10-2004 Press Releases

Queen's astronomers scan the skies for threat from space
Dr Alan Fitzsimmons who is leading the Queen's team tracking Near-Earth Objects using high-performance telescopes.
Dr Alan Fitzsimmons who is leading the Queen's team tracking Near-Earth Objects using high-performance telescopes.

Astronomers from Queen's University are providing a vital component to the world-wide effort of identifying and monitoring rogue asteroids and comets.

From this month, the UK Astrometry and Photometry Programme (UKAPP) for Near-Earth Objects, based at the University, will track Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and feed their crucial information into the international programme of protecting the Earth from any future impact by a comet or asteroid.

On average 30-40 NEOs are discovered each month - asteroids and comets that could one day collide with the Earth. Over 3,000 NEOs have now been found, and a world-wide effort involving professional and amateur astronomers attempts to keep track of these objects. Now a team of astronomers at Queen's will be tracking these objects each week using large high-performance telescopes.

UKAPP is using the Faulkes Telescope North, a robotic telescope on the Hawaiian island of Maui built primarily for educational use by the Faulkes Telescope Project. At the end of this year they will also start using the twin Faulkes Telescope South at Siding Spring, Australia. The telescopes' mirror size of 2m allows astronomers to see fainter NEOs than most other facilities regularly used for this task. Test observations took place in September, and the full programme begins this month. The work is supported by a grant from the British National Space Centre (BNSC) and the Particle Physics Research Council (PPARC).

Dr. Alan Fitzsimmons, the project leader, said "Previously we used UK-funded telescopes on La Palma, but for various reasons they could only track a couple of objects per month on average. The robotic nature of the Faulkes telescopes means that it is much easier for us to observe numerous NEOs than can be achieved by using conventional telescopes."

Once the images of the NEOs are taken, Dr Fitzsimmons and his colleagues transfer them to an astronomical computer network in Northern Ireland via the internet. The positions of the NEOs are then measured and communicated to the Minor Planer Center in Harvard in America; the world's clearing house and repository for measurements of NEOs.

Although most of the time will be spent tracking NEOs, some of the time will also be spent studying their physical make-up. Dr Fitzsimmons said: "This is not only scientifically interesting. If we are going to be hit by one of these things in the future, we need as much information as possible to allow us to plan any course of mitigation."

An important aspect is that school classes and science centres around the country can also do this work. In a separate endeavour from UKAPP, the Faulkes Telescope Project assists school children to track NEOs using specially designed educational projects.

Dave Bowdley, Faulkes Telescope Educational Programmes Manager said, "This project provides a fantastic opportunity for schools to work alongside the professionals in an exciting area of research."

Notes for Editors: Images Pictures of Dr Fitzsimmons and the Faulkes Telescope are available from http://www.pparc.ac.uk/Nw/ft_neo.asp UKAPP Web site : / Faulkes Telescope Project web site: www.faulkes-telescope.com

Contact Details Julia Maddock PPARC Press Office Tel 01793 442094 Email Julia.maddock@pparc.ac.uk

Dr. Alan Fitzsimmons Queen's University Belfast Tel: +44 (0) 2890-973124 e-mail: a.fitzsimmons@qub.ac.uk www: http://star.pst.qub.ac.uk/~af/

Lucie Green Faulkes Telescope Project +44 (0)29 20875121 Email: lucie.green@faulkes-telescope.com

PPARC The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) is the UK’s strategic science investment agency. It funds research, education and public understanding in four broad areas of science - particle physics, astronomy, cosmology and space science.

PPARC is government funded and provides research grants and studentships to scientists in British universities, gives researchers access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN, the European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory. It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility.

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Queen's students 'record' success
The CAST team are presented with their award
The CAST team are presented with their award

A Queen's University student team from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering has scooped a special undergraduate award in Northern Ireland's annual £25K Awards.

The judges awarded the £3000 prize to the six-strong CAST team for their SecuREcord audio recorder, which is aimed at specialist voice recording applications, such as the criminal justice system.

Team member Keith Patterson said: "Winning the best undergraduate award represents an enormous achievement both by the team of recent graduates, and by the Faculty of Engineering.

"CAST aims to revolutionise the digital recording arena with SecuREcord."

 The £25K Awards are organised by Investment Belfast and sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Invest Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Science Park and NICENT. The £25K Awards encourage students and researchers from Queen's, the University of Ulster and Loughry College to focus their research on business solutions.

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Queen's research helps weight problems in schizophrenics
Dr Lucy Templeman with South Belfast MP Martin Smyth at the SET session in the House of Commons
Dr Lucy Templeman with South Belfast MP Martin Smyth at the SET session in the House of Commons

Gaining weight, as a result of taking antipsychotic drugs, can be a major problem for some people with schizophrenia.

But researchers at Queen's University have now identified genes that will predict those most likely to put on weight following drug treatment. By doing this doctors will be able to pinpoint those most at risk and prescribe different medication which doesn't induce weight gain.

The team, led by Professor of Neuroscience Gavin Reynolds, from the Division of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, recently presented its work at a prestigious showcase for young research scientists.

Research fellow Dr Lucy Templeman was the only representative from Queen's to be nominated to attend the SET (Science Engineering and Technology) for Britain session in the House of Commons. During the event she met South Belfast MP Rev. Martin Smyth.

According to Professor Reynolds over 500,000 people in the UK receive treatment with antipsychotic drugs. Although they relieve the symptoms of schizophrenia and related psychoses, they can have severe side effects, including weight gain.

The effects of weight gain can be hard to predict – some patients gain very little, while others can gain up to 20kg or more within a few months. This can lead to self-esteem issues, as well as storing up health problems for the future including possible heart disease and the development of diabetes.

However, the team has now identified two genetic factors that strongly predict the severity of this weight gain due to antipsychotic drug treatment.

Professor Reynolds says that the mechanisms of drug-induced weight gain are likely to involve the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is closely involved in the regulation of feeding and body weight.

Many of the newer antipsychotic drugs block the serotonin 5-HT2C receptor, and the two that cause the most weight gain – clozapine and olanzapine – have a particularly strong antagonist action at this site.

"Identifying patients with increased risk of drug-induced weight gain clearly has potential for the care of patients with schizophrenia, informing decision on drug choice and advice on diet and lifestyle," he said.

Professor Reynolds and his team have already carried out work in collaboration with colleagues in China and have undertake an investigation with a series of patients in Spain who have received antipsychotic drugs for the first time.

For further information contact: Professor Gavin Reynolds, Division of Psychiatry and Neuroscience,Tel. 028 9097 2631 Mob. 07740 651500 or Elaine Fitzsimons, Communications, (028) 9097 5384

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Schools should be more integrated, say young people

More integrated schools would help improve community relations, according to young people from different religious backgrounds in Northern Ireland.  

This is the message from a report on young people's views of sectarianism being launched today (Wednesday 20 October).

The Voices Behind the Statistics report, co-authored by Shirley Ewart of the University of Ulster and Dirk Schubotz of Queen's University Belfast, is the result of a joint project undertaken by the National Children's Bureau (NCB) and ARK (The Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive). During the project sixth-form students from eleven schools across Northern Ireland were consulted on their experiences of sectarianism and their ideas about how community relations could be improved.

The research was designed to complement the 2003 Young Life and Times (YLT) survey, carried out by ARK, which provided young people's views on a large-scale statistical level. Voices Behind the Statistics is a more in-depth exploration of the views of young people on issues such as national and religious identities and attitude formation.

Dirk Schubotz of Queen's University said: "The project with NCB created an ideal platform to get in touch and consult with young people in schools. The participatory workshops were enjoyed by young people and researchers alike. The results of Voices Behind the Statistics gave important impulses for the 2004 Young Life and Times survey, which we have just concluded."

Many of the young people felt the need to compromise and integrate more in order for community relations in Northern Ireland to improve.

Asked about the future, one young person commented: "I would like to hope that there will be a lot more cross-community projects available within schools and that there will be more integrated schools opened to give young people a chance to mix." Another project participant said: "I hope young people will understand both sides and will be able to mix within the community more."

"The feedback from this project suggests that bringing young people from different community backgrounds together has the potential to generate change," said Ruth Sinclair, director of research at NCB, who supervised the research project. "Actively engaging with young people and openly discussing sensitive and controversial issues must surely be a way forward in addressing sectarianism in Northern Ireland."

For further information, contact: Dirk Schubotz: 9097 3947, email: d.schubotz@qub.ac.uk or Dolores Vischer, Queen’s Communications Office: 028 9097 5320, email: d.vischer@qub.ac.uk

- Voices Behind the Statistics can be downloaded from www.ncb.org.uk/resources/res_detail.asp?
A research summary is available from www.ncb.org.uk/resources/res_detail.asp?ID=674

- NCB promotes the voices, interests and well-being of all children and young people across every aspect of their lives. As an umbrella body for the children's sector in England and Northern Ireland, we provide essential information on policy, research and best practice for our members and other partners.

-ARK is a joint resource between the two Northern Ireland universities, which was established in 2000. ARK has a single goal: to make social science information on Northern Ireland available to the widest possible audience. Young Life and Times is a component part of ARK.

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Festival art - Khazaria, 'Lieder ohne Worte' and 'Journeys'

Three art exhibitions forming part of the Belfast Festival at Queen's visual arts programme get off to an early start this week in separate galleries in Belfast.

The first, Khazaria, presents a collaborative work in progress that combines large sheets of image and text created and digitally printed in a variety of ways by David Brett and Barbara Freeman.

Of their first joint venture, David Brett said: "We explore themes of exile, flight and abandonment. A narrative appears in interrupted form, of people searching for one anther at many different times and place. Kharazia uses materials from ancient Persia, Soviet Russia, the chaos at the end of World War Two, and contemporary conditions of emigration across Europe.

"These themes, though they range across centuries and continents, have both personal and public resonances for us all," he said.

Barbara Freeman explains Kharzaria. "The title refers to the 8th century Caspian Empire of the Khazars, who adopted a form of Judaism to avoid choosing between Islam and Eastern Christianity. The empire was destroyed by a Viking army on its way to Persia and the people were finally dispersed by Tamburlaine and fled westward. Though their history is very obscure, Khazars possibly make up a large part of central European Jewry and until recently there were Khazar villages as far west as Austria and Carpathians."

Khazaria previews on Tuesday 19 October, 6-8pm in the Arttank Gallery, 58 Lisburn Road Belfast. Supported by the Naughton Gallery and Belfast Festival at Queen’s the exhibition will run until 12 November.

Two exhibitions mounted by Laganside Corporation, and supported by the Naughton Gallery and Belfast Festival at Queen's preview on Thursday 21 October.

 Lieder ohne Worte, that will run until 5 November, presents paintings by Leslie Nicholl and poems by Paul Madden that explore the bombing of Desden on 13 February 1943 when 25,000 inhabitants perished in the German city.

 Painter Leslie Nicholl said that "This exhibition of paintings and poems is a small attempt to explore the tragic events of that night in February 1945 in Dresden, and its reverberations that are still felt today."

 Nicholl added that "The choice of venue in Clarendon Dock was a conscious decision to remember the tragic loss of life in and around this area of Belfast during April and May 1941."

p>  Journeys, presenting artworks by Raymond Watson is on show in the Lagan Lookout. 

Running until 7th November, Raymond Watson's work explores many themes of ‘the Journey' where the artworks treat ‘the Journey’ as much more than mere physical movement.  

Amongst the numerous important aspects of our understanding of the notion of ‘The Journey’ that the artist explores are: The Immigration Boat and the many faces of the immigrant; The Vessel of Faith, and the issue of the major religions travelling together; Waiting, a sense of the expectancy of those who await the return of loved ones;  The Dancers, the celebration of life that banishes the past; The Spirit Boat, based on the ancient Broighter Boat;  To Go Far and Return, exploring the cycle of life; Salmon ‘on the run’, a homage to the incredible journey of the wild salmon. 

Significantly Journeys takes place in the Lagan Lookout, overlooking the River Lagan, a river that played a key role in the transportation of people inland to trade and also transported people outward to destinations and experiences across the globe.  With this unique location in mind the artworks have been created to reflect the mode water transport.

Shan McAnena, Curator of Art at the Naughton Gallery at Queen's, who has brought the shows together for Festival, said, "It is a pleasure, through Belfast Festival at Queen's, to have the opportunity to bring to the public in Belfast the cutting edge and innovative work of exciting contemporary artists living in Northern Ireland.” 

For further information contact: Shan McAnena, Curator of Art, The Naughton Gallery at Queen's: 028 9097 3580. In addition, for Khazaria, contact Arttank, 028 9032 6795.

Kharzaria Preview: Tuesday 19 October 6-8pm Arttank, Lisburn Road 
Lieder ohne Worte Preview: Thursday 21 October 7-9pm Clarendon Building, 15 Clarendon Road

Journeys Preview: Thursday 21 October 6-9pm, The Lagan Lookout

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Can eating your greens lower blood pressure?
Helping themselves to some healthy fruit at St George's Market are research fellow Dr Damian McCall, principal investigator Dr Jayne Woodside and trial co-ordinator Dr Claire McGartland, who will be carrying out a major three-year study to discover if fruit and vegetables can lower high blood pressure.
Helping themselves to some healthy fruit at St George's Market are research fellow Dr Damian McCall, principal investigator Dr Jayne Woodside and trial co-ordinator Dr Claire McGartland, who will be carrying out a major three-year study to discover if fruit and vegetables can lower high blood pressure.

Can eating fruit and vegetables lower high blood pressure? That's what researchers at Queen's University and the Royal Group of Hospitals are trying to prove as part of a new £360,000 study.

The three-year Fruit and Vegetable Randomised Intervention Trial (FAV?RIT), funded by the Foods Standards Agency, will study people who have moderately high blood pressure. All will be asked to follow a low fruit and vegetable diet, eating one portion a day for four weeks. They will then be asked to eat either one, three or six portions of fruit and vegetables every day for eight weeks. How well the blood vessels work will be assessed at the beginning and end of the period.

The study, carried out by a team from the Department of Medicine in the Royal Victoria Hospital, will be used to provide important information on the link between fruit and vegetable intake and cardiovascular health.

According to principal investigator Dr Jayne Woodside, large studies have confirmed that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can reduce incidences of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes.

"But trials using vitamin supplements have not shown beneficial effects on the incidence of these conditions. It suggests that it is the foods, rather than individual nutrients, that are important in determining the chances of developing cardiovascular disease.

"While blood pressure recording remains an important step in estimating future risk of cardiovascular disease, there is increasing awareness that additional measures of blood vessel health, such as examinations of the wrist pulse and blood vessel lining, offer a more complete assessment.

"Using these techniques FAV?RIT hopes to establish the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and the future risk of cardiovascular disease," she said.

The trial, which begins later this month, will involve 132 patients and the researchers are now looking for volunteers to participate in the study.

If you are aged between 40 and 65 years, are known to have high blood pressure or have ever been told that your blood pressure was even slightly high, and would be interested in taking part in the study further information is available from: Dr Claire McGartland, Trial Co-ordinator, Department of Medicine, (028) 9063 2524; Dr Damian McCall, Research Fellow, (028) 9063 4462 and Dr Jayne Woodside, Principal Investigator, (028) 9063 2585.

The study brings together a multi-disciplinary team who have worked together over the last decade studying the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. They include Dr Jayne Woodside, Dr Geraldine Cuskelly, lecturers in Medicine; Dr David McCance, consultant physician, Regional Centre for Endocrinology and Diabetes at the Royal Victoria Hospital, and Professor of Medicine Ian Young.

For further information contact: Dr Claire McGartland, Trial Co-ordinator, Department of Medicine, (028) 9063 2524, Dr Damian McCall, Research Fellow, (028) 9063 4462, Dr Jayne Woodside, Principal Investigator, (028) 9063 2585 or Elaine Fitzsimons, Communications, (028) 9097 5384

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Northern Ireland's attitudes to country life surveyed

This month, the 'Life and Times Survey' will once again give the people of Northern Ireland a chance to voice their opinions on a range of issues affecting their lives.

One of the key new topics to be covered in the survey this year is the countryside and farming in Northern Ireland.

Dr Sally Shortall, Director of the Gibson Institute for Land, Food and Environment at Queen's University, is leading the research project that will use data from the survey. She said "Agriculture has always been a very important part of the life and economy of Northern Ireland. However, in recent years, the BSE and Foot and Mouth crises have affected farmers very badly. Thus, it is timely that we ask the general public about their views on farming, and the countryside in general. In particular, given the problems facing farmers in the last few years, we want to know what goods people feel farmers should be supported by government to produce, and whether they feel farmers need to take on new roles?"

 Dr Shortall added that the results of the survey will inform public and policy debates on a range of related issues, including for example, who is responsible for sustainable environmental practice in rural areas, and agricultural subsidies. "The study will also provide benchmark and monitoring data for Northern Ireland against which change in attitudes over time towards the countryside, agricultural subsidies and land-use can be measured," she said.

The research into farming and the countryside has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, with assistance from the Ulster Farmers' Union. The questions form part of the 2004 ‘Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey’ currently being carried out on 1,800 doorsteps around Northern Ireland.

The survey has been carried out annually since 1998, by ARK (the Northern Ireland Social and Political archive) as a joint project between Queen's University and the University of Ulster.

"The survey takes in a random sample of the Northern Ireland population over the age of 18," explained Paula Devine, ARK Research Director. "It is an attitudinal survey, the only regular independent monitor of changing social attitudes. Each year the survey contains sets of questions relevant to social and political life. In addition to the new questions on the countryside in the 2004 survey, political attitudes, attitudes to community relations, men's issues, the important role of grandparents and attitudes to religion are all also surveyed.

"A team of 40 interviewers are starting to conduct the surveys now in mid-October, and will complete the task by 31 December 2004. The results of the Survey will then be available in mid-June 2005," Paula Devine added.

Further details on the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey and results from previous surveys can be found on the survey website www.ark.ac.uk/nilt

For further information, contact: Dr Sally Shortall, Gibson Institute for Land, Food and Environment: 028 90975562 (Email: s.shortall@qub.ac.uk); Paula Devine, ARK 028 9097 3034; or Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 07980 013362

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Queen's launches £22 million Cancer Research Centre
Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson is shown a model of the new £22 million Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology by Centre director Professor Paddy Johnston. The Centre was launched this morning at the start of a two-day international scientific symposium featuring cancer experts from around the globe.
Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson is shown a model of the new £22 million Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology by Centre director Professor Paddy Johnston. The Centre was launched this morning at the start of a two-day international scientific symposium featuring cancer experts from around the globe.

A new £22 million Cancer Research Centre will be launched at Queen's University today (October 14).

The Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, based at the University's Lisburn Road campus, will focus on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through discovering the causes of the disease.

The state-of-the-art facility will house high quality internationally renowned research staff and will complement the new clinical cancer centre at Belfast City Hospital, making Belfast one of Europe's leaders in the battle against the major cause of death in the 21st century.

Work on the new building is expected to begin in the spring of 2005 with a completion date of March 2007.

The Centre's research programme brings together clinical and laboratory experts from across the University in fields as diverse as Chemistry, Mathematics, Clinical Trials, Immunology and Virology, Pharmacy and Cell Biology, and will facilitate the translation of basic science into novel clinical developments.

The availability of leading edge clinical and basic research in close proximity will lead the way as a new approach to cancer research and have impact in other areas of clinical medicine.

Launching the new Centre, Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said the Centre would form part of a major strategy to provide a dynamic high quality cancer research and treatment programme in Northern Ireland.

"The creation of a world-class Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, recognised as flagship by the international scientific community, will ensure that Queen's and Northern Ireland contributes in a strategically important way to future UK and international research initiatives in cancer," he said.

Funding for the project - one of the largest undertaken by the University – has been provided by the Support Programme for University Research (SPUR), Science Research Investment Fund (SRIF) and Queen's.

Professor Patrick Johnston, the Director of the new Centre said: "The respect for the work carried out in Belfast is growing worldwide and this new Centre, one of the first to bring together many disciplines, will underpin the reputation of Queen's for internationally recognised world-class cancer research."

To mark the launch the Centre will host a major International Scientific Symposium, featuring top scientific, research and cancer experts from around the globe who will travel to Belfast to inform academic and clinical staff about the current developments in cancer research and treatment.

Amongst the speakers will be Professor Alex Markham, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, Dr Joe Harford, Director of International Affairs of the US Cancer Institute, Professor David Kerr, Head of the UK National Translational Cancer Research Network, Professor Ron Herberman, Director of the Pittsburgh Cancer Centre and many other experts from the United States, Europe and the British Isles.

Cancer Research UK Chief Executive Professor Alex Markham said: "Many of the biggest scientific advances come about when ideas from quite distinct areas of research are brought together.

"This new centre will enable unprecedented interaction between leading Northern Ireland cancer scientists and doctors - many of them funded by Cancer Research UK - from across the spectrum of research into the disease. The centre's creation will be a catalyst both for generating new cancer therapies and for getting them to patients as quickly as possible.

"It will also create the perfect environment in which to train the next generation of leaders in cancer research."

Commenting on the new Centre Dr Joe Harford of the US National Cancer Institute said: "We share your commitment to moving discoveries in cancer through the development phase so that they can be delivered to the benefit of cancer patients. We live in a global community and progress to eliminate suffering and death due to cancer must be made into a more global endeavour.

"The CCRCB launch marks a significant enhancement of cancer research, training, and care delivery that will benefit the people of Northern Ireland and indeed the world, since breakthroughs against cancer made anywhere benefit people everywhere."

Notes to Editor: The Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology will be launched by Queen's University Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson, in the Great Hall at Queen's on Thursday 14 October at 10.15am.

Media facilities will be available. Interviews can be conducted from 10.30am until 11am with Professor Gregson, Professor Paddy Johnston, Professor Alex Markham, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, Dr Joe Harford, US National Cancer Institute and two cancer patients.

A total of £15.8 million of funding for the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology has been provided under the second round of SPUR (Support Programme for University Research) supported by Department of Employment and Learning and Atlantic Philanthrophies, £2.8 million from the Science Research Investment Fund (SRIF) and £1.7million from Queen's University.

For further information contact: Professor Paddy Johnston, (028) 9026 3911 or Elaine Fitzsimons, Communications, (028) 9097 5384

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New QFT unveiled as University ensures that arts and culture take centre stage

Queen's University today unveiled a major £2 million investment in the arts. The new Drama and Film Centre at Queen's, which has just opened its doors to drama and film studies students, will also be the home of Queen's Film Theatre.

The new facility, which includes a studio theatre and two-screen cinema, sits alongside a new vision for culture and the arts at Queen's which has been underwritten by a £500,000 package which will see:

  • a new unitary management structure for Festival, QFT and the Naughton Gallery at Queen's under Stella Hall
  • a new home for Belfast Festival at Queen's
  • the removal of accumulated deficits for Festival and QFT
  • investment in a new box office system

Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McCormac said: "Queen's is a major player in the cultural life of Northern Ireland. Advocacy of the arts plays a central role in its academic provision, and it is one of the most important ways we have of giving something back to the community we serve.

"This new facility will help unleash the true potential of our programmes in drama and film - which have proved enormously popular with students, it finally gives QFT a home which does justice work as one of the best regarded regional film centres in the UK and Ireland, and it adds to Belfast's portfolio of performance spaces."

Stella Hall said: "I am proud to take on the new role of Head of Culture and Arts, particularly in the light of these exciting developments.

"Queen's has a worldwide reputation as a centre for culture and arts. The new vision will help us strengthen links within the University, and tap into national and international networks, allowing us to make a serious contribution to the development of Queen’s as a place of international excellence in learning and performance ."

The new Drama and Film Centre at Queen's, contains a theatre, rehearsal room and two screen cinema as well as a new social space for audiences.

The centre's has one of the world's most unusual arts centre entrances - the way in is through the front door of a house in a listed Victorian terrace ­- 20 University Square. The new foyer and bar area is spacious and relaxing, incorporating Georgian features to give patrons a wonderful welcome.

Queen's Film Theatre was established in 1968 and, after thirty-six years, QFT remains Northern Ireland's sole full-time provider of cultural cinema with a unique membership scheme. The new facilities at QFT will feature two full-time screens, an area suitable for exhibitions, infrared audio descriptions and subtitled films at selected screenings, a brand new box office facility compatible with facilities across the City, full disabled access to auditoria and an optional third small screen.

The new QFT is part of a new Culture and Arts Division at Queen's, headed by Stella Hall, who retains her role as artistic director of Belfast Festival at Queen's.

Professor McCormac said the new division would strengthen the arts overall by making it easier to have an integrated approach operational resources supporting the unique artistic missions of Belfast Festival at Queen's, QFT and the Naughton Gallery.

It would also allow the arts to build on existing strong links with academics in areas such as music, drama, film, literature and history of art.

The division will also run a new state-of-the-art box office system, provided with support from Arts Council of Northern Ireland, which will operate year-round and provide services to academic units within the University as well as QFT and the Festival.

The first public screenings at the new QFT will take place on Friday 22 October as part of this year's Belfast Festival at Queen's.

The centre is also the home of Film Studies, which saw the arrival this month of of a new chair, Professor Desmond Bell. An accomplished documentary film-maker and academic, Professor Bell's appointment is a big boost to Film Studies and for the development of the new Centre.

Queen's Drama department now has its own new dedicated studio space on campus, a welcome development as Drama courses aim to integrate a theoretical approach with practice.

It will celebrate the opening of the facilities with an impressive showcase during the Belfast Festival at Queen's which features superb international productions alongside student performances and events that reflect its diverse research interests from local theatre history to new writing.

For further information, contact: Festival Office: 028 9097 2629; Communications Office, 028 9097 3087

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Jobs fair for nurses and midwives

The School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen's University will host its biannual Jobs Fair on Tuesday 12 October in the William Whitla Hall between 9.30am and 12.30pm.

This is an opportunity for final year nursing students from Queen's who commenced the course in March 2002 to meet up with front-line nursing staff from across Northern Ireland and discuss with them the varied career options that are available.

These final year Queen's students will be meeting representatives from over 30 of Northern Ireland’s hospital and community Trusts and some of the larger independent sector employers. Competition is keen amongst the Trusts to attract these soon to qualify students, and their value is such that many of the organisations will interview on the day, five months before they even complete the course.

Queen's is the leading provider of nursing and midwifery education in Northern Ireland, offering undergraduate nurse education in adult, mental health, children's and learning disability nursing. The School of Nursing and Midwifery is one of the largest in the University, with around 3,500 full and part-time students.

Professor Jean Orr, Head of the School said: "This jobs fair is in addition to the one we hold in April for the September cohort and will enable students completing Adult, Mental Health and Learning Disability nursing to meet with employees. As in the past we expect competition for students to be high and are delighted to facilitate the Trusts in the recruitment process."

Notes to editors: The Jobs Fair will take place in the Sir William Whitla Hall between 9.30am and 12.30pm on Tuesday 12 October 2004.

For further information, contact: Mrs Donna Hackett, School of Nursing and Midwifery, (028) 9097 5708

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Exciting events line-up from Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry

A new season of exciting book launches, poetry readings and lectures hosted by the Queen's University Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry will get underway on Thursday 7 October with an event to mark the launch of The Mermaids Child by Jo Baker.

The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry was officially opened in February of this year. It is a world-class centre for literary excellence and is named after one of Queen's University's and Northern Ireland's most famous sons, poet and Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney.

Ciaran Carson, Professor of Poetry at Queen's and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry said: "The new Centre is giving a new and dynamic focus to the University's contribution to the literary arts. As part of this, we have brought together a strong and vibrant programme of weekly events over the coming two months that are open to the public.

"I am delighted to start our Autumn events on Thursday evening with the launch of a new novel by a very exciting and talented young author, Jo Baker."

Jo Baker's second novel, The Mermaid's Child, like her acclaimed first novel Offcomer, is published by William Heinemann. Her first novel was deemed an "arresting debut" by the Independent and as "credible, compelling and intense" by the Times.

The Mermaid’s Child tells the story of Malin, a young outsider growing up in an isolated village, who has always been made to feel different, out-of-place. When a stranger comes to town and seems to offer a way out, Malin grabs the opportunity with both hands, and sets off on an epic voyage of discovery in search of her mother. Beautifully written and hauntingly strange, set in an unspecified historical past, The Mermaid’s Child is a remarkable piece of storytelling, weaving together the fantastical and the inevitable through the power of the imagination.

Jo Baker was born in Lancashire and educated at Sommerville College, Oxford, and at Queen's University, Belfast. She currently lives and works in Belfast, with her husband, the playwright Daragh Carville, and their one-year-old son.

Commenting on the launch at Queen's, Jo Baker said: "As a former student at Queen's - I did both my MA and PhD at the School of English - it's a great pleasure to launch my second novel here. I'm delighted too that the launch is being held under the auspices of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. Queen's has such a rich literary history - I'm honoured to be a part of it."

 The event is free of charge and open to the public. It will take place at 6pm in the Visitor’s Centre at Queen’s at 6pm.



Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry - other October events

Thursday, 14 October: Lecture Room G09, 8 pm.
Lecture: “What is Poetry?” by Professor Terry Eagleton
Terry Eagleton began his academic life as a Victorianist. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, under the Marxist literary critic Raymond Williams. He is now considered a specialist in literary and cultural theory. Among his works are the very influential Literary Theory: an Introduction (1983), Saint Oscar, a play about Oscar Wilde (1989), and a memoir, The Gatekeeper (2001). He is currently Professor of Cultural Theory and John Rylands Fellow at the University of Manchester. This lecture is supported by the John McAslan Family Trust.

Monday, 18 October Lecture Room G09, 8 pm.
A Poetry Reading: Galway Kinnell
Born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1927, Galway Kinnell has been a major figure in American poetry for over four decades. His Selected Poems (1980) won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Other volumes include The Book of Nightmares (1971), Imperfect Thirst (1996) and The Essential Rilke (2000). Kinnell's poetry has been praised for its intense engagement with the natural world, and he is acknowledged as a powerful reader of his work. This is a rare opportunity to hear one of the great American voices. This reading is supported by the John McAslan Family Trust.

Thursday, 28 October, Lecture Room G09, 8 pm.
A Poetry Reading: C. K. Williams Another great American poet,
C. K. Williams was born in 1936 in Newark, New Jersey. He is the author of nine books of poetry, the most recent of which, The Singing, won the National Book Award for 2003. His previous book, Repair, was awarded the 2000 Pulitzer Prize, and his collection Flesh and Blood received the National Book Critics Circle Award. Among his other honours are awards in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Voelcker Career Achievement Award, and fellowships from the Lila Wallace Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation. In association with Belfast Festival

For further information, contact: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office 028 9097 5320

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The best of Ulster's archaeology

Ulster's rich archaeological history will be the focus of a three-day event when experts from all over the British Isles gather in Belfast to learn more about Northern Ireland's historic past.

Organised by the Council for British Archaeology and the British Archaeological Awards, the event, from Friday 8 October to Sunday 10 October, will be hosted by Queen's University, the Environment and Heritage Service and the Ulster Museum.

The weekend kicks off on Friday 8 October with the British Archaeological Awards – the most prestigious awards in British archaeology and continues on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 with a series of lectures and tours to some of Ulster's best known archaeological sites such as the Giant's Ring at Shaw's Bridge, Greyabbey Cistercian monastery and the oldest known tide mill at Nendrum monastic site.

Among those who will be participating in the weekend will be Julian Richards, from BBC's Meet the Presenters and Blood of the Vikings series, who will be giving the Beatrice De Cardi lecture on Saturday evening and meeting members young archaeologists from Downpatrick and Bangor who will get the chance to hear about some of his recent work.

In his lecture, "Why we all want to be Indiana Jones", he will be examining the relationship the media has with archaeology. After archaeology being dubbed 'the new gardening', he asks if it is a marriage made in heaven or a stormy affair that is heading for disaster?

Running since 1976, the British Archaeological Awards are presented every two years,and the ceremony in the Elmwood Hall features 15 awards, covering a wide range of archaeological activities and celebrating the achievements of amateur and professional archaeologists alike. The awards range from the Young Archaeologist of the Year, to the Silver Trowel Award for the greatest initiative in British archaeology.

There have been several shortlisted entries from Northern Ireland this time, including the book on the heritage of Strangford Lough, by Tom McErlean, Rosemary McConkey and Wes Forsythe of the Centre for Maritime Archaeology, from the University of Ulster; the establishment of Flame – the Gasworks Museum of Ireland at Carrickfergus; and the evacuation of a huge Bronze Age settlement at Corrstown, Co. Londonderry by Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd. But entrants will have to wait until Friday to see how they have fared!

The Awards will be presented by distinguished archaeologist Queen's Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gerry McCormac.The event – supported by Queen's, the Environment and Heritage Service and the Ulster Museum - will be attended by top archaeologists.

Dr Finbar McCormick, head of the School of Archaeology and Palaecology at Queen's, said it was the first time that the British Archaeological Awards had been held in Belfast and the School was delighted to support the event.

"The awards encourage excellence in Archaeology, both in terms of fieldwork and research and also in promoting awareness of archaeology among the general public. The School of Archaeology and Palaeoecology encourages excellence in all these areas, and does so from the standpoint of a Department with a Grade 5 research record, rated third in the UK in the recent Times' Good University Guide.

"We congratulate all the recipients of these awards for their outstanding endeavours in the field of archaeology," he said.

Note to Editors: The weekend event is organised by the Council for British Archaeology in association with Queen's University, the DoE Environment and Heritage Service, the Ulster Museum and the Ulster Archaeological Society.

The Awards ceremony, in the Elmwood Hall, will begin at 1.30pm on Friday 9 October. A list of awards are attached. Media facilities will be available.

Julian Richards will deliver the Beatrice de Cardi lecture in the Wellington Park Hotel at 7.45pm on Saturday 9 October. He will also meet members of the Downpatrick and Bangor Young Archaeologists Club at the Ulster Museum on Saturday 10 October at 9.30am.

For further information on the BAA ceremony contact: Dr Alison Sheridan, 0131 247 4051, a.sheridan@nms.ac.uk or Elaine Fitzsimons, Communications, Queen's University (028) 9097 5384

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Malaysian delegation visits Queen's
Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson receives a gift from Malaysian Chief Minister Dato' Seri Idris bin Jusoh during a visit to the University on Monday
Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson receives a gift from Malaysian Chief Minister Dato' Seri Idris bin Jusoh during a visit to the University on Monday

A Malaysian delegation, which is visiting Ireland, paid a visit to Queen's University Belfast on Monday in a bid to foster its relationship with the University.

Led by Chief Minister Dato' Seri Idris bin Jusoh, the delegation from Terengganu State was greeted by the University's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson.

Terengganu is a fossil-fuel-rich state, which for five years was ruled by the Pan-Islamic Party - PAS - but from April this year the national government's organisation UMNO has regained control over the state allowing significant investment into its educational institutions.

As part of the visit the delegation is keen to develop a relationship between Queen's and the Terengganu Advanced Technical Institute (TATI) – a state government funded college which teaches chemical engineering, manufacturing engineering, mechatronics, computing and electrical and electronic engineering. The Chief Executive of TATI, Dr Mohamad Rozailan Mamat, is staying at Queen's until Wednesday 6 October to continue negotiations.

Following its visit to Queen's the delegation from Malaysia, which has also been to England, travelled to Dublin. The delegation consists of nine members including: Dato' Seri Idris bin Jusoh (Chief Minister); Dato' Dr Abdul Latif Awang; Mr Rosol Wahid (State Executive Councillor); Mr Wan Zahari Wan Ngah (District Officer of Besult); Mr Osman Muda (Principal Private Secretary to Chief Minister); Mr Hadi Hassan (Assistant Director State Planning Unit); Dr Mohamad Rozailan Mamat (Chief Executive of Terengganu Advanced Technical Institute); Mr Nor Azman Mat Ali (CEO Terenggano Foundation College) and Haji Omar Haji Harun (Queen’s contact)

For further information contact: Communications, (028) 9097 5384

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Children behaving badly?

Recent research has highlighted an increase in childhood behaviour problems in pre-school settings, raising questions over what causes it and how it can be managed.

Psychologists are to bring their expertise in the matter to Northern Ireland on Saturday 2 October when the Northern Ireland Branch of the British Psychological Society hosts an open conference entitled 'Managing Behaviour in Early Years Settings'.

The conference is to be held at Stranmillis University College, Belfast and will last from 9.30am to 3.15pm. The audience will consist of psychologists and members of other professions dealing with young children from 3 - 8 years, such as early years practitioners, students and teachers.

The keynote addresses will be given by Professor Hugh Foot, Department of Psychology, University of Strathclyde and Dr Harry Rafferty, School of Psychology, Queen's University.

Professor Foot will talk about 'Staff perceptions of pre-school behaviour problems' and Dr Rafferty will address the issue of 'Helping pre-school children who have severe behaviour problems'.

In the afternoon delegates can attend one of three workshops. The first will look at handling children's normal naughtiness, the second at encouraging parental involvement in supporting positive behaviour in early years settings and the third will examine behavioural strategies in managing difficult behaviours.

The conference has been organised by the Northern Ireland Branch of the British Psychological Society with support from Stranmillis University College.

For further media information contact: Dr Donncha Hanna, Press Officer (028) 9027 5549 or Anne Kerr, Administrator 028 90274129. Mobile during the conference 07931 567283.

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Women's leadership programme launched

A new programme to help develop the leadership potential of women decision makers was launched at Queen's University this morning (Friday 1 October.)

The new programme, entitled 'Next Generation' has been prepared by staff of the Centre for Advancement of Women in Politics within the School of Politics & International Studies at the University, and will be run for the first time next January.

It is intended that the programme will help to address the current low levels of women's participation in the senior ranks of economic, social, political and public decision-making. "This is a global situation affecting governance at local, regional, national and international levels, but in Northern Ireland it has been exacerbated by the prolonged period of conflict," said Dr Yvonne Galligan Director of the Centre for Advancement of Women in Politics.

"Women have yet to take their rightful place alongside men in making decisions about the future of Northern Ireland. This exciting programme will encourage women to do just that, in becoming Northern Ireland's decision makers in economic, social and political life," Dr Galligan added.

The intense four-day programme will aim to: 
- build women’s capacity to lead in a diverse society 
- explore the background to women’s participation in business, social, and public life 
- provide opportunities for sharing experience and networking with one another and with current women leaders, and 
- cultivate leadership skills through practice-based activities.

Welcoming the mainly female guests to the launch event, Queen's University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson emphasised the University's own commitment to raising the profile of women. He outlined the initiatives taken by the University, including the Gender Initiative and the establishment of a Women's Forum through which the University listens to women and implements change. For example, family-friendly policies have been re-launched, flexible working introduced for all clerical staff and a central maternity fund has been established. 

Professor Gregson said that the 'Next Generation; programme was "a milestone for Queen's and for Northern Ireland." 

Appropriately, the speeches were made under the painting ‘Emerging from the Shadows’, that the University commissioned from Michelle Rogers which depicts and acknowledges the contribution made by women at all levels within the University.

Commenting on the initiative, Baroness May Blood said: "This programme will ensure that more and more women are better equipped and empowered to emerge as leaders for the future."

 Brenda McLaughlin Queen’s Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Opportunity Now  similarly endorsed the new training scheme: "The Next Generation Programme has opened a new dimension for women aspiring to lead in the future"


 Notes: The launch takes place between 10.30 – mid-day on Friday 1 October 2004 in the Canada Room, Lanyon Building, Queen’s University Belfast.

For further information, contact: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office 028 9097 5320

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