12-2004 Press Releases

22/12/2004: Queen's honorary graduands 2005
20/12/2004: Get on course at Queen's this New Year
17/12/2004: \"The face of TV science programmes\" honoured by Queen's
17/12/2004: A double celebration for mother and daughter
17/12/2004: A tale of cross-border smuggling
17/12/2004: First Queen's TESOL graduate
17/12/2004: Queen's honours leading Irish entrepreneur
17/12/2004: Queen's Music graduate plays in Salvation Army band
16/12/2004: First for diploma in trauma studies
16/12/2004: Fertility expert Lord Winston honoured by Queen's
16/12/2004: Young couple compute future together
16/12/2004: Double celebration for Belfast GP
16/12/2004: Family affair for Professor and son
16/12/2004: First for Chinese students
16/12/2004: Queen's honours distinguished medical scientist
16/12/2004: Queen's \"to compete on world stage\" - Gregson
15/12/2004: Prestigious premiere this weekend for Queen's composer's work
15/12/2000: Successful run for community drama course
15/12/2004: Queen's students told of \"responsibility to shape society\"
15/12/2004: Part-time students rewarded at Queen's
13/12/2004: Queen's study examines facial disfigurement
10/12/2004: Numbers of female scientists reviewed
10/12/2004: Something to smile about!
09/12/2004: Changes a foot- Queen's appoints travel plan co-ordinator
08/12/2004: Great fun at InterSports night!
08/12/2004: University Building Receives Major Award
07/12/2004: Smoking in public places debated
07/12/2004: Hitting the right note for Christmas at Queen's
07/12/2004: Winter graduation ceremonies 2004
06/12/2004: Creation of the universe and other small matters
03/12/2004: Andor flotation \"a breakthrough for university research\" - Gregson
02/12/2004: Queen's student takes top UK placement award
01/12/2004: Award for new stone conservation company

Queen's honorary graduands 2005


One of national television's best-known presenters, Northern Ireland-born Gloria Hunniford, and award-winning journalist and author Fergal Keane, are among those to be honoured by Queen's University when they receive honorary degrees next year.

Born and educated in Portadown, Ms Hunniford, who started her broadcasting career on BBC Radio Ulster and UTV before moving to BBC Radio 2 and subsequently presenting a wide range of popular national television programmes, is a former winner of the TV Personality of the Year title. One of her programmes, "Open House with Gloria Hunniford", broadcast between 1998 and 2004, gave Channel 5 its highest-ever rating. She recently founded the Caron Keating Fund in memory of her late daughter, also a talented TV presenter, who died from breast cancer in April.

The BBC's former Southern African Correspondent, a role in which he covered the genocide in Rwanda and the first multi-racial elections in South Africa, Fergal Keane currently holds the title of Special Correspondent. He has won awards from the Royal Television Society, Sony, Amnesty International and BAFTA. His book, "Season of Blood", was awarded the George Orwell Prize for Non-Fiction.

Honorary degrees will also be conferred on author and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, former Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir George Bain, local business leaders David Dobbin and Dr Alan Gillespie, and Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy.

The list includes the UK Commissioner for Public Appointments, Dame Rennie Fritchie, writer and academic Professor Dame Gillian Beer, and neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield, described by Harpers and Queen magazine as one of the 50 most inspirational women in the world.

The Government's Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Sir David King, eminent lawyer Lord Lloyd, psychologist Professor Gina Green, an expert in the fields of autism and mental retardation, and Queen's graduate Rafiah Salim, former Assistant Secretary General for Human Resources Management at the United Nations, will also be honoured.

The degrees will be awarded as follows:

LLD Professor Sir George Bain, for services to the University and to higher education
DLit Professor Dame Gillian Beer, for distinction in literature
DLit Lord Bragg, for distinction in literature and broadcasting
DSc (Econ) David Dobbin, for services to business and commerce
DUniv Dame Rennie Fritchie, for public service
LLD Dr Alan Gillespie, for services to business and commerce and for public service
DSc Professor Gina Green, for distinction in psychology and for her contribution to the understanding of autism
DSc Baroness Susan Greenfield, for distinction in pharmacology and for public service
DUniv Gloria Hunniford, for services to broadcasting
DUniv Fergal Keane, for services to broadcasting and journalism
DUniv Geraldine Kennedy, for services to journalism
DSc Professor Sir David King, for distinction in science and for public service
LLD Lord Lloyd, for services to the University
DUniv Rafiah Salim, for services to alumni relations

For further information contact:
Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

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Get on course at Queen's this New Year

If your New Year's resolution is to return to study, whether for leisure purposes or to learn a new skill, then take a look at the variety of options on offer within the pages of the New Year Open Learning programme from the Institute of Lifelong Learning at Queen's University.

The Institute's New Year programme, which covers the period from January to March, includes a wide variety of courses from alternative therapies to the visual arts. You could choose to learn a new language, brush up on your computer skills, explore aspects of local history, improve you wine appreciation, take up the guitar, or consider the implications for self-publishing your own written work. These are just a few of the choices open to you.

In all, around 100 courses are available, in subjects ranging from personal finance, computing, study skills, personal development, law and counselling to music, literature, philosophy and drama studies.

"There is plenty of room for experimentation, and no need to be cautious," urges Paul Nolan, Director of the Institute of Lifelong Learning. "The Institute is offering the people of Northern Ireland an intellectual adventure and an adventure in personal development, but there's also a social invitation. The Open Learning programme attracts people from all ages and social classes, united by a desire to learn and a willingness to enjoy the company of others."

The programme also features a selection of one-day and weekend courses as well as a series of classes run in towns throughout Northern Ireland.

The extra-mural courses are open to all adults and there are no entrance requirements although some are offered at different levels. Credit towards the award of a certificate is also available on some courses.

"The University's commitment to lifelong learning has a distinguished history, but it is also informed by the needs and wishes of the community it serves," said Queen's University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson.

"As a forward-looking university with an international reputation for excellence, our aim has always been to have a powerful impact on the cultural, social, economic and of course, educational well-being of its community. That is why I am delighted to commend to you this New Year programme of courses and study options in our Institute of Lifelong Learning," the Vice-Chancellor added.

Information on all courses available in the New Year may be found on the Institute web site at www.qub.ac.uk/ill or to request a copy of the programmetelephone 028 9097 3323.


For further media information, contact:  Communications Office 028 9097 5320

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"The face of TV science programmes" honoured by Queen's

TV science presenter Dr Adam Hart-Davis, the face of ground-breaking programmes including 'What the Romans Did for Us' and 'Local Heroes', was today honoured by Queen's University.

At Friday morning's graduation ceremony for the University's Faculties of Humanities, and Science and Agriculture, Dr Hart-Davis was awarded an honorary doctorate for services to broadcasting and the promotion of science.

Delivering the citation for Dr Hart-Davis, Queen's Professor John Mann, the University's incoming Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Development, said: "His TV appearances are always memorable and have established him as one of our foremost popularisers of science and engineering. Indeed, it sometimes seems that he is the face of the BBC output on science and history of science, and he has probably done more than any other person to raise awareness of the origins of the scientific and technological innovations that we take for granted, from the bicycle to the flush toilet.

"Through his TV programmes, together with a continuous stream of books to accompany the TV series, and other memorable ones including 'The World's Stupidest Inventions' and the unforgettable 'Thunder, Flush and Thomas Crapper' (one of the pioneers of toilet development), he has done much to make science fun and accessible to all."

Adam Hart-Davis was educated at Eton College and then obtained a first class honours degree in Chemistry from Merton College, Oxford in 1966. He studied for a DPhil on Organometallic Chemistry at the University of York, followed by two years of postdoctoral research at the University of Alberta. After working in scientific publishing for a time, he joined Yorkshire Television in 1977. He worked initially as a researcher for presenters such as Magnus Pyke, David Bellamy, Miriam Stoppard, and Arthur C. Clarke before becoming producer of such influential programmes as 'Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers', the school series' Scientific Eye' (seen in 35 countries) and the maths puzzle series 'Fun and Games', presented by Johnny Ball and Celia Hoyles.

His enthusiasm led in 1992 to his own TV series - 'Local Heroes' - in which he cycled around Yorkshire seeking the workplaces of famous inventors and innovators. He was soon snapped up by BBC-2 and commissioned to make a similar series that covered the whole of Britain, and this series ran continuously until 2000. Numerous other innovative programmes followed including series devoted to the legacies left to us by the Romans and similar series devoted to the Victorians, Tudors, and Stuarts. He also found time for numerous books, appearances on 'Tomorrow's World', the radio 4 science quiz show 'Inspirations', and half a dozen other Radio 4 series.

In the New Year he will present a major new nine-part series entitled 'What the Past Did for Us' in which he will explore the legacies left to us by ancient cultures ranging from gunpowder to paper money.

He has received numerous honours and awards, including a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Arts and a medal from the Royal Academy of Engineering for the Public Promotion of Science.

In his address to the graduation audience, Dr Hart-Davis urged the graduands to grab opportunities with enthusiasm.

He added: "Ultimately the best strategy for life is to find out what you really enjoy doing, and then find someone who will pay you to do it. I really enjoy telling stories and taking photographs, and now people pay me to do these things - which makes me a happy man."

For further information contact: Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

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A double celebration for mother and daughter

Graduation is a double celebration in one Belfast household for mother and daughter Carol Stewart and Carolyn Jess who both graduate from Queen's University on Friday morning (17 December).

26-year-old daughter Carolyn Jess is graduating from Queen's for the third time, collecting her doctoral degree in Literature and Film, having previously earned an MA in Creative Writing and a BA in English and Classical Studies.

From East Belfast, and the first in her family to go to Queen's, Carolyn extolled the benefits of a degree education to her family and persuaded her mother to enrol in 2001, as she herself embarked on her PhD programme.

"My mother had left school at 16, but had always expressed an interest in returning to her studies," Carolyn explained. "With a little encouragement she completed the access Foundation Studies course at the Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education, before beginning her BA degree in Ancient History and Classical Studies three years ago."

The 43 year-old mother, Carol Stewart, has really enjoyed her time at Queen's, juggling the demands of study alongside her engagements as a freelance pianist and piano teacher.

"I'm very proud of my mother!" Carolyn said. "Our two Schools at the University, English and Ancient History are side by side in University Square and it's great that we will are also graduating together on Friday morning!"

Sharing Carol and Carolyn's big moment on Friday will be sister Michelle, who herself hopes to follow in their footsteps to Queen's on completion of her A' Levels this summer, and Carol's own father.

Combining her love of literature and film, Carolyn has been researching 21st Century film adaptations of works by William Shakespeare for her PhD. She has drawn analogies with the contemporary phenomenon of film sequels and suggests that cinematic Shakespeare works are in fact a form of sequel to the original plays.

Once the Christmas break is over, Carolyn will be moving to England to take up a lecturing post in Film Studies with the University of Sunderland in Newcastle on Tyne, while mother Carol will pursue her career locally as a pianist.

Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities in which the two women studied, offers her congratulations: "I am delighted that both Carol and Carolyn have done so well in their studies and wish them both every success for the future. I will look forward to presenting them for their degrees."

For further information, contact: Dolores Vischer, 028 9097 3087; mobile 07980 013362

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A tale of cross-border smuggling

Eileen McMahon, who will receive her MA degree in Irish Studies from Queen's University on Friday morning, has learnt a thing or two about cross-border smuggling operations over the years, as the result of her dissertation research into the subject.

The mother of four from Carrickmacross in County Monaghan, completed her MA on a part-time basis over two years, through the Queen's University Armagh campus.

"For my dissertation I studied the economic, political, social and cultural dynamics of smuggling in my own border region of Monaghan an South Armagh. I examined the period from when the border economic 'war' began in the 1930s until the current day," Eileen explained.

For her research, Eileen interviewed a number of former smugglers who had many an interesting tale to tell. "What came through very clearly from their experience and from all my research was how the cultural perceptions of smuggling have changed, between 1930s - 70s and the present day, and also how important economically the former illegal cross-border trade was to the local area."

She added that the smugglers she spoke to told her that: "30 to 50 year ago, smuggling was more socially acceptable. Almost everyone was involved in a little grey cross-border shopping for personal consumption, feeling it was their right to buy goods wherever they wanted - effectively smuggling. In fact, without this economic trade, I concluded that the economy in the area would have failed to thrive. Nowadays, by contrast, with cross-border restrictions removed for personal shopping, smugglers are shunned by the local population who disapprove of this activity. In the early days, the smuggling trade was primarily in cattle, then household 'white' goods, while more recently it has concentrated on illegal fuels, tobacco and DVDs."

In her MA dissertation, Eileen also compared the cross-border activity in the Monaghan area with what has been experienced in other cross-border areas such as Mexico, Poland and the Basque lands.

Eileen teaches communication skills to adults and youth groups at a local college, and plans to continue this work after graduation. She described how she feels about studying: "For me, studying has always been about the pleasure of learning new things and the joy of learning itself, rather than studying to get a specific qualification for a particular job."

As a working mum, she admits she has become adept at juggling the demands of home, work and study. "I've learnt over the years to get the balance right," she laughs. "In fact, for me study is basically reclamation of some personal space for myself!"

For further information, contact: Dolores Vischer, 028 9097 3087; mobile 07980 013362

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First Queen's TESOL graduate

Cathriona Connor, who will collect her degree on Friday afternoon (17 December), is the first student to graduate from Queen's University Belfast with a Masters from the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) course.

Originally from County Kerry Cathriona is delighted to be receiving the MSc TESOL Award. "Graduation is certain to be a great day and one I will remember for a long time to come. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience and feel that I have benefited enormously from the course, both professionally and personally," she said.

Lecturer and Cathriona's Course Supervisor, Steve Walsh, explained that: "The MSc TESOL is a new degree offered by the Graduate School of Education for professionals involved in English Language Teaching. The course can be taken over one or two years and is intended to equip course participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to devise and teach effective English Language courses, as well as offering essential research and analytical skills to help students keep up with the rapid developments in the field."

Cathriona had completed an initial training course in TESOL a few years ago, having worked up to that point in modern language teaching. She explained how she came to sign up for the Queen's course and how beneficial it has been for her.

"Although the initial training had provided me with the 'basics', I quickly realised that I needed a greater understanding of both the English language (my mother tongue), and approaches to teaching. In particular, I felt that I needed solutions to difficulties that I was encountering in my work at an Institute of Technology, where I teach English to international students.

"I chose the degree because of the emphasis it places on linking theory to practice. The MSc didn't disappoint. All the lectures relate classroom practices to research evidence and provide theoretical underpinning for actions taken by teachers and learners. It is this combination of theory and practice which gave me a deeper appreciation of the subject, while at the same time helping me to develop professionally by improving my own teaching practice. In addition, the course was highly interactive and allowed participants, coming from a range of global and educational contexts, to really share their ideas about teaching and learning. I felt that this was a real strength as I was able to learn from my class-mates.

"The course didn't just answer my questions and offer me solutions (although I would have been happy with that!). It also gave me the skills I need to continue to research and improve my own practice throughout my career."

A measure of how much Cathriona enjoyed the course is the fact that she is currently considering doing a PhD with the Graduate School of Education at Queen's.

Cathriona will be accompanied to the graduation ceremony by her husband Fergal.

For further information contact: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 028 9097 3087/ 5320; mobile 07980 013362

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Queen's honours leading Irish entrepreneur

One of Ireland's most successful technology entrepreneurs received his second degree from Queen's University today, 25 years to the day after his first, when he was honoured at this afternoon's graduation ceremony.

Bill McCabe, founder of the world's largest e-learning company, was awarded an honorary doctorate for services to business and commerce.

Born in 1957 and brought up in West Belfast, Bill McCabe graduated from Queen's exactly 25 years ago on 17 December 1979, with a BA in Politics and Social Anthropology.

Following a career in sales with Burroughs and later Deltak, he joined CBT Systems (later known as the SmartForce Group) in the mid-1980s. He served as Chief Executive of the company from 1991-1996, following which he became Chairman. In ten years he grew the company into the largest interactive educational software company in the world with a turnover of $3bn. Ireland's largest indigenous technology company, SmartForce has been called 'the first Irish Amazon'.

He steered the company through a phase of huge growth (at its peak it employed 2,500 people, 1,200 of whom were in America) which led to a successful stock market flotation in 1995. Since stepping down from the business in 2000, Mr McCabe has been involved with a number of companies including Transware, WS2 and his venture capital business Oyster Technology Investments. He is a member of the Queen's University of Belfast Foundation Board and a Board Member of the Irish Cancer Society.

Delivering the citation, Queen's Director of Development and Alumni Relations Aine Gibbons, said: "Bill McCabe attributes his remarkable achievements in business simply to 'stickability'. Colleagues and friends, however, claim that it is much, much more. Vision, personal charm, persuasiveness and the ability to inspire the people around him are just some of the characteristics they ascribe to him.

"The consummate salesman, Bill has recently established Bedminster International, a company involved in turning waste into bio-energy, zero emission fuel. An amazing lateral thinker, his greatest asset is his ability to solve problems; it is second nature to him. Where others see them as roadblocks, Bill never loses sight of the end goal and finds a way of getting there."

For further information contact: Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

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Queen's Music graduate plays in Salvation Army band
Heather Wright, who graduates from Queen's University Belfast on Friday with an MA in Composition and who also plays baritone horn in the Salvation Army band.
Heather Wright, who graduates from Queen's University Belfast on Friday with an MA in Composition and who also plays baritone horn in the Salvation Army band.

22-year-old Heather Wright from Portadown will be among those crossing the platform in the Whitla Hall on Friday morning (17 December) to collect her Masters degree from Queen's University Belfast.

Heather has completed her studies for an MA in Composition in the School of Music and is one of the first three students to graduate from this new MA programme.

So thoroughly did Heather enjoy her first degree in Music at Queen's that she was delighted to be able to sign up to continue her studies. "Throughout my undergraduate three years I particularly enjoyed composition and was therefore instantly attracted to the new MA in Composition offered," she said.

Heather worked for her MA alongside two other Composition students under the School of Music's Professor Piers Hellawell. "I found working with Professor Hellawell, a leading contemporary composer, a big plus point for taking this MA," Heather enthused. "The three of us on the course formed a close-knit group and greatly benefited from a lot of personal tuition from Professor Hellawell."

Commenting on the MA in Composition, Piers Hellawell said: "this new MA evolved out of our long-standing MA in 20th Century Music, because we felt something more composer-centred was needed, given the large body of undergraduate composers now looking to develop as composers. I was lucky that the very first group to enrol had an extraordinary chemistry between them: class discussions were very stimulating, and I am proud to see them graduate."

Heather explained that the one-year MA involves submitting around twelve written components that include studying the work of 20th Century composers. Heather also had the opportunity to do a module in Arts Administration in which she spent 3 months working with the Education Department at the Ulster Orchestra. The main assessment for the MA is a portfolio of original compositions.

"I wrote eight pieces, several for small group or solo performance and two large-scale compositions, one for an orchestra and one for a choir," she added.

Several of Heather's compositions have been performed during the year by session musicians visiting the School of Music. "Also, my brother-in-law Anthony Thompson is a professional trumpet player based in Yorkshire and I'm proud that he has performed some of my work in concerts," she added.

Accompanying Heather at her graduation will be mum Brenda Wright from Portadown, who works in the Craigavon Area Hospital, and aunt Denise Mahood, a Maths teacher at a Lisburn school. "There's a strong Maths vein in my family," Heather laughed, explaining that her sister Catherine completed a Maths degree at Queen's in 2001 and is also now a Maths teacher. "I've taken a different route, following my love of music."

Heather, who specialised in singing for her first degree also plays both the piano and brass instruments.

Her expertise on the brass side of things is in fact currently being put to good use in her new job with The Salvation Army in Lisburn. "I am working part-time with the Salvation Army on youth work projects and while music is not a major part of my work I do play the baritone horn in the Belfast Temple Salvation Army brass band!"

Taking a break from studying Music for a while, Heather says that she would like to return to Queen's again in the future to work towards a PhD degree. In the meantime, keep an eye out for her in the many Christmas outings that are planned for the Salvation Army band.

For further information contact: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 028 9097 3087/ 5320; mobile 07980 013362

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First for diploma in trauma studies

The first group of students to complete a new course at Queen's University, which offers help to those affected by "the Troubles", will graduate this afternoon. (Thursday)

A total of 19 people will receive a Diploma in Trauma Studies, aimed at improving the efficacy of professionals who work directly and indirectly with victims, by developing their skills and knowledge in this specialised area. While acknowledging existing expertise, participants are given the opportunity to expand awareness in terms of theoretical knowledge, group experience and encounter with workers from different/opposing communities.

The course - the first of its kind to be accredited by a higher education institution in Northern Ireland - was set up as a joint programme between Queen's School of Nursing and Midwifery and the voluntary organisation, WAVE.

Since the ceasefires in 1994 referrals to WAVE have increased by 80 per cent and subsequent reports suggest there is an increasing need for access to fully trained professionals, who have taken accredited training courses.

Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Professor Jean Orr, said the new course represented a collaborative venture between the University and a highly respected community organisation.

"This initiative is in keeping with Queen's community outreach programme and will meet the needs of those working with people affected directly or indirectly by the Troubles,' " she said.

The students on the course came from a variety of backgrounds and included nurses, counsellors, a reflexologist and paramedic.

Among them was Tipperaray woman, Therese Fitzgerald, who works for the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities. Her job requires her to work with refugees and asylum seekers, from as far afield as Zimbabwe, the Ivory Coast and Mauritius.

According to Therese some of these people have endured trauma during their journey to Northern Ireland, while others have experienced racial attacks since their arrival.

Therese said she would "highly recommend" the course and has already begun to use some of the techniques discussed.

"It was an excellent course which was very relevant to my line of work and allowed me to develop my skills. It also gave me a good insight into the "Troubles" and how people in Northern Ireland have been affected by them," she said.

The diploma is the latest academic qualification to be added to Therese's already impressive list - a BA in Theology from Manchester University, a Masters in Philosophy from Dublin's Trinity College and a BSc in Counselling and Psychotherapy from Middlesex.

Another student collecting her diploma is Linda Britton, from Strabane, who has recently taken up a post with the WAVE office in Omagh.

With a history of community work and counselling, Linda said the course was specifically tailored to cater for those working with the victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Linda formerly worked with the Community Healing Unit in Londonderry's Creggan area, which was set up to alleviate prejudice across the community through a series of 'healing' residentials. These allow people from differing backgrounds to discuss their experiences in a therapeutic setting.

Commenting on her experiences of the diploma, Linda said she had learnt to consider the affects of medication on those undergoing counselling.

"I feel that therapists need to be more aware of their patients' medication because certain types of therapies don't combine well with particular drugs. This would be particularly beneficial to those who, in the past, had a bad experience of therapy," she said.

Linda will be accompanied to her graduation by her daughter, Lynnette, mother, Molly and partner, Jim.

For further information contact: Communications, (028) 9097 3087

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Fertility expert Lord Winston honoured by Queen's

Fertility expert and TV presenter Professor Lord Robert Winston of Hammersmith was today honoured by Queen's University.

Described in the citation by Professor Sheena Lewis, Director of the Reproductive Medicine research group at Queen's, as one of the great popularisers of science, Lord Winston was awarded an honorary doctorate for services to medicine and for broadcasting at this afternoon's graduation ceremony for students from the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Lord Winston is Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College, London University, and Director of NHS Research and Development for Hammersmith Hospital, one of the UK's leading infertility research centres. Created a Life Peer in 1995, he was recently Chairman of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, initiating many national enquiries as wide-ranging as Antibiotic Resistance, Genetic Databases and Science in Schools.

Professor Lewis said: "He is committed to bettering scientific education and regularly hosts and writes science programmes for the BBC and the Discovery network. His series include 'Your Life in Their Hands', 'Making Babies', 'The Human Body' and 'Human Mind'. Against fierce competition, these programmes have won prestigious awards such as Emmy nominations, not to mention three BAFTAs. His contributions have also been recognised by his medical colleagues when he received the BMA Gold Award for Medicine in the Media and the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Gold Medal for his publications on fertility and pregnancy for a lay readership.

"His TV programmes have proved to be remarkably popular with the public. Along with David Attenborough and Richard Dawkins, Robert Winston has made human biology fascinating and fun."

She added: "In his role as an academic, Professor Winston has freely shared his knowledge and experience with numerous overseas universities acting as their visiting professor.

"His first major contribution to infertility treatment was the development of fallopian tube microsurgery in the 1970s. More recently his team has focused on preimplantation genetic diagnosis that enables families with a particular gene defect to have children free of fatal illnesses. His team is now developing methods to mature eggs outside the body in an attempt to make IVF treatment more affordable and less intrusive to hopeful couples."

Professor Lewis said that many of Lord Winston's advances have been adopted internationally, particularly in the field of endocrinology, IVF and reproductive genetics. He has over 300 scientific publications in such learned journals as Nature, Science and the New England Journal of Medicine. As an active researcher he has also held numerous research grants from prestigious sources such as the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the National Institutes of Health in the USA.

She added: "Yet, when challenged, as we all are, with lack of funding for medical research, Lord Winston was not daunted. In order to build and equip a dedicated research centre he set up the Queen Charlotte's Appeal and raised over £13 million. He now has space for 130 scientists and doctors working to improve the health of mothers and babies."

Recognition of Lord Winston's contributions includes many awards, among them a Blair-Bell Lectureship from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1978, the Cedric Carter Medal from the Clinical Genetics Society and the Victor Bonney Medal for his contributions to surgery, Royal College of Surgeons in 1993, and the Edwin Stevens Medal from the Royal Society of Medicine in 2003.

For further information contact: Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

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Young couple compute future together
Pictured on holiday in Venice last summer are married couple Banu Gunel and Huseyin Hacihabiboglu, who both graduate from the new Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen's University on Friday.
Pictured on holiday in Venice last summer are married couple Banu Gunel and Huseyin Hacihabiboglu, who both graduate from the new Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen's University on Friday.

A young couple who got married while working towards their doctoral degrees at Queen's will be among the first to graduate from the new Sonic Arts Research Centre on Thursday morning (16 December).

Ms Banu Gunel and Mr Huseyin Hacihabiboglu are to be awarded their PhDs in Computer Science.

The Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen's (SARC) is a newly established research centre of excellence, which is helping Northern Ireland lead the world in the development of music technology. Its new £4.5m building in Cloreen Park, opened in April 2004, is home to a strong interdisciplinary research team which unites internationally recognised experts in the fields of music, electronic engineering and computer science. It is the only research centre of its type in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

Banu and Huseyin first met in their home country of Turkey back in1996, and have managed to engineer their subsequent studies and career paths on the same track ever since.

Banu explains: "We met on the very first day we started the four-year BSc course on Electrical and Electronic Engineering in Turkey. Since then we have always been together. We were class-mates, very good friends, lab-partners during laboratory work and office mates when we worked part-time during the final year at that university.

"After graduating, we applied for studentships to study for our MSc degrees in the UK. We both got the studentships and went to the University of Bristol. Just before graduating we applied to the Queen's University of Belfast to do our PhD at the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) in conjunction with the School of Computer Science. Again, we were both accepted and worked in the same office which was incredible."

During the second year of their studies in SARC, the couple returned to Turkey to be married. "As we were busy with studying, our families arranged all the organization and did a very good job!" Banu laughed. "Indeed, we were writing papers even a few days before the wedding. Fortunately, we completed and submitted them - four conference papers in total - before our honeymoon."

Banu reports that she and Huseyin have really enjoyed their time at Queen's. "The good thing about doing our PhDs at the same place is that we don't have to tell each other how wonderful it was. As well as working together, we had a terrific time at SARC. We made really good friends, who are very precious to us. It is the people, as well as the research atmosphere in SARC that made us feel very lucky."

On Thursday morning, the pair will graduate together in the Whitla Hall. "It will be another memorable date for us to share," said Huseyin.

The couple's luck continues, and both are currently working as research fellows at the Centre for Communications Systems Research at the University of Surrey. "Yes, amazingly we continue to work together at the same place!" Banu added.


For further information, contact: Dolores Vischer, 028 9097 3087 or 07980 013362

Media opportunities will be available outside the Whitla Hall at Queen's after the graduation ceremony at approximately 11.30am.

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Double celebration for Belfast GP

A Belfast GP will have a double celebration today when he graduates from Queen's University. Dr Gerry Gormley will not only be celebrating his birthday today but will also receive his Doctorate in Medicine during the ceremony for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

A postgraduate student in the University's Department of General Practice, Dr Gormley carried out research into the assessment and referral of early rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.

His work identified methods to speed up GP's identification and referral of patients with this potentially disabling condition, including the training of nurse specialists and GPs with a special interest in rheumatology.

The research, which brought together a multi-disciplinary team from the Department of General Practice at Queen's and the Department of Rheumatology at Musgrave Park Hospital, has been published and presented internationally and has sparked interest in rheumatology units across the UK.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be a disabling and painful condition that affects approximately 13,000 people in Northern Ireland. Although a relatively common condition, there is no definitive diagnostic test for early rheumatoid arthritis. GPs must identify the condition on the basis of clinical features alone.

Dr Gormley hopes that his doctoral research will re-emphasise the importance of GPs spotting the most significant symptoms and signs. He said: "Early RA can be one of the most difficult diagnoses for GPs to make, but additional training can improve their ability to spot this condition in its early phase.

"Early morning joint stiffness and joint swelling remain the most important clinical features of early RA. These are the key to making an early diagnosis and referring the patient to specialised clinics, such as Early Arthritis Clinics. Early diagnosis, early referral and early treatment significantly improves outcomes for sufferers."

Note to Editors: Photographic opportunities will be available with Dr Gormley after the graduation ceremony which ends at approximately 11.40am.

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

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Family affair for Professor and son

A Ballyclare man, who graduates from Queen's University today, will be following in his father's footsteps.

Byran Fleck will collect his PhD in mechanical engineering during the ceremony for the Faculty of Engineering, watched by his proud father, who is the head of the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Professor Robert Fleck.

Professor Fleck obtained his PhD at Queen's before heading to the United States to pursue his career and now his son will be retracing his footsteps as he heads stateside in a bid to find employment in the automotive industry.

Born in the USA while his father worked in Wisconsin as a project manager, Bryan is keen to return because there are greater job opportunities in his field of work.

A former student of Ballyclare High School, Byran, who was three when he left America, completed his primary degree in engineering in 2000, having been taught by his father in his undergraduate year. He admits that while it wasn't too bad being the lecturer's son, he "wasn't forthcoming" about their relationship.

However, he says that his father was an inspiration to him and was a great help while he studied for his PhD. "He was a really big help, even during my PhD."

The pair also worked closely together in the highly demanding area of World Championship Grand Prix motorcycle racing as part of the University's renowned and extensive engine research programme. Professor Fleck, who also leads the engine research activities, set up the Queen's Optimum racing team which over a nine year period with local rider Jeremy Mc Williams became one of the most successful private teams. Bryan was able to gain valuable engineering experience from this arrangement during his undergraduate programme, spending each summer period with the team as it travelled around the world.

Also attending Bryan's graduation ceremony will be his mother Linda and his girlfriend, Jennifer McConaghy.

Note to Editors: Photographic opportunities will be available with Dr Fleck and his father, Professor Fleck, after the ceremony which ends at approximately 11.40am.

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

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First for Chinese students

The first group of students to participate in a new postgraduate degree course will graduate from Queen's University today with flying colours.

The group of nine, which includes eight Chinese and one Columbian, will collect their MSc in Process Engineering thanks to a special collaboration between Queen's and Beijing Institute of Technology, one of China's premier universities of science and technology.

As part of the joint arrangement the students initially received three months full time teaching and English training at BIT by four lecturing staff from Queen's School of Chemical Engineering while they prepared for their visa applications and study abroad.

"This gave the students the first hand opportunity to gain understanding and experience of learning, teaching and assessment in a UK accredited chemical engineering school before being transferred to Queen's for a further nine-month intensive academic study and research programme, " said course co-ordinator Dr Quan Gan.

After arriving at Queen's the students were given additional guidance and help by staff from the School who had established a good rapport with the students while teaching at BIT.

According to Dr Gan the students, who had never been out of China before, settled very quickly into their new life, despite the uncertainty of a new country and new educational system.

The success of the new course is apparent - three of the group were awarded their degrees with distinction, two are going on to pursue a PhD degree and this year's new class has attracted 19 students, doubling the number of last year.

Note to Editors: Photo opportunities will be available after the ceremony around 11.40am.

For further information contact: Communications, (028) 9097 3087

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Queen's honours distinguished medical scientist

A distinguished medical scientist who has made a significant international contribution to the development of women in science was honoured by Queen's University today.

At this morning's graduation ceremony, London-born Professor Kim Barrett, currently Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, was awarded an honorary doctorate for services to medicine and for enhancing the role of women in science.

A visiting professor at Queen's from 1999 to 2002, Kim Barrett graduated from University College London with a first class honours degree in Medicinal Chemistry and a PhD before moving to the United States to perform post-doctoral research. Her first post was at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. In 1985 she moved to the University of California, San Diego as an Assistant Research Immunologist, moving up the career ladder until she became a full Professor of Medicine in 1996.

Presenting her for her honorary degree, Queen's Professor Madeleine Ennis said: "Professor Barrett's research has resulted in over 180 publications and she has given around 150 invited presentations. She has held numerous positions of authority in her University and in major professional bodies, as well as acting as editor for many prestigious publications."

Professor Ennis added: "Professor Barrett has worked tirelessly to improve the position of women in science in major scientific societies. In the University of California, San Diego, she has worked at a Departmental, School and University level to address inequality. In her role as co-chair of the Health Sciences task force, she identified that women faculty members are paid more than 20 per cent less than men at similar levels of experience; identified significant under-representation of women in the tenure track series and the converse in soft-money, less prestigious adjunct and clinical series, and has been working with the administration to find solutions to these and related issues.

"Last month she obtained the go-ahead to put new systems into place to increase representation and ensure salary equity and equal consideration for accelerated academic advancement."

For further information contact: Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

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Queen's "to compete on world stage" - Gregson

Queen's University's vision for the future is focused on competing with the best in the world, its new Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson has said.

In his first graduation address this morning, Professor Gregson said that it was his ambition to ensure that Queen's unique qualities - academic excellence, an enriching student experience and a close relationship with the community it serves - are increasingly recognised nationally and internationally.

He told graduands from the University's Faculties of Engineering, and Medicine and Health Sciences: "For that reason, Queen's vision for its future is about releasing the full potential of its people - world-class academics and students with the creativity and imagination to match those anywhere else in the world."

He added: "Our students' and graduates' interests - and Northern Ireland's interests - are best served if we are part of a worldwide community.

"An outward-looking approach will allow us to play our role in today's global higher education market. We must compete with the best in the world."

And he cited two of the University's major initiatives - the world-class Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, and its Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), the flagship building of Belfast’s new Science Park - as illustrating the Queen's of the future.

The Vice-Chancellor told the graduands that the partnerships they make at home and abroad will underwrite a new vision for Northern Ireland as a dynamic place with a high quality of life and sustainable economic growth.

He added: "As well as sending our graduates across the globe, we also want to welcome more international students to this University. The best universities are those which bring together people from widely different backgrounds, and which use that diversity to broaden their vision.

"In welcoming more international students we will strengthen Queen's position in the student market, enrich the student experience, give local undergraduates the opportunity to learn from diversity and provide them with the international connections which will be crucial to their future careers.

"Queen's sights are firmly set on the recruitment of the best students - locally, nationally and internationally. We are targeting the finest academic staff and research partners around the world to join us in building the future."

And he said that following the success of Queen's spin-out company Andor Technology, which just two weeks ago became the first university spin-out in Northern Ireland to be floated on the Stock Market, he expected to see more Queen's companies develop, grow and make a major contribution to the creation of wealth in Northern Ireland.

Professor Gregson added: "The Queen's of the future will build on the excellence of the past to become more competitive, more innovative and more international, and to take an even more active leadership role in Northern Ireland."

For further information contact: Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

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Prestigious premiere this weekend for Queen's composer's work
Piers Hellawell, Professor of Composition at the School of Music, whose new work will play a prominent part at the opening ceremony this weekend of the new £70 million Gateshead arts centre designed by Sir Norman Foster.
Piers Hellawell, Professor of Composition at the School of Music, whose new work will play a prominent part at the opening ceremony this weekend of the new £70 million Gateshead arts centre designed by Sir Norman Foster.

The culmination of a good year for local composer Piers Hellawell, Professor of Composition at the Queen’s University School of Music, comes this weekend when a series of his specially commissioned pieces will be played during the opening ceremonies for a multi-million pound new arts centre in the north of England designed by Sir Norman Foster.

The spectacular £70 million Sage Gateshead complex, situated on the Tyne waterfront alongside the award-winning Gateshead Millennium Bridge, opens officially over the weekend of 17 and 18 December.

"It's a great honour to have been invited to compose a work for the opening of this landmark building", says Professor Hellawell. "It really is a fantastic place, an international centre for amateur and professional performance. It's been designed by Sir Norman Foster, one of the world's leading architects, who created 'the Gherkin' in the City of London, although from the outside, this new building is more of a caterpillar than a gherkin. Underneath three enormous curved stainless steel roofs are two concert halls, rehearsal spaces and a Music School.”

Piers Hellawell has actually contributed a set of three substantial pieces for orchestral ensembles and a sequence of other introductory pieces for the foyer spaces to represent the diversity of performance that is going to happen at Gateshead.

"Some segments will be quite dramatically staged,” Professor Hellawell explained. I worked closely with Andy Sheppard, the famous saxophonist, who will play from high up on a platform hung from the ceiling, while other musicians will be ranged around the hall. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it all works out. It's the biggest thing I've ever taken on and easily the most complicated," Hellawell added.

2004 has proved to be a very fruitful year for Professor Hellawell. In May, the prestigious Brighton Festival hosted the world premiere of his new work 'Cors de Chasse' - a concerto for the trumpet of Hakan Hardenberger and trombone of Jonas Bylund. It was played by the Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Ulster Orchestra principal conductor Thierry Fischer.

During May and June he toured the UK with his cantata ‘The Pear Tree of Nicostratus’, while July witnessed another world premiere, ‘Landscape with Portraits’, at the Cheltenham Festival of Music.

His productive year was made possible by a sabbatical year granted by Queen's University and a bursary from the Arts and Humanities Research Board. But Hellawell is back in harness this academic year, with a growing number of students signing up for the Queen's School of Music's composition courses he teaches. He acknowledges that, although it constitutes months of hard work, intense concentration and detailed planning, maintaining an international profile outside the academic work is of untold benefit to himself and his students.

"It is hugely important that the students feel that the person who is teaching them to do very academic things is actually out there doing it. I know that my students really feel that and appreciate what I do away from here. Although composition is, by definition, an isolated pursuit, I do from time to time use something I'm currently working on to illustrate to them a particular academic point.

"In the twenty years or so that I've been working at Queen's, my mission has been to enshrine practical composition within the traditional discipline. It's important that the University has points of recognition within the wider community outside its walls.”

With the international reputation that Piers Hellawell is establishing as one of the leading contemporary composers, he’s certainly a credit to Belfast and to Queen’s!

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

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Successful run for community drama course

Among the 300 students of the Institute of Lifelong Learning who will collect their diplomas and certificates on Wednesday evening are 20 students of an innovative Certificate in Community Drama course.

The course was run over the last year with funding from the Peace II programme. "Its objective was to build and develop mutual understanding through community drama," explained course coordinator Nicole Mezey, Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Lifelong Learning.

"The course was open to applicants from Northern Ireland, six border counties in the Republic and Dublin, and a previous qualification in drama was not essential, although we looked for a history of real commitment to community development and peace-building. From over 60 applicants, 20 were selected through an interview process." Ms Mezey said.

The course involved a series of residential weekend workshops throughout the year, at different locations north and south of the border. For the certificate assessment, students had to work in small groups to write, produce and perform in their own new drama. "The plays were super and the participants all reported that the course was a fantastic success," Ms Mezey added.

One of the course participants, Madeline Scullion from Magherafelt, backed Nicole Mezey's comments: "The course gave me more confidence about using the power of drama. Community drama gives us the chance to tackle social issues that are relevant to the communities we each of us live in. It also offers a safe space to explore and highlight some sensitive cultural diversity issues. On top of that, the group of students I worked with gave each other great support."

Madeline Scullion explained that she signed up for the course because she wanted to use drama in her voluntary work with young people to raise awareness on drugs and alcohol abuse.

"I had a lifelong interest in drama, but had no qualification it in. I felt that it would be a powerful medium to use in getting across to the young people the risks that they take in abusing drugs and alcohol.

"I was chosen to write the play for my group and we developed a hard-hitting piece of drama. I found the experience very fulfilling, though at times it was emotionally draining," Madeline added.

Looking forward to the certificate presentation ceremony, Madeline said it would be a great opportunity to meet up with her fellow community drama course members. "We come from all parts of Ireland and it will be a good chance to catch on each other's news."

With her own community work and its aim firmly in mind, Madeline makes an appeal to all young people: "At Christmas time, I'd appeal in particular to young people to be very wary about the high price that can be paid for abusing drugs and alcohol. If you have a problem, remember that there are other sources of help available. To older family members I'd say just keep an eye on your young folk and support them as best you can."


For further information contact: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 028 9097 3087/ 5320; mobile 07980 013362.

Media opportunities will be available outside the Whitla Hall at Queen's after the graduation ceremony on Friday morning at around 11.40am.

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Queen's students told of "responsibility to shape society"

Queen's students have a particular responsibility to shape and inform the society in which they live, the University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students and Learning, Professor Ken Bell, has said.

Professor Bell was speaking at a special presentation ceremony for more than 500 part-time and Foundation Studies students at Queen's on Wednesday night.

He told the successful students: "You will provide the skills on which ultimately our society will rely for economic growth which will permit the raising of living standards, the reduction of inequalities, the improvements in the social services and the enrichment of civic life to which we all aspire.

"Yet above all, the future will need your input as people who are educated in the fullest sense of the word, tolerant, open-minded, impartial and capable of recognising that individual worth rests not on accidents of birth, race, or geography, but on personal human qualities."

Professor Bell also stressed that learning is a lifelong process.

He said: "The old position where you had a job and you had that job for life has long since disappeared and young and old alike today recognise that you can easily move from one job to another job with the proviso that you have put in some effort in either educating yourself or re-educating yourself.

"That is what Lifelong Learning is all about. The day on which any of us stop learning is a day on which we are dead and we have at long last in society recognised that that is the case.

"From the day that you are born until the day that you die, you have before you huge opportunities to enable a learning process to be undertaken and a learning outcome to be achieved. Changing demographic patterns and the ever accelerating pace of technological change will constantly require you to update your skills, to remain far more adaptable in the labour market and to be much more flexible in your career options than your parents ever had to be."

For further information contact: Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

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Part-time students rewarded at Queen's

Over 500 part-time and Foundation Studies students at Queen's University are to be rewarded for their achievements at a special presentation ceremony on Wednesday night (14 December).

300 Institute of Lifelong Learning students will be presented with diplomas and certificates in a wide range of subjects in the humanities, social sciences, management, science and computing.

The Institute's Director, Paul Nolan, said that each of these qualifications marked a step forward not only in the personal development of the student, but also in the increasing professionalism of the Northern Ireland workforce.

"Since its earliest days Queen's has been offering extra-mural education for the local population," Mr Nolan pointed out. "Indeed the contracts of the first lecturers in the 1850s required them to provide lectures not just to the undergraduates enrolled on degree programmes, but to adults on evening courses. That early commitment received a boost with the Government's lifelong learning agenda, and the Institute of Lifelong Learning is at the forefront of the new learning revolution, offering a range of opportunities for people to help with their personal growth, their career development, and sometimes just to satisfy the need for learning for its own sake.

"Currently there are nearly one thousand people working towards honours degrees through part-time study, plus many hundreds more on Certificate, Diploma and Masters' programmes. Work-based learning has become more important to us, and the Institute is increasingly tailoring its provision to assist people in their professional careers."

A number of prizes will also be presented on the evening to top students.

Prize winners from the Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations certificate and part-time degree module are as follows:

  • Belfast Telegraph Award for the top degree student – Farrah Avneri
  • British Telecom Award for the best degree written paper – Claire McCann
  • News Letter Award for the top certificate student - Martina Daly
  • The UTV Award for the best written paper – Martina Daly
  • Anderson Advertising Award for the best essay certificate student – Jason Harvey
  • Anderson Spratt Advertising Award for the best essay degree student – William Coffey.

190 students who have successfully completed the Foundations Studies programme will be awarded certificates. This programme widens access to higher education offering an alternative route to a degree programme for mature students who do not posses the usual entry-level qualifications by enabling them to take the Foundation Studies programme at a college of Further and Higher Education. I

n addition, 42 Chinese students from the University's International Foundation Studies programme run with Shenzhen in Southern China will be awarded certificates.

"The University has run the international Foundation Studies programme with Shenzhen University that prepares students for business or engineering programmes since 1999," explained Queen's Director of International Office Rob Halley. "A total of almost 250 students have come to Queen's through that route. Around 50 have now completed their studies at Queen's and the programme is a key part of the University's engagement with China", he added.


Notes: The ceremony will begin in the Whitla Hall at Queen's University of Wednesday 14 December at 7.30pm. Queen's Pro-Vice-Chancellor Ken Bell will address the audience before the awards begin.

For further information contact: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 028 9097 5320 / 07980 013362

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Queen's study examines facial disfigurement

Dental researchers at Queen's University will be carrying out a major project examining the impact of facial disfigurement on teenagers.

The study, led by Dr Donald Burden, Dr Chris Johnston and Dr Orlagh Hunt, from the School of Dentistry, aims to establish the psychosocial status of patients with facial disfigurements before they have any treatment.

According to Dr Burden, clinicians have to wait until the face stops growing before any disfigurement can be corrected with jaw surgery and orthodontic braces and this usually doesn't happen until children are in their late teens.

"This means that affected adolescents have to endure their unusual facial appearance during their most sensitive formative years. Even when treatment is successfully completed in the late teens the negative psychosocial experiences in early adolescence may leave residual psychosocial problems."

"If psychosocial problems are found to prevail in this group we would intend to develop a programme which could address their needs and help to improve the current standard of care for young people with facial appearance problems," he said.

Part of the study will also include looking at teenagers with normal facial appearances to see if those with disfigurements have different life experiences to those without disfigurements.

"The findings will facilitate a better understanding of the factors involved in the patient's eventual decision to undergo treatment, refuse any treatment, or accept a compromise such as orthodontic treatment with dental braces only.

"It will also ensure that surgical intervention will be supported by high quality scientific evidence, which is currently lacking," Dr Burden explained.

Funding of £178,000 for the project was secured from the Research and Development Office through the Recognised Research Group "Child Health and Welfare". This includes the appointment of a research assistant, Katie Chapman, who will oversee the day to day running of the project.

The team will work in collaboration with Professor Peter Hepper (Queen's School of Psychology), Professor Ciaran O'Neill (health economist at the University of Ulster), Dr Pauline Prior, (Queen's School of Social Policy) and Mr Mike Stevenson, (Clinical Research Centre at the Royal Group of Hospitals).

For further information contact: Dr Donald Burden, School of Dentistry, Queen's University, (028) 9063 2733

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Numbers of female scientists reviewed

The Women's Studies Forum, attached to the Centre for Women's Studies at Queen's University Belfast, is to host a public lecture on Monday 13 December reviewing studies on the career progress and success of women scientists over the last three decades.

The thought-provoking lecture, entitled 'Maybe I should be called Julia? Perceptions of career progress and success for women scientists' will be given by Barbara Hodgson, a visiting Professor at the Queen's University School of Sociology and Social Policy.

In her lecture, Professor Hodgson reviews strategies taken over the last 30 years to promote greater participation by women in science, engineering and technology subjects in higher education .She will also reflect on women's subsequent success and progress in careers in these areas, drawing on several studies.

Professor Hodgson commented: "There has long been a world-wide concern about women's non-participation in science, engineering and technology in Higher Education. For at least 30 years science educators in the UK have worked hard at increasing the participation rate of young women and it would seem that they have been quite successful. At undergraduate level generally women are now as likely to study science as men.

"Beyond that, however, women are lost from the academic pipeline at a much greater rate than men. Consequently academe is continually seeking appropriate interventions, strategies and changes to practice in order to attract and retain women scientists."

Professor Hodgson will outline the findings of studies undertaken that interviewed women scientists in the UK at points throughout their educational and career experiences. "The studies identified barriers and constraints met by these women during their science careers and uncover how their experiences of science education have influenced their career progress," Professor Hodgson explained.

In her lecture, Professor Hodgson will emphasize how the research has shown the significance of supportive and enthusiastic science teaching and the importance of encouragement to enter postgraduate study and research as factors in attracting greater numbers of female scientists.

She will also analyse the barriers and constraints met by women in their education and research careers. Themes relating to flexible employment patterns, restoring confidence in abilities, and active career development, which the study identified as factors that help retain female scientists in the workforce, will also be explored.

The lecture is the first in a new regular series of seminars to be hosted by the Women's Studies Forum. Dr Myrtle Hill, Director of the Centre for Women's Studies at Queen's commented: “The Women’s Studies Forum was set up to focus on women's and on feminist issues, aiming to unite the academic and wider community in raising awareness of these issues through a range of extra-curricular activities, including seminars, lectures, book-readings and film screenings.

"The Forum complements the academic courses offered by the Centre for Women's Studies, which is now a well-established interdisciplinary field of study.

"I am delighted that Professor Hodgson has joined us from the Open University to open up debate at our seminar on Monday on the issues of gender, salary rates and career progression for female scientists," Dr Hill added.

Notes: The Women's Studies Forum lecture by Professor Barbara Hodgson will take place in The Lecture Theatre, 1-4 College Park East, at 4.30pm.

For further information, contact: Dr Myrtle Hill, 028 9097 5318 e-mail m.hill@qub.ac.uk or Dolores Vischer, Communications Office 028 9097 5320

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Something to smile about!

A new survey from specialist dentists at Queen's University has shown that correcting prominent teeth can boost children's self esteem.

According to the research, carried out by head of the School of Dentistry Dr Donald Burden and colleagues Dr Chris Johnston and Dr Orlagh Hunt, along with PhD student Niall McGuinness, people who have had dental treatment to correct prominent front teeth, or 'buck teeth' had significantly higher self-esteem than those who had not been treated.

Prominent teeth can be the butt of hurtful comments and teasing and are also easily damaged in falls and during sports. As a result specialist orthodontists spend a lot of time correcting the problem. Children usually have to wear fixed dental braces, or 'train tracks' for up to two years, from around the age of 13, and in some cases teeth also have to be removed.

Researchers questioned 200 former patients and 350 untreated adults of the same age to find out if those who had treatment were satisfied with how they looked in adulthood. They also wanted to know if extractions changed the shape of their face – some dentists believe they make the face 'fall in'.

According to Dr Burden, the survey revealed that the greatest impact on facial profile didn't come from removing teeth, but from the continuing growth of the person's nose and chin. In the case of young men this can continue until their early 20s.

"We found that former patients had significantly more self-esteem than people who were not treated. Clearly, orthodontic treatment can boost a person's self-esteem, and their satisfaction with their dental treatment," he said.

For further information contact: Dr Donald Burden, School of Dentistry, Queen's University, (028) 9063 2733

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Changes a foot- Queen's appoints travel plan co-ordinator
Queen's Travel Plan Co-ordinator Adam van Winsum gets on his bike to promote the University's initiative
Queen's Travel Plan Co-ordinator Adam van Winsum gets on his bike to promote the University's initiative

Efforts by Queen's University to encourage staff and students to travel to the University in a more environmentally friendly way have taken a step forward with the appointment of a travel plan co-ordinator.

Adam van Winsum, who has joined the environmental services team, based in the Estates department, will be responsible for implementing the University-wide plan aimed at improving facilities for walkers, cyclists and those using public transport.

With senior management support a series of measures will be introduced over the next three years to allow staff and students to travel to the University more sustainably. These may include setting up a car-sharing database, providing better facilities for cyclists and developing partnerships with Translink to improve public transport routes, reliability and frequency.

According to Adam, the ultimate aim of the initiative is to encourage staff, students and visitors to Queen's to move away from single person car journeys. "A shift away from the reliance on the private car will have a number of sustainable environmental and social benefits for the University.

"It will lead to reduced emissions, better air quality, and less noise. It will also make the campus and surrounding areas a safer place, leading to a reduction in congestion and parking problems and it will also be healthier for staff and students," he said.

For further information contact: Adam van Winsum, (028) 9097 1154 or Adrian Davis, Environmental Manager, (028) 9097 1198.

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Great fun at InterSports night!

Over 200 students representing 15 different sports came together earlier this week for a night of fun-filled, recreational sport organised by students for students.

This is the fifth time the University has hosted the InterSports Night, in which participants have an opportunity to play new sports and interact with people from other sporting backgrounds.

Gaelic footballers played rugby for the first time and vice versa. Other activities included netball, soccer, handball, squash, tennis, badminton, basketball and hockey – all for both men and women – as well as swimming, waterpolo, canoeing, hurling and camogie.

Queen's Student Sport Development Manager, Bill Gardner said: "This event, which has been expanded this year to include racquet sports, gives our students the opportunity to participate in a range of diverse sports, not only developing their playing skills but also their understanding of other sporting cultures. It is a unique opportunity which fosters intercommunity development amongst the various club members."

For further information contact: Debbie McLorinan, Development Manager - Marketing & Customer Services, Sport & Recreation Services, (028) 9068 1126; email: d.mclorinan@qub.ac.uk

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University Building Receives Major Award
The futuristic Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, which has won a major construction award.
The futuristic Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, which has won a major construction award.

A state-of-the-art new building opened at Queen's University Belfast in April this year has recently received two prestigious awards.

The Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) received the 2004 award for the best construction project, in the £3m to £8m category, at the Construction Employers Federation/Specify Construction Excellence Awards ceremony held at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast.

The award was given to Graham Construction, Dromore, which was the contractor for the £4m five-storey building located next to the Northern Ireland Technology Centre in Cloreen Park.

The panel of judges paid particular attention to issues such as quality of construction, value for money and the application of quality management.

Its commentary on SARC said: "The winning entry is a project which necessitated the construction of a centre of excellence, where the achievement of exceptional scientific standards was a key requirement. The judges were impressed by the manner in which the very unique features of the building and the construction challenges of an extremely constricted site were successfully addressed, and also by the quality of finishes which were achieved".

The Centre has also won a commendation for technical excellence from the British Institute of Architectural Technologists.

The inter-disciplinary Centre, incorporating internationally recognised staff from the Schools of Music, Computer Science and Electrical and Electronic Engineering, is a unique research laboratory, which links the aesthetics of performance and the technology of sonic production and its transmission and delivery.

Director of Estates at Queen's University Gary Jebb said: "We are delighted that the quality of one of the University's most recent new build projects has received such national recognition. We have an ambitious ongoing programme of new building and refurbishment of existing premises that represents a £200 million capital investment to provide high quality facilities for the University and for its future students. Other recently completed projects include the opening of a new Centre for Drama and Film Studies, which incorporates a refurbished QFT, the new Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research behind a carefully preserved façade at University Road, the International Research Centre for Experimental Physics on the main campus and the new Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology in the Titanic Quarter. It is expected that work will being in 2005 on a further series of exciting building projects, to include improving facilities at the Queen's Physical Exercise Centre."

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

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Smoking in public places debated

A public debate, examining the current controversy surrounding smoking bans, will take place at Belfast City Hospital later this week.

Organised by the Northern Ireland Forum for Ethics in Medicine and Health Care, the debate on Wednesday 8 December is entitled "Health fascists and smokers' rights: banning smoking in public places?" and will feature Dr John Catherwood, from Queen's University and Dr Gerry Elwee, from the Ulster Cancer Foundation.

Dr Catherwood, a lecturer in applied ethics, based in the School of Philosophical Studies, will highlight the need to protect smokers' rights, while Dr Elwee will outline his reasons why smoking should be banned in public places.

The debate, in the Postgraduate lecture theatre, begins at 6.30pm.

For further information contact: Dr John Catherwood, School of Philosophical Studies, (028) 9097 3624, or email: j.catherwood@qub.ac.uk

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Hitting the right note for Christmas at Queen's

Queen's University Big Band, the student and staff jazz ensemble of the School of Music, has drummed up an early Christmas present to the tune of £5,605.

Having to strum along with loaned instruments and music and lacking specialist items and resources this well timed award will allow the Big Band to hit the right notes in time for their Christmas concert.

Funding has been provided by the Queen's Alumni Fund which was set up in 1999 to support and enhance all aspects of the student experience at the University.

This award will allow the talented musicians to purchase essential items such as a Baritone Saxophone, Electric String Bass, Specialist 'Latin' percussion items, Electric Piano and Lighting Systems.

Delighted with the award the band’s conductor Steve Barnett said: "This is a tremendous boost for all concerned with the Big Band. We have a full programme of events coming up, beginning with a Christmas concert on December 9 at the Whitla Hall, so the ability to purchase new equipment at this time could not have been better."

Media enquiries to the Communications Office: 028 9097 3087.

Notes to Editors

The Queen's Alumni Fund aims to raise £100,000 each year with more than £1,000,000 being pledged to the Fund from approximately 4,000 students. The Fund ensures that students have access to quality and the best possible Queen's Experience. It funds scholarships, studentships, books and essential computer, music and sporting equipment.

Tickets for the Big Band Christmas Concert on 9 December at 7.30pm can be purchased on the night at the door of the Whitla Hall priced £8 and £4 (concession) or from the School of Music at Queen's. Queen's University Big Band began as a new venture of the music department in September 2003. The purpose of the Big Band is to increase the range of music which people can become involved in at Queen's. Students, lecturers and the public alike are welcome to play and you will find such a varied range of people currently in the band. The Big Band is not restricted to playing in the University but can be booked for various events subject to availability. For more information please go to booking enquiries.

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Winter graduation ceremonies 2004
Queen’s student Jessica Golden from California who also works in the University’s Visitors' Centre gets geared up for next week’s Graduation Ceremonies by displaying some of the many items of memorabilia that will be sold to mark the prestigious occasion including teddy bears, scarves, and sweatshirts.
Queen’s student Jessica Golden from California who also works in the University’s Visitors' Centre gets geared up for next week’s Graduation Ceremonies by displaying some of the many items of memorabilia that will be sold to mark the prestigious occasion including teddy bears, scarves, and sweatshirts.

This year's winter graduation ceremonies at Queen's will take place from Wednesday 15 to Friday 17 December in the Sir William Whitla Hall.

Almost 1,600 students will graduate at the five ceremonies, beginning on Wednesday evening, which will see the involvement of Queen's new Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson.

The University will be awarding honorary degrees to notable figures from the worlds of medicine, science, technology and business.

These include:

Lord Winston of Hammersmith, Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College School of Medicine in London and the face of medical science on the BBC

Professor Kim E Barrett, currently Professor in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego who has made a significant contribution internationally to the development of women in science

Mr William (Bill) McCabe a world renowned business man who has served on the Queen's University of Belfast Foundation Board since 2001

Dr Adam Hart-Davis, scientist and broadcaster who has excelled at making intricate inventions and complex concepts understandable to TV audiences. He is a former presenter of Tomorrow’s World and continues to present Science Shack

Details of the ceremonies are as follows:

Wednesday 15 December

7.30pm  Institute of Lifelong Learning 
             Address by: Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students and Learning Professor Ken Bell

Thursday 16 December

10.30am Faculty of Engineering; Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
              Honorary graduand: Professor Kim E Barrett
              Address by Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson

2.30pm  School of Nursing and Midwifery
              Honorary graduand: Lord Winston of Hammersmith
              Address by: Lord Winston of Hammersmith

Friday 17 December

10.30am Faculty of Humanities; Faculty of Science and Agriculture 
               Honorary graduand: Dr Adam Hart-Davis
               Address by: Dr Adam Hart-Davis

2.30pm  Faculty of Legal, Social and Educational Sciences
              Honorary graduand: Mr William J McCabe
              Address by: Professor Roy Crawford

Notes for editors: Press officers will be on duty at the Sir William Whitla Hall for each of the ceremonies. Media packs will be available.

Requests for interviews with the honorary graduands should be made to the Communications Office.

For further information contact: Communications Office: Tel (028) 9097 5323

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Creation of the universe and other small matters

How the universe was created will be one of the topics at the December meeting of the Cafe Scientifique.

Author and journalist Simon Singh will examine the Big Bang theory, which claims that the universe expanded through a primeval explosion. He will look at the birth of the theory in the 1920s to the observational evidence that backed it and then clinched it.

As well as describing the development of the Big Bang theory, Simon will also chat more generally how new scientific ideas are invented, developed and adopted, which will include the partnership between theory and experiment and the role of personalities and politics.

Simon Singh received his PhD in physics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of 'Fermat's Last Theorem' and 'The Code Book', and he has just published 'Big Bang', the story behind one of the most important theories in the history of science.

Everyone is welcome to the 6pm meeting, on Tuesday 7 December, in Bookfinders Cafe at 47 University Street. Admission of £1 will include drinks and Simon Singh will sign his books afterwards.

For further information contact: Dr Jill Turner, (028) 9097 2376 or jill.turner@qub.ac.uk

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Andor flotation "a breakthrough for university research" - Gregson

This morning's flotation of Queen's spin-out company Andor Technology, the first of a university spin-out company in Northern Ireland, is "a breakthrough in the commercialisation of university research", the University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson, has said.

The Vice-Chancellor said that Andor's flotation, which has a multi-million pound market capitalisation value, reinforces the role of university research as the bedrock of future economic development.

Professor Gregson said: "Andor is a leading exemplar of the transfer of university research into wealth and job creation.

"In less than 15 years it has grown out of a researcher's invention to be a global operation with offices in the USA, Europe and Japan. Just earlier this week it opened a new £6 million factory in Springvale Business Park, which will result in the company increasing its workforce from 110 to 170 by the end of 2006.

"The company maintains close links with Queen's which last year conferred an honorary Doctorate of Science upon its managing director, Dr Hugh Cormican. The company's unique relationship with the University means that Andor has been able to benefit from the varied expertise and skills of international students – some of whom have gone on to become key company employees."

The Vice-Chancellor added: "The most successful economies of the next generation will be those which recognise that exploiting intellectual capital is the way forward. Northern Ireland needs to become a wealth creating knowledge-led economy, building on its traditions of innovation.

"Pioneering university research and the will and ability to realise its commercial potential is key to this process. Andor's success and that of many Queen's spin-out companies demonstrate the leading role which Queen's is playing in boosting local prosperity.

"Queen's two technology transfer companies, QUBIS Ltd and NI Challenge Fund Ltd, have invested in some 50 new high-technology companies, employing around 700 people.

"The fact that Queen's accounts for such a high proportion of new high-tech businesses in Northern Ireland underpins the message to policy-makers that extra funding for university research is crucial. The research and development base in Northern Ireland is rooted in the universities, which means that the knowledge economy is extremely reliant on them."

Formed in 1989 to exploit the commercial potential of research work in Queen's Department of Physics, Andor develops and manufactures scientific cameras used in optical spectroscopy applications such as the use of light to examine the physical properties of solid, liquid and gaseous substances.

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Queen's student takes top UK placement award
Matthew Wilson, IAESTE UK Trainee of the Year 2004 (right), receives his £1,000 prize from Professor John King, Executive Director of University Relations and Development at Cardiff University.
Matthew Wilson, IAESTE UK Trainee of the Year 2004 (right), receives his £1,000 prize from Professor John King, Executive Director of University Relations and Development at Cardiff University.

A student from Queen's University Belfast has been awarded first prize in a UK-wide international placement competition.

Bangor's Matthew Wilson, who is studying Chemical Engineering, took the title of IAESTE UK Trainee of the Year at a ceremony held in London on 26 November.

IAESTE (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) arranges work placements around the world for students of engineering, science and architecture. The programme is administered in the UK by the British Council.

Matthew spent 11 weeks last summer on a work placement with Novo Nordisk in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he was involved in research into protein purification. "Experience in studying or working in a foreign country is one of the most valuable attributes for a student looking for employment," commented Matthew. "An international attitude and a willingness to travel is what many companies today are looking for."

The final featured ten students from around the UK, each of whom gave a five-minute presentation on the benefits of their placement abroad to a panel of judges chaired by Professor John King of Cardiff University.

Second prize was awarded to James Burt of the University of Bath, who took up a work placement in Iran, while the third prize winner was Varun Sarda of Imperial College London, who spent his summer working in Tajikistan.

IAESTE enabled around 200 students from the UK to gain course-related work experience abroad this year in destinations as diverse as Japan, Germany, Ukraine and Argentina.

Notes for editors: The IAESTE UK Trainee of the Year Award was held on 26 November at the British Council in London. The ten finalists also included Queen's student Kieran O'Connor, from Civil Engineering, who visited Macedonia. Each finalist gave a presentation before a panel of judges.

For further information contact: Neil Martin, British Council Northern Ireland, (028) 9024 8220 ext 230 or neil.martin@britishcouncil.org

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Award for new stone conservation company
Dr Joanne Curran, of Stone Conservation Services Ltd and Professor Bernie Smith, from the School of Geography, examine some of the stonework on the Lanyon building at Queen's University.
Dr Joanne Curran, of Stone Conservation Services Ltd and Professor Bernie Smith, from the School of Geography, examine some of the stonework on the Lanyon building at Queen's University.

Queen's University and a Belfast conservation company which teamed up to forge a highly successful partnership has won a prestigious national award for its work on restoring and repairing stone buildings.

Consarc Design Group Ltd – led by Dawson Stelfox - joined forces with the School of Geography - led by Bernard Smith - as part of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme which enables businesses to benefit from the input of expertise from university academics.

The partnership, based on the Ormeau Road, is among seven award winning projects to be honoured at a special Knowledge Transfer Partnership Awards event in London tonight.

The scheme, formerly known as TCS, has enabled the company to establish the first inventory for building stone performance in Northern Ireland in a bid to address the severe and ongoing damage to some of our most historic buildings.

Developed as an interactive website and launched in October 2002, the website has been endorsed by the Environment and Heritage service through the EU Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme. It awarded the partnership a £260,000 grant to produce a comprehensive building stone database, known as the Northern Ireland Natural Stone Database Project.

It also led to the creation of a new company, Stone Conservation Services Ltd, headed up by geologist Dr Joanne Curran, who explained the history of the initiative.

"Until recently, there has been no link between academic research and practical stone conservation in Ireland. Compared with other EU countries, there is a severe lack of information on stone used on buildings throughout Ireland and consequently the conservation of stone and stone materials has been haphazard and rarely based on scientific understanding of weathering and decay processes. This has led to numerous mistakes and in many cases, restoration work done in good faith has accelerated, rather than reduced, decay and loss," she said.

The new 'spin-off' company provides testing, by Queen's academics, and an advisory service for the built heritage industry and provides research-based practical advice for the conservation of stone used on historic buildings.

Not only did Consarc Design Group Ltd benefit financially from the partnership with Queen's– sales turnover and exports both increased during the project – but it also won the top prize in the UK stone awards for its restoration of Belfast's Albert Clock.

The University also benefited through the publication of a number of papers, establishment of valuable teaching material and by introducing staff to the rigours of the commercial world.

Congratulating Consarc Design Group Ltd and the Queen's academics on their combined success, KTP Centre Manager, Dr Mary Flynn said she was delighted that the achievements had been recognised at a national level.

"This award recognises our efforts in improving the competitiveness of companies, enhancing the careers of graduates and in increasing the business relevance of the University's teaching and research," she said.

Note to Editors: Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is the UK's leading mechanism for transferring science, technology, innovation, knowledge and skills from universities and colleges to business.

Queen's University and Consarc have collaborated on major restoration projects including St Matthew's Church, Albert Memorial Clock and St George's Market, Belfast. The company has also recently carried out restoration work to the University's Grade A listed Lanyon Building and restored the University's Great Hall.

For further information contact: Dr Joanne Curran, Stone Conservation Services Ltd, (028) 9082 8474 or Dr Mary Flynn, KTP, Queen's University, (028) 9097 5444

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