July 2015 Press Releases

Queen’s helps discover Earth’s closest ever transiting planet

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have helped discover the nearest rocky planet outside our solar system, larger than Earth and a potential gold mine of science data.

A team from the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s have helped find HD 219134b, a planet in a 3-day orbit that transits, or crosses, in front of its star. Located in the Cassiopeia star constellation, which is visible year-round near the North Star, HD 219134b is just 21 light-years away from Earth. This makes it by far the closest transiting planet and ideal for follow-up studies.

HD 219134b is also the nearest rocky planet confirmed outside our solar system. Its host star, HD 219134, is visible to the unaided eye from dark skies, meaning anyone with a good star map can see this record-breaking system.

Dr Chris Watson, from the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s, said: “It is a privilege for Queen’s to be involved in this ground-breaking work. To think that you can look up at the constellation of Cassiopeia and see it with your naked eye, and know that there is a system of alien planets spinning around it is an inspiring thought by itself. The fact that one of these crosses the face of the star once an orbit, and we now know is a rocky world, is all the more incredible.

“The amount that we will learn about this planetary system when we train the world’s largest telescopes on it in the coming years will be phenomenal, and I’m sure there will be yet more surprises. This is the latest example of the commitment of researchers and staff at Queen’s to advancing knowledge and achieving excellence for the benefit of society.”

The newfound world was discovered using the HARPS-North instrument on the 3.6-meter Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands. The lead institution in the HARPS-North project is the University of Geneva, in collaboration with Queen’s University, the University of St Andrews, and the University of Edinburgh. Other partners are the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF).

HARPS-North detects planets using the radial velocity method, which allows astronomers to measure a planet’s mass. HD 219134b weighs 4.5 times the mass of Earth, making it a super-Earth. With such a close orbit, researchers realised that there was good possibility the planet would transit its star.

Astronomers used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to capture the smallest planet crossing in front of the star. The star was seen to dim slightly as the planet crossed its face. Measuring the depth of the transit gave the planet’s size, enabling the team to calculate the planet’s density, which showed that it is a rocky world.

Annelies Mortier, from the University of St Andrews, said: “For a planet like this one, orbiting at a distance ten times the radius of its parent star, the chances of transits occurring are better than 1-in-10, so it was well worth looking.”

Ken Rice, from the University of Edinburgh, said: “It is really exciting that we can are now starting to be able to determine the internal composition of such low-mass planets.”

In addition to finding HD 219134b, further observations with HARPS-North also revealed three more planets in the same star system, farther than HD 219134b. Two are relatively small and not too far from the star. Small, tightly packed multi-planet systems are completely different from our own solar system, but, like super-Earths, are being found in increasing numbers.

The paper describing this research has been accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or



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Queen’s researchers develop technology to reduce cost of purifying natural gas

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have developed a cutting-edge method of reducing the carbon dioxide content of natural gas, a process of major economic and environmental importance in the oil and gas industry.

A team of researchers in the Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) Research Centre has developed an innovative technology that uses a mixture of water and ionic liquids (salts which are liquid under ambient conditions) to remove carbon dioxide from raw natural gas extracted from natural reservoirs under the sea.

The new process is aimed at reducing the global environmental and economic costs of purifying natural gas, which is by far the cleanest burning fuel available in large amounts. In comparison to current conventional ‘amine’ purifying systems, which use volatile and corrosive materials, the new ionic liquid system is safer, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly.

The process offers a range of commercial and industrial opportunities. It is compact enough to be utilised on off-shore platforms or installed on land-based gas-processing plants, and once captured the carbon dioxide may be stored, reprocessed, or used for enhanced oil recovery.

Dr David Wassell, who led the team from the Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) Research Centre, said: “Using ionic liquids to remove the carbon dioxide from natural gas could have significant impact on the gas processing industry, particularly with the promise of using the carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery. It could make a significant contribution to reducing the environmental impact caused by this energy source.” 

Project coordinator, Dr Natalia Plechkova, from the Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) Research Centre, said: “This joint project, developed with the global energy company PETRONAS, shows the progress which can be made in genuinely collaborative industry-university projects. The key to success was an integrated team approach.”

“This is the latest example of the commitment of researchers and staff at Queen’s to advancing knowledge and achieving excellence for the benefit of society.”

The research is available to read at:!divAbstract

Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office, on or 028 9097 5384.

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Queen's helps inspire the next generation of coders

Digital solutions company Kainos today launched its 3rd summer CodeCamp, supported by Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast City Council and South Belfast Partnership.

The free course, which is being attended by 80 young people from across Belfast and further afield, is aimed at year 11-14 students studying STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). CodeCamp runs from 27th July, and culminates with a prize giving ceremony on 7th August.

Kainos CodeCamp is designed to introduce young people to the world of computer programming and improve their technical skills. Over the two weeks, software developers and mentors from Kainos, Queen’s University Belfast and Liberty IT provide training and deliver workshops in a number of technologies including Android, iOS and Raspberry Pi. Participants not only learn basic coding techniques, but also get a chance to develop their own apps. This will allow them to experience what working in an IT/technical environment would be like, and to understand the different roles available within the industry.

For the first time this year, the CodeCamp attendees will be given group training sessions in using Raspberry Pi, the small computer system designed to encourage children to learn programming. These will also be offered up as prizes, alongside Nexus tablets and an Apple Watch.

Dr Phil Hanna, Director of Education at the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “The camp is a brilliant way to inspire the next generation of technical professionals. The students can gain a better understanding of app development and different types of coding, along with working in a professional environment.”

Discussing the unique opportunity offered by CodeCamp, Gemma Crothers, Technology Outreach Manager at Kainos, said: “CodeCamp’s main goal is to inspire young people to become creators of technology, rather than just consumers of it. They know how to use the latest technology, but they don’t understand the role they could also have in building it. Our main aim is to give the participants a passion for building applications, and enable them to use the latest technical tools available to them.”

Demand for places was exceptionally high this year, with all 80 tickets being snapped up in just two hours. In total, there were 300 applications, highlighting the obvious demand and appetite for initiatives of this nature, and the thirst for technical knowledge that today’s teenagers have.

Briege Arthurs, CEO of South Belfast Partnership Board, said: “It’s encouraging to see so many children give up two weeks of their summer break to develop their technical knowledge and understanding. These young people are the future of the workforce in Northern Ireland, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that the workforce of the future is trained in best practice and kept up-to-date with the latest technological advancements”.

Cllr Deirdre Hargey, Chair of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee at Belfast City Council, said, “The council is committed to supporting the development of the creative industries in Belfast, and a key focus has been on growing the digital media and technology sectors. With companies like Kainos involving the next generation in programmes like CodeCamp, we are ensuring the continuing development of our city, our people and our knowledge economy. I wish all the participants in CodeCamp every success over the next fortnight and in their future careers.”

Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office, on or 028 9097 5384.

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Queen’s researchers discover simple solution to worrying levels of arsenic in our rice

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have made a breakthrough in discovering how to lower worrying levels of arsenic in rice that is eaten all over the world.

After many laboratory experiments, they have discovered that a simple, shop-bought coffee percolator is the best method for removing the carcinogen, inorganic arsenic, from all types of rice, including white and wholegrain. The results are published in the PLOS ONE journal today.

Rice is the only major crop grown under flooded conditions. It is this flooding that releases inorganic arsenic, normally locked up in soil minerals, which is then absorbed by the plant. Too much arsenic is associated with a range of health problems including, at worst, bladder and lung cancer.

Rice has, typically, ten times more inorganic arsenic than other foods and according to the European Food Standards Authority, people who eat a lot of rice, as is the case in many parts of the developing world, are exposed to worrying concentrations. Children and infants are of particular concern as they eat, relatively, three times more rice than adults – baby rice being a popular food for weaning – and their organs are still developing.

In this new study, researchers at Queen’s tested two methods of percolating technology, one where the cooking water was recycled through condensing boiling-water steam and passing the freshly distilled hot water through the grain in a lab setting, and one where tap water was used to cook the rice held in an off-the-shelf coffee percolator in a domestic setting. 

Both approaches proved highly effective, with up to 85% of arsenic removed from a variety of different rice types and brands, including wholegrain and white.

Andy Meharg, Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at Queen's Institute for Global Food Security said: “This is a very significant breakthrough as this offers an immediate solution to decreasing inorganic arsenic in the diet.

“In our research we rethought the method of rice cooking to optimise the removal of inorganic arsenic and we discovered that by using percolating technology, where cooking water is continually passed through rice in a constant flow, we could maximise removal of arsenic.

“Chronic exposure to inorganic arsenic can cause a range of health problems including developmental problems, heart disease, diabetes and nervous system damage. However, most worrying are lung and bladder cancers. This new breakthrough is the latest example of the commitment of researchers at Queen’s to changing lives and advancing knowledge that will have a lasting impact around the globe.”

Queen’s is at the patent stage for the development of a bespoke rice cooker based on a percolation system which means consumers could soon have this technology in their own kitchen.

To read the full article on PLOS ONE, click here:

For further information contact Queen’s University Communications Officers Una Bradley (Mon-Wed) on 028 9097 5320 or Michelle Cassidy (Thurs-Fri) on 028 9097 5310 or email



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Queen's collaboration showcases innovative research at UK Parliament

Professor AP de Silva, from the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s

A Queen’s University collaboration which developed a blood analyser used in hospitals and war zones, has showcased its ground-breaking work at the UK Parliament.

The OPTI blood analyser, which was developed by Queen’s Professor AP de Silva, in collaboration with Optimedical Inc and AVL BioScience Corporation, Roswell GA, produces blood test results in less than 30 seconds, enabling rapid medical responses to be carried out. It is now being used worldwide in GP surgeries, veterinary surgeries and hospital critical care units.

The work of the blood analyser was presented to UK MP’s as part of a national campaign run by the Royal Society of Chemistry and Institute of Physics. Entitled ‘Inspirational science for a modern economy’, the campaign demonstrates UK success stories from the Research Excellence Framework (REF), both in chemistry and physics, where innovations and companies have been formed from university science departments.

Professor AP de Silva, from the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s, said: “A modern economy like the UK’s cannot be sustained in the long-term without a science foundation. This realisation is even more valid in times of volatile financial markets. While financial gain comes and goes, science achievements remain. Those achievements, which are born in quiet laboratories, need commercial and political will so that wider society can benefit.”

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s President, Professor Dominic Tildesley, said: “We have the evidence to show that Britain is a world leader in science and that Government investment in science boosts the UK economy. There are innovative projects and companies springing up all the time and we want to see a commitment to a long-term strategy for increasing investment to ensure that we all continue to benefit from our scientific success.”

Find out more about the development and impact of the blood analyser here

Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office, on or 028 9097 5384.

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Paralympic gold medallists honoured by Queen’s University

Registered blind skier Kelly Gallagher, left, and her sighted guide Charlotte Evans, arrive to collect their honorary degrees for services to sport from Queen's University Belfast.

Queen’s University Belfast will today (Wednesday 8 July) honour two very special sportswomen for their outstanding talent and determination.

Kelly Gallagher MBE is the first athlete from Northern Ireland to compete in the Winter Paralympics. A graduate in mathematics from the University of Bath, she won Britain’s first Winter Paralympic Gold for skiing during Sochi 2014.

Born with the genetic condition oculocutaneous albinism, Gallagher is registered blind and on snow, uses a sighted guide, Charlotte Evans. They will each be awarded a DUniv for distinction in sport.

Kelly lives in Bangor, Co Down and before she came to international sporting fame worked as a statistician with the Northern Ireland Civil Service. Just before she was selected for the British disabled Ski Team, Gallagher began a part time Master’s course in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s, which is currently on hold. 

Referring to her honorary degree, she said: "I am delighted to be honoured in this way by Queen’s, which has a well-deserved reputation not only for academic excellence but for impacting on society and changing lives. That sense of empowering students to fulfill their dreams and ambitions is something for which I am passionate . It is very fitting that both Charlotte and I are awarded for our unique and individual roles in achieving our goals. I am really pleased that we are honoured together".

As the sighted guide for Kelly, Englishwoman Charlotte Evans helped win the Gold for skiing in the women’s Super-G in the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games. This joint achievement marked Britain's first ever Winter Paralympic Gold medal.

A former English skiing champion in her own right, Evans became interested in coaching and working as a guide while going through rehab for an injury. She has spent the past four years as the sighted guide for Gallagher.

Of her honorary degree, she said: “It is a great honour to be recognised in this way and I’m very much looking forward to my visit to Belfast and to celebrating with Kelly and all the other students on the day.”

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Queen's Student of the Year ‘strikes a chord’

The winner of the annual First Trust Bank Queen’s Student of the Year Award has been announced. Dental student Laura Graham from Portglenone, Co Antrim, was chosen for international academic achievement and for her role in student music.

The Award is presented by the Queen’s Graduates’ Association (QGA) with generous backing from First Trust Bank and is one of the highlights of Graduation Week. Now in its 17th year, the award recognises exceptional students for excellence, achievement or service either to the University or to the wider community.

Mark McKeown, Manager of First Trust Bank University Road, said: “We have been supporting these important Awards since their inception and are very proud to be associated with such a stand-out event in the University calendar.

“Our endorsement recognises and celebrates the achievements of all those Queen's students who make such an invaluable contribution to life in Northern Ireland and beyond. This year’s Student of the Year – Laura Graham – is an inspirational role model for all students but especially those considering undertaking postgraduate research.”

While taking a year out from her Dentistry studies to complete an intercalated Master’s Degree of Research at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB), Laura focused on the role of p63 and BRCA1 in Oropharyngeal Cancer – genes which are linked to early-onset of breast and ovarian cancer. She was then selected to represent the Irish division at the International Association of Dental Research annual conference in Boston, Massachusetts in May where she won the Junior Researcher Hatton Award, the most prestigious student research prize in world dentistry.

In addition to a lead role in the St Vincent de Paul society at Queen’s, Laura was also actively involved in the student orchestra (where she played violin) and was a soprano in the Chamber Choir. Last year she received a Degree Plus award for time spent with the Choir.

Feargus McCauley, President of the QGA, believes that the First Trust Awards are an acknowledgement of all that is best about Queen’s. He said: “With the recent opening of the Graduate School at Queen’s, the University is poised to be a powerhouse of postgraduate research.

“This year’s Student of the Year Award recognises the achievement and impact of a gifted researcher, an exemplary master’s student, and a person of great tenacity and commitment. Laura Graham richly deserves recognition this year.”

The student winner receives a trophy and £500.

Media inquiries to Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office; tel: +44 028 9097 5321

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Double celebration as identical twins graduate together

There will be double celebrations for one family during today’s graduation ceremony (Wednesday 8 July) at Queen’s University Belfast.

Identical twins Rachel and Laura Smyth, from Randalstown, will each be graduating with a degree in Bachelor of Music this afternoon, having completed the same modules throughout their degree.

But having spent their entire lives together, graduation will mark a change in direction.

Laura will start a teacher training course in Coleraine at the end of the summer, while her sister plans to take a year out with a view to teacher training next year.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony for the School of Creative Arts, Laura said they had thoroughly enjoyed their degree which has allowed them to pursue their own areas of interest and to deepen their understanding of the subject.

“Although we have done the same degree, Queen’s has afforded us with different opportunities and career paths.  We’ve always relied on each other, all the way through school and Queen’s, so going off in different directions will be a bit scary, but it will be good to be more independent.”

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Outstanding nursing student achieves dream job

An outstanding nursing student who has shown huge drive and commitment to achieve her dream career, is graduating from Queen’s today.

Emma Reilly, from Enniskillen, who is graduating with a BSc in Nursing Sciences, has already secured a job as a nurse at Craigavon Area Hospital - a remarkable achievement given that while studying and working she also helped look after her dad Michael, who needs full time care. 

Michael suffered a heart attack in 2010, when Emma was beginning her degree, and she has balanced her placement, part time work and classes, with regular trips home to provide support. 

For Emma, knowing her dad will be there to support her on her graduation day will make the event extra special. She said: “My decision to become a nurse was largely based around Dad. The support he received when he was in hospital was amazing, and he continues to inspire me every day. Now I can’t wait to start my new job where I can help others in society.”

Emma joins the 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Talented student aims to inspire disadvantaged young people

A talented Queen’s student graduating today has big ambitions to make a positive difference in society.

Lyndsay Campbell, who is graduating with a BA Joint Honours in Drama and French, plans to use her knowledge and skills to help educate young people from disadvantaged areas of the UK.

Lyndsay, from Belfast, is joining Teach First, a government funded organisation that gives graduates the chance to study for their PGCE part-time, while working as a full-time paid teacher in schools in disadvantaged areas.

For Lyndsay, who will be teaching French in the north west of England, taking part in the scheme is a chance to help other young people achieve their potential.

She said: “My time at Queen's has been amazing, from the friends I've met through my course, to the extra-curricular activities I’ve done, and the support and quality of education I've received.  One of my drama lecturers gave me an amazing reference for Teach First and it made me feel great knowing how much he believed in me and my future career.

“I'd love to make a difference in society, and to change people’s live through teaching for the benefit of everyone in society. Queen’s has given me the skills and confidence I need to inspire students to make the most of every opportunity that they can”.

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Courageous nursing student achieves life-long dream

A life-long dream will become a reality for one inspirational Queen’s University student graduating today.

Jenny Marshall, from Belfast, who will be graduating with First Class Honours in Nursing, has overcome three brain tumours to achieve her dream - and she has already secured a job in the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London.

Aged 14, Jenny was diagnosed with a brain tumour causing epilepsy and underwent two brain operations at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. The care and compassion she received from the hospital’s nurses is something that she will always remember, and since then she has always wanted to be able to help others in need. 

Despite ongoing seizures throughout her teens, Jenny gained a place at Queen’s, but was devastated when she found out she would have to undergo a third operation. She said: “I was pretty much shattered at the time, having to put my dream on hold. But with the care of health professionals who looked after me, and the support of staff at Queen’s, I had a full recovery and was able to complete my course.”

Today, five years to the day after her last surgery, Jenny will be celebrating her graduation with her family, including her dad, Mr David Marshall, Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s.

She said: “After graduation I’m going back to work in London, in the hospital where I had my final operation. I feel so privileged to be working alongside an amazing team of world renowned professionals where I can really make a difference. Studying at Queen's was a very challenging, but rewarding experience and I am very thankful to those lecturers in the School of Nursing & Midwifery who supported me.”

Jenny joins the 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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World renowned scientist Peter Higgs honoured by Queen’s University

Nobel Prize winning physicist, Professor Peter Higgs, who was awarded an honorary degree from Queen's University for his Services to Science

One of the world’s most revered and ground-breaking scientists will be honoured today (Tuesday 7 July) by Queen’s University for his services to science.

Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist, Professor Peter Higgs, is renowned for his pioneering work which predicted the Higgs boson particle.

After gaining a PhD in Physics from King’s College London, Professor Higgs published two breakthrough scientific papers in 1964 offering explanations for how fundamental particles obtain their mass – due to the effects of the Higgs field and Higgs boson particle. Using this pioneering research, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN found the Higgs boson in 2012.

Professor Higgs, who has won a host of accolades for his work, was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics on 8 October 2013.  He was appointed a Companion of Honour in the New Year’s Honours 2013.

Speaking about the awarding of a DSc for services to Science, he said: “I am thrilled to be given this accolade from Queen’s University, a world class institution, with such a fine heritage, that is renowned for its high calibre physics research. I am looking forward to sharing this special occasion with those students who will be graduating on the same day and will be the bright young minds of the future.”

Meanwhile, two of the UK’s most successful and inspiring corporate executives will also be honoured today for their services to business.

With an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, Helena Morrissey has been the CEO of Newton Investment Management, the global investment management subsidiary of BNY Mellon, since 2001, overseeing 400 employees and over £50 billion assets under management.

In 2010, she founded the 30% Club with the aim of getting women to hold 30% of seats on corporate boards. At the time, the female board participation rate in the FTSE 100 companies was 12.5% - that percentage has now doubled and there are no all-male boards left in the FTSE-100. In 2013, she continued to campaign for greater female representation at all organisational levels by becoming Chair of Opportunity Now, the gender equality campaign from Business in the Community.

Speaking about the awarding of a DSc Econ for services to business and commerce, she said: “I am thrilled to be awarded an honorary degree from Queen’s University which is respected all over the world as a producer of high-calibre, market-attuned graduates and which also has a reputation for promoting greater female representation in academia and has won many Athena Swan awards for its promotion of women in STEMM subjects. I hope the young women graduating alongside me today realise that the world is their oyster and they can have a brilliant career if they wish to pursue it.”

Joining Helena will be Queen’s graduate and a former President of Queen’s Students’ Union, Thomas Lynch. After graduating with a BSc in Economics in 1978, Thomas went on to become a partner in accountancy firm KPMG.

Since then, he has become one of the most experienced executives in the international pharmaceuticals and bio-tech industry, with stints at senior management in companies including Élan Corporation plc, Amarin Corporation plc, Warner Chilcott plc and Galen plc. He is currently Chairman of Icon PLC, one of the world's largest clinical research organisations, as well as Chair of the Ireland East Hospital Group and the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital.  Thomas also serves as a board member of a number of public and privately held biotechnology companies.

Thomas has served on many boards and undertaken charity and public-service work including being a long-term donor to Queen’s University and chairing the Queen’s Foundation Board since 2004 and has served as a member of the board and trustee of the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden).

Referring to his DSc Econ for services to business and commerce and to the University, Mr Lynch said: “Queen’s is a wonderful university that makes a really significant contribution to the Northern Ireland economy and I will be forever grateful to my alma mater for the great start it gave me in my career. It’s a university that’s respected the world over and to be invited back, especially under such happy circumstances, is a privilege. I am very much looking forward to seeing good friends and revisiting the Students’ Union for the sake of old times!”

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or


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Two degrees of non-separation for childhood friends

Childhood friends, Hannah Donnelly and Kelly Templeton, will be graduating during the same ceremony at Queen’s today (Tuesday 7 July), despite studying very different subjects!

Hannah, from Finaghy, will receive her Masters in Physics, while Kelly, who lives in Dunmurry, will pick up her degree in English during the same ceremony.

Although the pair have known each other since they were babies, they lost touch when Kelly’s family moved to England. However, they were reunited when Kelly moved back to Belfast to start high school and the pair have been inseparable ever since, even sharing a house during their time at Queen’s.

They are delighted to not only be graduating at the same time, but also being able to attend the same ceremony.

Hannah said: “Despite both studying very different subjects we have both been afforded a vast arrays of opportunities and experiences at Queen’s. Having been friends all our lives it’s particularly special to be walking across the stage to collect our degrees together.”

Graduation will also mark a change in direction for the pair. Hannah plans to start a PhD at Queen’s, while Kelly is hoping to travel and train to teach English in Thailand.

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Management graduate lands exciting U.S. finance job

A leading Queen’s Management student graduating today is preparing for an exciting job that will take her to the United States with major finance company, Prudential. 

Mariesa Dolan, who is graduating with an Actuarial Science degree from Queen’s University Management School, will start her new job in September and will immediately be jetting off to Connecticut for three months to start her training.

Mariesa, who will be splitting her working life between the U.S. and Prudential’s subsidiary company Pramerica in Letterkenny, secured the role after undertaking a series of internships during her time at Queen’s.

She gained a high profile scholarship with the Ireland-US Council so she could travel to New York for a nine-week internship with Prudential, and she also spent nine months in the Isle of Man working with a pensions team at international actuaries firm Boal & Co.

Mariesa, from Fermanagh, said: “None of this would have been possible without the support I received at Queen’s. There’s a real emphasis on employability in the School of Management and their Placement Office were a huge support to me, helping me gain the experience that companies want to see from graduates. 

“Queen’s offers a wide variety of international placement and internships across all subject areas and they certainly provided me with opportunities that have built my skills, helped me develop as a person, and prepared me for the world of work. It’s been fantastic.”

Mariesa joins the 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Student honoured by UK Prime Minister graduates

A talented student who has been honoured by UK Prime Minister David Cameron for his outstanding commitment to volunteering, is graduating from Queen’s University today. 

Mogue Lawless, who is graduating with a degree in Business Management, is the project leader on Start Talking, a pioneering Queen’s initiative that aims to educate the student community about mental health issues.

He is also President of Enactus Belfast, a Queen’s programme that encourages students to develop social projects that support disadvantaged people in the community.

In 2014, Mogue received the prestigious ‘Points of Light’ award from David Cameron, a unique honour that recognises outstanding individual volunteers who are making a change in their community.

Mogue, from Milton Keynes in England, who will be taking part in the prestigious Washington Ireland Program after graduation, said: “I have always wanted to help others and my time at Queen’s gave me the opportunity to get involved in volunteering and make a difference to the lives of my fellow students.

“The Start Talking initiative gave me the chance to raise awareness and understanding of mental health among students at the University. I loved being able to make a difference at Queen’s, and now I plan to use the skills I’ve gained here to make a difference in society.”

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or


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U.S. exchange proves life-changing for Queen’s graduate

From the academic halls of Queen’s University to a life-changing exchange programme in America – one student graduating today has had an unforgettable year of study.

Lauren McMahon, from Belfast, was chosen to represent Queen’s School of History in their first ever exchange programme with the University of Illinois. During her time there Lauren also completed an internship with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library.

Lauren, who is graduating with a degree in English and History, said: “My time in the USA really helped to broaden my horizons and I learnt so much. I was able to travel across the country, whilst meeting people that I now regard as friends for life. They helped me to have the ultimate American experience.

“A degree at Queen’s is more than just a qualification, it’s a chance to try new things, and it gives you the confidence and skills to achieve your full potential.  Without the support of staff at Queen’s none of this would have been possible. The exchange programme allowed me to explore the world and meet some of the nicest people I have ever known.”

Queen's students have access to over 200 work placements and study programmes each year - an opportunity that really changed Lauren’s perspective on life.

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Indian trip is the business for Matthew

A Queen’s University Management School graduate will be finding out more about one of the world’s largest emerging economic powers during a post-graduation trip to India.

Matthew Juden, who graduates with a Business Management degree today (Tuesday 7 July), has already secured a graduate job with the world’s largest professional services network, Deloitte. And his business knowledge about India will take on a greater significance when he visits the country on a student exchange initiative later this month.

During his two-week visit, Matthew will get the chance to visit Delhi and Mumbai, where he will learn about the history, culture and economy of the country, while interacting with peers, locals, academics and industry experts.

Originally from Berkshire, but with grandparents in Limavady, Matthew opted to choose Queen’s for his degree.

Speaking ahead of his graduation, Matthew said: “My degree has not only secured me a very good job – it has given me opportunities and skills far beyond the classroom.  Queen’s nurtures its students to become global citizens as well as proud Queen’s graduates and I’m delighted to be able to take the Queen’s name and my experiences to India and Deloitte after I graduate.”

Matthew is among 94 per cent of Queen’s graduates who are in work or further study six months after graduation.

 Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Top UK engineer and NI businessman honoured for their contributions to public life

Leading Northern Ireland businessman, Shaun T Kelly, who has received an honorary degree from Queen's University Belfast for his services to business and commerce

One of the most respected engineers in the UK and a leading Northern Ireland businessman are to be honoured by Queen’s University today (Monday 6 July).

Currently serving as President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Professor Dame Ann Dowling embarked on a distinguished career by becoming the first female Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, where she also studied.

She has held visiting posts at MIT and Caltech in the USA and continues to research and teach at Cambridge. 

She is best known, however, as an international authority on aircraft acoustics, combustion and vibration, and leads research into how to cut down on noise levels at airports, especially for people living in the immediate vicinity.

Speaking of her honorary DScEng, Dame Ann said: “To receive this recognition from such a prestigious university, and a university with such a fine heritage, that’s known for its engineering pedigree going back 160 years, is a considerable honour. I very much look forward to sharing this special occasion with students who will be graduating on the same day.”

One of Northern Ireland’s most successful exports, Shaun T Kelly will also be honoured today for his contribution to the local economy and fostering of business in Northern Ireland.

Originally from west Belfast, Shaun graduated with a First Class Honours in Commerce from University College Dublin. Most recently he has served as Vice Chairman of Operations for KPMG in the United States, and Chief Operating Officer for KPMG International’s Americas region.

While Shaun’s responsibilities with KPMG took him to America in the early 1980s, he has remained a prominent figure in Irish-American circles and the business community. He has been featured in Irish America Magazine’s Wall Street 50 each year since 2009.

Never forgetting his roots, Shaun has remained committed to strengthening investment and growth in his home country. He was involved in a working group to develop economic support in Northern Ireland and continues to work with Invest NI, meeting potential investors interested in the region. He has also brought to Ireland Enactus, a community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better more sustainable world, and is an active supporter of Queen’s City Scholarship programme.

Speaking of his DSc Econ for services to business and commerce, he said: “It’s an incredible honour to be recognized by such an important institution, and to have that happen in the city where I grew up. I have enjoyed building connections with Queen’s in recent years, and watching its world-class programmes and extraordinary students make vital and lasting contributions, not only to the Northern Ireland economy but to the world at large. I am proud and delighted to be returning to the university today for this very special occasion.”

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office, on 02890973087 or


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Pioneering student works on African excavation

A pioneering Archaeology student who is carrying out fieldwork on ancient sites in Africa, will graduate this week.

Stephen Armstrong, who is graduating with First Class Honours MSci in Archaeology, has recently been awarded a prestigious British Institute in East Africa (BIEA) Graduate Attachment which has given him the opportunity to gain experience on excavations in East Africa over the next year.

During the course of his degree, Stephen has taken part in archaeological digs in Ireland and Scotland, contributed to high profile field studies with Cambridge University and the British School in Rome and assisted the Queen’s University, ERC funded FRAGSUS project in Malta.

Stephen, who grew up in Tanzania and hopes to carry out fieldwork there, is developing his own independent research project on Swahili Settlement and Architecture and wants to pursue a PhD in the future.

He said: “My time at Queen’s has given me the opportunity to enjoy my passion in life and to gain experiences and opportunities I could never have imagined. The School of Archaeology at Queen’s offers a wide range of international placements and internship opportunities that broaden your horizons and allow you to achieve success. The archaeology teaching staff are leaders in their academic fields and give great support to their students.”

“A Queen’s degree is more than just a qualification, it has given me the skills, confidence and ambition to explore new ideas and make a lasting difference to society.”

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office, on 02890973087 or

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Double celebration for brother and sister

An award-winning brother and sister from Magherafelt will be celebrating their success at this year’s summer graduation ceremonies.

Grace McKenna graduated with a degree in Medicine on Friday (July 3) while her younger brother, Vincent, will receives a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering today.

Both Grace and Vincent picked up prestigious awards during their time at Queen’s.

Vincent is among six students from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering who received the Royal Academy of Engineering Advanced Leadership Awards, while Grace won the Medical Sciences category of the international Undergraduate Awards, aimed at recognising the brightest and most innovative undergraduate students in the world.

The Royal Academy leadership award, which is awarded to only 30 recipients annually across all engineering disciplines in all UK universities, offers ambitious engineering undergraduates the chance to undertake an accelerated personal development programme.

As part of his degree Vincent spent his third year on placement working for the Red Bull Formula One racing team in Milton Keynes, took part in a three-week student exchange visit to India and learnt to speak Italian.

Vincent said: “A degree from Queen’s is much more than an education, it is a life changing experience.  The opportunities for placements and exchanges really is incredible and I would never have imagined getting a placement with Formula One was possible.”

Grace said: “Queen’s equips you not just with a qualification but skills that make you workplace ready and confident about your ability to make a difference.  I look forward to taking up my job in August and using my degree to make a positive impact.”

Vincent plans to do a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s, while his sister starts work with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust in August.  They join 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Queen’s graduates help shape Belfast’s future

A group of talented students graduating from Queen’s today have helped shape the future of Belfast City centre.

Under the guidance of Dr M. Satish Kumar, a number of Geography graduates volunteered to take part in the Young Civic Leaders of Northern Ireland programme. They are: Steven Donnelly, Naomi Watson, Ellyn Murphy, Emma Walsh, Sinead Morris, Amy Bell, Amy Morgan, Patrick Deboys, Laura Keenan, Iram Rasool, Brendan Rogers and Shauna McGreevy, Shannon McGarrigle, Ryan Devine, Katherine Dowdall, Rebekah McCready, Noleen McCloskey, Amy-Ruth Dunlop and Conleth McGillan

The programme, hosted by Liam Lynch of Square Pit Collaborative, Titanic Quarters, gave the students an opportunity to directly contribute to the vision of Belfast City Council with their ideas and opinions on how services in the city centre can be developed and improved. They took part in a range of discussions including how to use derelict spaces, how to improve the traffic infrastructure and the potential of pedestrianizing Belfast.

Steven Donnelly said: “Having the chance to gain work-related experience, and to contribute to the city’s new vision, has been a really enjoyable experience. It is proof that a degree from Queen’s is more than just a qualification, it’s a chance to gain experience and opportunities that can be taken into working life.”

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office, on 02890973087 or


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European human rights lawyer and leading Chinese academic to be honoured by Queen’s
President Qun Zhao, President of the China Medical University (CMU), receives an honorary degree from the Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast, Professor Patrick Johnston
President Qun Zhao, President of the China Medical University (CMU), receives an honorary degree from the Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast, Professor Patrick Johnston

A Belfast-born international human rights expert and a leading Chinese academic are to be honoured by Queen’s University Belfast today (Saturday 4 July).

Former Deputy Registrar of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, Michael O’Boyle will receive his award for distinction in public service.
A barrister and former lecturer at Queen’s, Mr O’Boyle studied at Harvard Law School and the International Institute of Human Rights, spending much of his career in Strasbourg, where he was a prominent figure in the field of international human-rights protection.
Commenting on his honour, Mr O’Boyle said: “I am delighted to be recognised in this way by Queen’s University where I initially studied and lectured. I still retain my links with the School of Law and am proud to be able to share my experiences with up and coming researchers in this important area. If I had any words of wisdom for my fellow graduates today, it would be that education, especially from a top-class university like Queen’s, will stand you in good stead for the rest of your lives and enable you to make a contribution to improving the lives of others.”

Also being honoured today is President Qun Zhao, President of the China Medical University (CMU), which has a long standing partnership with Queen’s that has led to the development of the China Queen’s College in Shenyang, the capital of Laioning Province in north-east China.

Rewarded for his services to education, President Zhao was instrumental in rapidly developing the CMU International Education School which was among the first batch of Chinese medical schools authorised to recruit and to teach international students in English.

Speaking ahead of receiving his LLD, President Zhao said: “This is a great honour for me to be recognised by Queen’s University, which is building on its collaborative efforts with Chinese universities to help the next generation of students become world-class global scholars and ensure research partnerships help build a better global society.”

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or


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Dedicated student inspires others to ‘Mind Your Mood’

A talented student, who has helped develop the first-ever mental health campaign at Queen’s University, is celebrating her graduation this week.

Emma Francis, who is graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, is the president of ‘Mind Your Mood’, a campaign based at Queen’s that is helping to raise awareness and understanding of mental health and well-being among students.

Emma, from West Lancashire in England, has worked with a range of mental health charities to increase the number of workshops offered to students at Queen’s teaching important skills on how to manage their mental health, for example through cognitive behavioural therapy.

She is also a volunteer advocate at Holywell Psychiatric Hospital for one of Northern Ireland’s leading charities, the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health, where she visits patients offering support and guidance.

Emma, who following graduation will be starting a Master’s Degree in Psychiatric Research at King’s College London, said: “I got involved in the campaign because I wanted to make students aware of how important it is to protect their mental health throughout their time at university. The support of Queen’s for this student-led campaign has led to Mind Your Mood being a great success, reaching over 2000 students to date. This university is renowned for creating global citizens who are ready to achieve success and make a difference in society.

 “A Queen’s degree is more than just a qualification; it has broadened my horizons and given me the confidence and skills needed to pursue my future career. My time here has opened doorways to a world of opportunities.”

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Mum’s memory inspires proud Queen’s graduate

Today’s graduation ceremony will prove a proud experience for student Robyn McCue.

Roybn, from Newtownabbey, is graduating with a First Class Honours in Psychology, although her achievement will be tinged with sadness as her beloved mum Jane won’t be there to cheer her on.

Jane passed away in January this year, aged just 47, following a battle with liver failure. Her death came just one day before Robyn was due to take her final examination. Despite the devastating news, Robyn summed up all her strength and decided to sit the exam, knowing it was what her mum would have wanted.

Speaking ahead of her graduation Robyn said: “It was really tough, but I decided to take the exam as my mum is the reason I'm at university in the first place and she had always encouraged me to work hard. The School of Psychology at Queen’s were really helpful and informed me of my options regarding extenuating circumstances. I couldn’t have done it without their support.

“My mum was such an inspiring woman with such a great work ethic and I think she passed that down to me. I decided to continue with my final year as I knew she'd want me to graduate no matter what. A degree from Queen’s opens pathways to new professions and I have learnt many new skills that I will use in the future. My time here has really fuelled my passion for research, and I hope one day to be able to study Clinical Psychology at Queen’s. I’m looking forward to a new chapter in my life.”

Robyn, who is now planning to start a PhD in the School of Psychology in October, will be celebrating her graduation with her boyfriend George, her brother Warren, and her family and friends.

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Dutch success for Queen’s student

Maike Rea-Schermer will graduate from Queen’s today, with distinction, in Atypical Child Development.

During her studies for this MSc, Maike found time to have a baby plus continue to run a company she founded in the Netherlands. Maike set up the Netherlands-based company, De Taalsleutel, to advise on special education and teach professionals within that setting. 

Maike, who is originally from the Netherlands but living in Dromore since 2013, is planning to continue her studies at Queen’s with a part-time PhD in Psychology, as well as continuing consulting to both Dutch and Northern Ireland schools on special educational needs.

Reflecting on her time at Queen’s, Maike said: “One of the things I loved most about Queen’s was the beautiful buildings and scenery around campus and the great sense of history and heritage – 160 years of tradition! During my research, I collaborated with several primary schools in Northern Ireland, after which one of the schools asked me to provide a workshop for their staff on speech, language and communication needs in children.

“My aim is to provide more services like this, as I love the way Queen’s interacts with its local community and impacts on society. Building bridges with schools is not only beneficial to my research, but it also provides the opportunity to share the latest insights and, in this way, what happens in universities can actually change lives. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.” 

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or



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Leading international scientists to be honoured by Queen’s University
Professor Sir Alexl Markham, who has been awarded an honorary degree for his services to science and medicine
Professor Sir Alex Markham, who has been awarded an honorary degree for his services to science and medicine

Three leading international scientists will be honoured by Queen’s University today (Friday 3 July).

Professor Stephen Furber, who is best-known for his work as one of the main designers of the ground-breaking BBC microcomputer and the ARM 32-bit RISC microprocessor in the 1980s, will be honoured for services to engineering.

His latest project, known as ‘SpiNNaker’, and nicknamed the ‘brain box’, is an attempt to build an IT system based on the workings of the human brain. In 2014, Steve was made a Distinguished Fellow at the British Computer Society (DFBCS), joining the likes of Bill Gates and Tim Berners Lee.

Commenting on his award, Professor Furber, who currently teaches at the University of Manchester said: “I am really honoured to be recognised by Queen’s University. As someone with extensive links to the University, I am a very strong advocate for the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) and Queen’s activities on the Northern Ireland Science Park. ECIT is a very strong contributor to the local economy, as is Queen’s as a whole, and it’s a delight to see a University at the forefront of the technology revolution.”

Meanwhile, another distinguished figure on the international stage will also be honoured today. A tireless advocate for cancer research across the EU, oncologist Dr Françoise Meunier has been the Director General of the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) for 24 years and is “Director Special Projects” as of April 1st2015.

A Fulbright scholar, she has worked at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and is a fellow of the UK’s Royal College of Physicians alongside her academic and professional career in her native Belgium.

A key member of the European Cancer Concord Steering Committee, Meunier was instrumental in supporting the Queen’s University-led European Cancer Patient’s Bill of Rights which was launched in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on World Cancer Day 2014.

Speaking of her DMedSc for services to science and medicine, Dr Meunier said: “I am so grateful to be given this accolade. Queen’s University is a world-class institution which is carrying out world-leading research in the area of cancer. It has been a privilege to work with the university and I look forward to many more collaborations as, together, we try to improve outcomes and treatments for cancer patients.”

Also being recognised today is Professor Sir Alex Markham, an internationally acclaimed leader and advocate for cancer research. Professor Markham, who is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, served as Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK using his vision and drive to turn the organisation into the largest funder of cancer research in the UK and one of the world’s largest.  

Knighted in the 2008 New Year’s Honours List for his services to academic medicine, Professor Markham is a member of the Advisory Board for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s, providing support and advice that has helped the school’s Centre for Cancer Research expand its growing reputation for excellence across the world.  

Professor Markham said: “I am delighted to be recognised in this way by Queen’s University, a world-leading institution for medical research where I have had the pleasure of supporting and mentoring many of the world’s leading cancer specialists. If I had any words of wisdom for my fellow graduates today, it would be to challenge themselves and to pursue their passions. Their education, from the top-class university that is Queen’s, can and does change lives.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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UK Student Volunteer of the Year prepares for medical career

UK Student Volunteer of the Year, Aidan Bannon, who helped establish the Red Cross at Queen’s University, is celebrating his graduation this week. 

Aidan, from Belfast, who is graduating with a degree in Medicine, was awarded the title of the UK’s ‘Student Volunteer of the Year for 2014’ for his tireless work to improve the lives of students at Queen’s. He has already secured a job as a doctor at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. 

As a founder of the Red Cross Society at Queen’s, an organisation which aims to support disadvantaged people in society, Aidan has helped improve the confidence and skills of over 3,500 young people across Northern Ireland.

He has also been involved in the student Volunteer Academy and spearheaded the ‘Mind Your Mood’ campaign at Queen’s, which has raised awareness of mental health issues across the University. 

Aidan said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time at Queen’s. I’ve met so many good people, learnt so much from my lecturers, and been inspired to make a difference. The School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences is a hub of volunteering and leadership opportunities, and it has given me the chance to give something back and to help improve the lives of other people.

“I’m really looking forward to the next step. I will be working as a doctor, something I’ve always dreamed of doing, but I also plan to continue to volunteer and to try and improve society for everyone.”

Aidan joins the 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.


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Double celebration for Belfast twins graduating at Queen’s

It’s a double celebration for twin sisters Danielle and Rouchelle Magee as they celebrate graduating from the same ceremony at Queen’s University today.

Danielle graduates with a degree in Dentistry and Rouchelle with a degree in Medicine.  The non-identical twins from west Belfast are now parting ways after spending primary school, grammar school and University together, to pursue their respective careers.

Rouchelle will spend the next year between the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine and Antrim Hospital while Danielle will undergo her dental vocational training in Ballygomartin and Ballysillan practices in North Belfast.

Danielle said: “We’ve always been together, growing up as kids in Belfast, and all the way through school and university. Now we are starting a new chapter in our lives and going off in different directions. But despite our diverging career paths, I know we will always be there for each other and cheering each other on. I am very proud of what we have achieved, both separately and together, and am grateful to Queen’s for providing us with the opportunities to embark on two great careers.”

Rouchelle said: “Queen’s has a great reputation for creating global citizens who are committed to having a positive impact on society so we felt very strongly about studying at home and contributing to society here in Northern Ireland.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Award winning student lands employment after graduation

An award winning student will graduate today with a First Class BSc Degree in Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition with Professional Studies from Queen’s University before beginning employment.

Victoria Brady, from Glennane, Co Armagh, has just landed employment, as a New Product Development Technologist in TS Foods, a family-owned, fresh and frozen food producer based in Castlewellan, Co Down.

Victoria was also recently named runner-up in the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) NI’s Young Scientist of the Year 2015, with a prize including £500 and a year’s membership of IFST.

Victoria’s final year research project was on Food Fraud and the Stakeholder in the Beef Supply Chain – a very topical subject in the wake of international food-fraud scandals.

Reflecting on her time at Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security, Victoria said: “I am passionate about the production of food and have always wanted to be part of the growing agri-food industry. I chose to study at Queen’s as it has such a strong reputation in this area and I was not disappointed. The course provided me with scientific knowledge and skills through both academic and practical avenues.

“The professional-studies module allowed me to apply what I had learned with a year’s placement at Deli Lites Ireland. Through this, I gained an invaluable insight into the agri-food industry and the various roles within it. By going straight from my degree into a Northern Ireland firm, I am an example of how Queen’s supports and grows our local industry with a steady supply of market-savvy graduates.”

Victoria joins the 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Success for Newry PhD student with Devenish Nutrition

Newry native, Joanna Keenan, has already secured a job after finishing her PhD at Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security with Belfast company, Devenish Nutrition.

Joanna will take up her role as a research officer within their pig division. Devenish supplies animal feeds for the pig, poultry and ruminant sectors.

Speaking of her time at the Institute for Global Food Safety, where Joanna also did her undergraduate degree, she said: “My doctoral research was in metabolomic approaches to assessing pre-slaughter stress in relation to beef quality. I feel very lucky that I was able to carry out this work at the Institute for Global Food Security as I had access to the most advanced analytical techniques, meaning I could do research at the forefront of meat science.

“I have always had a strong interest in and passion for the agri-food industry and it was my ambition to secure employment within this sector. I am delighted to have started a job with Devenish Nutrition as they are leaders in providing nutritional solutions for livestock. This is a great start for me in my career and a good example of how Queen’s directly feeds into the Northern Ireland economy by producing highly employable graduates.”

Joanna joins the 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.


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At the heart of success for Queen’s scientist

A Queen’s University student, who is due to graduate today, has been successful in securing funding from the British Heart Foundation to do a PhD.

Rachel Caines from Ballyclare, graduates with a degree in Human Biology this week before beginning her PhD researching the role of a DNA remodelling protein.

She hopes her research will translate from bench to bedside for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, which is the leading cause of heart attacks, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

Rachel has previously worked with the Centre for Experimental Medicine’s Summer Studentship programme and her goal is to work towards the role of a Principal Investigator, at the forefront of stem cell research.

Rachel said: “During my time at Queen’s I was selected for two summer studentships at the Centre for Experimental Medicine which helped me develop my practical laboratory skills, scientific writing and communication skills and showed me pathways in which my degree could take me. These placements were crucial for demonstrating my commitment to a career in scientific research and no doubt were vital in securing my PhD.

“This also allowed me to register for Degree Plus, a scheme run by Queen’s to nurture its students to become global citizens as well as proud Queen’s graduates and workplace ready.”

During her time at Queen’s, Rachel was also a member of St John Ambulance QUB Links, taking up the post as President in her final year.

Rachel joins the 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Homeless benefit from Queen’s Graduate

A student whose volunteering commitment and entrepreneurial drive has helped support the homeless community in Belfast is celebrating his graduation today.

Paul Loughran, who is graduating with a degree in Business Information Technology, co-founded Regenerate NI, a student led community organisation that gives homeless people in Belfast the opportunity to gain part-time jobs in regeneration projects.

Paul, from Belfast, came up with the idea for Regenerate NI when he joined Enactus Belfast – a Queen’s programme that encourages students to develop social projects that support disadvantaged people in the community. Since it was founded in 2013, Regenerate NI has gone from strength to strength. Twelve Queen’s students now work on the programme, providing support, training and employment opportunities for homeless people across the city.

Along with his work on Regenerate, Paul has also received international recognition for his volunteering work at Queen’s, winning the Queen’s Student Union President's Award For Student Achievement, as well as ‘Volunteer of the Year’ from the Union of Students in Ireland.

This year he also sat on the steering board of the ‘Mind Your Mood’ mental health campaign at Queen’s, while he was selected as a Northern Ireland Social Ambassador for a project working with No.10 Downing Street, and for the last two years he has been on the Board of Directors for CAUSE, one of Northern Ireland’s biggest mental health charities. Paul has also been elected to the Queen’s Student Union Council for the past two years and was elected to serve as the Student Union Vice President for Community for 2015/16.

He said: “I helped start Regenerate because I wanted to make a difference in society and support those people who are vulnerable or have gone through a tough time in their lives. It has proved a great success and I’m proud that I was involved. During my time at the University I feel I’ve had the opportunity to make a difference to the lives of my fellow students and that’s something I’m very proud of.

“Queen’s is renowned for creating global citizens who are workplace ready after graduating and I believe I have accomplished both attributes. A degree from Queen’s is more than just a qualification, it helps you aspire to achieve your goals in life, reach your potential and make a difference in society.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Double celebration for proud mum

It’s a double celebration today for a proud Queen’s University student who has balanced being a new mum with her busy studies.

Amie Graham, from Bangor, who is graduating with a BSc in Biological Sciences,will be joined on her big day by her proud husband Jordan and her 17-week old son Lincoln, who was born as Amie was completing her final dissertation.

Amie said: “It’s been quite tough at times and I’ve had to go without sleep during my exams, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Having Lincoln with me on my big day will be a dream come true.

“A Queen’s degree is more than just a qualification, it has given confidence and skills that I never thought possible and I’m looking forward to moving on to the next step in my career.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.


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Graduate entrepreneurs celebrate Google success

A team of student entrepreneurs who won a prestigious €10,000 business competition at Google’s Headquarters in Dublin, are set to graduate today.

Victoria Potts and Alex Caskey, graduating in Computer Science, and Adam Whiteside, graduating in computer games development, won the ‘Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition’ for their product Visit - an innovative new smart phone ‘app’ that has the potential to boost the tourism industry in Northern Ireland.

The Visit app - which the students developed through their new start-up company Ivea Labs - provides tourists with videos and information about local attractions such as museums and galleries, as well as giving owners information about how they can improve their businesses and boost the visitor experience.

Victoria said: “None of this would have been possible without the help of staff in our school and the team at Queen’s Enterprise Student Union. They were a big support and we now plan to trial the app with some local businesses and to develop a viable business plan, so the future looks really exciting. Our time here at Queen’s has shown us that a degree from Queen’s isn’t just a qualification – it opens a door to a world of opportunities”.

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Fourth time’s a charm for dedicated doctor

A dedicated doctor who volunteers to support disabled people across Ireland, is celebrating his fourth degree from Queen’s University today.

Michael Moran, from Belfast, is graduating with a PhD in Medicine from the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s - having already achieved a Bachelor of Science degree, a Bachelor of Medicine degree, and a Masters in Medical Education.

In his free time, Michael helps to organise trips for people who are sick or disabled to a   religious shrine in Lourdes, France. He is also a member of the International Medical Committee of Lourdes, a panel of doctors who evaluate medical evidence in regard to unexplained cures at Lourdes.

Michael currently works as an Academic Clinical Lecturer at Queen’s, as well as an Ear, Nose and Throat registrar in the Belfast and South Eastern Health Trusts.

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.


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Female high-fliers honoured by Queen’s

Pictured receiving her Honorary Degree for her services to education from Queen’s Chancellor, Thomas Moran, is Professor Louise Richardson FRSE.

The first woman to be appointed as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford will be honoured by Queen’s University today (Thursday 2 July).

Professor Louise Richardson, a renowned scholar on terrorism and security studies, will be recognised for her exceptional services to education.  She currently leads St Andrews University as its Principal and Vice-Chancellor and will take up the new position at the University of Oxford at the beginning of next year.

A native of County Waterford, Professor Richardson studied at Trinity College Dublin where she received a Rotary Scholarship to study in the US and completed a PhD at Harvard University, where she taught for many years and held a succession of high-profile positions.

Commenting on her honorary degree, Professor Richardson said: “I am both delighted and honoured to receive this award from Queen’s University, a university which has played such a pivotal role in the history of these islands, and which has educated so many leading figures in public life, the arts, academia and sport.”

Meanwhile, another female history-maker will also be honoured today.

Leading businesswoman Rona Fairhead CBE, is the first female to chair the BBC Trust, the body in charge of overseeing the corporation. She will be awarded for services to business and commerce.

Born in Cumbria, she attended St Catharine’s College, Cambridge where she was president of the University’s Law Society and graduated with a double First in Law. She later obtained a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

Her corporate career has straddled consulting to many well-known businesses including Bombardier, the Financial Times Group, Morgan Stanley and British Aerospace.

A qualified pilot, Ms Fairhead was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 for services to UK industry. She was also appointed as one of the Prime Minister’s business ambassadors in 2014.

Speaking ahead of the graduation ceremony, Ms Fairhead said: “I’m delighted to be graduating with a DSc Econ from Queen’s University; it’s a very exciting day. I would encourage all of my fellow graduates today to live their lives to the full and grab every opportunity to make a positive difference to their world.” 

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Former Volunteer of the Year set for top job

An inspirational young leader graduating today is preparing for a dream job to improve opportunities for students across Northern Ireland.

Fergal McFerran, who is graduating with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, will be starting a new role as President of the National Union of Students in Northern Ireland (NUS-USI).

As President, he will represent the interests of over two hundred thousand students in Higher and Further Education across Northern Ireland.

It is a job that Fergal is well prepared for, having been involved in a number of roles during his five years at Queen’s, including volunteering with the St Vincent de Paul Society and serving as Speaker on the Students’ Union Council. 

As well as winning the Queen’s Special Contribution Award in 2014, he was also one of six young people in Northern Ireland to serve as a Young Social Action Ambassador for an initiative run by the UK Cabinet Office.

Fergal, from Dunloy, said: “I can’t wait to start my new role. Throughout my time at Queen’s I’ve been involved in helping my fellow students and I have a real passion for supporting others and standing up for their rights.”

 “Queen’s is renowned for creating global citizens who graduate with a sense of their role within the world and the responsibility they have to make a positive impact within their local and our global communities. I look forward to using the skills I’ve developed through my time at Queen’s to ensure that students and educational institutions work in partnership to reflect the importance of investing in students in Northern Ireland.”

Queen’s offers over 170 clubs and societies, along with a host of volunteering opportunities, giving students throughout the university the chance to make a difference in society. 

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Double celebration for Queen’s student and fiancée

Pictured at today's graduation ceremony at Queen's are John McCaul with his fiancée, Ashlyn Neas.

It’s a double celebration for a Queen’s University student as he graduates with his American fiancée by his side.

Newry student, John McCaul, graduates with a degree in Modern History and Politics and will celebrate with his fiancée, Ashlyn Neas who has flown in from Tennessee, USA especially for the big day.

John met Ashlyn while on the Study USA exchange programme, facilitated by the British Council NI and supported by Queen’s, at Warren Wilson College, Asheville, North Carolina.  While on the exchange John was awarded the Certificate in American Business Practice. Before returning home, he spent a summer internship at the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in Washington DC.

Reflecting on his time at Queen’s, John said: “My three years studying have been very challenging but also hugely memorable. I have been able to develop a vast range of skills which I have been able to apply in assignments and projects in addition to voluntary work in the local community and with Queen’s societies. 

“I have really enjoyed the fact that, at Queen’s, an education is not just about attending lectures and passing exams. It’s about contributing to society and changing lives. It has given me so many opportunities already and I’m looking forward to availing of more in the future that I know will not only enhance my employment prospects but hopefully also make me a more fully rounded person.”

John plans to do a Master’s at Queen’s in a subject related to his undergraduate degree and hopes to pursue a career in relation to conflict transformation and social justice work. 

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Significant research grant awarded to develop and test a new model of pharmacy practice in care homes

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast and the Universities of East Anglia, Aberdeen and Leeds, in partnership with NHS South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), have succeeded in winning a £2 million Programme Grant from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) for a five year programme of research into medicines management in care homes.

The Queen’s University Belfast contribution will be led by Professor Carmel Hughes, from the School of Pharmacy. Professors David Wright and Richard Holland from the School of Pharmacy and School of Medicine respectively at the University of East Anglia, are leading the research.

A national report identified large numbers of medication errors in care homes and recommended that one individual should be responsible for medicines management. Emerging evidence indicates that pharmacist independent prescribers can practise in a safe and effective manner and so, the team of researchers applied for funding to develop a pharmacist independent prescriber model of medicines management in care homes. The funded programme aims to determine the cost-effectiveness of pharmacist independent prescribers working in care homes in an integrated manner with general practitioners and care home staff.

The proposal is for a resident’s GP to continue to manage acute problems and assume overall responsibility for individual resident care whilst the pharmacist independent prescriber will assume responsibility for medicines management primarily through the development of individualised pharmaceutical care plans and repeat prescription authorisation. The first year of the project will involve working with all stakeholders to develop the service specification.  In year two a small feasibility study will be undertaken in each area which will then lead onto a pilot and then proceed to a randomised controlled trial.

Professor Hughes, from the School of Pharmacy at Queen's, said: "This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for GPs and pharmacists to work together to improve patient care in the primary care setting. It is great that we have been given sufficient time and funding to develop and test the model before moving to a full trial. By determining the cost-effectiveness of the intervention rather than just its effectiveness we also increase the chance of the service being adopted more widely at a later date".

Academic leads:

  • University of East Anglia: Professors David Wright and Richard Holland
  • Queen’s University Belfast: Professor Carmel Hughes
  • University of Aberdeen: Professor Christine Bond and Professor Phyo Myint
  • University of Leeds: Dr David Alldred

Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office, on or 028 9097 5384.

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