University’s excellence in supporting women in this field has been recognised.”

Media inquiries to Head of Communications and External Affairs, Kevin Mulhern at 028 9097 3259 / 07813 015431 or

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Queen’s has the Will to Give
Colin Ferguson, Will to Give and Susan Wilson, Legacy Officer, Development and Alumni Relations, Queen’s.
Colin Ferguson, Will to Give and Susan Wilson, Legacy Officer, Development and Alumni Relations, Queen’s.

Queen’s has joined forces with Will to Give, a campaign run by a consortium of local charities, to help raise local awareness of legacy giving.

Founded in January 2011, Will to Give’s vision is that one day everyone in Northern Ireland will make a gift to charity in their will. Chairperson of the campaign, Colin Ferguson commented: “We are asking people to leave a gift to their favourite charity in their will, after loved ones have been taken care of. The people of Northern Ireland are among the most generous in the UK and by giving a gift in a will they can make a really lasting impact.”

Mr Ferguson added: “We want to dispel the myth that it is only the rich that can leave a gift to charity because anyone can include a gift - or gifts - to one or more of their favourite charities.”

In supporting the campaign, Susan Wilson, Legacy Officer at Queen’s said: “Queen’s is delighted to join forces with other local charities to help raise awareness of the importance of legacy giving. While 70 per cent of adults in the UK donate money to good causes every year, only seven per cent choose to continue to support their favourite charities through a gift in their will. A legacy is an inspiring way to show you care and – for the charity – can be truly transformational.

“Legacy gifts to Queen’s will help ensure that the University remains an institution of global influence. They allow us to provide inspirational education and life-changing research by offering scholarships to exceptional students who might otherwise not be able to realise their full potential. Legacies also enable our academics to continue to carry out pioneering research into the major diseases of the 21st century.”

Ms Wilson concluded: “The Queen’s University of Belfast Foundation is the charity through which all philanthropic gifts to the University – including legacies – are channelled. Every day the lasting impact of these gifts touches the lives of students, staff, patients, local communities and industry throughout Northern Ireland and beyond. I would like to thank those who have chosen to support the University – and other local charities – through a gift in their will and would encourage others, where possible, to consider doing likewise.”

Media inquiries to Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office; tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5321;

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2013 Ramada Plaza Belfast University Boat Race details announced

Details of the 2013 Ramada Plaza Belfast University Boat Race have been announced. In what will be the largest Boat Race to date, 20 crews will take to the River Lagan in Belfast on Saturday 8 June for the annual Boat Race.

Top men’s and women’s crews from Queen’s University Belfast, University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin and University of Limerick will compete for the top honours in what has developed into a top class Rowing spectacular.

In a first for the event and for Rowing in Ulster, four Schools will compete in both senior boys’ and girls’ races. They include Methodist College Belfast, Royal Belfast Academic Institution, Coleraine Academic Institution and Royal Portora School.

Due to its increasing popularity, the event will also offer up to guests a ‘Lunch on the Lagan’ fine dining experience at a new Corporate Enclosure supplied by the impressive ‘Green Room’ at Ramada Plaza, Shaw’s Bridge Belfast inspired by the Henley Royal Regatta. In addition to this over 1,500 spectators will be accommodated in the new enclosure’s layout, with live entertainment, food and refreshments available until 10pm on the day.

The OUTLET Banbridge, Fashion Sponsor of the event, is holding a ‘most stylish’ competition on the day for both men and women.

Helping launch this year’s event, Mick Desmond, Queen’s Rowing Coach, said: “The Ramada Plaza Belfast University Boat Race has grown to become a key event in the rowing calendar across the UK and Ireland. Queen’s now has a reputation as a force to be reckoned with, and with the added spice of crews from across Ireland, we can expect to see some very competitive action on The Lagan. The new enclosure and entertainment on offer will also ensure spectators really get the chance to enjoy an authentic rowing regatta experience.”

Rajesh Rana from race sponsors the Ramada Plaza Belfast Hotel added: “Events like the Ramada Plaza Belfast University Boat Race are vital to Northern Ireland, both in terms of helping community spirit and as a magnet for attracting visitors to Belfast, so we are delighted to sponsor it and provide a unique Corporate Dining experience for some of our guests.”

Encouraging people to don their finery for the day, Siobhan McKeown, Marketing Manager of style sponsors The OUTLET Banbridge, said: “We are delighted to be involved with Queen’s University and the Boat Race. Everyone loves an opportunity to get dressed up for a great day out and this is the perfect event.  The OUTLET is the first stop for boat race-goers searching for a stylish look at amazing prices.”

Racing starts on the day at 10.30am with the Schools and University heats. The Senior Women’s Race between Queen’s and Cambridge begins at 4.00pm and the Men’s Race begins at 4.30pm (subject to change).

In addition to the Ramada Plaza Belfast Hotel, other sponsors of this year’s event include: The OUTLET Banbridge and the Department for Social Development (DSD).

Further information on the Ramada Plaza Belfast University Boat Race is available online at

Media inquiries to the Communications Office: 02890973087 or 


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Queen’s partners with InfoSys to combat cyber security threats
A major new strategic partnership aimed at combating the global cyber security threat has been signed between Queen’s University Belfast and Infosys, a global leader in consulting and technology.
The collaboration brings together Infosys with Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), one of UK’s largest and most prestigious university cyber security research labs, and Invest Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland government’s regional business development agency.
The partnership will establish a research, education and commercialisation model, to develop solutions and intellectual property for combating cyber security threats arising out of the rise of digital and Cloud-based business models. Infosys and CSIT will work jointly on a range of topics including combating malware, security of mobile and cloud infrastructures, and privacy issues for financial markets.
The three-year agreement will lead to the establishment of a CSIT-Infosys Cyber Lab that will become part of a global network of companies and institutions developing security technologies. As part of the CSIT advisory and governing board, Infosys will play a key role in developing the Centre’s research roadmap and gain access to its research and technologies for commercial usage.
Infosys and CSIT will also promote joint research projects and sponsor PhD scholarships, internships, faculty sabbatical and exchange programs. They will impart training and education on advanced concepts in data privacy, cloud, contemporary web application and wireless security as well as intelligent surveillance systems. Together, the partners will also jointly seek funding from agencies in India and Europe for relevant projects.
Welcoming the agreement, Senior Vice President, Infosys Labs and Products R&D, Subu Goparaju said: “The rise of cloud and mobility solutions has only increased the need for greater cyber security. This is a top concern we hear from executives around the globe. Our partnership with Queen’s University will provide Infosys with insights into cyber-crimes and access to the important work being done at CSIT. We believe the outcome of this partnership will not only result in stronger products for our clients, but in a safer digital world.”
Signing the strategic partnership Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “Queen’s both welcomes and values its partnership agreement with Infosys, one of India’s leading technology companies. Cyber security affects us all. Be it via smartphones and their apps, online banking or through developments in cloud based services, we are all at risk of cyber security attacks.
“Queen’s agreement sees InfoSys join with over 20 other industrial partners, including many global players who have committed to supporting CSIT in its quest to solve some of the real world security challenges of the future. It is intended that through this partnership society will be the real winner.”
Today’s announcement comes after Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent visit to India when he signed the UK-India cooperation deal that will see the creation of a joint task force to exchange and share information to identify and counter cyber security threats.
Commenting on the Queen’s Infosys partnership, Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “The UK is recognised as a world-leader in combating cybercrime and has real competitive and technology advantages in this field. The work at Queen’s University’s CSIT, which I have seen at first hand, is a tangible example of our expertise in this area and I welcome its latest partnership with Infosys. It will be good for Infosys, good for Queen’s University and good for the interests of all our households and businesses in both our countries.”
Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster commented: "I am delighted to see that the initial introductions made by Invest Northern Ireland's team based in India, linking Queen's to Infosys' Global Internship Programme and Infosys Labs, have developed and grown into a viable and important business partnership.
"This partnership between Queen's and Infosys is an excellent example of collaborative working.  By pairing knowledge and research contained within our world class universities with business we can work together to provide practical solutions to commercial challenges.  Such partnerships are of real importance to growing our economy. I look forward with interest to how this partnership between Queen's, Infosys and Invest NI develops.
"This is also an excellent example of the global opportunities that exist for Northern Ireland. If we are to grow our economy we must look beyond our own shores. This partnership between Queen's in Belfast and Infosys in India just goes to show that there really are no limits to how far we should look for opportunities."
Media inquiries to Kevin Mulhern, Head of Communications and External Affairs on 0044 (0)28 9097 3259 or email

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Author of Hillsborough report opens his work to public
Professor Phil Scraton
Professor Phil Scraton

The author of the Hillsborough report, Professor Phil Scraton, is opening his work to the public at Queen’s University this week.

In his lecture, Recovering Truth, Informing Justice: Researching the Hillsborough Disaster, Professor Scraton will reflect on the significant impact of his work as a key member of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

The lecture is just one of the many events taking place as part of the first Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences research showcase day at Queen’s University and a range of other venues across Belfast city on Wednesday (17 April).  The showcase event gives the public the opportunity to meet the people behind the headlines and hear more about their research which is having an economic, social, political or cultural impact.

The theme of the day is Thinking Forward through the Past. There will be contributions from experts in areas such as education, politics, law, history, creative arts, languages and social policy. This special programme is organised by the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the Research and Enterprise Directorate, and is part of the University’s ‘Local Talent, Global Impact’ initiative.

Others showcasing their work include Professor Mike Tomlinson, an authoritative voice on economic and social marginalisation whose research on living standards could have profound implications for the way the disadvantaged are viewed; Professor Joanne Hughes, Director of the Centre for Shared Education whose work on the Sharing Education Programme is delivering benefits to children and communities across Northern Ireland; and Professor Cahal McLaughlin, whose Prisons Memory Archive which is an interactive digital archive, has impacted upon policymakers on dealing with politically sensitive issues.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Queen’s, Professor Shane O’Neill, said: “At Queen’s we pride ourselves in the fact that our research is having a global impact.  Today’s showcase event is the chance to meet the researchers who are making a difference to the wider community.  The events are taking place in various locations across Belfast and topics range from the violation of basic rights through human trafficking or sexual offences against children; the reform of regulatory structures that will help prevent future financial crises; to the transformative and therapeutic power of music and poetry.  Their research shows that our local talent is having a global impact.

“A recent survey commissioned by the New College of the Humanities has indicated that 60 per cent of the UK’s business and political leaders have degrees in the arts, humanities or social sciences, compared with 15 per cent from a STEM background. Employers clearly value the fact that graduates of these subjects have skills of critical analysis, investigative research and eloquent communication that are needed in a wide variety of business contexts. The need for adaptable graduates with the potential to be the innovative leaders of the future has never been greater."

Scott Rutherford, Director of Research and Enterprise at Queen’s, said: “We often read the headlines about the ground breaking research that is taking place at Queen’s and this free event is an opportunity to hear more from the people behind the research that impacts upon our everyday lives.   Research and Enterprise are committed to promoting the excellence and impact of Queen's to local and international audiences.  We would encourage the public to come along to these insightful events to see the life-changing work being carried out on their doorstep.”

All are welcome to attend but to register for a place and see a full timetable of events please visit:

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814 415 451 or

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Get out and about this Spring with Queen’s Open Learning

Queen’s University has just published its new Spring Open Learning prospectus and the programme is bursting with new opportunities for the months ahead.

In a new partnership with Belfast City Council, Queen’s Open Learning offers a conducted tour of one of the city’s much loved but hidden treasures in The Botanic Gardens: An Insight. The new course Bird Watching for Beginners involves field trips to Victoria Park, Belvoir Forest and Belfast Water Works as just some of the opportunities to learn about our woodland birds and their habitats.

For the energetic there are courses available in Irish Ceili Dancing or Golf for Beginners and Golf for Improvers which are designed for all standards of golfers and cover all aspects of the game from the very basics to the interpretation of the rules.

In preparation for the summer holidays an array of language courses ranging from Holiday French, Spanish for Beginners to Let’s Speak Italian are available. Literature courses, incliding Conflict in American Literature, World Literature: Desert Island Books and Russian Literature’s Cult Novel: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov all promise to transport the mind to foreign shores.

Personal development courses include An introduction to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Spring Clean Your Life. There are also computing courses including Get Creative with the iPhone & iPad and arts courses painting and drawing.

Cathal McManus, Director of the Open Learning programme, said: “Spring is all about getting ourselves active and our Open Learning programme is always responding to how adult learners tell us they enjoy learning. Walking tours exploring the fascinating layers of history beneath the buildings and builders of North and East Belfast are exciting additions to this year’s programme.”

Undergraduate Course Director, Dr Tess Maginess, said: “The Open Learning Programme has always distinguished itself for its focus on important contemporary issues, drawing upon the latest research across a wide range of subjects in our teaching and making it accessible to people in Northern Ireland.

“The Open learning programme attracts thousands of participants each year. And people come from as far away as Dublin and Derry/Londonderry to take part. There are no entry qualifications, and enrolling is easy, as participants can join the programme by going online, phoning, writing or by calling in to the Open Learning Office. There are a wide range of concessions available.”

For the full online Open Learning prospectus visit:

Media inquiries to Queen's Communications Office on 02890973091 or

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