04-2005 Press Releases

Flying high - Queen's celebrates 50 years of Aeronautical Engineering

The School of Aeronautical Engineering at Queen's University is flying high as it celebrates its 50th birthday this week.

Established in 1955, the School which is based in the Ashby Building, specialises in the design, development, manufacture, operation and maintenance of aircraft, helicopters and missiles.

Since its establishment the School has forged strong links with industry – most notably Bombardier Aerospace, which provides senior engineers to bring practical engineering realism to lectures, while the Royal Academy Chair In integrated Aerospace Engineering is co-funded by the company.

Describing engineering as a profession with a "long and noble history", fellow engineer, Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson, congratulated all those who had been involved in the School's success story over the past five decades.

"You have achieved much and have laid down impressive foundations for the next half-century and beyond.

"In many ways the story of aeronautical engineering at Queen's exemplifies the future of the University. The School has achieved the top rating of 5 star in both 1996 and 2001 Research Assessment Exercises.

"It has a history of excellence in both education and research. It works closely with industry, notably Bombardier, Thales, FG Wilson and BAE Systems, enabling its students to benefit from a culture of enterprise and innovation. It has also forged meaningful international partnerships under programmes such as the ERASMUS scheme, Training of Industrial Managers for Europe (TIME), Business Enterprise Initiative (BEI) with USA and has set up research links with partners in mainland Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan and Korea," he said.

Professor Gregson will be the guest speaker at a celebratory reception and dinner tonight (Friday) in Belfast's Ramada Hotel, attended by 160 guests from academia and industry. The celebrations also include a series of lectures which run today from 2pm to 4pm in room 4.13, Ashby building.

Among those speaking will be Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Professor David Cleland, who will discuss engineering at Queen's since the 1950s, while Professor Srinivasan Raghunathan, head of School, will lecture on the School's developments over the years.

Vice-president of Bombardier, Mr Michael Ryan, will discuss his company and its links with Queen's, while Air Commodore D Case from the RAF will lecture on his experiences as an RAF engineer. Others to speak will include Captain Michael Crossey, from British Airways, and Captain William Hagan, of Easyjet.

For further information contact: Professor Srinivasan Raghunathan, head of the School of Aeronautical Engineering, (028) 9097 5607

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Can we humanise computers?
Professor Roddy Cowie, who works with Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie on a major international project to enable computers to handle basic human emotion, is to give his inaugural lecture as Professor of Psychology at 5pm on Friday 29 April.
Professor Roddy Cowie, who works with Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie on a major international project to enable computers to handle basic human emotion, is to give his inaugural lecture as Professor of Psychology at 5pm on Friday 29 April.

Communicating with the computer on your desktop is very unlike communicating with a person - but why?

A Queen's professor will explore this question and a range of other fascinating aspects of our efforts to humanise computers in a public lecture at 5pm  on Friday 29) at Queen’s University.

Professor of Psychology, Roddy Cowie, has carried out extensive research into how our human brains work and how people interact with computers. He explains:

"According to the standard view, the brain that controls a person follows the same principles as the processor that controls a computer. Both of them store and manipulate information according to rules. The difference is that evolution has written rules for communication (and many other things) into the human brain. So, if we want the computer to communicate like a person, what we have to understand are the rules that the human follows, and to write them in a format that the computer can follow. That means the answer to the question at the start is: because we don’t understand the rules that lie behind human communication."

Professor Cowie believes that although the argument is straightforward and well known, it is only beginning to be followed through in practice. He said that "Engineers and psychologists are becoming interested in making common cause – trying to understand human beings in a way that lets us humanise computers.

"A basic feature of human communication is that it is coloured by emotion. When we talk to another person, the words are carried on an undercurrent of signs that show them what interests us, what bores us, what irritates us, what attracts us, and so on – about them, about the things we are talking about, and about the things around us. We expect the other person to pick up the signs, and to give back signs that show they have understood our signs. The fact that computers do not do that is one of the main reasons why communicating with them is so unlike communicating with a human."

A major international research project called HUMAINE illustrates how research is tackling the issue. It is funded by the EC, and led by Professor Cowie.

"HUMAINE has tried to uncover the range of things we need to understand about humans if we are to let computers handle basic emotional colouring," Professor Cowie explains. "The list is enormously wide ranging. We need to understand what the signs of emotions are, how they can be extracted from the energy that reaches the senses of a computer or a human being, and how to make the step from finding signs to drawing a conclusion about the emotional state behind them. To do that, we need to identify satisfying ways of describing emotional states.

"The words we use in everyday language are poor at capturing subtleties of emotional colouring that we perceive without a second thought," Professor Cowie continues. "We need to understand the subtleties of giving signs that will carry the intended message. Present day ECAs (‘embodied conversational agents’) can give crude signs – faces that signal a few extreme emotions, voices that signal even fewer – but there is a long way to go before we understand how to convey a sense of being friendly but pushed for time.

"We need to understand how to anticipate actions and reactions linked to emotion. If someone feels disappointed in a product, what might he/she be likely to do? What might a (virtual or real) representative of the company that made it do to change things? What reaction might they expect to get? And so on. Not least, we need to understand the ethics of emotion.

"Actions that affect other people's emotions are among the things human beings feel most strongly about. If we do not understand those feelings, we do not understand emotions, and we risk creating vicious reaction to the technologies that we develop. All those issues, and as many more, have to be solved in ways that work together, just to give computers some ability to handle basic emotional colouring.

"Human beings have an amazing ability to take themselves for granted. Trying to humanise computers is a powerful antidote. It does not just offer the hope of systems that make our lives easier and pleasanter. It creates a vivid appreciation of the depth and complexity of things human beings do without a second thought, and a way past 'theories' that are simply word games towards a deeper understanding of ourselves," Professor Cowie concluded.

Professor Cowie will give his inaugural lecture at 5pm on Friday 29 April in the Larmour Lecture Theatre, Main Physics Building, Queen’s University.


For further information, contact: Professor Roddy Cowie r.cowie@qub.ac.uk or the Communications Office, 028 9097 3091.

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Celebrating a decade of rural development education
Cutting the cake to celebrate 10 years of the Gibson Institute's full-time MSc degree in Rural Development are Institute director Dr Sally Shortall and William Montgomery, Gibson Trust. Included are (left) Professor Terry Stevens, of Stevens & Associates, which sponsored the cake, and Mrs Pauline McCloy, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Cutting the cake to celebrate 10 years of the Gibson Institute's full-time MSc degree in Rural Development are Institute director Dr Sally Shortall and William Montgomery, Gibson Trust. Included are (left) Professor Terry Stevens, of Stevens & Associates, which sponsored the cake, and Mrs Pauline McCloy, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Gibson Institute for Land, Food and Environment at Queen's University is celebrating a decade of rural development education and training today.

The Institute, based in Lennoxvale, off the Malone Road, marked the 10th anniversary of its full-time MSc degree in Rural Development during a special event on Thursday morning.

A broad range of rural development organisations were represented during the event, which began at 11am in the Senate Room, followed by lunch in the Great Hall.

The Institute's mission is to ensure the sustainability of agriculture in Northern Ireland, particularly that of the small farming sector, and to work towards the improvement of rural life and civic society.

The MSc graduate programme is the result of a very successful partnership between Queen's University, the Gibson Trust, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and numerous rural organisations that have facilitated student placements.

It has educated approximately 200 experts who have contributed to rural development in Northern Ireland and beyond, having found employment in local government, community, voluntary and public sector organisations, at local, regional and national level.

In the past students have received 12-week placements in a variety of organisations including the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; the Rural Development Council; St Patrick's Trian in Armagh; Rural Community Network and Castle Espie Wetlands and Wildfowl Trust Centre. They have also helped organise the annual carnival in the Fermanagh village of Kesh and examined rural tourism in Brazil.

As well as featuring contributions from Institute director Dr Sally Shortall, Mr William Montgomery of the Gibson Trust and Mrs Pauline McCloy, from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Thursday's celebration also included a number of graduates who gave their views on how the MSc in Rural Development contributed to their career and personal development.

Among them were former Banbridge woman Karen Lennon, a senior consultant at Price Waterhouse Coopers, and Brian Timmons, who works in Downpatrick as a planning technical officer. Their diverse careers highlight the versatility of the Institute's MSc degree.

 Brian Timmons said "Attaining a Master's degree in Rural Development and Project Management provided a focus for my undergraduate studies and gave me a qualification of value in any career path."

Karen Lennon said "I found the MSc course to be particularly focused on practical experience. As part of the course I visited the European Commission and undertook a three-month placement with the Rural Development Council. My success in my chosen career to date is directly related to the experience and knowledge gained through participating in the MSc in Rural Development."

Dr Sally Shortall, Gibson Institute Director, said she was delighted to be celebrating this landmark event in the history of the Institute.

"We are delighted with what has been achieved through the MSc in Rural Development over the past decade. As a result of this MSc, we have established key networks with DARD, the wider community and within Queen's. Most of all we are very proud of the high calibre of graduates the MSc has produced, and the contribution they are now making to the successful implementation of rural development in terms of policy, practice and research."

Anyone who would like further information on the MSc degree in Rural Development and Project Management is asked to contact course co-ordinator Dr Jude Stephens, telephone (028) 9097 5564 or e-mail j.stephens@qub.ac.uk

Note to Editors: The Gibson Trust was set up by William Gibson, a Belfast jeweller and silversmith to help poor farmers in counties Antrim and Down in the late 19th century. William Gibson made a number of substantial gifts to the University, including the 24-carat gold Mace used at graduation ceremonies.

For further information contact: Dr Sally Shortall, Director, Gibson Institute for Land, Food and Environment, (028) 9097 5583

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'Conflict and Consensus' - attitudes and values surveyed

A seminar took place on Wednesday 27 April 2005 to highlight results from a major new comparative study of attitudes and values among Catholics and Protestants in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

During the seminar, Professor Bernadette C Hayes discussed research she undertook while based in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, Queen's University, together with Professor Tony Fahey of the Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin, and Professor Richard Sinnott of University College Dublin.

The seminar, entitled 'Religious Affiliation and Identity in the Republic of Ireland and Northern IreIand', has been organised by Queen's researchers with ARK - the Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive.

ARK Research Director, Paula Devine, based at the Queen's Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research, highlighted the importance of this work. She said: "This study shows that religion is still a source of deep division in identity and constitutional preferences on the island of Ireland. However, it is also a source of cultural similarity. Catholics and Protestants in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are closer to each other in their thinking on many issues than either is to any other population in Europe, including that of Britain."

Results from the study are published in a new book entitled Conflict and Consensus. The key findings show that:
- Polarisation on questions of identity and constitutional preference between the Catholic-nationalist  and Protestant-unionist traditions in Northern Ireland has not signif­icantly reduced since the Good Friday Agreement.
- Increased secularisation weakened the role of religion as a marker of identity in Northern Ireland. - - In the Republic of Ireland, in contrast, both Catholics and Protestants align themselves with an Irish identity, and Protestants now stand apart from the unionist tradition.
- In Northern Ireland, there are significant minorities on both sides of the Protestant-Catholic divide who have middle-ground identities such as ‘Northern Irish’ or ‘neither British nor Irish’. However, cross-over identities are rare. Virtually no Catholics in Northern Ireland identify themselves as unionist and virtually no Protestants identify themselves as nationalist.


Notes for editors:
1. The seminar took place at NICVA, 61 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast, on Wednesday 27 April .
2 The study is based on a wide range of survey data covering the period from the 1970s to 2003 but focusing especially on the European Values Study (EVS) as fielded in Ireland, North and South, in 1999-2000. The sample for the Republic of Ireland in the 1999-2000 EVS included a booster sample of Protestants so that Catholic-Protestant comparisons could be made on both sides of the border.
3. Full results are available in the recently published book, Conflict and Consensus,  published by the Institute of Public Administration in paperback at £40.00/Euro 30.
4.The aim of ARK is to make social and political information on Northern Ireland available to the widest possible audience. ARK is a joint initiative between Queen's University Belfast and University of Ulster. More information on ARK can be found at www.ark.ac.uk.

For further information, contact: Communications Office, 028 9097 5320; Bernadette C Hayes (University of Aberdeen): 07968 566360

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Using e-consultation

A workshop taking place at the Queen's University Armagh campus this week explores how information and communication technologies can be used in public consultations.

Electronic public consultation, known as e-consultation, is the process by which new interactive technologies such as the internet and email are used as additional tools in public consultation processes, encouraging more people to participate in public policy-making.

On Thursday morning, participants from the public, private, voluntary and education sectors attending the workshop, will have an opportunity to find out more about a range of innovative methods for consulting members of the public that provide opportunities for wider and deeper participation.

A major £400,000 e-consultation research project, led by investigators at Queen's, began last May. The Queen's team, working in partnership with the National University of Ireland Maynooth and Letterkenny Institute of Technology, over a two-year period, is researching how e-consultation can be used most effectively in public policy-making in Ireland.

During the workshop, the first findings from this cross-border research project will be presented, giving details of recent case studies of e-consultation technologies in practice. Dr David Newman of the Queen's School of Management and Economics is one of the project leaders. He is also a founding member of the E-Consultation Study Group set up in 2000 that brings together experts from government and the private, voluntary and community sectors to explore how e-government can improve democratic participation.

“This workshop is an opportunity for people to sample just what possibilities are offered by new technologies and then to work in small groups to design an e-consultation that aims to meet the needs of the both consulting bodies and consultees,” said Dr Newman.

“As part of our e-consultation project we want anyone interested in trying out these technologies to have a chance to do so. We are happy to hear from individuals who may wish to carry out new consultation trials and who are unable to attend this first workshop. We can help to set up the technical side of these and would work with community groups or public agencies as part of our project, closely monitoring these trials we want to see what works best,“ he explained.

“In short,” Dr Newman added, “we are working on how to turn e-consultation from an experimental idea to a practical reality in Ireland, North and South, usable by any public body or voluntary organisation and this first workshop gives more people a chance to participate.”

To find out more about e-consultation, contact Dr Newman's team at Queen'’s University on 028 9097 3685.


For further information, contact: Dr David Newman, 028 9097 3643, or Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 9097 5320. Or see http://econsult.mgt.qub.ac.uk/workshop2005

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Queen's leads £7 million EU research to make food safer

A multi-million research project, headed by Queen's University, in close association with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, will help ease consumers' minds about the safety of food on their plate.

The BioCop initiative, led by Dr Chris Elliott from the Department of Veterinary Science at Stormont, has received EU funding of £6.7 million to screen a variety of foodstuffs for multiple contaminants, including pesticides, toxins and drugs. It is believed this is the largest food safety project of its kind in the world.

Queen's will be joined in the five-year project by 31 partners from 15 European countries, as well as Canada, in an effort to develop new technologies which will help ensure that any hidden dangers in many foods are detected long before being consumed by the public.

According to Dr Elliott, the unique initiative involves the use of highly novel techniques aimed at 'fingerprinting' foodstuffs to discover if they contain any chemical contaminants.

"We'll be looking for both man made and natural contaminants, such as pesticides, endocrine disruptors and natural toxins, which can also affect the quality and safety of food. We will also be focusing on contaminants in their totality, rather than looking for individual contaminants.

"An abnormal fingerprint will point to the presence of something in the food that shouldn't be there. Once this initial screening is carried out second line screening will identify and quantify the compound," he said.

Meanwhile Dr Elliott was also successful in gaining funding for a European research project aimed at detecting toxins in shellfish, which often cause serious illness and death in many parts of the world. Thankfully in Northern Ireland the state of affairs is much better, but the impact of global warming may change this situation in the future.

The £560,000 Detectox (Detection of Marine Bio Toxins) project, of which Queen's is a major partner with six other organisations across Europe, will devise alternative techniques in an effort to analyse for the presence of toxins in shellfish.

"As filter feeders, shellfish take in large quantities of water and extract nutrients from them, but often toxins, carried in the water, are left behind. While they don't harm the shellfish they can be lethal for those who eat them and there are many deaths in tropical regions, such as the Asian Pacific rim, where shellfish is eaten in large quantities," Dr Elliott explained.

Until recently toxins in shellfish could only be detected using animal experimentation, but Dr Elliott and his team hope that their new techniques, developed over a three-year period, will provide a safe alternative which can be used worldwide.

Anyone who wants further information on either project can visit the websites on www.biocop.org and www.detectox.org

Note to Editors: The BioCop initiative received funding of £6.7 million from the EC under its Integrated Project, of which Northern Ireland will receive £840,000. The Detectox project has a total budget of £560,000, with over half of it, £284,000, coming to Northern Ireland. Both projects are funded under the EC's FP6 Food Quality and Safety Programme.

For further information contact: Dr Chris Elliott, (028) 9052 5625 or mobile: 0771 773 2359 or email: chris.elliott@dardni.gov.uk

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Queen's dental research into premature babies

An investigation between gum disease in pregnant women and their chances of having a premature or low birthweight baby is to be carried out by dental researchers at Queen's University.

The three year study, which will take place in conjunction with the Royal Jubilee Maternity Unit in Belfast, plans to find out if pregnant women with gum disease have a greater possibility of giving birth prematurely and to a low weight baby.

Each year approximately 6% of infants born in Northern Ireland, arrive too early (before 37 weeks gestation) and too small (less than 2.5kg or 5.5lbs). Premature and low birth weight (PLBW) babies are at a significant risk of developing serious and lasting health problems.

Gum disease, or gingivitis, is inflammation of the gum, caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that adheres to teeth. The condition can develop into periodontitis, affecting the bone support for teeth which may eventually become loose.

Almost all adults are affected by gingivitis at some time in their lives, with pregnant women particularly susceptible. Queen's researchers believe bacteria that cause inflammation in the gums could gain access to the bloodstream and, in turn, the uterus, potentially leading to premature labour and low birth weight babies.

A number of risk factors have already been linked with having a premature or low weight baby. These include smoking during pregnancy, alcohol consumption, psychological anxiety, low socio-economic status and education, poor maternal nutrition and maternal illness.

According to Dr Chris Irwin from the research team in the Dental School, maternal gum disease may also be an important factor.

"Over 50 per cent of the incidence of premature and low birth weight remains unexplained. Data from an increasing number of studies, particularly in the US, supports the theory that the presence of significant gum disease in pregnant women increases the risk of delivering a premature, low birth weight baby," he said.

The study will be carried out by Research Fellow, Martina Pirie during her PhD programme. The research team will recruit 300 pregnant women over an 18 month period, with a third of them receiving dental treatment for gum disease before they give birth. The rest will receive treatment after the birth.

Dr Irwin explained that comparisons will be carried out in a bid to find out if there is a difference in both groups regarding birth weight and prematurity. The £170,000 project has been funded by the Northern Ireland Research and Development Office. Ms Pirie will be co-supervised by Dr Irwin and Professor Gerry Linden.

For further information contact: Dr Chris Irwin, School of Dentistry, Queen's University Belfast (028) 9063 4262.

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Queen's student "a role model to others" – Vice-Chancellor
Lauren Buchanan receiving the Queen's Student of the Year award from Chancellor Senator George Mitchell
Lauren Buchanan receiving the Queen's Student of the Year award from Chancellor Senator George Mitchell

Queen's University student Lauren Buchanan, who has won £2000 in a national Graduate of the Year competition, has been described as "a role model to others" by Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson.

Lauren, last year's Student of the Year at Queen's, was one of the runners-up in the Graduate of the Year 2005 competition, run by Real World magazine in association with Moloney Search Graduates and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The competition seeks to identify exceptional students who have made the most of their time at university.

Congratulating the Geography student from Omagh, the Vice-Chancellor said: "Lauren epitomises the best of Queen's. Her service to others, her leadership ability and her significant contribution to the community within the University, in Northern Ireland and further afield have been truly remarkable and an excellent example to all of us."

Lauren was the first student to train and lead a team for Habitat for Humanity. Although sickness prevented her from leading a joint Catholic-Methodist team to build houses for the poor in Bolivia, she still managed to raise over £25,000 to fund the trip and help train the team.

Lauren also runs the Methodist Society at Queen's and is a member of a campaign group which promotes Fair Trade. She has completed a certificate in Counselling and served as a sub-warden in a student hall of residence and is the winner of a Higginson Leadership Award.

She is keen to make an impact with all her work, saying: “Since going to university I have learnt a lot about how easy it is to make a difference in the world we live in. Those seemingly simple actions can make a huge difference.”

Outside Queen's Lauren works in an after school youth club on the Shankill Road and has spent three summers in Argentina, taking education equipment for an orphanage and street children, and for her dissertation she is studying the lives of street children and orphans in Brazil and Argentina.

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

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MRSA lecture to be held at Queen's

A leading Dutch infection control expert will be discussing how to prevent MRSA at Queen's University next week.

Dr Margreet Vos, who is head of the infection control department in Rotterdam's Erasmus University Medical Centre, will discuss various strategies used in the Netherlands to prevent the hospital acquired infection.

The Netherlands has major success in keeping MRSA out of hospitals and the Erasmus University Medical Centre is at the forefront of developing effective strategies for preventing the spread of the infection.

In her lecture on Thursday 28 April Dr Vos will highlight the "search and destroy" method, which features the early detection, early identification and early containment of infection and involves patients, healthcare workers and the healthcare environment.

The lecture is organised by School of Pharmacy at Queen's and the Microbiology Department of the United Hospitals Trust, under the auspices of the Infectious Disease Recognised Research Group. It will be held in the North Lecture Theatre, Medical Biology Centre and begins at 1pm.

For further information contact: Dr Michael Tunney, School of Pharmacy, Queen's University, (028) 9097 2087 or email: m.tunney qub.ac.uk

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Academy award for Queen's Gaelic players
Recipients of the Gold scholarship from Queen's GAA Academy (from left): Brian Mallon, Niall Bogue, Martin McGrath and Dan McCartan with Sean O'Neill.
Recipients of the Gold scholarship from Queen's GAA Academy (from left): Brian Mallon, Niall Bogue, Martin McGrath and Dan McCartan with Sean O'Neill.

A total of 20 Queen's University students received the inaugural GAA Academy Scholarship Awards earlier this week.

The awards, which were presented during a special ceremony in the Physical Education Centre at Queen's, recognise student players who have reached a high standard in their sport during 2004/2005.

Named after Sean O'Neill, a footballing legend for Queen's and Down, who exemplified the levels of leadership, sportsmanship, and talent that continues to be the benchmark for players at Queen's, the awards were presented by Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Bell.

Among the successful students were Martin McGrath, Niall Bogue, Brian Mallon and Dan McCartan who were awarded the gold award - the GAA Academy's highest award in recognition of their contribution to University sport and for achievement at county level.

When launched in June 2004, the challenge for the Queen's GAA Academy was to combine the developmental needs of five Gaelic sports, not just to improve performances, but also to strengthen the student clubs by providing more playing opportunities at every level. In doing so, the aim is to reinforce the fun aspect of participation, thereby making their involvement in sport habitual.

This has been particularly emphasised by the fact that one scholarship this year has been awarded for outstanding contribution to the Administration of the Men's Gaelic Football Club. Steffan Rafferty, Secretary of the Men's Football Club (2002/04) and winner of the Datapac Administrator of the year Award (2004/05) typifies the aspiration of the Academy to develop leaders for Gaelic Games long beyond their time at Queen's.

At the launch of the GAA Academy in June, the GAA president Sean Kelly indicated that the Queen's Academy model might well provide a blueprint for other similar initiatives where a blend of strategic outcomes that appeal to all levels of the games are nurtured and developed within higher education, and thereby providing a conveyor belt of talent feeding into the Strategic Objectives of the GAA through its Ulster Council.

For this year, the University anticipates that the investment in the 20 students through top-class coaching, sports science programmes and equipment and other financial benefits such as contribution to accommodation costs, will provide the additional stimulus for these students to reach their highest potential.

The Academy is based at Sports Centre at Queen's and is headed by former Queen's and Down footballer Karl Oakes. Karl said: "The scholarships for this year are awarded to those Gaelic footballers that have reached the top of their game at various levels and to those who have the potential and aspirations to reach that same level. In naming the fund and the scheme after Sean O'Neill we are highlighting someone who exemplified the characteristics that we have come to hope and expect from our players. His achievements marked him out as a fine example to those we honour this week."

"It is hoped that Queen's will produce more players of the calibre of Sean O'Neill, Kieran McGeeney, Paul McGrane, James McCartan, Diarmuid Marsden, Anthony Tohill, Eugene McKenna and Greg Blaney. Players that not only proudly represented the University but develop into top county players and All-Ireland winners."

For further information contact: Debbie McLorinan Development Manager - Marketing & Customer Services Tel: 028 9038 7660 Email: d.mclorinan@qub.ac.uk

Note to Editors: Scholarship recipients, Gold: Niall Bogue, Kinawley, Co Fermanagh; Brian Mallon, Portadown, Co Armagh; Dan McCartan, Newry, Co Down; Martin McGrath, Ederney, Co Fermanagh.

Silver: Gavin Donaghy, Claudy, Co Derry; Eoin McCartan,Newry, Co Down; Gerard McCaughey, Aghaloo, Co Tyrone; Kevin McGourty, Belfast, Co Antrim; Conleth Moran, Glen, Co Derry; Conan O' Brien, Magherafelt, Co Derry; Gerard O'Kane, Glenaulin, Co Derry; Ciaran O’Reilly, Teemore, Co Fermanagh.

Bronze: Aidan Carr, Hilltown, Co Down; Martin Dunne, Steelstown, Co Derry; Kevin Hackett, Augher, Co Tyrone; James McGovern, Newry, Co Down; Paul O'Hea, Steelstown, Co Derry; Ryan O'Neill, Moy, Co Tyrone; Steffan Rafferty, Armagh City, Co Armagh; Mark Rooney, Newry, Co Down.

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Can you predict the future?

A Queen's University researcher has launched an international competition to predict the outcome of the Westminster and local government elections on 5 May.

On that day Northern Ireland's 18 Westminster seats and the 582 seats on Northern Ireland's 26 district councils will all be up for grabs.

Anyone from around the world can submit an entry from the Elections website www.ark.ac.uk/elections/

The competition was introduced to inject some of the thrill of a game into the political process, and to help counteract one of the greatest threats to democracy - apathy.

Nicholas Whyte is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research at Queen's and also works as a political analyst in Brussels, specialising in the politics of the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

"When I invited people to predict the results in 2001, 131 entries were submitted, but only four got all 18 Westminster seats right," he said.

"I think this year's election will have fewer surprises, so I'm asking punters to also give their best guess of the local council election results."

Since 1998, Nicholas has run five prediction contests on the elections site within ARK, the Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive, which makes social and political material on Northern Ireland available to the widest possible audience. The last contest coincided with the 2004 European elections and a record 173 predictions were received.

Notes for editors: ARK (the Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive) was established in 2000 as a joint resource between Queen's University and University of Ulster with a single goal: to make information on the social and political life of Northern Ireland available to the widest possible audience.

It provides different kinds of information, including survey results, research reports and summaries. Northern Ireland Elections is a comprehensive resource within ARK containing facts, figures and maps. It gives details of: local government, Westminster and European Parliament election results; political parties and their web-sites; voting systems; geographical boundaries of constituencies; the history of noteworthy elections since 1885; useful web-sites, books and other resources.

For further information, contact: Nicholas Whyte, Tel +32 2 536 0066, mobile +32 485 555 944, email: nicholas.whyte@gmail.com or Communications Office, (028) 9097 3091

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'Happy Returns' to Queen's Visitors' Centre!
Queen's student Jessica Golden, from California, a part-time assistant in the University's Visitors' Centre, gets to grips with some of the artefacts to go on display in the Centre's 10th anniversary 'Happy Returns' exhibition. The exhibition opens on Thursday.
Queen's student Jessica Golden, from California, a part-time assistant in the University's Visitors' Centre, gets to grips with some of the artefacts to go on display in the Centre's 10th anniversary 'Happy Returns' exhibition. The exhibition opens on Thursday.

One of the most visited venues in Belfast is celebrating its 10th anniversary with the opening of a special exhibition on Thursday (21 April).

Around a quarter of a million people have passed through the doors of Queen's University's Visitors' Centre since it opened as part of Queen's 150th anniversary celebrations in 1995.

Sited at the heart of the University, just through the main door to the Lanyon Building, the multi-functional Centre acts as an information point for thousands of tourists, arranges tours of the campus and hosts a series of high-profile exhibitions and events. It also operates as a thriving retail outlet selling Queen's gifts and memorabilia.

The Centre's first 10 years will be marked by the opening of its latest exhibition, entitled, very appropriately, "Happy Returns", which features excerpts and artefacts from the range of successful displays and events held during the venue's first decade.

The exhibitions staged by the Centre have covered a range of themes and subjects, including the University's most notable personalities and its sporting greats, Chinese contemporary art, the Falkland Islands, the environment, and 70 years of Rag magazine PTQ.

One of its most successful was "Hart in China", which celebrated the life, work and legacy of Sir Robert Hart, a Queen’s graduate and former Pro-Chancellor.

Centre Manager Gwynne Donnell said: "During the last 10 years, we have welcomed hundreds of international visitors to Queen's, from business visitors to the city to tourists just wanting to look round to prospective students or people whose parents or grandparents may have attended Queen's.

"Our guest book lists names and messages from all over the world, from China, the United States, mainland Europe and closer to home.

"Many of our visitors call in for information on Queen's and Belfast and we've had thousands of queries over the years, ranging from people keen to find out more about the history of the University to the number of students we have, to more unusual requests for information.

"For example, we have been asked how many gargoyles there are on the Lanyon Building, or for the best venue in the neighbourhood for a romantic dinner!

"We've had a brilliant 10 years and we look forward to welcoming thousands more visitors to Queen's and Northern Ireland in the years to come."

For further information contact: Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310 Gwynne Donnell, Tel 028 9097 5252

Notes for editors: The official opening of the 'Happy Returns' exhibition, which will include a cake-cutting ceremony to mark the Centre's 10th anniversary, will take place on Thursday 21 April at 11.30am. Media facilities will be available.

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Queen's School of Nursing and Midwifery hosts jobs fair

The School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen's University will host its biannual Jobs Fair on Wednesday 20 April 2005 in the William Whitla Hall between 9.30am and 1.30pm.

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

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

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

Professor Jean Orr, Head of the School said: "This jobs fair will enable students completing Adult, Mental Health and Children's nursing to meet with employees. As in the past we expect competition for students to be high and are delighted to facilitate the Trusts in the recruitment process."

For further information, contact: Mrs Sharon Barr, School of Nursing and Midwifery, (028) 9097 2398

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Queen's researchers to help blind access web

Queen's researchers could help the visually impaired and blind to make better use of the Internet as part of a major European project.

The ENABLED initiative, which has received funding of 3.8 million euro, will allow researchers from the University's Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) and the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) to join forces in a bid to devise innovative new methods to help the visually impaired and blind guide their way through the web.

Principal investigator Professor Alan Marshall, from the Virtual Engineering Centre, said there was huge concern that while most sighted people were becoming more technologically advanced, those with visual impairment disabilities were being left behind.

"The Internet has a great impact on people's lives. Through the web information can be accessed remotely; people can interact with friends and family; services such as online shopping, paying bills and distant learning can be provided to the public.

"However people with blindness or other form of disability are not able to take full advantage due to the inaccessibility in the technology itself. If the problem of inaccessibility is not solved, the discrepancy, known as the "digital divide", will become bigger as information technology advances," he said.

There are currently a number of devices used to help the visually impaired access the web, including screen readers, magnified print and Braille displays. However, these are not ideal and to help address the issues Professor Marshall and his team will be looking at developing technologies that will make web content more accessible.

They will also developing tools that enable easy access to information, and increasing the use of mobile computing to make it more adaptable for users, no matter where they are.

As part of the three-year project trials will be carried out in Belfast in conjunction with the Blind Centre for Northern Ireland (BCNI) and the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB NI) which will help organise user focus groups and training and evaluation sessions.

Queen's University is the project leader in this initiative and is joined in the project by 13 other universities and organisations across Europe, including BT and Siemens. Funds for the Enabled project were obtained through the EU Framework 6 initiative.

For further information contact: Professor Alan Marshall, Tel: (028) 9027 4248

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Sonorities festival of contemporary music

The 2005 Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music is to take place from 26 April to 4 May. Now in its 24th year, it is the longest-running new music festival in Ireland and is one of the cornerstone festivals in Europe presenting innovative new music.

The festival has always brought to Northern Ireland innovative ideas and sounds from across the world and the 2005 Festival line-up is no exception. This year, Sonorities is guest chaired by Dr Pedro Rebelo, a composer and digital artist within the Sonic Arts Research Centre.

Commenting on the 2005 theme Dr Rebelo said: “For 2005 we present the work of artists who deliberately explore the space in between established cultural forms. The festival explores the diversity of technological arts, which better than any other, reflect the micro-cultures that characterize our society. We are proud to present a programme that showcases the variety of artistic practice at the beginning of the 21st century.

“Luc Ferrari and Frank Zappa are two of the most thought-provoking and controversial musicians of the last 100 years. Zappa's You Call That Music?, (incidentally not presented at this festival) is a work of experimental music situated in a rock concert context. Zappa's typically adept title summarises the importance of how an artist can place his or her work in order to question cultural norms that are associated with particular types of art practice. Luc Ferrari's visit to Sonorities celebrates the work of the electronic music pioneer who has constantly challenged genres and pre-defined music cultures. Ferrari's playful and ironic approach to music-making provides an alternative perspective on modernity and on the role of music in contemporary society”.

In a celebration of creativity combining music, visual and performance arts, this year’s festival features:

Ensemble Proxima Centauri (France) with UK and World Premieres of works by Hespos, Alla, Leroux, Havel and Aperghis [26 April] and especially commissioned audio-visual work by SARC’s composer in residence Sebastian Castagna [27 April]

New work with live-electronics with Pianist Maki Namekawa (Germany) [26 April]

Renzo Spiteri (Malta), Iain McCurdy and Michael Alcorn (UK) with Found Objects and Live-electronics [28 April]

A celebration of electronic music pioneer Luc Ferrari (France) with a unique orchestral performance of En un tournement d'amour [27 April], and an evening of Sons Mémorisé on the 30 April.

The Ulster Orchestra performing new works with live-electronics by Ricardo Climent (Spain) and especially commissioned Ed Bennett (UK) [27 April]

Audio Visual performance with Paulo Raposo (Portugal) and Murmurists (UK) 28 April

In collaboration with the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Sonorities @ the Cathedral Quarter brings on 29 April a full day of events in venues around the city's cultural district including Fruit Music at St. George's Market, a Lagan boat tour with Martin Parker’s Auto-Route #2, the Ulster Orchestra playing the music of Frank Zappa, and a club night of extreme audio-visual work with 8GG (China), Lietterschpich (Israel) and Raffaseder/Parker/Hörbst (UK/Austria).

John Kenny and Chris Wheeler (UK) with a program of works written for the duo which explore the combination of natural sounds with instruments such as the trombone and the carnyx [30 April]

A site specific sound installation for the PLACE Built Environment Centre by sound artist Ed Osborn (US)

SHE - Transformations: Vocalist Frances Lynch (UK) with a programme of electroacoustic music theatre and the limits of the human voice [1 May]

Performances of semi-improvised live-electronic music by Uli Mitzlav and Miguel Pereira and Miso Ensemble (Portugal) [30 April and 2 May]

Sound artist and hardware hacker Nic Colins (US) performing with a range of modified musical instruments [2 May]

Audio Visual performance project UNFAIR (Austria) featuring extreme vocalist Dietmar Bruckmayr [3 May]

Show-reel of audio-visual work by Jo Thomas, Mario Verandi, Germán Toro-Pèrez, Yasuhiro Morinaga, Paulo Chagas, Mark Pilkington and Hopkinson

Many of the Festival events take advantage of the unique Sonic Laboratory at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, officially opened by Karlheinz Stockhausen during Sonorities 2004.

For full listing and ticket information please check the Sonorities website at www.sonorities.co.uk or contact the Box Office on 028 9097 4829 Email: sarc@qub.ac.uk

For further information, contact: Dr Pedro Rebelo, 028 9097 5406, or 028 9097 4829

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Major new research centre for Northern Ireland
At the launch of the new NFER at Queen's Centre for Educational Research are (from left): Dr Paul Connolly, Centre Director; Ruth Leitch, Head of the Graduate School of Education; Queen's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Community and Communications Professor Gerry McCormac and Seamus Hegarty, Director of NFER. The new centre, which aims to be a 'one stop shop' for high quality research and evaluation services for the educational community in Northern Ireland, represents a partnership between the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and the Graduate School of Education at Queen's.
At the launch of the new NFER at Queen's Centre for Educational Research are (from left): Dr Paul Connolly, Centre Director; Ruth Leitch, Head of the Graduate School of Education; Queen's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Community and Communications Professor Gerry McCormac and Seamus Hegarty, Director of NFER. The new centre, which aims to be a 'one stop shop' for high quality research and evaluation services for the educational community in Northern Ireland, represents a partnership between the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and the Graduate School of Education at Queen's.

An innovative partnership between two leading educational research institutions will bring a major new research Centre to Northern Ireland. The Centre will conduct all types of educational research, but will especially focus on meeting the evidence needs of educational policymakers and practitioners in the Province.

The NFER at Queen’s Centre for Educational Research is the result of a partnership between the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and the Graduate School of Education at Queen’s University Belfast and brings together unrivalled expertise in research, evaluation, teacher education and curriculum development.

The new centre of excellence aims to become the ‘one stop shop’ for high quality applied research and evaluation services for the educational community within Northern Ireland, and also seeks to contribute to the improvement of education and training regionally, nationally and internationally. One particular area of specialism will be research on diversity and difference in education.

The formal launch of the NFER at Queen’s Centre for Educational Research, will take place at Malone House, Barnett Demesne in Belfast on 19 April from 12.00 - 2.15pm.

For further information, or to reserve a place at the launch, please contact Gail Goodwin, NFER Media and Communications Manager on 01753 637159 / 07736 378344, or Dolores Vischer, Communications Office at Queen’s on (028) 9097 5320.

Notes to Editors
About the NFER at Queen’s Centre for Educational Research
The NFER at Queen’s will be located within the Graduate School of Education at Queen’s University Belfast. Dr Paul Connolly of the Graduate School has been appointed as its first Director and a number of research and administrative staff will be appointed over the coming months. Staff within the Centre will draw upon the considerable expertise of colleagues at the NFER and the Graduate School in undertaking research projects and evaluations. Alongside research and evaluation work, the Centre also aims to play a key role in encouraging discussion and debate with regard to education and to provide the basis through which good practice is shared and disseminating among educationalists within Northern Ireland. Further details on the NFER at Queen’s can be found on its website at: www.qub.ac.uk/nfer  

About NFER
The National Foundation for Educational Research is the largest independent educational research organisation in Europe, with a staff of just under 300 and an annual income in excess of £12 million. Operating in a competitive contract research environment and undertaking substantial projects for government and other agencies, it also provides national and international information services in education.

The NFER’s overall mission is to contribute to improving education and training nationally and internationally by undertaking research, development and dissemination activities and by providing information services.

Further details on the NFER can be found on its website at: www.nfer.ac.uk

About the Graduate School of Education at Queen’s University Belfast
With a history dating back to 1914, the Graduate School of Education has established itself as one of the main providers of initial teacher education and continuing professional development courses in education within the region.

The Graduate School is also the leading centre for educational research within Northern Ireland and is ranked within the top 20 university education departments for research within the UK.

Research expertise within the Graduate School ranges from the early years through to higher education and covers all aspects of education from policy analysis through to assessment and classroom practice. Within this, a number of colleagues have developed strong national and international reputations for their research on issues of diversity and difference within educational contexts.

Further details on the Graduate School of Education can be found on its website at: www.qub.ac.uk  

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'Race around the River' attracts 700 runners
Crossing the line ... Paddy Hamilton, from Annadale Striders, who won last night's 'Race around the River'. The 5K event was organised by the University's Athletics Club.
Crossing the line ... Paddy Hamilton, from Annadale Striders, who won last night's 'Race around the River'. The 5K event was organised by the University's Athletics Club.

This year's Queen's University's "Race around the River", held last night, was won by Paddy Hamilton, from Annadale Striders, in a time of 14.58 minutes. Maria McCambridge, from DSD, won the ladies event in a time of 15.48, setting a new course record.

The 5K event, which attracted almost 700 runners, both serious and recreational, is now in its third year and is the official warm-up race for the Belfast City Marathon.

Organised by the University's Athletics Club, the event also featured a family fun run in support of Disability Action.

Race organiser Paul Wilson said he was delighted with the turnout. "I am particularly delighted with the large numbers who turned out to support this event, which is just getting bigger and bigger every year. It's now becoming a must on the local athletics calendar and I would like to thank all those who have contributed to its success, including Queen's University and Belfast City Council," he said.

The race was recently awarded a BARR (British Association of Road Running) Bronze Award for Race Management – only the second event in Northern Ireland, after the Marathon, to do so.

After the race competitors and spectators enjoyed a finger buffet provided by Belfast City Council in the main hall of the PEC. Prizegiving was undertaken by Paul Brizzel, who represented Ireland in the 200 metres in the Athens Olympics, along with Professor Ken Bell, of Queen's.

A list of all winners are posted on the website www.queens5k.co.uk

For further information contact: Paul Wilson, Tel: 07791428450.

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'Gown' goes for gold at Queen's

A press conference with a difference will take place at Queen's University on Monday when independent student newspaper 'the Gown' celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Among those taking part in the event in the University's Canada Room will be former Gown journalist Maggie Taggart, now BBC Northern Ireland's Education Correspondent, and author and award-winning journalist Alf McCreary, Gown editor from 1962-63.

Guest of honour will be Dr Richard Herman, who founded the paper in 1955 and who is making a special trip from the USA to attend its golden anniversary celebration.

Current co-editor David Maxwell said: “Fifty years of continuous publication by any newspaper is a very impressive milestone. The fact that this paper is written and produced on a purely voluntary basis by students is an even greater cause for celebration.

"The Gown is very much part of the fabric of Queen's. It has enhanced the student experience for half a century and has been the birthplace of many journalistic careers.”

Deputy Editor Andrew Charles said: "The paper contributes to student life by providing an independent and valuable interpretation of events happening within the University and beyond. It also provides valuable experience to any young person interested in journalism.”

Among those who started their journalistic career on the Gown are the BBC's Mark Carruthers and Nick Ross, the Observer's Henry McDonald and journalist and broadcaster Eamon McCann.

During its 50 years the paper has covered many major news stories which impacted far beyond the campus, including political and social developments as well as a range of local and national student issues.

For further information contact:

Andrew Charles, Tel 0774 3483 225
David Maxwell, Tel 07766 884 669

Note for editors:

The Gown's 50th anniversary celebration will be held in the Canada Room, Queen's University on Monday 18 April, starting at 6pm. Media facilities will be available.

A CD-Rom illustrating some of the highlights of the paper's 50-year history will be available.

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Study to examine wealth and health issues in the elderly

A major new study, which will examine the impact of wealth on the lives of elderly people in Northern Ireland, is to be carried out by Queen's University.

The "Enrich Study" aims to assess the impact of alleviating poverty on the health of some of the poorest people in the Province.

Principal investigator, Dr Dermot O'Reilly, who is a senior lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, said the project is one of the largest of its kind to take place in Northern Ireland.

"We know that poverty is bad for health, but what we want to learn from this study is whether the alleviation of poverty improves health, especially amongst older age groups. There are many older people who are among the poorest in society, having to make difficult choices every day, such as choosing between food and fuel. Over half of older women living alone have insufficient money to meet their needs.

"We realise it is a good thing to reduce poverty, but it has yet to be shown that increased wealth has an impact on health. This new study, a random controlled trial, will provide the evidence," he said.

The study aims to target elderly people throughout Northern Ireland and around 8,000 people over the age of 70 will be invited to participate in the study, which began recently. Patients will be asked to attend special screening sessions in their local GP surgery or local CAB office.

Their entitlement to Social Security Benefits will be assessed by Citizen Advice volunteers, who will then focus on a subset – about 1,000 people, who will be eligible for additional benefits. Once they have been identified, researchers will continually monitor their progress over a 12 month period through a series of health questionnaires to detect changes in their health and use of health services.

Funding, amounting to £291,400, has been provided by the Research and Development Office, under the "Investing for Health" initiative. It is expected that the study will run for over two years in the first instance.

The initiative is being co-ordinated by Eleanor Johnston, from the Department of Epidemiology.

For further information contact: Ms Eleanor Johnston, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, (028) 9063 2738

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On your marks for the Race around the River
Race around the River organiser Paul Wilson and Paula Drummond, from Disability Action get set for the 5K race on Wednesday 13 April. The race is the official warm-up race for the Belfast City Marathon and more than 600 runners are expected to enter the race, which begins at the PEC at 7pm.
Race around the River organiser Paul Wilson and Paula Drummond, from Disability Action get set for the 5K race on Wednesday 13 April. The race is the official warm-up race for the Belfast City Marathon and more than 600 runners are expected to enter the race, which begins at the PEC at 7pm.

Entries are pouring in for the annual Queen's University "Race around the River" on Wednesday 13 April.

The 5K event, which is fast becoming a must on the local athletics calendar, is the official warm-up race for the Belfast City Marathon, and is organised by the University's Athletics Club.

More than 600 runners, both serious and recreational, are expected to enter the race, now in its third year.

Starting at the Physical Education Centre at Queen's at 7pm, the race follows two ¾ laps of a 1.8km course, finishing outside the PEC entrance. The course record is held by Paul Rowan at 14mins 38secs.

Race organiser Paul Wilson said the race offers something for everyone. "The route is flat and fast, and has been accurately measured, so for all of those athletes looking for a good fast 5km time to end the cross country season or to begin the track season with, this race cannot be missed.

"If you are not too concerned about how fast you can run then the challenge of the 5km could be just the thing to see if all that exercise in the gym after Christmas has paid off. If you are hoping to run as part of a team in the Belfast City Marathon then the timing of Queen's 5K and its distance is perfect," he said.

The race was recently awarded a BARR (British Association of Road Running) Bronze Award for Race Management – only the second event in Northern Ireland, after the Marathon, to do so.

As part of the event there will also be a Family Fun Run in support of Disability Action, which will be one lap of the 5K course and starts at 6.30pm.

There will be attractive prizes for the top finishers, random spot prizes for all finishers and special prizes for the top Queen's student club and society teams. Competitors are asked to collect their race numbers at the PEC from 5pm on race day.

Late entries will be received on the day from 5pm to 6:45pm sharp for the Queen's 5K and 6:15pm for the Family Fun Run, but an additional £1 will be charged for Queen's 5K participants for this service.

Limited parking, due to redevelopment, is free of charge in the PEC car park on Stranmillis Embankment all evening, but competitors are asked to arrive early and via the Ormeau Bridge side of the embankment, since traffic restrictions will be in place.

Changing and shower facilities in the centre will be available for all competitors. A service will be provided for the safe storage of any gear during the race in the main hall.

Results will be projected into the main hall after the race and prizes will be presented around 8pm. Belfast City Council is providing a finger buffet for all competitors and spectators after the race in the main hall of the PEC.

Note to Editors: The Queen's University Athletics Club "Race around the River" begins at 7pm on Wednesday 13 April at the Physical Education Centre and finishes outside the Centre. The Family Fun Run in aid of Disability Action begins at 6.30pm.

Media facilities will be available.

For further information contact: Paul Wilson 07791428450, queens5k@qub.ac.uk or Communications Office, (028) 9097 5384

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Psychology students meet at Queen's

The School of Psychology at Queen's University is hosting the 27th annual Congress of Psychology Students in Ireland. Organised by students for students, almost 400 delegates are expected to attend and more than 200 papers, posters and symposia will be given.

The congress will be officially opened at 7 pm on Friday 8 April by Professor Noel Sheehy, Head of the School of Psychology at Queen's. The keynote speaker on Friday evening will be Dr Monica Whitty from Queen's. Dr Whitty is an expert in cyber-psychology, and will give a talk on the psychology of on-line dating.

On Saturday evening, the winning presentations will be announced and prizes will be awarded. The keynote speaker on Saturday is forensic psychologist Dr Lorraine Sheridan, from the University of Leicester. Dr. Sheridan's talk is entitled "Being stalked: the victim's perspective and directions for change."

Other conference topics will include: binge drinking; attitudes to refugees; Internet sex offenders; finger length and attractiveness; college students' awareness of STDs and children watching violence on the news.

For further information contact: Sarah McElwee, Chair, Tel: 07876537725. E-mail: s.mcelwee@qub.ac.uk Dr. Donncha Hanna, Tel: (028) 90 975549 (work) 07779330401 (mobile) E-mail: donncha.hanna@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's Innovation Lecture examines research role

The latest in the series of First Trust Bank Innovation Lectures at Queen's University takes place on Tuesday 12 April when research expert and author Don Braben will talk on 'Promoting Innovation in a Bureaucratic World'.

Based on his critically acclaimed book on ‘Pioneering Research: A Risk Worth Taking’, the lecture will give Don Braben's insight into 'blue skies' research, what it means and if it can be promoted. He will also discuss what policies and practices are needed for major new discoveries to happen in today’s world.

Don Braben graduated in Physics from the University of Liverpool, and spent 16 years in nuclear structure and high-energy physics research. This was followed by senior positions at the Cabinet Office in Whitehall, the Science Research Council in London, and the Bank of England. In 1980, he was appointed by BP to create and lead a new research initiative – the Venture Research Unit. The Unit concentrated on radical, exploratory, basic research and spawned a rich harvest of unforeseen and profitable industrial opportunities. Don Braben is currently a Visiting Professor at University College London.

His innovation lecture will be held in G9, Lanyon North at 6pm. Anyone wishing to register or to obtain further information should contact Claire McGivern at Queen's University, e-mail c.mcgivern@qub.ac.uk, telephone 028 9097 1145.

Sponsored by First Trust Bank and Invest NI, the Chair of Innovation initiative brings world experts in innovation to Northern Ireland to share their insights and knowledge with local business audiences.

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

Notes for editors: Media facilities will be available at the lecture. Arrangements to interview Don Braben can be made by calling the above number.

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Queen's Conference to examine translation – 'Betwixt and Between'

Reflecting its international position as a centre for creative excellence, Queen’s University Belfast is holding the first international conference to examine issues of translation this week, 8-10 April.

Hosted by the Schools of English, and of Languages, Literatures and Arts, in association with the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, over 100 international delegates are to join Queen’s academics in a multidisciplinary exploration of how issues of location and culture affect translation. The ‘Betwixt and Between’ conference is to bring together speakers representing a wide range of disciplines including: poets, dramatists, creative writers, performers, language translators, cultural historians and social anthropologists.

Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry poet Ciaran Carson commented: "The Seamus Heaney Centre is a forum for the discussion and practice of poetry. It has been said that poetry is what gets lost in translation; others have argued that poetry, by its transformative nature, is itself a kind of translation. Whatever the case, the Centre is committed to the notion of translation, and its capacity to lead us towards a better understanding of our own languages. "

"We have been delighted by the tremendous levels of interest this first conference exploring translation has generated,” said Professor David Johnston, of the Queen’s School of Languages, Literatures and Arts, himself an award-winning translator for the stage, and one of the conference organisers. “This forum presents an opportunity to explore translation as it is centred on the spaces between cultures: translation as a creative process in its own right.”

Speakers from universities as far away as New Zealand, the USA, China and the United Arab Emirates, together with visitors from throughout Europe, the UK and Ireland are to consider aspects of translation with a specific focus on locality, place and space. A number of individual papers will be examining a wide range of issues of local concern such as the relationship between racism and sectarianism, or the impact of the new salsa-dancing culture.

Among the questions expected to be addressed are:

  • What – and where – are the spaces opened up by cultural translation?
  • To what extent does translation define a space within which hybridized cultural practices might develop?
  • Do specific places contribute to the possibility, or otherwise, of cultural translation?
  • Can translation offer a locale for the elaboration of new artistic, cultural and political forms?
  • In an historical moment when cultural understanding is at a premium, might the spaces of translation offer locations for political, ethical and methodological self-reflection?

The conference programme also includes a special ‘Blackbird Night’ of music and poetry on Saturday evening, featuring performances from many of the poets and translators present. The blackbird is the emblem of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, and is inspired by the early Irish poem known as “The Blackbird of Belfast Lough”.

For further information, contact: Dr Stephen Kelly, School of English, 028 9097 3952 s.p.kelly@qub.ac.uk or Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 028 9097 5320


  1. Media opportunities will be available at a reception on Friday 8 April at 5.00pm in the foyer of the Centre for Drama and Film (QFT) where Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Brown will welcome delegates.
  2. The Blackbird Night of Music and Poetry will take place 7.30 -11pm on Saturday 9 April in the Elms Function Room at the Queen’s Elms.
  3. The full conference programme can be viewed at www.qub.ac.uk/betwixt
  4. The conference will take place in the Drama and Film Centre at Queen’s and has been funded by the University with support from Belfast City Council and the British Council.

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Cancer experts gather at Queen's

Over 150 cancer experts from around the world are meeting at Queen's University this week to discuss the latest developments in cutting-edge research into the disease.

The biennial meeting of the International Society for Cellular Oncology, which is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time, brings together researchers and practitioners in the field of cellular oncology, including molecular cell biology, genomics, proteomics, tumour pathology, specialist imaging and translational research.

More than 150 scientists, including leading researchers in the field of cancer, will take part in an outstanding scientific programme opened onTuesday with a lecture by Professor Scott Lowe from the United States. The conference runs until Friday 9 April.

The conference is aimed at helping researchers understand the molecular and cellular basis of cancer which should help improve diagnosis and prognosis in patients.

One of the local organisers, Professor Peter Hamilton from Queen's, said: "This is a truly exciting event with scientists coming from all over the world to discuss advances in our understanding of cancer, how it starts, how it can be prevented, how it can be treated and what new technologies allow us to explore this complex disease".

For further information contact: Professor Peter Hamilton, Tel: 0784 3388330.

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