July 2013 press releases

Queen’s University’s Sinéad Morrissey named first ever Belfast Poet Laureate

A Queen’s University award-winning poet has been named as the first ever Belfast Poet Laureate.

Dr Sinéad Morrissey, Reader in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre at the School of English at Queen’s, was appointed Belfast Poet Laureate by the Lord Mayor of Belfast as he revealed his Vision for Belfast today (31 July).

The Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Moviehouse Cinemas and Arts and Business established the role of Belfast Poet Laureate to undertake a series of artistic duties and activities over the duration of the current Lord Mayor’s tenure of office.

In the role as Poet Laureate, Dr Morrissey will engage the people of Belfast in poetry, through a series of events, community outreach to art groups, language organisations and minority groups.  She has also been commissioned to produce a series of poems about Belfast and the year as the city’s Poet that explores the theme ‘My City / Mo Chathair Féin.

Speaking about her appointment Dr Morrissey said: “Belfast is a city with an extraordinary literary tradition, especially in relation to poetry. I am therefore hugely honoured to be appointed Belfast's first Poet Laureate, and am excited to celebrate and explore further both the city and poetry in the year ahead."

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, at the Arts Council commented, “The Arts Council is delighted that the Lord Mayor has chosen Sinéad Morrissey as Belfast’s first Poet Laureate.  Sinéad has been an outstanding voice in contemporary poetry for 15 years, winning multiple prestigious awards, including a Major Individual Artist award from the Arts Council and she is currently shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Prize for Poetry. In her role as Belfast Poet Laureate, Sinéad will bring poetry to all the people of Belfast, reflecting the creativity of women and their contribution to the historical and contemporary life and character of the city.”

Speaking about his Vision for Belfast, Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, said: “In all of my work, I pledge to remain relentlessly positive about Belfast, its people and its future.  Today I am revealing my vision of how I can use the office of Mayor to build a better Belfast. “

The role of Poet Laureate has a dual nature, public and private, some aspects of the role are primarily for the benefit of the community, while others are primarily to develop the poet’s artistic career.  In her outreach, Sinéad will focus on the ‘Hidden Belfast’, working with ethnic groups in the city, the young, the vulnerable; helping demonstrating how together, they join, in making one city, one Belfast.

For further information on Sinead Morrissey and the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry visit: 

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Communications Office. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 or email

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Queen’s Professor appointed to new UK Food Economy Task Force

A Queen’s University Professor has been appointed to the new UK Food Economy Task Force which aims to boost the UK’s food economy through world class collaboration.

Professor Chris Elliott, Director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University, joins fifteen leaders from business, universities and government in the Task Force launched by the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB.).  The task force will be chaired by Justin King, Chief Executive, Sainsbury’s  and has been set up to ensure that business and university activities are aligned to get maximum economic impact for the UK globally and to keep the country at the forefront of food security.

This is the latest high profile appointment for Professor Elliott who, last month, was chosen by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Health to lead an independent review of Britain’s food system in light of the recent horsemeat fraud.

Speaking about his most recent appointment, Professor Elliott said: “Food production is a truly global and highly competitive business. The UK must produce the highest quality graduates that will understand the complexities and opportunities of operating in the global marketplace. The establishment of the Task Force is an important step in the further development of vital industry-academia partnerships.”

Dr David Docherty, CEO of the NCUB, said, “Industry and higher education must unite effectively to tackle the challenges of a world-leading food sector, and the Task Force will make a major contribution to this effective collaboration.”

Professor Chris Elliott is Professor of Food Safety and Director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast. The recently opened £33m Institute is improving global food security through the establishment of an international ‘food-fortress’ in Belfast.  It will be a key partner in national and global efforts to provide the world’s growing population with a sustainable, safe and secure supply of high quality food.  

Professor Elliott has published over 240 peer review articles, many of them relating to the detection and control of agriculture, food and environmental-related complaints. His main research interest is the development of innovative techniques to provide early warning of threats across the entire fresh water and agri-food supply chains. Protecting the integrity of the food supply chain is also a key research driver.

Queen’s in partnership with safefood, the all-island body to promote awareness and knowledge of food safety and nutrition issues in Ireland, is set to showcase the latest international developments in food safety and traceability at a major conference next year. The second Food Integrity and Traceability Conference will take place at Queen’s from 8-10 April 2014. Featuring experts from Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security and from around the world, the event will showcase progress in delivering safe and authentic food to consumers and explore current and emerging threats to the integrity of the agri-food chain.

For media inquiries contact Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s Communications Office, on 028 9097 3087 or

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Queen’s University develops key technology for Europe's next generation weather satellites

Queen's University Belfast has been appointed part of a UK group who will build one of the key instruments on Europe's next-generation of weather satellites.

The research, by Queen’s University’s Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), on Frequency Selective Surface (FSS) structures has led to major advances in the design and manufacture of the next generation of Earth observation satellites.   The new technology makes it possible to combine different functions into one instrument reducing costs by £30million.

The UK’s Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, announced last week at the UK Space Conference in Glasgow that the UK has secured the key MetOp Weather satellite contract.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has appointed satellite services provider Astrium UK to make a follow-on technology to the Microwave Humidity Sounder (MHS), which feeds data into multi-day forecasts. Depending on how many units are purchased, the contract could be worth up to £150m (170m euros). The new instrument, to be known as the MicroWave Sounder (MWS), will have significantly improved performance.

MWS production will be led from Astrium's Portsmouth facility, but key contributions will also come from Queen's University Belfast, SEA Ltd, JCR Systems Ltd, and the Rutherford Appleton Lab in Oxfordshire.

Queen’s University’s Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) is developing the Quasi Optical filter technology which will be used in the microwave receiver of the instrument to separate the thermal emissions collected by the antenna from Earth. The team from ECIT working on the technology is led by Dr Raymond Dickie, Dr Robert Cahill and Professor Vince Fusco.

The new MWS instrument will measure temperature and water content at different altitudes. It is fundamental information needed by the computer models that look at what the weather is likely to be several days ahead.

Dr Robert Cahill from ECIT at Queen’s said: “I am very pleased that Queen’s has been selected by ESA to develop and breadboard the microwave FSS devices which are the critical components that form the core of the radiometer instrumentation. This is a result of a decade long partnership between Queen's and ESA, the UK Space Agency, Astrium and RAL Space to exploit the patented PhD research work of Raymond Dickie who is a key member of the project team.”

A statement from Astrium said: “Queen’s University has made a significant and recognised contribution to the growth of the UK space industry by developing their new technologies.  Queen’s research contributed directly to the UK space industry securing a multi-million pound contract for advanced instrument development.”

For media inquiries contact Queen’s Communications Office on 028 9097 3091 or

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9 out of 10 survive skin cancer in Northern Ireland, but we still need to take care in the sun

Nine out of ten people diagnosed with the most dangerous form of skin cancer in Northern Ireland now survive the disease, compared with eight out of ten people in the rest of the UK. That’s according to the latest figures from Queen’s University’s Northern Ireland Cancer Registry.

The Northern Ireland figures are included in UK-wide report on malignant melanoma rates published today (Monday 22 July) by Cancer Research UK. Northern Ireland has seen a slight increase in survival rates for the disease, despite a large increase in the number of cases being diagnosed, particularly among men. 

The data from the Queen’s Northern Ireland Cancer Registry shows that 89.9 per cent of those diagnosed with malignant melanoma between 2002-2006 were still alive five years after their diagnosis. This is a slight increase on the 89.3 per cent five-year survival rate for those diagnosed between 1993-1996.  Survival is better in women than men.  This improved survival means there were almost 3,000 people living in Northern Ireland who had a diagnosis of cancer in the past 18 years (1,078 men and 1,779 women).

The total number of cases of the disease diagnosed in Northern Ireland has increased from 182 in 1993 to 296 in 2011. Number of cases diagnosed among men more than doubled from 58 in 1993 to 126 in 2011. Despite this, women still account for the majority of cases diagnosed. Of the 296 cases identified in 2011, 57 per cent were in women and 43 per cent were in men.

Dr Anna Gavin, Director of Queen’s Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, says today’s report from Cancer Research UK is a timely reminder of the importance of staying safe in the sun. She said: “Northern Ireland’s survival rates for malignant melanoma are among the best in Europe. That is largely due to improvements in treatment, awareness of symptoms and early diagnosis.

“Skin cancer is one of the fastest rising cancers in the UK, and Northern Ireland is no exception. This is likely due to sunbathing habits and the increase in the availability of cheap package holidays. But as the last few weeks have shown, you don’t have to go abroad to be exposed to the sun’s harmful rays. Even on a cloudy day here in Northern Ireland, the sun will cause damage to the skin, and that damage can lead to cancer.

“People can reduce their risk of developing malignant melanoma by following this advice: seek the shade between 11am-3pm when the sun is at its strongest; cover-up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses; and always wear sun cream with a minimum SPF 15.

“Malignant melanoma is one of the most treatable forms of cancer. But early diagnosis is crucial. That’s why it is important to get to know your skin, and if you notice anything unusual get it checked by your GP. Things to look out for are a change to a mole or a blemish the size of the blunt end of a pencil, or bigger, that has changed in colour, size or texture, or is bleeding or itching.

“More and more people in Northern Ireland are surviving skin cancer, but it is important that we continue to work together to develop better treatments for the one person in ten  - that’s around 50 people per year - who do not survive the disease. Our colleagues in Queen’s Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, are at the centre of this work, with 300 researchers from around the world developing innovative cancer diagnosis and treatments and pioneering advances in patient care.”

For more information on Queen’s Northern Ireland Cancer Registry visit

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5320

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Cheaper anti-cancer drug as effective as expensive drug in treating most common cause of blindness in older adults

An anti-cancer drug has been proven to be equally as effective in treating the most common cause of blindness in older adults as a more expensive drug specifically formulated for this purpose.

The results of a two-year trial, led by Queen’s scientist Professor Usha Chakravarthy, and published in The Lancet today (Friday 19 July), show that two drug treatments Lucentis and Avastin are equally effective in treating neovascular or wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD).

Wet AMD is a common cause of sight loss in older people with at least 23,000 older people diagnosed with the condition in the UK each year.  Without treatment two thirds of people with this condition will experience severe loss of sight within two years of being diagnosed.

Lucentis, the drug most commonly used in the UK at present to treat wet AMD, costs about £700 per injection and Avastin costs about £60 per injection.  The NHS could save £84.5 million annually based on injecting 17,295 eyes each year by switching from Lucentis to Avastin.  Avastin is already used to treat wet AMD in some parts of the UK and extensively elsewhere in the world and also for other eye conditions.

Over the past five years, a team of scientists and eye specialists from 23 hospitals and UK universities, including Queen’s University Belfast, University of Bristol, University of Liverpool, University of Southampton and University of Oxford, have investigated whether Lucentis and Avastin and the way they are given are equally effective and safe. 

610 people with wet AMD entered a two-year trial known as IVAN which is one of the largest ever carried out in the field of eye disease in the UK. Patients received injections of the drug into the affected eye every month for the first three months.  Patients were then subdivided to receive the injections at every visit (monthly group) or only if the specialist decided there was persistent disease activity (as needed group).

The IVAN study’s two year results show that sight was equally well preserved with either of the two drugs.  Giving the treatment regularly every month, resulted in slightly better levels of sight which was detected through testing of near visual acuity and contrast sensitivity.  The ‘as needed’ group received on average 13 injections over the two year period compared to 23 for the monthly treatment group.  However, continuous treatment caused a higher proportion of eyes to develop a condition known as geographic atrophy which is a thinning of the retina and its blood supply.

Professor Usha Chakravarthy of Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Vision and Vascular Science, who led the research study team said: “The IVAN results at the end of year two show that Lucentis and Avastin have similar functional effectiveness regardless of the drug received.  With respect to monthly versus as needed treatment, while there was marginally better eyesight in the former, the development of atrophy is a matter of concern in the longer term.”

The IVAN study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme.   The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust sponsored the clinical trial. Professor Ian Young, Director of Research and Development at the Trust said: "The findings of the IVAN study will be of great importance for the management of patients with wet AMD throughout the world.  Research to improve patient care is a key aspect of the work of Belfast Trust, and we are committed to sponsoring and leading important clinical trials of this kind which allow our patients early access to new treatments."

Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director, Health and Social Care Research and Development Division of the Public Health Agency, which supported the trial said: “With increasing life expectancy and a growing proportion of older people in the population, slowing the progress of conditions like AMD is key to maintaining their independence.  The IVAN trial is an example of research led from Northern Ireland with international significance - the findings have the potential to influence how AMD is managed in the future.”

The IVAN study also monitored the drugs for serious adverse events which included death, heart attacks, strokes, and any other event that was life threatening, disabling or resulted in hospitalisation.  These were similar for the two drugs.  However, deaths occurred less frequently in the group that received monthly treatment, although there were fewer deaths overall among people taking part in the trial than were expected based on their age and gender and national death rates.  When these safety results were combined with those of a similar study called the CATT trial which was performed in the USA, the resultant findings continued to indicate fewer deaths when treatment was given monthly.

The researchers state that their findings will be of relevance to the next round of technology appraisals by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and could lead to important changes to the way wet AMD is treated.  In the meantime, for an older person starting a course of Lucentis or Avastin, it will be important to explain the trade-off between the number of injections, and the chances of developing geographic atrophy and risk of mortality in two years.

Watch the Q in 60 video - Five things you need to know

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office on Tel: +44 (0)28 90 97 5391

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Queen’s University part of £10million UK project to boost links with industry

Queen’s University Belfast is to be part of a UK-wide centre to boost links between academia and industry in the emerging field of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology involves the manufacturing of tiny devices from cells. These devices have a huge number of applications, from producing new, more sustainable fuels to monitoring and improving our health.

Queen’s is one of 18 universities and 13 industrial partners, including the research arms of Microsoft, Shell and GlaxoSmithKline, which will be involved in the SynbiCITE Innovation and Knowledge Centre. Its main aim is to translate research in synthetic biology into industrial process and products.

SynbiCITE is led by Imperial College London and is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research (BBSRC) and Technology Strategy Board.

Professor Christine Maggs, Head of the School of Biological Sciences, will lead Queen’s involvement in SynbiCITE, which will also involve the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and the School of Pharmacy.

Professor Maggs said: “Synthetic biology could be the next ‘industrial revolution’ for the UK. With potentially huge benefits for health, agriculture, food production, the environment and the production of chemicals, its applications are limitless.

“At Queen’s, we undertake cutting-edge research in biocatalysis, which is a core element of synthetic biology. Biocatalysis involves using natural substances – enzymes or cells – to speed up chemical reactions. Enzymes are at the centre of every reaction that take place in every living thing. They are also used in chemical processes - to produce food, for example, or in tests to diagnose illnesses.

“Our work focusses on creating new methods to develop enzymes in a laboratory setting, so that they can be used in industrial applications. As a SynbiCITE partner, we have the opportunity to collaborate with other leading researchers in this area to help drive forward this important work.”

Professor Chris Hardacre, Head of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, said: “Queen’s involvement in this project will allow the University to take the science of synthetic biology out of academia and into practice. This will provide opportunities for local companies, many of which are already collaborating with us, to access the expertise within the SynbiCITE centre.

“As a member of the EPSRC funded UK Catalysis Hub, for example, we are already conducting ground-breaking research to understand the principles that underpin clean energy production, clean chemical production or ‘green chemistry’, and environmental protection. This is an area in which we have developed close links with industry in Northern Ireland and beyond, which will continue to flourish as a result of our involvement in SynbiCITE.”

Synthetic biology has been identified by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, as one of the Eight Great Technologies that the UK needs to prioritise. Announcing the funding for SynbiCITE, Mr Willets said: “Synthetic biology has huge potential for our economy and society in so many areas, from life sciences to agriculture. But to realise this potential we need to ensure researchers and business work together. This new Innovation and Knowledge Centre will help advance scientific knowledge and turn cutting edge research into commercial success.”

Professor David Delpy, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said “Synthetic Biology is an EPSRC priority area. This new Innovation and Knowledge Centre, the seventh we have co-funded, will link universities to industries and accelerate the transition of discoveries from the laboratory to the factory.”

SynbiCITE is Queen’s second Innovation and Knowledge Centre, alongside the Centre for Security Information Technologies which is the UK’s leading university centre for cyber security research.

Media inquiries to Jane Veitch at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5310

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Queen’s students in major archaeological find in Dundrum

An item thought to be a Medieval Lime Kiln dating back to the 12th Century, has been excavated by Queen’s University students on the site of Dundrum Castle in County Down.

The Castle has been part of the County Down landscape for almost 1000 years, and now a group of Queen’s Archaeology students have helped unearth this major discovery on the site.  The lime kiln is thought to have been used to create the mortar which would have been needed for construction on the site and therefore may predate the Castle which stands on the Dundrum hills. 

The excavation work has been overseen by Queen’s Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork (CAF), which is based within the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology. CAF carries out archaeology work for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).  The students have been working directly with CAF staff to record soil samples and artefacts, which are found during the work.

Brian Stone, CAF’s Assistant Excavation Director, commented:  “We started exploring this section last year and knew something was here, now through this excavation we have discovered what we think to be a lime kiln, most likely used to make the mortar to build the Castle.  We think that the lime kiln may date back to the 12th Century.  We hope that when we reach the bottom, we will find evidence of the fuel they used, mostly likely charcoal, and will be able to use this to carry out carbon dating.  We are also finding a number of artefacts, such as pottery and animal bones.  This helps us to piece together what life would have been like for people living close to the Castle at the time the kiln was in use.”

Dundrum Castle has been the site of archaeological interest for many years, and recently has been the venue for the filming of Channel 4’s Time Team.  The current excavation has taken several weeks and the students have been able to assist in each stage of the work, from initial surveys to recording of artefacts.

First Year Archaeology student Roisin O’Neill said:  “It has been exhausting taking part in the work but really worthwhile.  We have been working on the site for four weeks, and it has been a great opportunity as we have never been involved in an archaeological dig like this before.  I have had a great experience and I know that few universities offer students the chance to be involved in this type of excavation work.”

Fieldwork is an important element of many of the courses within the School as it allows students the opportunity to see how their theory is applied in real life situations.  It also gives additional experience in practical fieldwork, which is vital for students who have aspirations of continuing to employment in professional archaeology.

For more information please contact Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5320 email

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National teaching award for Queen’s academic

A Queen’s University academic has been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship – the UK’s most prestigious award for excellence in higher education teaching and support for learning.

Dr Tess Maginess, from outside Moy, is one of only 55 higher education staff from across Northern Ireland, England and Wales to receive the award of £10,000, which will support her professional development. Over 180 people were nominated for the Fellowships from the Higher Education Academy (HEA), which are open to staff whose teaching or support enhance the student learning experience.

Dr Maginess is Director of Undergraduate Programmes at Queen’s School of Education where she teaches, designs new modules and co-ordinates provision. She has strategic responsibility for the Open learning programme which attracts thousands of students each year.

Dr Maginess said: “Queen’s prides itself on its world-class staff and teaching environment, which nurtures our students’ passion for learning. I am delighted to receive this honour for being part of that and for doing something that I love – creating new and exciting learning opportunities for students in the School of Education and for the whole community, who can avail of the University’s wide range of Open Learning courses. I am extremely grateful to my colleagues in the School of Education and to my students, without whose inspiration this Fellowship award would not be possible.”

Professor Craig Mahoney, Chief Executive of the HEA, said: "Becoming a National Teaching Fellow is a great honour and will undoubtedly lead to many new and exciting challenges, but I believe that it is students who will benefit most from these awards. Our students deserve the best possible learning experience and it is colleagues like those we celebrate who can make a real difference to their futures.”

The National Teaching Fellowship scheme is funded by the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

For more information on Queen’s School of Education visit

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5320

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Dragon’s Den star and leading volunteer named as Queen’s Graduate and Student of the Year

Entrepreneur, philanthropist and Irish television ‘dragon’, Ramona Nicholas has been chosen as the winner of the annual First Trust Bank Queen’s Graduate of the Year competition. Undergraduate medical student Aidan Bannon from Belfast is the recipient of the Student of the Year Award.

The Awards are presented by Queen’s Graduates’ Association (QGA) supported by First Trust Bank and are one of the highlights of Graduation Week. Now in their 15th year, they recognise exceptional graduates and students for excellence, achievement or service either to the University or to the wider community.

Endorsing the awards, Mark McKeown, Manager of First Trust Bank, University Road branch, said: “We have been supporting these prestigious Awards since their inception and are very proud to be associated with such an important event in the Queen’s University calendar.

“Our endorsement recognises and celebrates the achievements of so many Queen's students and graduates who make such an invaluable contribution to life in Northern Ireland and beyond. This year’s winners – Ramona and Aidan – are inspirational role models for all students but especially those considering a career in business.”

Ramona Nicholas grew up in Ardboe, Co Tyrone and attended St Patrick's Girls Academy Grammar School in Dungannon before coming to Queen’s to study Pharmacy. Along with her now husband, Canice, she set up Cara Pharmacy in September 2002. The award-winning group now owns 15 businesses - 12 pharmacies and Cara Home Stores, its household division. A strong advocate of female entrepreneurship and science, Ramona became the sixth ‘dragon’ on RTÉ’s Dragon’s Den programme.

Medical student Aidan Bannon will receive the coveted Student of the Year Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to University life. Aidan, who has just finished his third year at Queen’s, hopes to graduate in 2015. He was singled out for founding the Queen’s University Red Cross society, for his leadership in the Student Volunteer Academy and for spearheading the Mind Yer Mate Campaign. Aidan, who has clocked up over 500 volunteer hours in the past year whilst still excelling in his studies, also picked up the Student Volunteer of the Year accolade, presented by Queen’s Students’ Union on 3 June at its Volunteering Excellency Awards night.

Catherine Vint, President of the Queen’s Graduates’ Association, believes that the Graduate and Student of the Year Awards are a true recognition of all that is best about Queen’s. She said: “The Graduate and Student of the Year Awards recognise the huge achievements and impact of our alumni and students. Aidan Bannon is an individual of great energy, passion and commitment, while Ramona Nicholas is a graduate of inspiration not just for budding entrepreneurs but also for young women and for those thinking about studying science subjects. Both this year’s winners are richly deserved and are great exemplars for the University.”
The student winner receives a trophy and £500 and the graduate winner also receives a trophy.

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

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Northern Ireland business leaders honoured at Queen’s

Two of Northern Ireland’s business leaders, Dr Len O’Hagan and Ed Vernon OBE, will be honoured at Queen’s University today (Friday 5 July).

Dr Len O’Hagan, who is Chairman of Belfast Harbour Commissioners, will be honoured for exceptional services to business and commerce.  A Queen’s graduate of economics, Dr O’Hagan has held a number of senior positions with a range of international companies, including Managing Director in the Jefferson Smurfit Group, CEO of Fitzwilton PLC and Chairman of Safeway Ireland. He is also currently Chairman of business consultancy company OHC Corporate Advisers Ltd, Chairman of Rockingham Motor Circuit, and Vice President of the Ireland US Council.

Speaking about his honour, Dr. O’Hagan, said: “I have been very fortunate to work with some of the best business people on this island, be that as Chairman of Belfast Harbour or Resource Group, or in roles with firms such as Fitzwilton PLC, Jefferson Smurfit and Independent News & Media PLC.  I am delighted to receive this honorary doctorate from Queen’s which should be taken as a reflection of the major economic contribution these companies have made.”

He will be joined by Ed Vernon OBE who is also being honoured for exceptional services to business and commerce.  Ed Vernon, a Queen’s graduate, played a vital role in the economic development of Northern Ireland and leads the Asset Management Group of the Strategic Investment Board reporting to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.  He was pivotal in establishing the Founders’ Club at Queen’s University Postgraduate and Executive Education Centre which works in partnership with world-class business educators at Queen's University Management School.

Ahead of receiving his degree Mr Vernon said: “Receiving an honorary doctorate from Queen’s, a University that places such emphasis on business and economic links, is a huge honour.  From the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute which supports the Northern Ireland economy through the ongoing development of business leaders, to the many spinout companies coming from the University, shows just how tuned in Queen’s is to business, both locally and internationally.”

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: 028 9097 5391 or email

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Double celebration for Belfast brothers

It’s a double celebration for two Belfast brothers as they graduate from Queen’s University this week.

Kevin and Fintan Smith, from Finaghy will graduate with a Masters in Civil Engineering and a BSc in Computer and Information Technology, respectively.

Kevin, the older of the two brothers, spent a placement year in New Zealand as part of the IAESTE programme and has just been awarded a postgraduate Fulbright Scholarship to Boston University next year where he will study a Masters in International Relations and Environmental Policy.  Fintan also successfully completed a placement year with Thales in Belfast.

Speaking ahead of graduation, Kevin said: “Queen’s has given me and my brother some great opportunities to travel and gain real workplace experience in our placement years.  I’m delighted to have been selected for the Fulbright Scholarship for 2013/14 and am looking forward to celebrating this along with our graduations this week.”

Fintan said: “Kevin was expected to be the first Smith from our extended family to graduate from University but because of the length of his degree and the timing of graduation I will actually graduate two days before him. Through the opportunities presented to us at Queen’s we are feeling confident about entering the workplace and putting our skills and knowledge to good use.”

Fintan and Kevin will celebrate their graduation with their parents Angelina and Brendan, brother Michael and grandmother Kathleen.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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Sister Act for Newry students

It’s a family affair for two Newry sisters as they both graduate from Queen’s University this week.

Riona is graduating with a BSc Hons in Business Management from the Queen’s University Management School and Richella Canavan is graduating with a Bachelor of Education from St. Mary's University College.

The sisters won’t rest for long after their celebrations as Richella heads off to Thailand for a month before starting her job as a primary school teacher in Manchester, with Riona beginning a PGCE in Business in September.

Speaking ahead of their graduation Richella said: “We’ve both really enjoyed our time at Queen’s and the amazing travel and placement opportunities we’ve had.  My four year degree included an opportunity to go on the Erasmus Programme for three months to The Netherlands.  Riona’s lasted three years with a one year placement at First Derivatives, which she really enjoyed.”

Riona said: “Richella and I are quite different and we have taken different paths into teaching.  Richella has done more travelling and is off to Thailand in July whereas I haven’t done as much, but would like to do America in the future.  In saying that we very much enjoy each other’s company and are looking forward to celebrating our graduations together.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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World record holder honoured by Queen’s
Michael McKillip
Michael McKillip
Sir Ken Robinson
Sir Ken Robinson

Gold winning paralympian Michael McKillop, international adviser on education Sir Ken Robinson and award winning writer Hilary Mantel CBE are being honoured at Queen’s University today (Thursday 4 July).

Michael McKillop is being honoured for exceptional services to sport. His career as an Irish middle distance runner and Paralympian has seen him compete in two Paralympics and break a number of world records. In the London 2012 Paralympics he won gold in the 800metres setting a new T37 World Record, as well as winning the 1,500metres and setting a new Paralympic Games record.

Speaking about his honour, Michael McKillop said: “To receive an Honorary Degree from a University that places such emphasis on sporting excellence is a huge honour. The vast range of sports scholarships available at Queen’s, along with its world-class facilities at the PEC and Upper Malone Playing Fields, make Queen’s one of the premier sporting universities in the UK – and I am delighted that I will become one of the University’s honorary graduates.”

Also being honoured is the award winning English writer Hilary Mantel CBE who will receive her degree for exceptional services to literature.  Hilary Mantel is the only woman to win the Man Booker Prize twice for her work Wolf Hall in 2009 and Bring Up the Bodies in 2012.
Hilary Mantel said: "It is a privilege to be able to share a special day with the new graduates, and a delight to receive an Honourary Degree from so distinguished a University."

They will be joined by English author, speaker, and international advisor on education in the arts, Sir Ken Robinson, who is being honoured for exceptional services to education.  He was the principal author of The Arts in Schools: Principles, Practice and Provision, a standard text in the UK and around the world.  His report, All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education also known as the Robinson Report, had a huge impact on both government and corporate attitudes towards creativity. He was the central figure in a strategy for creative and economic development in Northern Ireland, where his blueprint for change, Unlocking Creativity, was adopted by Ministers from all parties.  

Delivering the citation, Professor Tony Gallagher, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Planning, Staffing and External Relations at Queen’s, said: “Ken Robinson is a world re-knowned leader in creativity and education. His lectures and books have inspired generations of teachers, and his TED lectures are among the most popular on the web. More than this, Ken Robinson offers us a world of possibility. To him, age and occupation are no barriers to achievement – everyone has a talent, and it is the job of educators to find and nurture that talent. He describes this process as ‘finding your element’.”

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: 028 9097 5391 or email

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85 year old’s journey from Queen’s Island to Queen’s University

The old adage, ‘You’re never too old’ certainly applies to Jim Shaw. The 85 year old from Belfast is graduating from Queen’s today (Thursday 4 July) with a Bachelor of Theology.

The former naval architect’s interest in Theology started over 40 years ago but in 2003, after completing an Access Course at Irish Baptist College, he decided to take his hobby further and study for a degree.

Jim said: “I wanted to be able to read ancient biblical manuscripts and learn Greek and Hebrew. I’d been using the library at Union Theological College for years, listening in on classes but I always wanted to read the ancient texts. I decided to start studying part-time. My wife was very ill and it gave me another interest to focus on.”

Jim’s working life was spent in the shipbuilding and marine industry. He started an apprenticeship with Harland and Wolf in 1941. He studied Naval Architecture at night before going on to become a steelworker in 1946. In 1958 he was appointed a surveyor of ships in Glasgow and in 1965 he moved to the Marine Survey Office in London. He continued working in marine surveying all around the UK until his retirement in 1991.

Commenting on his love of learning he said: “When I was a young man in the shipyard my workmates called me the Professor because I always wanted to know more, I even taught myself French. So I like to think of it as a journey from Queen’s Island to Queen’s University. I would say you’re never too old to study and I want to encourage any older person thinking of studying to do it. The student experience at Queen’s is world-class and the staff in the University encouraged me every step of the way.”

Jim is 86 in September and has no intention of slowing down. He plans to continue working on his Hebrew.

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Team GB mastermind and international leading scientists honoured at Queen’s
Dr Wejdan Abu-Elhaija
Dr Wejdan Abu-Elhaija

The woman behind the UK’s huge advances in elite sports and three leading international scientists are being honoured at Queen’s University today (Wednesday 3 July).

Baroness Sue Campbell CBE, the former Chair of UK Sport, who is widely credited with masterminding the UK’s huge medal haul at the London 2012 Olympics, will receive an Honorary Doctorate from Queen’s for exceptional services to sport.

Gary Jebb, Director of Estates at Queen’s, will deliver the citation for Baroness Campbell. He said: “As Chair of the Youth Sport Trust, Baroness Campbell’s mission is to create a brighter future for young people through physical education and sport. This reflects Queen’s own vision and led us to develop the world-class facilities now enjoyed by our students. Baroness Campbell is an inspirational leader and motivator and a champion of sport at all levels. She is a shining example to all our students, on and off the sportsfield, and we are delighted to honour her at Queen’s today.”

Baroness Campbell will be joined by leading chemist Professor Jim Swindall CBE, who will receive an Honorary Degree for exceptional services to science.  Professor Swindall is Co-Director of QUILL, the Queen’s University Ionic Liquids Laboratories research centre, whose work on ionic liquids was recently voted the Most Important British Innovation of the 21st Century.  The ionic liquid technology developed by Professor Swindall and his colleagues is already being used commercially to remove mercury from natural gas by Fortune 500 company Petronas in Malaysia.

Speaking about his honour Professor Swindall said:  “Queen’s links with industry and international research collaborations have a very real impact on the research we do here at the University.  I regard the award of an Honorary Degree by Queen’s as the greatest honour the University could bestow upon me and I am delighted to accept.” Also being honoured are international scientists Dr Wejdan Abu-Elhaija and Professor Avadhesha Surolia.

Dr Wejdan Abu-Elhaija will be honoured for exceptional services to engineering.  She is Dean of the King Abdullah II School for Electrical Engineering at Princess Sumaya University for Technology making her the first female Dean of Engineering in any university in Jordan.  She was honoured with the award of becoming a member of the US Department of State’s 2012 Women in Science Hall of Fame.

Professor Avadhesha Surolia will be honoured for exceptional services to medicine and science.  He is currently Professor of Biophysics in the Molecular Biophysics Unit of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India.  He was formerly Director of the National Institute of Immunology (NII) in New Delhi, India.  His work has strongly influenced immunology research internationally and his original strategies for drug and DNA delivery are widely acclaimed.  Professor Surolia has been responsible for moving forward collaborative research links with Queen’s and, in particular, the development of research synergies between NII and the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences.

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: 028 9097 5391 or email

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Touch-down for international jet setter

A County Down student who has travelled to different parts of the world as part of his studies will graduate from Queen’s University today (Wednesday 3 July).

Declan Cole, from Ballymartin, will graduate with a BSc in Geography before embarking on a Masters in Corporate Governance at Queen’s.

Declan has travelled to various parts of the world throughout his time studying at Queen’s including a year at Westminster College in Pennsylvania as part of the US-UK Fulbright Scholarship programme.  While in the USA Declan studied Business and came second in the SIFE Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In addition to his travels to the USA, Declan has studied in Cyprus focusing on sustainable development, EU Law and Environmental Law.  He was also selected as the only student to be part of a UK delegation to travel to Sudan where they were involved in consultancy, business advisory and community work.

Speaking ahead of his graduation, Declan said: “Queen’s emphasis on providing high quality international opportunities has afforded me many invaluable experiences throughout my time here. The Fulbright Scholarship gave me an opportunity to experience education and life in the USA.  I could never have imagined the wide range of opportunities and scholarships available to students at Queen’s for international travel.  I’m looking forward to graduating and celebrating all of my achievements made at home and abroad.”

Declan Cole will celebrate his graduation with his parents Julie and Kieran and grandmother Margaret-Rose Curran.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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It’s a family affair for two Randalstown brothers

It’s a family affair for two Randalstown brothers as they both graduate from Queen’s University today (Wednesday 3 July).

Gerard McKeown will graduate with a PhD in Theoretical Physics and his younger brother Brian will graduate with a Masters in Chemistry. 

Gerard has already secured a job in London and has a twin who is undertaking a PhD at Queen’s.

Looking forward to the day Gerard said: “It’s great to be graduating with my younger brother Brian on the same day.  I'm really pleased with his degree result especially given the hard science discipline, something which should offer many opportunities in the future .  My brother and I have really enjoyed our time at Queen’s and it’s nice to be able to celebrate together after all the hard work.”

Gerard and Brian will celebrate their graduation alongside their parents Brian and Eileen and sister Lucia.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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A marriage of minds for two mature students at Queen’s

It is a case of marriage of minds for a husband and wife who are both graduating from Queen’s University today (Wednesday 3 July).

Mature students Lisa Coyle McClung and her husband Keith McClung will graduate with a PhD in Palaeoceology and an MSc in Physics respectively.

Lisa and Keith both returned to education after working professionally for many years.  After graduation Lisa will continue to work as a part-time curator of the map library at Queen’s while she seeks post-doctorate positions, meanwhile Keith has been accepted to undertake a PhD at the Centre for Nanostructured Media at Queen’s after being awarded a first class honours in his MSc.

Lisa and Keith, who have been together for 13 years, got married on Lisa’s 40th birthday which Keith planned as a surprise and which he claims now means he only has to remember one date not two.

Looking forward to their graduation, Lisa said: “We are surprised and delighted to be graduating on the same day.  It has been a long road to get here but we’re both so incredibly proud of each other and what we’ve achieved together and to celebrate our graduations on the same day is just the icing on the cake.”

Keith said: “People are sometimes daunted by the thought of returning to education after working for many years.  Lisa and I are an example of what can be achieved as mature students.  Queen’s has been extremely supportive of us and I would encourage anyone considering a return to education as a mature student.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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Graduation then marriage for Belfast Doctor

A Queen’s student will have to get used to two new titles within a week as she graduates on Tuesday and gets married two days later.

Heather Davidson from Belfast will graduate with a degree in Medicine at Queen’s today (Tuesday 2 July) and gets married on Thursday (4 July) which means her name will change from Miss Davidson to Dr Hamilton within two days.

Heather’s bridesmaid, Lauren Beck, will also graduate this week with a Bachelors in Music.

After graduation and the wedding Heather has time to honeymoon before starting work as a Junior Doctor in the Mater Hospital in August.

Speaking ahead of her graduation Heather said: “This is just the most exciting week of my life and I’m really looking forward to graduation and the wedding.  My fiancé Aaron has been a wonderful support to me as I finished my studies and we organised the wedding and we’re very much looking forward to enjoying ourselves this week.  The name change twice in one week will certainly take a lot of getting used to. I just hope I don’t forget to respond when people call me Dr and Mrs Hamilton instead of Miss Davidson.”

Heather will celebrate her graduation with her parents and fiancé Aaron.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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New NUS-USI President takes office the day before graduation

There’s little time to rest for the new NUS-USI President who took up office yesterday, a day before graduating from Queen’s.

Rebecca Hall, from Lancashire, will graduate with a degree in Social Anthropology today (Tuesday 3 July).

Throughout her three years at Queen’s Rebecca was Chair of Queen’s Labour Students, as well as becoming the Youth and Student Officer for the Labour Party in Northern Ireland.

As President of the NUS-USI Rebecca will provide representation and support to students throughout their time at University or College in Northern Ireland.

Speaking ahead of her graduation and taking office, Rebecca said: “My time at Queen's has been an incredible experience and I'd like to thank the University, my lecturers and everybody in the Students' Union for making my time here so fantastic. Student politics really opened my eyes when I came to Northern Ireland and to Queen’s and I wouldn't be where I am today without that experience. I am honoured to be the first GB student to be appointed President of the NUS-USI and I look forward to working with the new Queen’s Students’ Union President Niall McShane in the coming months.”

Rebecca will celebrate her graduation with her parents and grandparents.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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Award winning Irish author, distinguished historian and pharmaceutical industry leader honoured at Queen’s
Robert Ingram
Robert Ingram
Professor David Hempton
Professor David Hempton

Award winning Irish author Colm McCann, pharmaceutical industry leader Robert Ingram and distinguished historian Professor David Hempton are being honoured at Queen’s University today (Tuesday 2 July).

Colum McCann will be honoured for exceptional services to literature. He is the author of six novels and two collections of stories and was cited in Barack Obama’s recent address at the Waterfront Hall. He has been the recipient of many international honours, including the National Book Award, the International Dublin Impac Prize, a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government, election to the Irish Arts Academy, several European awards, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, and an Oscar nomination.

Colum McCann said: "This is an extraordinary honour for me, one that makes me think about the dissolution of borders.  I was born in Dublin, and I currently live in New York, but my mother was from Northern Ireland.   I feel as if I belong to several places.   Like so many emigrants, this is a chance to come home and celebrate my heritage. I have always regarded Queen’s University Belfast as one of the greatest educational institutions in the world.  I never would have dared to think that I would be given an honorary doctorate.  I am delighted to think that it comes from a place I have long regarded as home.  It seems to me I am a lucky participant in the democracy of stories and story-telling."

Joining him is pharmaceutical industry leader Robert Ingram who is being honoured for exceptional services to medicine and science.  His career spans almost 50 years and includes the position as CEO/Chair of GlaxoWellcome where he co-led the merger and integration that formed GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s second largest pharmaceutical company.  Mr Ingram is currently Chair of the Elan Corporation PLC.

Speaking about his honour, Robert Ingram said: “I am extremely grateful and very proud to receive this honorary degree from Queen’s University. I accept it with genuine modesty as I am fortunate to serve Elan, Ireland’s premier Biotech company. It also has special meaning due to my tremendous respect for Queen’s and, particularly, the work of my great friend, Dr Paddy Johnston.”

Also being honoured is Professor David Hempton for exceptional services to history and divinity.  A Queen’s graduate, he is Dean of the Harvard University Divinity School.  David Hempton is recognised as a world-leading scholar in the social history of religion, with a long list of important publications to his name.

Delivering the citation, Professor David Hayton, from the School of History and Anthropology at Queen’s said: “Professor Hempton’s achievement is marked not only by the appointments he has held, the research fellowships on both sides of the Atlantic to which he has been elected, and the prestigious lecture series he has been invited to deliver, but by his continuing contribution to our understanding of the social context of religion and religious differences. These achievements are further recognised by the honour bestowed upon him at Queen’s today.”

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: 028 9097 5391 or email

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A marriage made in medical heaven for two Queen’s graduates

It could be described as a marriage made in medical heaven for a husband and wife-to-be as they graduate together from Queen’s University today (Tuesday 2 July).

Amy Hunter from Newtonabbey and fiancé Andrew Shannon from Ballyclare will both graduate from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences.  Amy will graduate with a degree in Medicine and Andrew will graduate with a degree in Dental Surgery.

The couple who have been going out since they were at Ballyclare High School together are getting married in January 2014.

Speaking ahead of graduation Amy said: “We’ve been together a long time and have studied in the same School at Queen’s together, so to share our graduation is a very special celebration for us and a day that we’ll remember for a very long time to come.”

Andrew said: “It’s great that Amy and I have similar medical interests so we can help each other out.  To be able to share my graduation with my best friend and fiancée is a very special moment and I look forward to calling Dr Hunter my wife in 2014.”

Andrew and Amy will celebrate their graduation alongside their families including Amy’s sister Claire Hunter who also graduates from Queen’s with a first class honours degree in Law later in the week.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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Sir David Attenborough, Terry George and Avila Kilmurray honoured at Queen’s
Terry George

Veteran broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, Oscar winning film director Terry George and Director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland Avila Kilmurray are being honoured today (Monday 1 July) at Queen’s University.

Sir David Attenborough will be honoured for his exceptional services to science and broadcasting.  His career, as the face and voice of natural history programmes, has spanned more than 50 years. He is best known for writing and presenting the nine Life series, having served as Controller of BBC Two, and Director of Programming for BBC Television in the 1960s and 1970s. He is the only person to have won a BAFTA in black and white, colour, HD and 3D. 

Speaking about receiving his honorary degree from Queen’s, Sir David Attenborough said: “My work in television has been devoted over the years to documenting the natural world, and to explaining both its importance to humanity and its vulnerability.  I am greatly honoured that Queen’s University Belfast should have endorsed that message by granting me this distinguished degree.”

Sir David will be joined by local film director and the only Northern Ireland winner of an Oscar, Terry George, who will receive an honorary degree for exceptional services to film and drama. He is best known for his Co Down film The Shore which won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2012.

On receiving his honour Terry George said: “There's nothing more gratifying than to be recognised and honoured in your homeland. This honour from Queen’s today is a highpoint of my career and an inspiration to continue to strive to create art and entertainment.”

Also receiving an honorary degree is the Director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, Dr Avila Kilmurray, for exceptional services to the community. Dr Kilmurray has been working in Northern Ireland since 1975 on community education projects, a range of anti-poverty initiatives, and the establishment of the Women’s Aid organisation. Dr Kilmurray was active in the Northern Ireland Women’s Rights Movement and was a founding member of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition and its negotiating team for the 1998 Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement.

Speaking ahead of her degree, Dr Kilmurray said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive an honorary degree from Queen’s University.  In receiving an honour for services to the community I want to take this occasion to thank those long term community activists who helped inspire me to work with communities.”

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: 028 9097 5391 or email

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Drama student meets Oscar winner for second time as they graduate together

One lucky drama student has a double celebration as he graduates alongside Oscar winner Terry George today (Monday 1 July).

Ryan Crown from Limavady, who graduates with a first class honours BA in Drama, interviewed the Oscar-winning Director for Queen’s Radio last year when he won the Academy Award for his film The Shore.  He will have the opportunity to meet the Oscar winner again as Terry George receives an honorary doctorate for exceptional services to film and drama in the same ceremony as Ryan.

After graduation Ryan intends to study a Masters in Drama at Queen’s and is this year’s recipient of the Michael Barnes Scholarship. The scholarship, funded by Michael Palin, will provide funds to cover academic fees and maintenance costs to study a Masters in Drama Studies at Queen's.  

Speaking ahead of his graduation Ryan said: “Queen’s has afforded me so many opportunities throughout my studies and the receipt of the Michael Barnes Scholarship is another example of that.  I am honoured and excited to be sharing my graduation day with Oscar winner Terry George and to be able to meet him again after interviewing him for Queen’s Radio makes the day extra special.”

Ryan will celebrate his graduation alongside his parents and girlfriend.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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Double celebration for husband and wife-to-be at Queen’s

It’s a double celebration for an engaged couple as they both graduate from Queen’s University today.

John Moriarty from Dublin and fiancée Jennifer Houle from Vermont in the United States will graduate with PhDs from the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work and the School of Biological Sciences, respectively.

The couple, who met in 2004 as undergraduate students, got engaged at Christmas and plan to get married this September in Maine, USA.

They both intend to stay at Queen’s after graduating with John working in the Institute of Child Care Research and Jennifer will begin a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in August.

Looking forward to their graduation John said: “This is a day of double celebration for Jen and I.  We submitted our theses within 24 hours of each other in March and passed our vivas within 12 days of each other in April and May.  We have always worked closely together and supported each other and to be graduating on the same day is just the icing on the cake.”

Jennifer said: “I’m very much looking forward to our day together and am so proud of what we’ve both achieved.  We’ll take some time to relax after graduation before putting the final touches in place for our wedding in September.”

Jennifer and John will be celebrating their graduation with John’s parents and aunt.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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Queen’s University Belfast announces new Indian Academy

Queen’s University today announced a major new initiative to develop a Queen’s Academy in India (QAI). Over the next four years the Academy will train up to 250 Indian students and university faculty to help expand the number of new, well-qualified university staff available in the North Eastern region of the country.

The initiative will support the Indian Government’s expansion strategy for higher education which aims to develop the university sector within the country.

India’s Minister for the Development of the North East Region, Shri Paban Singh Ghatowar, and the Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Stephen Farry met with representatives from Queen’s this week to discuss the next step for the new Academy.

Queen’s already has several existing partnerships in education and industry in India. The QAI will equip students and staff from new partners Tezpur University, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, Assam University (Silchar), and North Eastern Hill University with PhD and Masters qualifications in research, and Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Teaching.

Speaking about the new Academy, Dr Stephen Farry, Minister for Employment and Learning said: “Forging international partnerships is a key aspect of ‘Graduating to Success’ our Higher Education Strategy for Northern Ireland. Queens are building on this commitment by the proposed development of the Queens Academy in North Eastern States of India. The importance of developing this relationship with India should not be underestimated. Through such initiatives, students, staff, institutions and Northern Ireland as a whole will benefit from important linkages with a growing global economy. Such opportunities have the potential to aid inward and outward mobility and also trade and investment.”

India’s Minister for the Development of the North East Region Shri Paban Singh Ghatowar said: “There is a dearth of adequately trained faculty members in the universities of North- East India. I am happy to note that four Universities from the region, namely Tezpur University, IIT Guwahati, Silchar University and North East Hill University will tie up with Queens University for capacity building of teaching faculty, leading to the International Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education and Teaching (i-PGCHET), and the building of our research capacity in North Eastern Region faculty. I welcome this and my Ministry supports this proposal in principle.” 

Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “In Northern Ireland we know that a supply of well qualified graduates and university staff is essential in promoting growth and attracting inward investment. The new Queen’s Academy in India will enhance the quality, research, innovation and teaching activities of our partner institutions, enabling India’s brightest staff and students to realise their full potential.”

The first intake of participants to the Academy will take place in Spring 2014.

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer. Tel: +44 (0)28 90 97 5384 or email

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