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May 2014 releases

New £8.1m Centre at Queen’s to tackle world’s data storage needs

Professor Robert Bowman, Minister Dr Stephen Farry and Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston

A Queen's University Belfast led collaboration with the University of Glasgow and industry has received £8.1m for a new Centre to tackle some of the challenges created by the increasing quantities of data generated by society today.

The new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) at Queen’s, in collaboration with the University of Glasgow, and under the auspices of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will help address a skills shortage in the photonics industry, and help develop new products and systems to address the expanding data storage needs of today’s fast moving digital world.

The science of photonics, which is based around the use of light, is the foundation for many innovations in use today, from vision correction and endoscopy to telecommunications and robotics. It formed the basis for the telecommunications revolution of the late 20th century and created the infrastructure needed for the internet.

The new CDT, known as the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Photonic Integration for Advanced Data Storage, will address the shortage of skilled professionals in this field by educating fifty future scientists and engineers, over the next eight years.

The funding for the Queen’s CDT, which has been provided by the University and a range of partners including the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, will enable the doctoral students to collaborate with 12 industry partners in a bid to generate new ideas for research and commercial opportunities that cannot yet be foreseen.

Speaking about the new Centre, its Director, Professor Robert Bowman from Queen’s School of Mathematics and Physics, said: “The type of innovation required to deliver the much needed advances in this area necessitates multi-site and multi-disciplinary collaboration and committed industry partners. As a result of the CDT initiative from the EPSRC and the funding from DEL and our industry and academic partners, we are now in a position to give doctoral students a unique environment to drive research and make a significant impact in this area.”

Queen’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patrick Johnston, added: “Queen’s work in the area of photonics and advanced data storage is globally renowned, and it is a tremendously important sector for Northern Ireland and the UK. I wish to thank Professor Bowman for his leadership on this project, and the EPSRC, the Department for Employment and Learning and our industry partners for having the vision to support this Centre and help secure the sector’s future through ensuring a flow of highly skilled graduates and future industry and academic leaders.”

Expressing his support for the new Queen’s-led Centre, the Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, said: “I have been pleased to help facilitate this Centre for Doctoral Training, led by Queen’s and involving significant industry partners, including Seagate Technology. It is a strategically important development for Northern Ireland.

“The Centre will support 50 future scientists and engineers, who will benefit greatly from being part of an exciting and supportive learning experience while developing key skills that are crucial not only for themselves but also for the wider economy.”

To date the EPSRC’s CDT scheme has seen a total investment of £962 million in 115 Centres across the UK.

EPSRC’s Chief Executive, Professor Philip Nelson, said: “I am pleased to welcome this new centre. The area they will be working in is very important, addressing how we manage the ever-increasing quantities of data our society generates.”

Seagate, the industry leader in hard disc drives and storage solutions, is one of the industry partners involved. In 2010 they established ANSIN at Queen’s, a new advanced materials research and development hub. Mark Re, Chief Technology Officer at Seagate said: “The coming decade sees a huge challenge and opportunities in providing society with the data storage solutions it requires.

“Seagate Technology through our support and involvement believe that this CDT at Queen’s is a fantastic mechanism to develop the skilled staff required for this challenge and undertake research that could contribute towards new technology and where new synergies and ideas will emerge through collaboration with other CDT partners.”

Students from the new Centre will also spend time working alongside leading researchers at the University of Glasgow, including those in the University’s James Watt Nanofabrication Centre, which is recognised as a state-of-the-art facility. Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: "The University of Glasgow is very excited to be involved in this innovative Centre for Doctoral Training. It will build on our world-leading position in nanofabrication and integrated optics research and reflects the University's major investment in this area.  We are delighted to be working in partnership with Queen's University Belfast in this cutting edge initiative."

More information on applying to study in the new Centre can be found on www.brightrecruits.com and www.findaphd.com, by contacting Professor Robert Bowman via email at r.m.bowman@qub.ac.uk or by following the Centre’s Twitter account @CDT_PIADS

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer, Queen’s University Belfast. Tel: 028 90 97 5384 or email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s researcher wants to know what really matters to people of Northern Ireland

Queen’s University is inviting people across Northern Ireland to give their views on how to put the concept of ‘wellbeing’ at the heart of government.

Queen’s School of Law and the Carnegie UK Trust are working together to look at how a focus on a shared understanding of wellbeing could drive social change, improve public services, and improve outcomes for communities.

They are inviting individuals and organisations to submit their questions and ideas on the priority challenges for wellbeing in Northern Ireland, how a focus on wellbeing can be shared across all communities, and how the concept of wellbeing can be embedded at all levels of government.

Dr Peter Doran from Queen’s School of Law is a member of The Carnegie Roundtable Secretariat looking at Measuring Wellbeing in Northern Ireland. He said: “The term ‘wellbeing’ essentially refers to a person’s feeling of satisfaction about how their life is going. The factors that affect wellbeing will differ for each of us, but they generally include social, economic, psychological and health considerations. They have individual and collective dimensions of course, including community safety and equality.

“In Northern Ireland, the promotion of wellbeing has a special urgency as communities emerge from generations of conflict. More than 15 years after the Belfast Agreement, some of the most enduring post-conflict challenges are, at their heart, questions of wellbeing. These include issues of equality, mental and physical health, community safety, good relations, pockets of educational under-attainment, fuel poverty, and environmental issues.

“Against the backdrop of a generation of conflict, the underlying conditions in Northern Ireland make it difficult for many individuals and communities to realise wellbeing and a future with a strong sense of common purpose. As we strive to drive Northern Ireland forward – economically, politically and socially – it is more important than ever for the government to design policies that will have a positive impact on wellbeing.

“We are asking people to tell us what they consider to be the priority challenges for wellbeing in Northern Ireland, and how a positive approach to wellbeing can be embedded in government processes and decision making. Responses received by Monday 2 June will feed into the discussions of the Carnegie Roundtable on Measuring Wellbeing in Northern Ireland and our recommendations on how best to measure what really matters to the people of Northern Ireland.”

Responses, along with contact details, should be emailed to carnegiewellbeing@carnegieuk.org by Monday 2 June.

For more information visit www.carnegietrust.org.uk

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke (Mon-Wed) or Michelle Cassidy (Thurs-Fri) at Queen’s University Communications Office on Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5320/5310 Email: comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s Professor appointed Chair of the NIHR Public Health Research Programme

A Queen’s University Professor had been appointed Chair of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health Research Programme.

Professor Frank Kee, Director of the Centre of Excellence for Public Health NI and Deputy Director of the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University, joins Professor Martin White from Newcastle University who is the newly appointed Director of the programme.

The NIHR Public Health Research (PHR) Programme funds research to evaluate non-NHS interventions intended to improve the health of the public and reduce inequalities in health.

Queen’s University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patrick Johnston, said: “I would like to offer my congratulations to Professor Kee on this significant appointment.  This role reflects the ongoing contribution to public health that Professor Kee makes through his leadership in the world-class Centre of Excellence for Public Health at Queen’s.”

Speaking about his appointment, Professor Kee, said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed to chair of the NIHR Public Health Research Programme over the next five years. The programme has become central to the public health landscape in the UK and has contributed to a major expansion of evaluation research. I look forward bringing my experience from the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s to this role and continue to make a meaningful impact on the health of the population.”

Professor Frank Kee and Professor Martin White succeed Professor Catherine Law, whose term of office is due to come to an end in 2014.

Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies FRS RMedSci, said: “I would like to express my thanks to Catherine Law for her superb leadership over the first six years of the NIHR Public health Programme. I am confident that Professors White and Kee are the perfect people to build on her work and ensure that the programme continues to fund high quality scientific research to support public health decision-makers.”

Professor Kee takes up his post in October 2014.

Further information is available online at http://www.nihr.ac.uk/Pages/default.aspx

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5292 email: comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s and Assembly mark five years of bursary programme

Queen’s and the Northern Ireland Assembly are celebrating fifth anniversary of a unique bursary programme, which gives Queen’s students practical experience at the heart of government.

The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mr William Hay MLA, hosted a reception in Parliament Buildings to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Assembly’s Bursary programme, which forms part of Queen’s MA in Legislative, Studies and Practice. The post-graduate course at Queen’s School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, involves a nine-month work placement at the Northern Ireland Assembly. Since its launch five years ago, 33 students have been provided with Assembly bursaries.

This programme is the only Masters of its kind in Ireland or the United Kingdom. It benefits those wanting to play their part in future political life, whether as MLAs or public servants, and gives them an opportunity to gain experience in a working legislature.

The reception provided an opportunity for the Assembly to recognise the students’ work and for current Bursary students to give short, informal presentations on their work during their placement.

Speaking at the reception, Speaker Hay said, “I am very pleased to celebrate five years of the Northern Ireland Assembly Bursary Programme and to recognise the students who have participated. During my time in office, this is a scheme in which I have taken keen personal interest as there is huge value in giving young people the opportunity first hand to understand how this legislature works, particularly in the context of a wider perception of young people being disinterested in politics.

“The programme has proved very successful, with past students progressing on to a range of posts such as an Internship in the European Parliament, working in the Scottish Youth Parliament and working with MLAs and political parties. I have greatly enjoyed my interactions with the Bursary students over the years and I am always struck by how much they take away from seeing directly the amount of work it takes behind the scenes to make the Assembly operate, something which does not come across in the media.”

Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students, Queen’s University said: “Queen’s has been very pleased to be a partner in the Assembly Bursary Scheme. Not only has it given a number of students an unrivalled opportunity to learn about the way government works, it has shown how successful partnerships between government and academia can be. I am confident that we will be building on this success in the years to come.”

Director of the course, Professor Rick Wilford from Queen’s School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy said: “The MA in Legislative Studies and Practice has broken new ground in the development of the politics curriculum at Queen’s. It gives tomorrow’s leaders the opportunity to develop their knowledge of practical politics, and marries the ‘chalk board’ study of politics with the ‘chalk face’ of real world politics.”

For more information on the MA Legislative Studies and Practice click here

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke (Mon-Wed) or Michelle Cassidy (Thurs-Fri) at Queen’s Communications Office on Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5320/5310 Email: comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s and Assembly mark five years of bursary programme

Queen’s and the Northern Ireland Assembly are celebrating fifth anniversary of a unique bursary programme, which gives Queen’s students practical experience at the heart of government.

The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mr William Hay MLA, hosted a reception in Parliament Buildings to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Assembly’s Bursary programme, which forms part of Queen’s MA in Legislative, Studies and Practice. The post-graduate course at Queen’s School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, involves a nine-month work placement at the Northern Ireland Assembly. Since its launch five years ago, 33 students have been provided with Assembly bursaries.

This programme is the only Masters of its kind in Ireland or the United Kingdom. It benefits those wanting to play their part in future political life, whether as MLAs or public servants, and gives them an opportunity to gain experience in a working legislature.

The reception provided an opportunity for the Assembly to recognise the students’ work and for current Bursary students to give short, informal presentations on their work during their placement.

Speaking at the reception, Speaker Hay said, “I am very pleased to celebrate five years of the Northern Ireland Assembly Bursary Programme and to recognise the students who have participated. During my time in office, this is a scheme in which I have taken keen personal interest as there is huge value in giving young people the opportunity first hand to understand how this legislature works, particularly in the context of a wider perception of young people being disinterested in politics.

“The programme has proved very successful, with past students progressing on to a range of posts such as an Internship in the European Parliament, working in the Scottish Youth Parliament and working with MLAs and political parties. I have greatly enjoyed my interactions with the Bursary students over the years and I am always struck by how much they take away from seeing directly the amount of work it takes behind the scenes to make the Assembly operate, something which does not come across in the media.”

Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students, Queen’s University said: “Queen’s has been very pleased to be a partner in the Assembly Bursary Scheme. Not only has it given a number of students an unrivalled opportunity to learn about the way government works, it has shown how successful partnerships between government and academia can be. I am confident that we will be building on this success in the years to come.”

Director of the course, Professor Rick Wilford from Queen’s School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy said: “The MA in Legislative Studies and Practice has broken new ground in the development of the politics curriculum at Queen’s. It gives tomorrow’s leaders the opportunity to develop their knowledge of practical politics, and marries the ‘chalk board’ study of politics with the ‘chalk face’ of real world politics.”

For more information on the MA Legislative Studies and Practice click here

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke (Mon-Wed) or Michelle Cassidy (Thurs-Fri) at Queen’s Communications Office on Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5320/5310 Email: comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s University in UK-wide effort to improve Asthma care

Queen’s University Belfast has been named as a partner in a national research centre focussed on improving the lives of people with Asthma.

The Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research is the UK’s first integrated Centre for research into the illness, which affects 182,000 (one in ten) people in Northern Ireland - 146,000 adults and 36,000 children.

Researchers at the Centre for Infection and Immunity at Queen’s School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences are among experts from academic and NHS organisations across the UK who will work together to share expertise and insights to find better treatments for Asthma and making them available faster than ever before.

Queen’s Professors Mike Shields and Professor Liam Heaney are two of Northern Ireland’s leading experts on Asthma care. Professor Shields leads a programme of research into childhood asthma and wheezing disorders, while Professor Heaney conducts world-class research into ‘difficult to treat’ asthma.

Professor Mike Shields, Assistant Director of Queen’s Centre for Infection and Immunity said: “We are delighted to be a part of the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research. The Centre will provide a platform for high quality research initiatives and will help foster new partnerships between experts across academia and health.

“The ultimate aim of the Centre is to take research ‘from the lab bench to the bedside’ and implement new treatments for improved management of asthma. This should ensure that asthma attack rates and hospital admissions are reduced and patients’ quality of life improved.

“We are pleased that Northern Ireland is fully included in this initiative and we look forward to seeing the benefits for the one-in-ten people in Northern Ireland who are currently living with asthma.”

More than 5 million people in the UK are affected by asthma. There were 1,242 deaths from asthma in the UK in 2010 (21 of these were children aged 14 and under), and the NHS spends around £1 billion a year treating and caring for people with the illness. Yes research into this life-threatening condition is chronically underfunded, taking an average of 17 years currently to develop a new asthma treatment.

Asthma UK’s vision for this pioneering, multidisciplinary research initiative is to halve the time it takes to get innovations to people with asthma and to develop the next generation of world class applied asthma researchers. The new Centre is co-ordinated through the University of Edinburgh and Queen Mary, University of London.

Kay Boycott, Asthma UK’s Chief Executive, said: “The introduction into clinical use of the pressurised metered-dose inhaler (pMDI) - the first modern inhaler for asthma management – took over 40 years from initial lab discovery through clinical trials and into practice.

“More than half a century later asthma still kills and there are tens of thousands of people with asthma facing a daily struggle to breathe. This is why it is so vital for Asthma UK to invest significantly in the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research and to kick start a new era of improved discovery-to-treatment times.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communication Office on 028 9097 3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s University researcher joins NASA’s Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group
(l-r): John Rummel, co-chair of the NASA MEPAG SR-SAG committee; Dr John Hallworth from Queen’s University, SR-SAG member; Gerhard Kminek, Head of Planetary Protection, European Space Agency
(l-r): John Rummel, co-chair of the NASA MEPAG SR-SAG committee; Dr John Hallworth from Queen’s University, SR-SAG member; Gerhard Kminek, Head of Planetary Protection, European Space Agency

A Queen’s University scientist has been recruited by NASA to contribute to a high-level, international investigation into the possibility of the planet Mars becoming contaminated with microbes from Earth.

Dr John Hallsworth of the School of Biological Sciences is one of just 22 scientists from around the world – and the only one from Britain or Ireland – participating in the Special Regions-Science Analysis Group (SR-SAG).

The group is pooling knowledge from a range of disciplines – microbiology, geochemistry, geological data analysis (from robotic and orbiting devices) – in order to inform future international policy on space exploration. It has already submitted its initial findings, available online at http://mepag.jpl.nasa.gov, to NASA’s Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG).

Dr Hallsworth’s work draws on his pioneering research into the limits of life on Earth, in particular the stress responses of extreme, weird types of fungi as well as other extraordinary microbes. He has also discovered a new type of chemistry that limits life, and therefore makes some parts of Earth sterile.

As part of the SR-SAG, he is helping identify the ‘Special Regions’ of Mars; those which may have sufficient moisture and a suitable temperature to be able to sustain microbial life as we know it here on Earth. One of the main drivers behind identifying these regions is to avoid contaminating them with microbial life carried by spacecraft launched from Earth.

Dr Hallsworth said: “Even though spacecraft are assembled in clean rooms, producing a sterile spacecraft has not thus far been achieved; they are populated with microbial stowaways so biological contamination is a real risk. Furthermore, if any future spacecraft were to crash-land on Mars in one of these Special Regions, it could potentially act as major source of microbial contaminants. It is therefore important to avoid sending unsterilized missions to land in Special Regions. In the long run it will be important to achieve stringent levels of sterilization of spacecraft and spacecraft components in order to explore.

“Another topic that will become important in future is that of potential resources for human habitation. For example, there has been talk of establishing a human base on Mars and also interest in mining the planet for minerals. It is therefore important to avoid chemical or microbial contamination of potential resources, such as Martian water or ice. No-one has yet proved that there is deep groundwater on Mars, but it is plausible as there is certainly surface ice and atmospheric water vapour, so we wouldn’t want to contaminate it and make it unusable by the introduction of microorganisms.”

While Dr Hallsworth's work is a world away from popular, sci-fi notions of ‘little green men’, he does not dismiss the idea that cellular life may have once existed on ancient Mars.

He said: “It’s not impossible that cellular life originally came to Earth from Mars. Over extended time-scales countless Martian rocks (in the form of meteorites) have fallen onto Earth. Some Earth microbes inhabit rocks, so if any of these Martian meteorites which fell in the distant past had contained microbes these could have gone on to develop into the life-forms now found on Earth. It has been my experience that the more you know about Mars the less far-fetched finding evidence of life on ancient Mars actually seems. What’s more, there are very likely environments on present-day Mars (albeit some of these are miniscule in size) where any microbes transported from Earth would have sufficient water to multiply.”

For more information contact the Communications Office on Tel. +44 (0)28 9097 3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s chemists continue winning streak with another national award

Queen’s University Belfast has been named among the winners of the prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Awards for its ground-breaking work in removing harmful mercury from natural gas.

The RSC Teamwork in Innovation Award is the latest in a string of national and global prizes for the University’s partnership with Malaysian oil and gas giant PETRONAS, which has developed a much more environmentally friendly and safer gas production process. The award recognises collaborative teamwork to achieve an innovative solution or process and is judged by a panel of entrepreneurs and industrialists.

Queen’s collaboration with PETRONAS is one of a number of partnerships between the University and global leaders in business and industry. The technology developed by Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) and PETRONAS is being used to produce mercury-free natural gas at two PETRONAS plants in Malaysia. Explaining how it works, QUILL Director Professor Martin Atkins said: “Mercury is one of the biggest threats to downstream processing in the oil and gas exploration industry, so it is a huge problem for companies like PETRONAS. It contaminates natural gas, corrodes processing equipment, and compromises the safety of processing plants and the quality of the end product. The amount of mercury present can vary considerably, which makes it incredibly difficult to manage.

“We developed a new ionic liquid based formulation which completely removes mercury from natural gas and is capable of handling the unpredictable surges of mercury in the gas stream. The result is a robust technology, providing a cost-effective and sustainable production process. It is a cutting-edge development, and we are delighted that it has been recognised by the Royal Society of Chemistry.”

This latest accolade is further recognition of the global impact of Queen’s world-leading research in ‘green’ chemistry. The mercury removal project was also the major winner at the global Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Awards in November, receiving three awards, and was recently named in the IChemE Roll of Honour.  In 2013, Queen’s ionic liquids discoveries were named the Most Important British Innovation of the 21st Century in recognition of their potential future impact on the world, in a poll initiated by the Science Museum, beating the Nobel Prize winning Higgs boson and graphene discoveries.  

QUILL is home to nearly 100 scientists who are exploring the enormous potential of ionic liquids or ‘designer solvents’. QUILL Director Professor Ken Seddon said: “Ionic liquids are salts that remain liquid at room temperature and do not release hazardous vapours. They can be used as non-polluting alternatives to conventional solvents, and are revolutionising chemical processes by offering cleaner, greener and smarter solutions to traditional methods.

“Queen’s is dedicated to advancing knowledge and changing lives, and QUILL’s work on ionic liquid chemistry has a bearing on most of our lives. Ionic liquids have huge potential to revolutionise how we live and work, and our impact on the environment, and Queen’s is recognised as a global authority in this increasingly important area of research.” Dr Robert Parker, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said: "Each year we present Prizes and Awards to chemical scientists who have made an outstanding contribution, be that in their area of research, in industry or academia.

"We're working to shape the future of the chemical sciences for the benefit of science and humanity and these Prizes and Awards give recognition to true excellence.

"Our winners can be very proud to follow in the footsteps of some of the most influential and important chemical scientists in history."

For more information on QUILL visit http://quill.qub.ac.uk

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke (Mon-Wed) or Michelle Cassidy (Thurs-Fri) at Queen’s University Communications Office +44 (0)28 9097 5320/5310 comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Leading Queen’s educationalist looks back on an influential career

Members of the public will have a chance to hear one of Northern Ireland’s most influential educationalists when Queen’s University Professor Carol McGuinness delivers a lecture at Riddel Hall in Belfast.

Appointed Chair in the School of Psychology at Queen’s in 2000, Professor McGuinness will give an address on the evening of May 22 to mark her significant contribution to psychology and education during her time at Queen’s.

Her talk, to coincide with her retirement, will focus on how the latest research in psychology has been applied to the classroom, impacting on both the Northern Ireland curriculum and the ways in which children are taught.

Central to Professor McGuinness’ work is the belief that children can be taught to think more effectively – to think more critically and creatively, rather than simply learning to rhyme off rehearsed opinion. As director of the ACTS (Activating Children’s Thinking Skills) project in Northern Ireland, she went on to launch similar projects in Wales, England, Scotland and as far afield as Thailand.

Having acted as consultant on many national educational-research projects including the Key Skills framework in the Republic of Ireland, her work has consistently promoted a student-centred approach on the basis that children who are in charge of their own learning will be more motivated – and will learn more. In 2011, she hosted the 15th International Conference On Thinking in Belfast. Her forthcoming book, Thinking Lessons For Thinking Classrooms: Tools For Teachers will be published by Routledge. She has recently completed a new project with the International Baccalaureate programmes across the world, and she will continue to work, after her retirement, part-time with the School of Education at Queen's.

Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education and Students, Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie, who will introduce the lecture, said it was a rare opportunity for members of the public to get to know more about one of our leading lights in the world of psychology and education. “Carol is something of a legend here at Queen’s but it’s not common knowledge how far her influence has spread in the world of education. Her lecture should be a fascinating window on how psychology can break out of the confines of academia to have a practical application and a positive influence in the everyday world.”

Head of the School of Psychology at Queen’s, Professor Cathy Craig said: “The psychology of education is a fascinating subject and it’s something that affects everyone – we have all been through the education system, and our children and grandchildren continue to go through it. It’s crucial that there is an ongoing discussion on how best to educate children and what the overall purpose of education today is.”

The lecture takes place on Thursday May 22 at 5.30pm with a drinks reception afterwards. To register for the event, go to http://go.qub.ac.uk/ProfMcGuinness

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 3091 comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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£500,000 centre to explore legacies of World War One

Queen’s and the University of Ulster have officially launched a major World War One research collaboration, as part of a wider initiative led by the Imperial War Museum in London.

The Living Legacies World War One Engagement Centre has received £500,000 of support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It will be one of only five centres in the UK established to protect the legacy of, and provide access to information on, one of modern history’s most defining events. National Museums Northern Ireland is working closely with the universities on the project.

Queen’s Vice Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston said: “Living Legacies provides an opportunity for Queen’s and the University of Ulster to contribute to the legacy of this pivotal event in the 20th century.

“Based at Queen’s Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities, a key focus of the Centre will be to provide advice and support for community research projects on the war. It is a fine example of how, through interdisciplinary research and partnerships, we can learn more about how society has been affected by past events, and the enduring cultural and societal impact of World War One in Northern Ireland and around the globe.”

Dr Keith Lilley, Director of the Living Legacies centre said: “Connecting academic and public histories, the Living Legacies Engagement Centre will explore the enduring impact of the conflict and First World War heritage.”

University of Ulster Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Barnett said: “This is a landmark project that will bring together the highly respected research capabilities of Ulster and Queen’s to deliver a stronger, shared understanding of the First World War and its legacy.

“Over the next three years, life stories, diaries, letters and other artefacts will be collected, interpreted and shared by university researchers. This will lead to new community outreach activities focused on helping future generations to understand what life was like from 1914 to 1918 and, deliver a deeper understanding of conflict across all communities in Northern Ireland.”

For more information contact the Communications Office on +44(0)28 9097 3091 email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Business and civic leaders to discuss 'action plan' for Northern Ireland at Queen's

Queen’s University is inviting business and civic leaders from across Northern Ireland to an event to discuss the global challenges facing the economy and to think about an action plan for Northern Ireland.

In a first, personnel from the William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s, the Institute of Directors and the Chief Executives’ Forum (representing the civil and public sector in Northern Ireland) will assemble on Thursday, 22 May to analyse the findings presented to the World Economic Forum that was held in Davos in Switzerland earlier this year.

In particular, participants in the one-day event at the Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s will examine the latest Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) report which was launched in Davos and which consulted with over 1,300 CEOs in 68 countries.

Honor Mallon from PwC will present the main findings from the report and a panel of local leaders will then comment on what they mean for Northern Ireland, and take questions from the floor. Local panellists will include Mark Nodder of Wrightbus – which recently announced 130 new jobs in Antrim – Stephen McClelland of Schrade Electronics, Ian Coulter from Tughans, Angela McGowan from Danske Bank and David Bingham of BSO.

Delegates can choose to attend workshops on topics like innovation; succession planning; and strategy and change, as well as taking part in break-up sessions. The day will finish with the Annual IoD Leadership Lecture presented by John Huston of Ohio TechAngels Funds.

Organiser Anne Phillipson, from the Clinton Leadership Institute, said the overall outome of the PwC report was “cautiously optimistic”. She said: “Generally, CEOs are feeling more optimistic and are gradually switching from survival to growth mode. In the race to become fit for the future, however, organisations must overcome three particular challenges, the PwC report points out. These three challenges are to: harness technology to create value in totally new ways; capitalise on demographic shifts to develop tomorrow’s workforce; and understand how to serve increasingly demanding consumers across the new economic landscape. In our Leadership Day at the William J Clinton Leadership Institute in Riddel Hall we hope to continue discussion of these issues and their implications for Northern Ireland and to provide leaders with new insights based on what global CEOs are reporting back.”

The event runs from 8.30am-2pm on May 22 and costs £75, including breakfast and lunch. The Clinton Leadership Institute is at Riddel Hall, 185 Stranmillis Road, Belfast. To book, go to www.iod.com/northernireland/events

For further information contact the Communications Office at Queen’s on Tel +44 (0)28 9097 3091 comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Study reveals one in ten 16-year-olds surveyed have considered self-harm

One in ten 16-year-olds surveyed in a new study by Queen’s University and the University of Ulster have considered self-harm or taking an overdose.

The results of the annual Young Life and Times (YLT) survey, which are published today (Friday 16 May) during Mental Health Awareness Week, also found that almost a third of 16-year-olds questioned had experienced serious personal, emotional or mental health problems at some point in the past year.

1,367 16-year-olds across Northern Ireland took part in the 2013 survey undertaken by ARK, a joint initiative by Queen’s University and the University of Ulster. The research aims to give an insight into the lives of 16-year-olds across Northern Ireland, by addressing a range of key issues. In 2013 the survey focussed on 16-year-olds’ sense of community belonging, their experience of financial hardship, and their mental health, including self-harm.

The key findings of the 2013 survey on 16-year-olds’ mental health include:

  • 28 per cent of 16-year-olds said that they had experienced serious personal, emotional or mental health problems at some point in the past year.
  • Just over one third of these respondents had sought professional help for these problems.
  • 13 per cent of respondents said that they had, at some point in the past, seriously thought about taking an overdose or harming themselves, and 6 per cent had thought about this in the past month.
  • 13 per cent of respondents said they had self-harmed – 5 per cent had done so once and 8 per cent more than once. The most likely reason (60 per cent) given by these young people for doing this was that they ‘wanted to punish themselves’.

In 2008, when these questions were asked for the first time in YLT, 26 per cent of 16-year-olds had experienced serious mental health problems, 13 per cent of respondents had thought about self-harm, whilst 10 per cent had actually done so.

Dr Dirk Schubotz from the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s University and YLT Director, said: “These findings from the YLT survey show that despite the investment in mental health services in Northern Ireland, compared to five years ago, there has been virtually no change with regard to young people’s experiences of stress and mental health problems. It is particularly significant to note that still only a small minority of 16-year-olds seek professional help when experiencing serious emotional health problems.

“Although mental health campaigns have for some time attempted to de-stigmatise mental ill-health, by far the most likely reason why young people self-harm remains self-punishment. This suggests that young people with mental health problems keep blaming themselves for these, rather than appreciating external stressors such as pressures arising from school work or financial difficulties.” These findings are further illuminated by a Research Update also published today which compares the experiences of financial hardship among YLT respondents with those of Primary 7 children who took part in the 2013 Kids’ Life and Times (KLT) survey, which was also undertaken by ARK.

The key findings of the Research Update include:

  • Three percent among both KLT and YLT respondents said that their families had not enough money for ordinary or special things.
  • 21 per cent of P7 children (KLT respondents), but 40 per cent of 16-year-olds (YLT respondents) said their parents had money for ordinary, but not for special things.
  • Nearly one quarter (24 per cent) of YLT respondents said their families had difficulties in affording their school uniform, whilst holidays organised by schools were difficult to afford by nearly four in ten (39 per cent) families of YLT respondents.
  • It is 16-year-olds from not well-off families, those who find it difficult to afford ordinary things, and those who have been affected the most by the recent economic crisis, who were also most likely to suffer from poor mental health and to have self-harmed.

Dr Paula Devine, author of the ARK Research Update on Financial Wellbeing, said: “The 2013 YLT survey shows that around four in ten families with teenage children find it difficult to make ends meet. The data from the KLT and YLT surveys clearly identify the financial pressures upon families and will be an important tool for government, in particular to monitor progress related to its Child Poverty Strategy which aims for a sustained reduction in poverty.”

More information and results tables on the 2013 YLT survey are available from the YLT website: www.ark.ac.uk/ylt

For media enquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 028 9097 5391 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Public invited to ‘See the Universe’ at Queen’s

Members of the public are being invited to ‘See the Universe’ at Queen’s University this weekend as part of a major astronomy exhibition.

The exhibition, which is part of a national astronomy roadshow, features scale models of some of the world largest and most advanced telescopes, as well as interactive exhibits and examples of the impact of astronomy on wider society.

Developed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council in partnership with the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), the week-long exhibition will also feature public lectures from Professor Paul Roche, University of South Wales, entitled Seeing stars: science and education with big telescopes, and from Queen’s Honorary Graduate Dame Professor Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, University of Oxford, entitled Astronomy and Big Telescopes.

There will also be the opportunity for the public to engage directly with astronomers and have their questions answered at an Ask an Astronomer event on Tuesday, 20 May at 7pm in the Canada Room at Queen’s.

Professor Stephen Smartt, Director of the Astrophysics Research Centre in the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s, said: “This exhibition is an opportunity for potential students and the public alike to see how Queen’s and astronomy is having a real impact on the world around them and where a career in the subject could take them. Visitors will be offered an insight into what takes place in the world of astronomy, and the chance to meet some leading physicists and scientists who are making fascinating discoveries.”

Professor John Womersley, STFC Chief Executive said: "This visit to Northern Ireland of the Seeing the Universe in All Its Light exhibition is a wonderful way to highlight and celebrate the Northern Irish contribution, through research and engineering, to astronomy around the world. Irish scientists, researchers and engineers are working at the forefront of international astronomy, helping to develop the workforce and technologies of the future and improving our understanding of our place in the Universe.”

For further information on the Seeing the Universe exhibition and how to get involved visit: http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofMathematicsandPhysics/NewsandEvents/

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

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New Living Legacies World War One Engagement Centre opens at Queen’s

A new play about the Belfast men who fought at the Somme and Passchendale opens to the public later this week to mark the launch of the ‘Living Legacies’ World War One Engagement Centre at Queen’s University Belfast.

The Medal In The Drawer, by Brenda Winter-Palmer, a lecturer in Drama Studies at Queen’s, tells the story of her great-uncle, William Kerr and his neighbours from the Springfield Road area of Belfast, who volunteered with the 36th Ulster Division back in 1914. It also charts the experience of nationalists from that area who joined the Connaught Rangers. The play, performed and produced by students at the School of Creative Arts at Queen’s, is set against the larger context of threatened civil war in Ireland as nationalists and unionists come head to head over the proposed introduction of Home Rule – a crisis that is averted by the outbreak of war in Europe.

The Medal In The Drawer runs from Friday, May 16 to Sunday, May 18 at the Brian Friel Theatre at Queen’s. It will be attended by the descendants of some of those depicted in the play, many of whom have travelled from abroad. There is a further chance for members of the public to see an extract of the play at the official launch of the ‘Living Legacies’ Engagement Centre at the University of Ulster on Monday, May 19.

The ‘Living Legacies’ Engagement Centre is one of five such centres in the UK which were selected for funding. Its aim is to support community, academic and public research into the Great War as part of the upcoming centenary commemorations. A key focus of the new centre at Queen’s will be to provide advice and support for community research projects on the war, funded through a range of Heritage Lottery Fund programmes, particularly its new £6million ‘First World War: Then and Now’ scheme. The centres form part of the First World War Centenary Partnership, led by Imperial War Museum.

Officially entitled ‘Living Legacies 1914-1918: From Past Conflict to Shared Future’, the new research centre at Queen’s will be based at the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities (ICRH) and will see a three-year partnership with the University of Ulster and National Museums Northern Ireland. It has received funding of £500,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and is headed up by Dr Keith Lilley of the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology at Queen’s. The public launch of the centre takes place at 6pm on Monday, May 19 at the Conor Lecture Theatre, in the University of Ulster’s Belfast campus at York Street. The launch will include a lecture by Professor Richard Grayson, the author of Belfast Boys: How Unionists and Nationalists Fought and Died Together in the First World War, as well as a short performance from The Medal In The Drawer.

Playwright Brenda Winter-Palmer, who is also the Community Outreach Officer for the new Engagement Centre, said her drama tied in with many of its themes, including the long shadow cast by the First World War once Irish soldiers returned home. She said: “My play is not only an act of commemoration for all those Belfast men who did in the First World War. It is also a reflection on which parts of history a divided society chooses to remember and which parts it chooses to forget.”

Dr Keith Lilley said: “Connecting academic and public histories, the ‘Living Legacies’ Engagement Centre will explore the enduring cultural impacts of the conflict and First World War heritage. Exploring the complex and sometimes divided loyalties of Irish men and women at the time, The Medal In The Drawer is a dramatic and moving way to mark the launch of our centre here in Belfast.”

To attend the launch, email LivingLegacies@qub.ac.uk For further information on the Living Legacies 1914-18 Engagement Centre, click here: http://www.livinglegacies1914-18.ac.uk/

To buy tickets for The Medal In The Drawer phone Tel. +0044 (0)28 9097 1382 or email studentshows@qub.ac.uk

For further information contact Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 3087 email: comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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New Queen’s app could have surprise in store for EU election voters

Researchers at Queen’s have come up with a novel user-friendly ‘app’ to help members of the public decide who to vote for in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

The EU Vox14 app, http://eu1.euvox.eu/uk/, asks a range of questions, including some Northern Ireland-specific ones, in relation to anonymised policy statements, in order to identify which prospective MEP most closely matches a voter’s values. It can be accessed on a smartphone, tablet or any other gadget with internet access.

The Northern Ireland Voting Advice Application (VAA) was developed by researchers at the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen's, led by Dr John Garry, as part of a larger EU-wide project known as EUVOX.

Examples of the questions asked by the app include a voter’s views on gay marriage, who should fund the health service and whether the UK should adopt the Euro. Questions relating to parades, flags, a united Ireland and political violence are also included.

Dr John Garry, said: “In Northern Ireland many believe that elections are just sectarian headcounts  and that it would take a real political anorak to know what any of the main parties have to say on European policies. We assembled such a team of anoraks to objectively position the parties, on the basis of published policy statements and manifestos, and we provide a user-friendly way for citizens to compare themselves to parties on the kind of EU, economic, social and political matters that are important across the UK and many EU countries.”

After answering a range of questions, the app user is presented with two types of results. The first reveals an overall score for each party – the higher the score the greater the similarity between the voter’s beliefs and the party’s beliefs. The second reveals more detailed results. The voter is presented with a graphic of where all the parties stand in relation to two issue areas (for example, the EU and the economy, or the EU and society) and also where the voter stands. The voter can then see which party is closest on this political map. Dr Garry explained: “This is just like being lost in London and wondering where the closest tube station is. The parties are the stations and each voter has a ‘you are here’ position on the political map. It’s clear which parties are close by and which are very far away.”

The European Parliament elections take place on May 22 in parallel with local government elections. Northern Ireland will return three MEPs out of ten potential candidates. The app focuses on the candidates from the five main parties: Martina Anderson (Sinn Féin); Alex Attwood (SDLP); Diane Dodds (DUP); Anna Lo (Alliance) and Jim Nicholson (UUP).

Neil Mathews, one of the Queen’s researchers on the project, commented: “The results are presented in a very user-friendly way. The voter can decide for themselves which particular political map to look at. Some voters might be quite surprised that they share beliefs with parties who they thought they would never vote for.”

As well as helping voters decide who to vote for, the app is intended to raise awareness of the European Parliament and its impact on EU member states. Traditionally, European Parliament elections have attracted a low turnout, with reports indicating that many people believe that what happens in Brussels is irrelevant to them.

The Queen’s app was developed in partnership with researchers in Zurich and NatCen Social Research as part of the wider, EUVOX app and awareness-raising campaign. Zsolt Kiss, Research Director at NatCen Social Research, commented: “The EUVOX offers an academically robust way for members of the public to see which political party most closely matches their own political views. We hope it will be a useful tool for the public and that it will help raise awareness of the European elections."

For more information, contact the Queen’s University Communications Office on Tel. 0044 (0)28 9097 3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s academic brings argument for investing in Cancer Care to Brussels

Professor Mark Lawler, Queen’s University and European Cancer Concord (ECC) will deliver a keynote lecture at the Active Citizens’ Network Conference as part of European Patients’ Rights Day in Brussels on 12 May 2014.

At the conference, Professor Lawler will highlight the campaign for a review of access to cancer drugs for patients in Northern Ireland as an example of how patients, patient organisations and healthcare professionals can make an impact by participating in discussion and debate around health policies.

Currently there are 39 drugs which are prohibited to cancer victims living in Northern Ireland which could significantly have a life-changing impact if patients could avail of these drugs.

Professor Lawler said: “Empowering patients has clear resonance with the European Cancer Patient’s Bill of Rights, a Queen’s University led initiative which we launched in the European Parliament on World Cancer Day.

“The Bill of Rights is gaining traction at European level and ECC is actively engaging in a number of Member States to help underpin improved access to cancer care for the European citizen. I am honoured to speak on behalf of the European Cancer Concord (ECC) at this important conference, which aims to empower patients to participate in their own care and to encourage and support patient advocacy organisations to play a leadership role in European health policies.

“This Conference represents a significant opportunity to engage with patients and their representatives and contribute significantly to the development of a patient centred European Health Manifesto for Chronic Disease,” he added.

Roisin Foster, Chief Executive of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland said: “Cancer Focus Northern Ireland are delighted to partner with the European Cancer Concord and we regard the European Cancer Patient’s Bill of Rights as a blueprint for improved cancer care. We are using it to help underpin our campaign for the establishment of a Cancer Drugs Fund for Northern Ireland.  

“The debate on the introduction of a Cancer Drugs Fund in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the cross party support that was evident during the debate is encouraging and represents an important step forward for Northern Ireland cancer patients.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 3087/3091 email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s University recognised for improving students’ career prospects

Queen’s University has scooped a major, all-Ireland award for enhancing the career prospects of its students.

Queen’s won the Employability award in the Gradireland/Association of Higher Education Careers Services (AHECS) Awards at the Mansion House in Dublin. The accolade was won by the Careers, Employability and Skills team at Queen’s, which received the Gold award in its category.

The award was given in recognition of Queen’s Workplace Study Tours, which bring undergraduates to meet key potential employers in London and Brussels across the sectors of law, finance and the European market. Currently 94 per cent of Queen’s graduates are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

On each tour, 24 students attend workshops hosted by significant graduate employers where they are given immediate feedback on their skills and employability. The students also take part in workshops, network with inspirational role models in their area and meet alumni. When they return to Queen’s, they host ‘dissemination’ events, attended by up to 100 students, where they share what they learned on the tour.

Student Development Manager at the Careers’ Team, Roisin Copeland, said the success rate of the tours was significant: “Our Workplace Study Tours are one example of why we Queen’s enjoys such a proud record relating to the employability of our students. On the 2013 law tour, for example, 50 per cent of those who took part secured an internship interview, with at least 20 per cent going on to secure an internship, training or job contract as a direct result of having been on the tour. It was great to see this success recognised at such an impressive event as the Gradireland/AHECS Awards, where there were 500 significant graduate employers in the room. We now have plans in place to make our tours accessible to more students, in more employment sectors and in more geographical areas, making the reach even more international.”

The AHECS Awards, were presented by the Irish Minister for European Affairs, Paschal Donohoe while the keynote speaker was John Herlihy, head of Google Ireland and Vice President of SMB Sales.

Queen’s University received a bronze award last year at the same awards for its Degree Plus initiative.

For more information, please contact the Queen’s University Communications Office on Tel. +0044 (0)28 9097 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Public invited to get a taste for the Giro d’Italia at Queen’s

The public are invited to get a taste for the Giro d’Italia at Queen’s University as the race passes it’s front doors on Friday 9 May.

Queen’s will celebrate the iconic race with a carnival of events, open to the public, including a six hour Giro themed spinathon beginning at 1pm and a garden party with Italian food and drink, competitions and music starting at 3pm and all taking place in front of the Lanyon building.

The University will be dressed in pink with staff and students also donning the Giro colours for the day as the race passes its iconic Lanyon Building between 4pm and 8pm.

The festivities are expected to attract crowds of people eager to get a front row seat for the race with a festival atmosphere.

Speaking ahead of the event, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tony Gallagher, said: “This is a truly international event that is coming to Belfast, and Queen’s as an international University is both proud and delighted to have a front row seat for the event. A wonderful afternoon of activities are planned at Queen’s and we look forward to staff, students and visitors taking the opportunity to see first-hand one of the world’s most elite and iconic cycling events.”

Queen’s Students’ Union President, Niall McShane, said; “It is fantastic that we have the Giro d’Italia coming to our front door and we encourage students to get involved in the festival of activities on offer on the day. We are delighted to be able to take the opportunity to raise money for our RAG (Raise and Give) charities through the spinathon and ‘Wear Pink to Queen’s’ day.”

For further information on the Giro d’Italia at Queen’s visit: http://www.qub.ac.uk/home/StudyatQueens/giro/  

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 028 9097 5391 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's University student wins top UK award

A Queen’s University student has been named UK Undergraduate Of The Year in a national competition.

Third-year Finance student Mark Devine, from north Belfast, won the Mathematics, Economics and Finance category of the annual TARGETjobs Undergraduate Of The Year awards, putting him in prime position to launch a career in international trading, starting with a 12-week internship at Gazprom Marketing & Trading Ltd (GM&T).

The internship, which will begin after Mark graduates next month, comprises 11 weeks at GM&T head office in London and one week in the company’s Singapore branch. Mark will be working as part of the Product Control team.

An award-winning student within the Queen’s School of Management, Mark has already worked for a year with financial-services giant Morgan Stanley and has scored a scholarship to sit the US-based Chartered Financial Analyst exam this summer.

A keen musician who plays guitar, violin and piano, Mark displayed an entrepreneurial streak at an early age, setting up a string-quartet business while still a pupil at St Malachy's College in Belfast. He has in more recent years been a member of the Queen’s University Symphony Orchestra.

In order to win his latest award, the 23-year-old was subjected to a gruelling series of assessments, including individual and group challenges as well as an interview with senior management at GM&T. He was picked out of 20 finalists in his category. Resourcing Partner at GM&T, Ben Carney, said it wasn’t only Mark’s strong academic record that put him ahead of the posse. “Mark displayed all the key attributes that we look for in an intern. Not only is his academic prowess impressive, but he demonstrated a real interest and a feel for the area we work in here at GM&T. He displayed an instinctive understanding of the corporate world. Although all the candidates were of a very high standard, Mark did stand out for possessing such a well-developed and balanced skill set.”

Mark’s award was one of 12 TARGETjobs awards presented by veteran broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald at Canary Wharf in London last week. The awards are organised by graduate recruitment agents, Group GTI. Each award was sponsored by a major graduate recruiter including Mars, Marks & Spencer, Nestle and Rolls-Royce.

Dr Gareth Campbell, Programme Director for the BSc Finance at Queen’s said: “Mark has been an excellent student throughout his time at Queen's, and he fully deserves this award. As well as maintaining very high academic grades, Mark has always displayed a well-rounded approach.”

Mark himself said he was very surprised to win the award. He said: “The finalists included two students from Cambridge University, one from Oxford University, one from the London School of Economics. The standard was very high so I was completely stunned.

“But I’m very excited by the internship. GM&T is an exciting company as it’s still quite young but it’s rapidly expanding. I’m hoping the internship may lead to further opportunities.” 

For further information contact Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 3087 email: comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Fionnuala McKenna to receive Queen’s University’s honour

A decade after his untimely passing, Cormac McAnallen’s memory and legacy has been marked with the third presentation of a special annual medal in his honour at Queen’s. The University’s GAA club and Past Members’ Union initiated the annual award in 2012 which was presented at a special reception.

The 2014 recipient of the specially commissioned Cormac McAnallen Medal is Armagh player Fionnuala McKenna. The intercounty star has featured prominently for Queen’s in their O’Connor Cup campaigns over the past few years, becoming a key member of the teams that won the national title in 2013 and which reached the final at Queen’s GAA Festival in Belfast this year.

Fionnuala is a former student of St Catherine’s College, Armagh where Cormac McAnallen taught.

This prestigious honour is presented for outstanding commitment to, and performance for, the Queen’s club and the senior teams. Previous recipients include Mark Sweeney (2012) and Conor Caldwell (2013).

Cormac McAnallen was an exceptional sportsman and his untimely passing in 2004 cut short a remarkable young career. He played at Queen’s for four years, winning a Sigerson Cup medal in 2000 and a Ryan Cup in 1999. He also added an Ulster and All-Ireland double with Tyrone in 2003 as well as an Allstar.

Cormac graduated from the university with a BA in 2001. He was later honoured by Queen's University as Graduate of the Year 2004, the first time that the honour was awarded posthumously.

Among the guests at Wednesday’s presentation were members of the McAnallen family and past and present Queen’s players.

Queen’s GAA clubs have had an eventful year with the hosting of the GAA Festival – the four main GAA intervarsity finals weekend.

The Past Members’ Union was formed under the chairmanship of the late Paddy O’Hara in 1990. The PMU was established to foster continued friendship among alumni of the club, while supporting initatives and ongoing development of the present Gaelic Football club.

John Devaney, Queen's GAA PMU Chairman, said: “Fionnuala’s performances on the field and commitment to her team and her club personify the very qualities that we now associate with this honour, and that we associate with Cormac. The Ladies Football senior team have been one of the most successful at the University over the past two years and Fionnuala has been an outstanding member. We also know that this medal is a special award and it is something that players at Queen’s aspire to”.

In December, Queen's Past Members Union also presented the inaugural Paddy O’Hara Medal of Honour to former Queen’s and Down legend Sean O’Neill. By virtue of the presentation, O’Neill was also inducted into a new Hall of Fame.

For media inquiries, please contact Aidan O’Rourke GAA Development Officer Queen’s University Belfast Mob + 44 (0) 7989746514 Email a.orourke@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s and BDO create leadership boost for family businesses
(L to R) Catherine McKeever, Eugene McKeever; McKeever Group,  Maybeth Shaw; Business Partner, BDO & Anne Clydesdale, Director of the William J Leadership Institute at Queen's.
(L to R) Catherine McKeever, Eugene McKeever; McKeever Group, Maybeth Shaw; Business Partner, BDO & Anne Clydesdale, Director of the William J Leadership Institute at Queen's.

A new leadership programme designed specifically for family businesses has been launched by the William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s University Belfast.

The Family Business Programme: Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders has been developed by BDO and the Leadership Institute at Queen’s to help prepare future leaders for their unique role as owners, manager and entrepreneurs. The new programme is the only course of its kind on the island of Ireland, offering a unique opportunity to create the best platform for a family business to grow and evolve from one generation to the next.

Family businesses dominate the business landscape in Northern Ireland, making up 74 per cent of companies here (Research Source: BDO).  Of equal importance is the mix of family businesses by generation.  These statistics show that only 3.2 per cent survive past third generation. 

Anne Clydesdale, Director of the William J Clinton Leadership Institute, said: “Family businesses are important to society not just in financial terms but because of the genuine commitment they have been able to demonstrate to the wider community beyond simply creating and sustaining employment.

“The family business sector is the backbone of our economy and providing its next generation of leaders with the unique support and development it requires is at the core of our new Family Business Programme programme.”

This programme takes participants to the heart of leadership in the family business, providing a forum for individuals to explore the unique and complex challenges that only family businesses face.

Maybeth Shaw, BDO Family Business Partner said: “The BDO Centre for Family Business is delighted to be working in partnership with the William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s on this key programme.  Developing leaders is one of the most challenging tasks for any business and even more difficult for a family business as it faces additional complexities from converging business and family systems, generational  challenges and increasing demands as the business and family grow and mature together.”

Individuals will get the opportunity for personal and reflective insights, coupled with peer support and structured learning from experts across the family business and leadership field, helping them to develop skills and align personal and business aspirations for the long term success and growth of the family business.

Eugene McKeever of the McKeever Group added: “Preparing the next generation of McKeevers is at the core of our succession and growth plans.  We recognise the heightened responsibilities and complexities that leading the McKeever family business will present as it prepares for the businesses and the family’s next generation. We are delighted that we can now take advantage of the right level of support, development and challenge provided in this new Programme from Queen’s and BDO.” 

For further details and how to enrol on this exciting and challenging programme at the William J Leadership Institute at Queen’s, please visit our website: www.leadershipinstitute.co.uk or Tel: 028 9097 4394 or email: leadershipinstitute@qub.ac.uk.

 

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Queen’s University turns pink for Giro d’Italia
Queen's Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Tony Gallagher gets into the festive spirit as Queen’s University turns pink for Giro d’Italia.
Queen's Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Tony Gallagher gets into the festive spirit as Queen’s University turns pink for Giro d’Italia.

To welcome one of the most iconic cycling events in the world to Northern Ireland, Queen’s University is turning pink for the Giro d’Italia.

Queen’s University will be dressed in pink with staff and students also donning the Giro colours for the day as the race passes its iconic Lanyon Building between 4pm and 8pm.

The University will celebrate the race with a carnival of events, open to the public, including a six hour Giro themed spinathon beginning at 1pm and a garden party with Italian food and drink, competitions and music starting at 3pm and all taking place in front of the Lanyon building.

The festivities are expected to attract crowds of people eager to get a front row seat for the race with a festival atmosphere.

Speaking ahead of the event, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tony Gallagher, said: “This is a truly international event that is coming to Belfast, and Queen’s as an international University is both proud and delighted to have a front row seat for the event. A wonderful afternoon of activities are planned at Queen’s and we look forward to staff, students and visitors taking the opportunity to see first-hand one of the world’s most elite and iconic cycling events.”

Queen’s Students’ Union President, Niall McShane, said; “It is fantastic that we have the Giro d’Italia coming to our front door and we encourage students to get involved in the festival of activities on offer on the day. We are delighted to be able to take the opportunity to raise money for our RAG (Raise and Give) charities through the spinathon and ‘Wear Pink to Queen’s’ day.”

For further information on the Giro d’Italia at Queen’s visit: http://www.qub.ac.uk/home/StudyatQueens/giro/

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 email: c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Call for Equality in Access to Cancer Drugs

Academics from Queen’s University have taken part in a round table event to discuss the inequality of access to specialist drugs for local cancer patients.

Consultant Oncologist and Clinical Director of NI Ireland Cancer Trials Centre and Network, Dr Richard Wilson, and Professor Mark Lawler, member of the Steering Committee of the European Cancer Concord (ECC) attended the discussion along with key clinicians, politicians and health professionals to discuss the inequality of access to specialist drugs for local cancer patients. The meeting was chaired by Roisin Foster, Chief Executive of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland.

The cancer charity, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland is calling for an overhaul of the current process to fund life-extending cancer medicines in Northern Ireland.

Cancer Focus NI Chief Executive, Roisin Foster said: “There is a clear inequality between cancer treatments available in Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK. The purpose of this campaign is to ensure that the most effective drugs will be made available to local cancer patients in their time of need.”

There are 39 life-extending cancer drugs available to patients living in England through the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF). The Fund offers treatments that have not been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and are not routinely funded by the NHS. More recently in Scotland, changes have been made to its access to cancer drugs system, allowing patients and clinicians a greater say on what new medicines are approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) for use in the NHS for end of life care and treating rare conditions.

Roisin Foster continued: “Cancer Focus NI has been concerned for some time that local cancer patients are being denied access to life-extending drugs that are currently available in England, and will soon be available in Scotland.

“We wanted to give elected representatives the opportunity to hear firsthand from some of our leading clinicians the concerns they have over access to cancer diagnostics and medicines.

“The meeting discussed proposals that the NI Executive demonstrates its commitment to redress the access to cancer drugs issue, and find the relatively small amount of funds needed to give cancer patients equality to medicines as patients in the rest of the UK.

“It was encouraging that there was broad agreement from everyone around the table that there is the will to improve the situation, but there was also the recognition that there needs to be commitment from all interested bodies – the health service, pharmacy industry, politicians and patient advocacy groups – to move this forward.”

Dr Richard Wilson commented: “Northern Ireland has contributed significantly to the field of cancer research, clinical trials and new treatments. In fact some of the medicines available on the Cancer Drug Fund list were developed and trialled in Northern Ireland, but are still not available to patients living here. “Our cancer patients are, in some cases, unable to access treatments with proven clinical benefits available to others in England and in Scotland. We’re simply asking for the same rights of access for Northern Ireland cancer patients.”

Professor Mark Lawler added: "Article 2 of the European Cancer Patient's Bill of Rights, which we launched in the European Parliament in Strasbourg and which received cross-party support from our MEPs, calls for optimal and timely access to appropriate treatment and care for every patient in the EU. This includes rapid access to the latest innovations in diagnosis and treatment. Cancer patients in Northern Ireland are currently being denied potentially beneficial treatments available in other parts of the UK. We need to open this debate and investigate ways in which we can, in a cost effective manner, achieve the best outcomes for patients in Northern Ireland.”

Allister Murphy (57) from Newtownabbey has terminal prostate cancer and has experienced first-hand the inequality of access to cancer drugs here. “In 2008 when I was first diagnosed I was given two to three years to live. By taking part in two clinical trials I benefited from specialised cancer drugs, that otherwise would have been unavailable to me, and that have added years to my life.

“Currently I’m undergoing a second bout of chemotherapy because I can’t get access to new drugs like enzalutamide. If I lived in England I would be able to apply to the Cancer Drugs Fund for access to these drugs but as I’m based in Northern Ireland, this option isn’t available to me.

“I believe the lack of access to cancer drugs here is discriminatory. It wouldn’t cost a lot of money to improve the system and would make such a massive difference to thousands of people’s lives.”

To move these proposals forward a forum to include patient groups, charities and other interested parties will be held by Cancer Focus NI before the summer.

For more information contact Louise Carey, Communications Manager at Cancer Focus NI on 028 9068 0736 / 07884 362 749 or louisecarey@cancerfocusni.org

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

Queen’s University’s School of Psychology has been awarded the prestigious Athena SWAN Gold award for its outstanding progress in promoting gender equality and addressing the unequal representation of women in science.

It is the first School of Psychology in the UK to achieve this prestigious award and is one of only six UK universities to hold a Gold departmental award.

It is the University’s second Athena SWAN Gold departmental award, with the School of Biological Sciences receiving the same accolade in 2013. Queen’s is one of only two UK universities to hold two Gold awards, and is also one of only four in the UK to hold a prestigious Athena SWAN Silver institutional 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 Queen’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, who had their Athena Silver Award renewed. All of Queen’s 11 eligible departments (that is, schools focusing on science, technology, engineering, maths or medicine) currently hold Athena SWAN awards.

Welcoming this latest success Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patrick Johnston 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 Professor Cathy Craig and her team and all involved in this achievement. I want Queen’s 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 all of our staff. This recognition from Athena SWAN sets us apart, and we have already seen staff choosing to come to Queen’s because of our leadership and reputation for gender equality.”

Instrumental in helping Psychology achieve the award, Head of School, Professor Cathy Craig said: “I am delighted about the wonderful news that we have won an Athena SWAN Gold award. The School has worked hard to ensure it provides an inclusive and supporting environment for all its staff and students, and to enable female staff to progress their careers as women in science. I want to thank 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 and Equal Opportunities Unit, which have supported the School in achieving this award, and we thank them for their invaluable help."

Professor Teresa McCormack, Acting Director of Queen’s Gender Initiative and SWAN Champion for the School of Psychology, said: “This award confirms 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. Queen’s is firmly committed to ensuring that women scientists can have fulfilling careers in their chosen fields, and this latest award is recognition of the University’s work in promoting gender diversity in scientific leadership.”

Paul Browne, Equal Opportunities Manager at Queen’s, said: “This award is testament to the hard work and commitment of staff across the University to securing gender equality at Queen’s, which is now among the leading universities in the UK in terms of advancing the careers of women in science.”

For more information about Queen’s School of Psychology visit www.qub.ac.uk/schools/psy

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke (Wed) or Michelle Cassidy (Thur-Fri) at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5320 / 5310 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s cyber expert secures place among UK’s top engineers

A professor from Queen’s University Belfast, who invented a high-speed silicon security chip that is used in more than 100 million TV set-top boxes, has received the coveted Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal for 2014.

Professor Máire O’Neill, from Glenties, Co. Donegal, is one of only five engineers who have received the medal in national recognition for their contribution to society.

The former British Female Inventor of the Year is one of Europe’s leading experts on digital security, and is currently Professor of Information Security at Queen’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT).

A Queen’s graduate, she is one of Europe’s leading cryptography experts, helping enhance global data security.

Her research involves designing security solutions for communications applications, including email, cloud and mobile technologies. Contributing to the future vision for digital security in Europe, Professor O’Neill was invited by the European Commission to become a member of the Young Advisors Group, which is shaping the future by lending expertise on how to achieve Europe’s Digital Agenda.

Speaking about her Silver Medal award, Professor O’Neill said: “It is an honour to receive this recognition from the Royal Academy of Engineering. Cyber security presents huge challenges for the future. The development of resilient, secure information systems is crucial for everyone - from how we carry out our daily work, to the delivery of public services, to issues of national and international security. It is a hugely exciting and important field in which to work, and I am delighted that my research has been recognised for its impact on wider society.”

Professor O’Neill was the youngest ever professor to be appointed at Queen’s at the age of 32 and was also the University’s first female professor in electrical and electronic engineering. She was instrumental in the creation of CSIT at Queen’s which has established strong links with global security organisations.

Congratulating Professor O’Neill, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston, said: “This well-deserved recognition of Professor O’Neill’s work serves to illustrate how the research ongoing at Queen’s is often translated into products and systems which have a significant impact on the lives of many people both locally and globally. As a Queen’s graduate, Máire is an excellent role model for any young or aspiring engineer and on behalf of the University, I would like to congratulate her on receiving this prestigious award.”

Alongside her cutting-edge research, Professor O’Neill co-ordinates Queen’s newly-launched Masters in Cyber Security. With its first intake of students in September, Queen’s has created this course to cater for the needs of the IT industry in Northern Ireland and beyond, where demand for highly-skilled cyber security professionals is increasing.

Dervilla Mitchell FREng, Chair of the Academy’s Awards Committee, said, “The Silver Medals recognise individual excellence, not only technically, but also in the ability to turn knowledge and ideas into useful, wealth-creating products and services. This is essential to UK economic prosperity, and this year’s winners are all excellent examples of the kind of world-class entrepreneurs that the Academy is championing through its Engineering for Growth campaign and supporting through its Enterprise Hub.

“The UK boasts world-leading expertise in digital security, computer programming, aerospace, and manufacturing, and our 2014 medallists demonstrate the strength of knowledge and skill in these areas that will enable us to maintain this position for years to come. They are outstanding role models for the next generation.”

Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medallists were selected from a long list of nominations, drawn from all areas of contemporary engineering. They were chosen by a panel of Academy Fellows who have expertise across the range of engineering disciplines, as well as personal entrepreneurial experience.

For more information on CSIT visit www.csit.qub.ac.uk

For more information on the Royal Academy of Engineering visit www.raeng.org.uk

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke at Queen’s University Communications Office. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5320 email: comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Orange Order leader and Coiste na nlarchimí support conflict programme at Queen’s

A new Queen’s University online programme entitled Identity, Conflict and Public Space: Contest and Transformation, is being supported by both the Orange Order and Coiste na nlarchimí.

The six week programme focuses on using public space to express identity and has been developed by Dr Dominic Bryan, from the Institute of Irish Studies, who said: “This is a hugely topical subject in many societies around the world. Here in Northern Ireland we only have to look at recent issues surroundings flags, parades and memorials.

“This free online programme, which goes live on 28 April and is accessible to anyone with internet access, examines issues around the use of public space to express identity. Ethno-political conflicts across the globe tend to differ in detail, but share common structural and political issues. Fundamental to the conflicts is the ability for groups of people to have access to representation in public space. We hope this programme will have a positive impact at home and around the world.”

Contributors include Grand Chaplain of the Orange Order, Mervyn Gibson and Legacy Officer with Coiste na nIarchimí, Séanna Walsh as well as Peter Osborne Chair of the Community Relations Council and former Chair of the Parades Commission.

Speaking about the programme Mr Gibson, said: “Identity conflict and public space are issues that affect people all over the world.  We in Northern Ireland know better than most how using public space to express identity can cause tension.  This course will be invaluable in terms of looking at these issues and understanding the importance of identity and public spaces in politics wherever they may be.”

Mr Walsh, said: “Education is key to moving forward in conflict societies and this programme provides us with a global understanding of the issues surrounding conflict and public space.  I was delighted to contribute as Queen’s continues to advance knowledge and change lives.”

Key contributions to the course are also made my Dr Milena Komarova and Dr. Neil Jarman at the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice and Dr Sam Pehrson from the Centre of Identity and Intergroup Relations.

This course is the second free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offered by Queen’s. Over 8000 people enrolled for the first MOOC offered by Queen’s Critical Listening for Studio Production which began in January.

To watch the trailer for the new course and find out further information on MOOC courses available at Queen’s visit: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/identity-conflict-and-public-space-contest-and-transformation

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office on Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 email: c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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