01-2006 Press Releases

31/01/2006: Queen's researchers working to help preserve historic buildings
30/01/2006: Oscars Fever at the Queen's Film Theatre!
26/01/2006: Queen's Professor devises vital programme of dermatological healthcare for developing countries
26/01/2006: Queen's to present over 70 of its top sporting stars with sports bursaries and scholarships
25/01/2006: Author of MI6 Official History to deliver inaugural lecture as Professor of British History at Queen's University tomorrow
25/01/2006: Queen's community relations work highlighted at national conference
20/01/2006: Languages "essential" for today's graduates - Queen's Vice-Chancellor
20/01/2006: How to disappear – an innovative Queen's interdisciplinary performance project
20/01/2006: African Folk Medicine helps Queen's make important cancer breakthrough
19/01/2006: US Scholars Make First Visit to Belfast
18/01/2006: Entrepreneurial approach key to future economic development - Gregson
18/01/2006: Queen's researchers help to solve ancient murder mystery
18/01/2006: In search of the middle ground: Integrated education and Northern Ireland politics
17/01/2006: Paper by Queen's Doctor heralded as one of the Scientific Breakthroughs of 2005 by Science journal
16/01/2006: Primary schools chemistry programme launched at Queen's
13/01/2005: Hop on board the learning curve with Queen's this New Year
12/01/2006: Queen's author provides clear advice on autism to international readership
11/01/2006: Queen's University Announces Honorary Graduands for 2006
11/01/2006: Queen's professor to lead British Pharmacopoeia Commission
10/01/2006: Wardens initiative marks a new dawn for Holyland
10/01/2006: UTV Art Exhibition opens at the Naughton Gallery Queen's
10/01/2006: Remarkable robot helps Queen's win major Machine Intelligence prize
09/01/2006: ECIT targets US high technology contracts09/01/2006: ECIT targets US high technology contracts

Queen's researchers working to help preserve historic buildings

Researchers at Queen's University Belfast are co-ordinating a UK team of experts in world-leading research work aiming to aid the conservation of limestone buildings.

Famous British landmarks from St Paul's Cathedral to Stormont stand to benefit from this project's research work, set to begin at the end of this month.

Limestone decay caused by pollution, weather and other factors can be disfiguring and expensive to rectify, and - if left untreated - may eventually lead to a building's collapse. By radically improving understanding of how and why limestone decays, the new research will make it easier to develop better ways of tackling the problem and will be of benefit in both renovation and new-build projects.

Senior Project Partner, Professor Bernard Smith of the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology at Queen's said that the Northern Ireland team is working as part of a team combining state-of-the-art expertise in Geomorphology, Physics and Civil Engineering. Researchers at City University in London and Oxford University are also working on the project.

"We are delighted that Queen's University researchers from my own School and the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering are so closely involved in this exciting three-year project," Professor Smith stated. "Previously at Queen's we have carried out work to assess processes of decay that occur in sandstone - widely used as a building material in cities such as Belfast - and it is important that these studies are now extended so that we can work towards a more general understanding of the relationships between stone decay and environmental conditions."

Commenting on the project aims Professor Smith said: "Limestone is the main material used in many of the UK's most historic buildings, including St Paul's, many of our medieval cathedrals and, in Northern Ireland, buildings such as Stormont, Belfast City Hall and Castle Coole in Co.Fermanagh. Although basic knowledge exists about the general causes of limestone decay, it is not known why decay takes place in unpredictable fits and starts or why it accelerates in some parts of a building but not in others.

"Understanding what lies behind these processes is vital not only to enable action to be taken before decay spirals out of control, but also to ensure that conservation decisions do not lead to premature and unnecessary replacement of limestone blocks - and avoidable expense," added Professor Smith.

The principal role for staff at Queen's will be to undertake laboratory simulations of stone decay in 'climatic cabinets'. These will be used to investigate the processes responsible for the catastrophic decay of limestones used in buildings and the environmental conditions that control them.

A key element in the project is the development of highly sensitive, innovative fibre optic sensors that will be used to monitor how limestone blocks are affected by traffic pollution, road salt, temperature, humidity and wetness, detecting subtle changes in the blocks due to changing moisture levels and salt movement, for instance. The sensors will be installed in limestone structures. Information will be fed from the sensors, via fibre-optic cable, to a data logger and analysed to assess how decay correlates with the limestone's precise physical, chemical and mineralogical characteristics and with different environmental factors. These sensors were previously developed for use in concrete through joint projects between City University and Professor Mohammed Basheer in Civil Engineering at Queen's.

"The laboratory simulations at Queen's will be used specifically to further develop the sensors for use in porous stone and for their use in monitoring the behaviour of real stone in Oxford and at a number of other sites across southern England. It is intended that the greater understanding of decay processes will feed into improved conservation strategies," Professor Smith commented.

Throughout the project the group will work with a leading firm of conservation architects, Dawson Stelfox of Consarc Design Group Ltd, Belfast and with English Heritage to ensure the practical relevance of the research. Funding of just over £546,000 has been awarded to this initiative by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).


  • The 3-year research project, "Rapid, Catastrophic Decay of Building Limestones: Implications for Masonry Selection and Lifetime Behaviour" is receiving total EPSRC funding of just over £546,000.
  • Most building limestones used in the UK date from the Jurassic period (around 150–200 million years ago). The project focuses especially on oolitic limestones, commonly found in the Jurassic, which are formed from small spherical grains of rock embedded in a matrix. The dominant mineral is calcite which is highly prone to chemical attack by acid rain etc.
  • EPSRC-funded research at Queen's University Belfast has previously assessed processes of decay that occur in sandstone - another widely used building material. The EPSRC has also previously provided funding support for the development of fibre-optic sensors at City University, especially for the monitoring of concrete.
  • Geomorphology is the study of how landforms are produced and the processes involved (e.g. weathering and rock breakdown).
  • The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. The EPSRC invests more than £500 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC also actively promotes public awareness of science and engineering. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

For more information, please contact: Professor Bernard Smith (Senior Project Partner), School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen's University Belfast, 028 9097 5144, b.smith@qub.ac.uk


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Oscars Fever at the Queen's Film Theatre!
Celebrate the 'Oscars' at QFT with films such as Breakfast at Tiffany's
Celebrate the 'Oscars' at QFT with films such as Breakfast at Tiffany's

With the 78th Academy Award nominations due to be announced tomorrow afternoon, the Queen's Film Theatre in association with Stella Artois has announced a series of screenings and events to celebrate the 2006 'Oscar' season.

Between Friday 17 February and Monday 06 March, the Queen's Film Theatre will be showing a series of Oscar-winning classic films and 2006 'Oscar' hopefuls. The season will culminate on 'Oscars' Night itself - Sunday 05 March - with 'Glitter and Sparkle at the Oscars', a glittering evening of cinematic glamour.

Highlights of the QFT's 'Oscars' season include Vincente Minelli's romantic musical Gigi (winner of 9 Academy Awards), the 1932 Best Picture award winner Grand Hotel, and Breakfast at Tiffany's, winner of two 'Oscars' for its peerless musical score by Henry Mancini.

Nicola Trainor, Stella Artois Brand Manager at InBev Ireland Limited, said: "The Oscars are an annual talking point across the globe. Stella Artois and the QFT both share the desire to get people talking about film and believe this is the perfect time of year to celebrate all that is good and great about today's international film industry. Hosting this particular season of film helps highlight how the older award-winning films have stood the test of time and can comfortably sit beside new and emerging work. Annually Stella Artois continues to encourage and reward film makers locally through film festival awards, some winners of which even go on to qualify for Academy Award consideration."

More recent Oscar contenders screening at the QFT include George Clooney's Good Night and Good Luck ( Friday 17 February to Thursday 02 March), and showing exclusively at the QFT from Friday 24 February to Thursday 16 March, Capote, which features Philip Seymour Hoffman in a mesmerising portrayal of the celebrated author Truman Capote. ‘

'Glitter and Sparkle At The Oscars' will feature a screening of the Oscar-winning Breakfast at Tiffany's, refreshments courtesy of Stella Artois, followed by laid back, easy listening sounds from Belfast club 'Glitter and Sparkle' DJs from 10.00pm-midnight.

The dress code for this event is Oscar Ceremony Glamour! Tickets for 'Glitter and Sparkle At The Oscars' are £8/ £7 will be on sale from the Queen's Film Theatre box office from Monday 06 February.

For further details on this and tickets for all QFT screenings, please contact the QFT box office, 028 9097 1097, drop in to 20 University Square, Belfast or visit www.queensfilmtheatre.com

For further information, please contact: Sarah Hughes,  Culture and Arts Division, 028 90971398 or email festival.press@qub.ac.uk


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Queen's Professor devises vital programme of dermatological healthcare for developing countries

Professor Rod Hay, Head of the School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen's, has called for improved dermatological training for healthcare workers in developing countries after devising a programme which has been shown to help halt the serious impact skin diseases can have on people's quality of life. The call from Professor Hay, who is also Chair of The International Foundation for Dermatology (IFD), comes as the IFD is preparing to move its operations from Chicago to London later this month.

Traditionally, the appearance and treatment of skin diseases in developing countries has resulted in a loss of productivity at work and school, discrimination due to disfigurement and in some cases a failure to diagnose major underlying conditions such as HIV/AIDS and leprosy.

Such avoidable developments are often due to a lack of awareness amongst primary healthcare workers in underserved areas. However, now, as reported in a recent Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, Professor Hay and his colleagues have developed a short-course training programme for healthcare professionals that can lead to a vast improvement in the diagnosis and successful treatment of skin diseases and other serious conditions such as river blindness.

Co-author of a multicentre study in Mali, the largest country in West Africa, Professor Hay and his team developed and provided a one-day training programme on the management of skin diseases to 400 healthcare workers in the Bamako area. The report in the WHO bulletin shows the overall number of patients who benefited from a clear diagnosis and appropriate treatment increased from 42% to 81%. This vast improvement also came with a 25% reduction in prescription costs.

Outlining the situation, Professor Hay said "Many skin conditions are due to infections and could be treated with simple remedies if these were used in the right way. Many of these conditions have comparatively simple treatments and these are often not that expensive. Poor training is a major factor contributing to the huge amount of time and resources currently being poured into treating skin disease in ineffective ways. What is needed is proper training at primary care level in the relevant local areas.

"For example, we found that for a treatable condition such as Scabies, only 19% of patients in the Bamako study area were receiving the correct treatment beforehand. Eighteen months on and after having attended our one-day training course, I am pleased to say that figure has risen to 74%. This pattern has been repeated in the treatment of several other common skin diseases".

Professor Hay added, "We believe this is the first time the positive impact of a public health strategy that focuses on skin diseases in a developing country has been established. It is yet another valuable and practical contribution from Queen’s University to the developing world. I hope this study will prove to be the cornerstone of a vast improvement in dermatological skincare in developing countries".

The Mali multicentre study was supported by a grant from the International Foundation for Dermatology.

Other co-authors of the study were Dr Antoine Mahé of the Department of Dermatology, Institut d’Hygiène Sociale, Dakar, Senegal and Ousmane Faye, Hawa Thiam N’Diaye, Habibatou Diawara Konare, Ibrahima Coulibaly, Somita Kéita and Abdel Kader Traoré of the Centre National d'Appui à la lutte contre la Maladie, Bamako, Mali.

The IFD is a non-profit organisation whose principal mission is to improve dermatological care in underserved areas of the developing world and is an integral arm of the INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE OF DERMATOLOGICAL SOCIETIES (ILDS), representing more than 25,000 members from over 60 nations.

The ILDS is recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a non-governmental organisation for official relations.

For further information, please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office, 028 9097 5384.


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Queen's to present over 70 of its top sporting stars with sports bursaries and scholarships
Pictured with their Queen's Sports Bursary Awards are Gold Award recipients, Victoria Mallet (L) for Soccer (Derry City Ladies Soccer Team) and Gaelic Football (Doire Colmcille), Caroline O’Hanlon (R) for Netball (Larkfield) and Gaelic Football (Carrickcruppen) and Silver Award winner, Eilis McConville (back row) from Downpatrick, for Gaelic Football.
Pictured with their Queen's Sports Bursary Awards are Gold Award recipients, Victoria Mallet (L) for Soccer (Derry City Ladies Soccer Team) and Gaelic Football (Doire Colmcille), Caroline O’Hanlon (R) for Netball (Larkfield) and Gaelic Football (Carrickcruppen) and Silver Award winner, Eilis McConville (back row) from Downpatrick, for Gaelic Football.

Queen's recognised the achievements of its current crop of top sporting stars today, when 71 of its students were presented with Sports Bursary Awards and GAA & Rugby Academy Scholarships by Professor Gerry McCormac, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Outreach and Economic Development at the University.

The new round of Sports Bursary Awards will bring the total presented since 1992 to over 200, in over 30 different sports, and this year bursary award winners were joined by scholarship recipients from the GAA and Rugby Academy schemes at Queen's for the first time.

Gold Bursary Awards were presented to Caroline O’Hanlon and Victoria Mallett, both of whom have achieved top honours in Gaelic Football, Soccer and Netball, while GAA Academy Gold went to Derry Senior panellist, Gerard O’Kane of Glenullin, who also captained Derry to their All-Ireland Minor Football victory in 2002 and Armagh's Brian Mallon of Tir na nÓg GFC, who scored a memorable point in last year's All-Ireland football semi-final against eventual All-Ireland champions, Tyrone.

In Rugby, five Gold Scholarships were awarded to players of the Academy who among them have represented Ulster and Ireland at U19 level in recent months. They are Thomas Anderson, Mark Connaughty, Jamie Cornett, Glenn Moore and David Pollack.

The recipients of today's bursaries and scholarships will be following in the footsteps of other Queen's luminaries such as Ulster and Irish rugby star, David Humphries; All-Star Gaelic Footballers, Anthony Tohill and Diarmuid Marsden; international runner, Dermot Donnelly and Commenwealth Games judo silver medallist, Lisa Bradley.

According to Dr Robert Gamble, who heads Queen's Sports Science Team and who welcomed guests to today's event, "The future for Queen's sport is very bright. While we look back at the legacy left by past recipients with great satisfaction, I am delighted that today's event also gives us the opportunity to showcase how we are building for the future by raising the bar in terms of high performance Sports Science delivery.

"Through staff expertise and the new High Performance and Lifestyle Centre which will open for the next academic year, I have no doubt that some of these names will become the stars of the future".


The sporting bursary and scholarship schemes now offered at Queen's offer athletes improved access to the latest scientific services such as sports-specific laboratory testing, prehabilitation and rehabilitative care, strength and conditioning advice and nutritional information.

Queen's University now works alongside National Governing Bodies to develop talent via a 'nursery-system' for provincial and international rugby and Gaelic Football stars.

21 students received Queen's Sports Bursary Awards:
Victoria Mallet of Derry City Ladies Soccer Team and Doire Colmcille LGFC; Caroline O’Hanlon of Carrickcruppen LGFC and Larkfield Netball Team.

SILVER Barry Hamilton, QUB Taekwondo; Gary Kidd, Waringstown Cricket Club and MCC Young Cricketers London; Heather Armstrong, Rowing, QUB Ladies Boat Club; Martin Campbell, Lagan Scullers Rowing Club; Catherine Coyle, Badminton, Lisburn Racquets Club; Caroline Kelly, Aodh Ruadh LGFC; Kevin MacAllister, Hielbow Triathlon Club; Eilis McConville, Downpatrick GFC; Steven McQuillan, Ards Swimming Club; Darren Oldroyd, Drumaness Snooker Club; Lynsey Patterson, Glentoran LFC; Suzanne Patterson, Ards Karate Club / Bangor Karate Club; Gareth Sykes, Foyle Fencing Club and Karen Rentoul, Queen’s Universoty Ladies Boat Club.

BRONZE James Beirne, Waterpolo, Cathal Bugha Association; David Downey, Foyle and Londonderry College Fencing Club; Patrick Higgins, Lagan Valley Orienteers; Oonagh McCullough, Graduates Netball Club and Paul Pollock, Abbey Athletics Club.

21 students will receive GAA Academy 'Sean O'Neill Scholarships':
Brian Mallon, Tir na nOg GFC, Co Armagh and Gerard O’Kane, John Mitchell's Glenullin, Co Derry.

SILVER Gavin Donaghy, John Mitchell's Claudy, Co Derry; Dan McCartan, Burren, Co Down; Eoin McCartan, Burren, Co Down; Kevin McGourty, St Gall's Belfast, Co Antrim; Kevin Niblock, St Gall’s Belfast, Co Antrim.

BRONZE Declan Alder, Carryduff, Co. Down; Aidan Carr, Clonduff, Co Down; Joseph Ireland, Bryansford, Co Down; Charlie Kielt, Kilrea, Co Derry; Brendan McArdle, Annaclone, Co Down; James McGovern, Burren, Co Down; Paul McVey, Loup, Co Derry; Paul O’Hea, Steelstown GAC, Co Derry; Dean O’Neill, Omagh, Co Tyrone; Ryan O'Neill, Moy, Co Tyrone; Ryan O'Neill, Carryduff, Co Down; Steffan Rafferty, Armagh Harps, Co. Armagh; Mark Rooney, Newry Bosco, Co Down; Charlie Vernon; Armagh Harps, Co Armagh.

29 students will receive Rugby Academy 'Jack Kyle' Scholarships:
GOLD Thomas Anderson, Ulster U19; Mark Connaughty, Ireland U19; Jamie Cornett, Ulster U19; Glenn Moore, Ulster 'A'; David Pollock, Ulster U19.

SILVER Christopher Allen, Ulster Schools; Adam Bartholomew, Ulster U19; Daniel Dawson, Ulster U19 & U21; Derek Hall, Ulster 'A'; Alexander Houston, Ireland U19; Marc Suiter, Ulster U21; Jeffrey Wong, Hong Kong International; Michael Barker, Ireland U19; Daniel Marshall, Ulster Schools; Michael Martin, Leinster Youth; Nnambi Ozo, Ulster Schools; Bryan Patterson, QUB; Scott Shannon, Ulster Schools; Rory Sloan, Ireland Youth; Timmy Smith, Ulster Academy & Ulster Schools and Ian Whitton, Ulster U19.

BRONZE Carl Brennan, Back Row, QUB; Andrew Linton, 2nd Row, QUB; Neil McCullough, Centre, QUB; Richard Morton, Hooker, QUB; Rory Patton, Out Half, QUB; Michael Pyper, Scrum Half, QUB; James Richie, Full Back, Ulster U19; Mark Robinson, Out Half, QUB.

For further information please contact, Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office, 028 9097 5384


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Author of MI6 Official History to deliver inaugural lecture as Professor of British History at Queen's University tomorrow

King George V, the Black and Tans, British troops in Iraq, a boiled missionary and several hundred howling savages on Belfast's University Road, will all feature in Keith Jeffery's Inaugural Lecture, as Professor of British History at Queen’s University tomorrow evening (Thursday 26 January).

Recently appointed to write the Official History of MI6, Professor Jeffery's lecture will be entitled "The road to India and the Grafton Hotel, Dublin: Ireland and the British world" and will illustrate the extraordinary extent to which Irish history and experience is intertwined with British history and experience right across the world.

Open to the public, amongst those areas the Professor will consider in his lecture will be how the road to India from Dublin unexpectedly leads to Wellington, New Zealand and back to Belfast, with findings along the way including King George V, the Black and Tans, British troops in Iraq, a boiled missionary and several hundred howling savages on the University Road, Belfast.

Keith Jeffery is the author or editor of eleven books, including Ireland and the Great War. Two further books will be published in the spring of 2006: The GPO and the Easter Rising and a biography of Sir Henry Wilson, an Irishman who was (arguably) the only British Field Marshal to die in action, shot on his doorstep in London in 1922 by two other Irishmen.

Professor Jeffery's lecture will take place on Thursday 26 January, at 5.00pm in the Larmor Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University.

Further information is available by telephoning the School of History and Anthropology on 028 9097 3423.

For further information or to speak to Professor Jeffery, please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office, 028 9097 5384


Professor Jeffery has a long and distinguished career in Irish and British history. He was born in Belfast but moved across the water to study history at Cambridge University in the 70s, before returning home to teach history at the then Ulster Polytechnic and subsequently became Professor of Modern History at the University of Ulster.

In 1997-1998, he was visiting scholar at the Australian National University and the Australian Defence Force Academy and gave the prestigious 'Lee Knowles Lectures in Military Studies' at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1998. In 2003-2004, he was Parnell Fellow in Irish Studies at Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Besides being a renowned educator, Professor Jeffery has also been the editor of the leading Irish history journal, Irish Historical Studies, for the past 10 years and is currently chair of the journal's Board of Management.


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Queen's community relations work highlighted at national conference
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Outreach and Economic Development, Professor Gerry McCormac.
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Outreach and Economic Development, Professor Gerry McCormac.

Queen's University's drive to improve community relations between students and residents in the Holyland area of south Belfast will be highlighted at a major national conference today (Wednesday).

The University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Outreach and Economic Development, Professor Gerry McCormac, is among the speakers at the Universities UK conference focusing on engaging students and higher education Institutions with their communities.

The conference will examine the findings of a ground-breaking Universities UK report, entitled 'Studentification: A Guide to Opportunities, Challenges and Practice', which considers the impact of concentrations of students on local communities. The report highlights how local authorities, communities and higher education stakeholders are working together to better integrate students into their local environment.

Professor McCormac, who will co-present a session on 'Communicating with the Student Community' with Veronica King of the National Union of Students, said: "This is an excellent opportunity to share our experiences of tackling these issues in Belfast and to learn from best practice elsewhere in the sector.

"We believe that our students should be a force for good, and any anti-social behaviour in which they indulge is totally unacceptable to us. Our approach to dealing with this issue has been based on the themes of education, partnership and discipline. We hope that by educating people about their responsibilities, building partnerships and through the application of discipline we will be able to deal with this problem.

"Through the Holyland Inter-Agency Strategy Group, which was set up last year, Queen's and the University of Ulster are working closely together with a range of partners, including Belfast City Council and government agencies, the PSNI, and other relevant bodies.

"Earlier this month, in the latest initiative to address the issues of anti-social behaviour and community development, a team of community wardens was appointed to work in the area. This followed the re-launch of the highly successful joint advertising campaign highlighting students' social responsibilities and the appointment at Queen's of a new community relations officer to work with students and the communities in which they live."

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


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Languages "essential" for today's graduates - Queen's Vice-Chancellor

Proficiency in languages is essential if local graduates are to compete in the global job market, Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson has said.

The Vice-Chancellor was welcoming delegates to the Annual General Meeting of the Association of University Language Centres which took place at Queen's on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 January. Pamela McIntyre, Manager of the Language Centre at Queen’s, is the current Chair of the Association.

Professor Gregson said: "The AULC plays a crucial role in the higher education sector in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is a role which will assume even greater importance as we in British and Irish universities seize the opportunities of operating in an increasingly global environment.

"At Queen's we are wholly committed to the principle of internationalisation. The ability to communicate in a range of world languages will not only enhance our graduates' academic portfolio but will also enable them to integrate culturally and give them a competitive edge in the international job market.

"It is University policy that all Queen's students, whatever their subject, should have the opportunity to acquire foreign language skills while studying for their degree or undertaking research.

"Any steps we take to improve communication across the frontiers of language will both improve our understanding of each other and enrich international learning and research."

Around 60 delegates attended the two-day meeting at which the keynote speaker was Hilary Footitt, former Chair of the University Council for Modern Languages and still a member of its Executive Committee. She is the author of the recent Government (DfES) Report "The National Language Strategy in Higher Education".

For further information, please contact: Pamela McIntyre, 028 9097 5291


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How to disappear – an innovative Queen's interdisciplinary performance project

Rehearsals are underway this week as Queen's University students from a range of subject courses come together to work on developing and performing an exciting new performance.

With the new academic semester not due to begin until Monday 30 January, 24 students from drama, music technology, film studies, English and creative writing courses have come together during their holiday break to prepare a dynamic new piece of work. The end result will be performed in the Queen's Drama and Film Centre 07-09 February.

Entitled How to Disappear, this interdisciplinary project is giving students an opportunity to work together for the first time to write, script, act and produce musical scores for the end public performances. In addition, students will maintain a written diary of their experiences during the project and prepare a photographic and video record of the development of How to Disappear.

Leading the project is Anna Newell, Artistic Director of the new Queen's Centre for Excellence in Creative and Performing Arts.

The Centre for Excellence in the Creative and Performing Arts (NI) is one of three areas at Queen's announced in October 2005 as Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning under a Department for Employment and Learning initiative. The Centre is developing interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning and this exciting project is its most ambitious to date.

Until taking up the Queen's appointment in September 2005, Anna Newell worked for 16 years as a freelance theatre director in Scotland, England, Ireland and further afield, directing an eclectic range of both professional and community productions and projects. (In Belfast she directed Revenge for Tinderbox Theatre Company, which was nominated for the TMA Award and Stewart Parker Awards for Best New Play.) She also has ten years' experience of running a 40-strong acapella harmony singing group and creating shows with this group.

"The students are working intensively over this two-week period (16 – 27 January)," Anna explains. "The daily morning programme consists of intensive classes in harmony singing, percussion/rhythm, dance and movement, tai chi and drama games, while in the afternoons the students are working creatively to develop their production, scripting and rehearsing."

Anna added: "I am delighted to have brought on board for the project a talented professional team to work alongside the students. We have been joined by Stevie Prickett, a dancer and choreographer; David Goodall, who has composed music for stage and screen for 20 years, as well as working as a session musician and music tutor; and Hanna Slattne, dramaturg and literary manager with the Tinderbox Theatre Company, who has extensive experience of script development."

The inspiration behind the title for the student project comes from the first book-length collection of poems with the same title by contemporary English poet, Amanda Dalton, that made a strong impression on the student group.

For further information, or to arrange interviews with students or Anna Newell during rehearsals next week (23 -27 Jan), please contact: Lisa Mitchell, 028 9097 5384


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African Folk Medicine helps Queen's make important cancer breakthrough
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Queen's Professor John Mann, has made an important cancer breakthrough.
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Queen's Professor John Mann, has made an important cancer breakthrough.

Professor John Mann, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Queen's and McClay Chair of Biological Chemistry at the University, in conjunction with Professor Stephen Neidle of the London School of Pharmacy, has made an important breakthrough in understanding how cancer cells can be forced to 'fold-up' and eventually die.

Using synthesized compounds based on a plant historically used in African folk medicine, (the Cryptolepis sanguinolenta), Professor Mann and his team have developed new molecules which can modify the shape of particular structures within cells. These structures, known as telomeres, are made of long repeated DNA structures and protect the ends of chromosomes.

Offering an explanation as to how the cell structure works within the human body, Professor Mann said "With cells in the human body dividing about 20 times before they enter a process of ageing and eventually death, every time a cell divides a few of its telomere DNA repeats are lost. When too many are lost and the chromosome ends are in danger, a cell will start a process of 'cell suicide'.

"However, within the body, there are those cells which are supposed to divide a lot, such as stem cells. These possess a telomerase enzyme, which can repair the telomere, keeping it in its original format and size".

With a recent discovery that approximately 90 per cent of cancer cells also possess the telomerase enzyme, Professor Mann added, "We have realised the appearance of the telomerase enzyme in cancer cells is why they do not die and it is why they can carry on dividing for so long.

"Therefore, we are currently in the early stages of designing drugs that will alter the structure of the telomere itself, meaning the telomerase enzyme cannot repair it. This then will cause the cancerous cells to begin the 'cell suicide' process as outlined earlier".

Dr Mark Matfield, scientific consultant, at the, Association for International Cancer Research (AICR), who funded Professor Mann's research said "Telomerase activity is detected in all human tumours and it could be termed the 'Achilles' heel' of cancer. Professor Mann's group have chemically synthesised a number of molecules which have the ability to alter the structure of telomere. Although it is not yet powerful enough to make effective anti-cancer drugs, the team, with AICR support will now collaborate with Professor Stephen Neidle of the London School of Pharmacy in order to develop these molecules further".

Derek Napier, Chief Executive of AICR added "Professor Mann and his team have found a novel approach to get right to the heart of a problem, which once solved, could offer hope to thousands of cancer patients".

Professor Mann's work is part of the larger effort taking place in the new £20M Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen's led by Professor Patrick Johnson, due to open in May 2007.


Synthesized compounds are chemical compounds produced by reactions from simpler and often natural materials.

The plant, Cryptolepis sanguinolenta, and its aqueous root extract, upon which Prof. Mann's research is based, is commonly used in West Africa as an antimalarial treatment. The natural product derived from the plant is known as Cryptolepine, the major alkaloid of the plant. It is toxic to DNA cells and is regarded as having promise as an anticancer agent.

Prof. Mann was born in Dartford, Kent. A first class B.Sc. Hons Chemisty graduate from University College London, he was awarded his Ph.D in Organic Chemistry in 1970. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, he was awarded the 2005 Flintoff medal for most meritorious contributions to the knowledge of the relationship between chemistry and botany. Much of the Professor's research to date has been concerned with the design and synthesis of enzyme inhibitors for use in cancer chemotherapy and in antiviral therapy. He is one of the Principal Investigators in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s and took up the position of Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research in 2005.

The Association for International Cancer Research is an independent charity based in St. Andrews, Scotland. It funds what it considers to be the world's best researchers and the most valuable studies.

For further information, please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office, 028 9097 5384 or after hours 07813 015 431.


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US Scholars Make First Visit to Belfast

A group of American scholars are visiting Northern Ireland for the first time to discover Belfast.

The 17 academics are part of the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship Programme which aims to enhance mutual understanding between the UK and US by educational exchange.

The two day visit to Belfast, which begins on Friday 20 January, is part of an annual cultural forum for US scholars and is the first time that the event has been held outside London.

"The purpose of this cultural orientation programme is to ensure that the visiting US Fulbright scholars receive as rounded an education as possible while they are here, so it seemed important to extend it beyond London, to other parts of the UK and hopefully to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions", explains Charmian Norman-Taylor, Director of the Fulbright Awards Programme for the UK.

"There have always been close ties between Ireland and the United States and the US has played an important part in Northern Ireland's recent history, so the Fulbright scholars will have a natural interest in discovering modern Belfast", Ms Norman-Taylor said.

Two of the scholars are currently spending their Fulbright year in Northern Ireland. Lisa A. Hollenbach who graduated from Washington University is working on a manuscript of poetry as part of her MA in Creative Writing at Queen's University while Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Florida, Rhonda Phillips is carrying out research at the University of Ulster.

During their visit the scholars will take part in a panel discussion at Queen's University chaired by the BBC's Political Editor, Mark Davenport and will learn about the Arts in the North from Chris Agee, poet and Editor of Irish Pages, Linen Hall Library. The scholars will also enjoy a guided tour of Belfast including Stormont Buildings and will attend a reception at the US Consular offices.

For further information, please contact: Communications Office, 028 9097 3087


  • The US-UK Fulbright Commission was created by treaty 54 years ago and since its inception has expanded its programme to include grants for study in a wide variety of fields. MBA awards, filmmaking, sports science, performing arts, science, politics, history, literature and dance to name a few.
  • Since 1949, approximately 12,000 UK Nationals have studied in the US and 9,600 US Nationals in the UK on Fulbright Educational Exchanges out of 200,000 Fulbright alumni worldwide.


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Entrepreneurial approach key to future economic development - Gregson

Northern Ireland's future economic development rests on the cultivation of a vibrant entrepreneurial approach which recognises and realises the commercial potential of new ideas and intellectual capital, Queen's University Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson has told local business leaders.

The Vice-Chancellor was speaking at a Queen's dinner on Wednesday night to acknowledge the contribution of a panel of senior business executives to entrepreneurial and innovation education at the University.

The Role Models Panel of managing directors and entrepreneurs was recruited by Sir Gerry Loughran as part of the First Trust Bank Chair of Innovation initiative, co-sponsored by Invest NI. This initiative brings world experts in innovation to Northern Ireland to share their insights and knowledge with local business audiences.

The local role models give their time free of charge to share their expertise and experience with Queen's students and staff.

Professor Gregson said: "The role models panel is a key and exciting resource for academics and a number have already incorporated role model presentations into their lecture programmes. Students now have the opportunity to learn from experienced and successful practitioners, seeing topics they are learning about in the lecture theatre come to life, and hopefully being inspired to be entrepreneurial, innovative and successful in their own business careers.

"It would be impossible to overstate the importance of this. The cultivation of a vibrant entrepreneurial approach, which recognises and realises the commercial potential of new ideas and intellectual capital, is crucial for Northern Ireland’s future economic development.

"Queen's is committed to this aim, and to producing well-qualified enterprising and innovative graduates who will add value to local industry and commerce and who will become business leaders in their own right."

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


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Queen's researchers help to solve ancient murder mystery
Queen's academics Professor Valerie Hall, part of the Timewatch team who uncovered the bog man mystery
Queen's academics Professor Valerie Hall, part of the Timewatch team who uncovered the bog man mystery

The work of researchers at Queen's University in shedding light on an ancient Irish murder mystery will be featured on national television on Friday night.

"Timewatch: The Bog Bodies" tells the story of the two-year international forensic investigation following one of the most important archaeological finds of the last 20 years.

Queen's academics Professor Valerie Hall, Dr Nicola Whitehouse and Dr Gill Plunkett were among the 40-strong team of scientists called in to investigate the discovery of two 2,300 year old bodies unearthed in peat bogs in counties Meath and Offaly in 2003.

The three researchers, from Queen's School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, were part of the team of experts called in by the National Museum of Ireland to study the remains.

The two bodies were found to be of young men, both in their 20s, who had been tortured and murdered in what appeared to be ritualistic killings.

Known as Clonycavan Man and Old Croghan Man, the victims were exceptionally well preserved, enabling the research team to make a series of important new findings and enhance understanding of Irish Iron Age society.

Clonycavan man was no more than 5ft 2in tall while Old Croghan man was much taller, estimated to have stood around 6ft 6in tall.

Professor Hall said: "Scientific evidence has revealed that these two men were probably young aristocrats, the golden boys of their tribe. Our research has helped reconstruct the landscape of the area surrounding the bog in which Old Croghan Man was found. We see a change in the landscape from one that was well wooded to much more open countryside around the time when he was alive."

Dr Whitehouse said: "Analyses of the fossil beetles and plant macrofossils associated with his body suggest that he was inserted into a Sphagnum moss-dominated pool. There is no evidence to indicate that the body lay on the surface of the bog, but rather that it must have been pushed and submerged into the pool immediately after death, presumably as part of the ritual activities"

"Timewatch - The Bog Bodies" will be shown on BBC2 on Friday 20 January at 9.00pm. The bog bodies will go on display at the National Museum of Ireland in May.

For further information, please contact:
Professor Valerie Hall,  028 9097 3226
Dr Nicola Whitehouse,  028 9097 3978


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In search of the middle ground: Integrated education and Northern Ireland politics

The first integrated school in Northern Ireland - Lagan College - opened in 1981. Nearly a quarter of a century later, by 2004, there were 57 integrated schools with 17,149 pupils.

A new report published today (Wednesday 18 January 2006) uses data from a range of social attitudes surveys to explore whether people who have experienced an integrated education are different in their outlooks compared to those who have attended segregated schools.

In the report entitled In search of the middle ground: Integrated education and Northern Ireland politics, Professor Bernadette C Hayes, Professor Ian McAllister and Lizanne Dowds explore if attending an integrated school can have some positive long-term benefits in promoting a less sectarian outlook.

The report is being launched by Professor Hayes at a seminar taking place in Belfast today. The seminar entitled The impact of integrated education on political attitudes in Northern Ireland is organised by ARK - the Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive. ARK is a joint initiative between Queen's University Belfast and University of Ulster.

Key findings presented in the report include:

  • Respondents who had attended an informally or formally-integrated school were more likely to reject traditional identities and allegiances than those who had attended a segregated school.
  • Protestants who attended a formally-integrated school were less likely to say that they were British or unionist; however they were not willing to adopt an Irish or nationalist identity.
  • Catholics who had attended a formally-integrated or fairly mixed school were less likely to endorse an Irish identity, were more likely to choose a Northern Irish label and say they were neither unionist nor nationalist. However, almost no Catholic said they were unionist and just 10% said they were British.
  • 80% of Protestants who had attended either a fairly mixed or segregated school favoured the union with Britain, compared with 65% who attended a formally-integrated school.
  • 51% of Catholics who had attended a segregated school supported Irish re-unification, while 35% of those who had experienced a formally-integrated education did so.

Professor Bernadette Hayes notes that "These results, tentative as they are, add weight to the studies which have shown that integrated schools can and do have an impact on the outlooks of the pupils who attend them. Moreover, our study - based on a large sample of the adult population - suggests that the positive effects of integrated schooling extend into later life. As the numbers experiencing integrated schooling grows, these individuals have the potential to create a new common ground in Northern Ireland politics."

  1. Notes:
    The seminar entitled 'The impact of integrated education on political attitudes in Northern Ireland' takes place at 12.00 noon, on Wednesday 18 January, at NICVA, Duncairn Gardens. Media opportunities and interviews with report authors, including Professor Bernadette Hayes, will be available at 1.00pm. (Formerly of Queen's, Professor Hayes is based now at the Department of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen.)
  2. Data from a range of surveys from 1998-2003 were combined, meaning that the report is based on responses from more than 13,000 adults aged 18 or over. The surveys involved are the Northern Ireland Life and Times surveys (1998-2003), the 1998 Northern Ireland Referendum and Election Survey and the 2003 Northern Ireland Election Study.
    The Northern Ireland Life and Times survey is carried out annually and documents public opinion on a wide range of social issues - see www.ark.ac.uk/nilt  
    The development of the pooled dataset was funded by the Nuffield Foundation.
  3. ARK is a joint project between Queen's University Belfast and University of Ulster. The full report can be found on the ARK website at www.ark.ac.uk/publications
  4. The Nuffield Foundation is a charitable trust established by Lord Nuffield. Its widest charitable object is 'the advancement of social well-being', in which the Foundation has long had an interest. The views expressed in reports from research supported by the Foundation are however those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation.

For further information, please contact: Communications Office, 028 9097 3087


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Paper by Queen's Doctor heralded as one of the Scientific Breakthroughs of 2005 by Science magazine

A paper by a scientist at Queen's which explores a possible new way in which species may form, has been judged one of the 'Scientific Breakthroughs' of 2005 by the journal, Science.

The journal, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science has hailed the paper by Dr Stuart Bearhop, as one of the key publications in the 2005 award to "Evolution in Action", a worthy successor to last year's Breakthrough selection which saw the Mars Exploration top the poll.

Dr Bearhop's paper focuses on the European blackcap, a bird which spends the winter in two separate places but then reunites to breed. Traditionally, blackcaps were only seen in the United Kingdom during the summer. However, over the past 40 years, the number wintering in the U.K. has soared, a fact which has prompted many researchers to wonder how the birds' migratory patterns were altering and what subsequent effects such a fact may have on the species.

By analysing the chemical patterns in toenails clipped from blackcaps, Dr Bearhop's research uncovered a new migration and mating pattern for the birds. His research, the largest empirical study of its kind, found blackcaps that head north for the winter are more likely to mate with each other during the summer breeding season than with birds that winter in the south. The research also indicated those birds which stay in the north are reproducing more than those flying south. Known as assortative mating, it is these facts which may lead to an increased likelihood of the birds eventually forming two separate species.

According to Michael Webster, a behavioural ecologist at Washington State University, "In the past, researchers considering how new species develop have often speculated that differences in migration patterns could produce assortative mating. However, Dr Bearhop's important study is the first empirical demonstration that it actually occurs".

Speaking about Science's endorsement of his work, Dr Bearhop said, "It came as a very pleasant surprise and it's nice to know that not all of the big advances currently being made in the biological sciences happen in labs. There is still a small place for those of us who enjoy going out in the field and getting our hands dirty!"

Heralding the breakthrough paper, Science's Editor-in-Chief, Donald Kennedy, said "In the research community it has been a great year for understanding how evolution works, through both experiment and theory. One of my favourite cases has been Dr Stuart Bearhop's research into the European blackcap. Such evolutionary breakthroughs are not just ivory-tower exercises but they hold huge promise for improving human well-being".

Funding for the research was provided by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
The research team includes colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, Universities of Glasgow and Plymouth.

For further information, please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office, 028 9097 5384.


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Primary schools chemistry programme launched at Queen's

A new initiative to give Northern Ireland's primary seven pupils a taste for chemistry has been developed by academics at Queen's University and will be unveiled to pupils and their teachers on Tuesday 17 January at the University.

Led by Professor Chris Hardacre and Dr Marie Migaud of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen's, academics have developed a new science programme for the final year primary children to embark on once the transfer tests have taken place.

Universities across the UK and Ireland are working hard to attract students to Chemistry degree courses. But at Queen's University, Chemistry student enrolment figures have risen significantly in the past three years (with an increase of almost 40% in the last year). This is in part the result of a comprehensive programme of recruitment that includes targeting primary school pupils through to A-level students and organising departmental visits, open days and demonstration lectures.

Entitled 'Chemistry - the Science for Transfer Age Pupils', the new programme took shape through ongoing liaison with schools in Northern Ireland and in conjunction with W5 and the Education and Library Boards. The programme receives funding support from the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council as part of their Public Awareness of Science Programme.

"Every primary school in Northern Ireland has been invited to take part in the programme and to date over 3,600 pupils and their teachers have signed up to the pilot programme from over 100 schools," Professor Hardacre said.

"The full programme has been designed to take place over a five-month period from January to June 2006 and there are three elements to it," Professor Hardacre explains.

The first in a series of interactive demonstration lectures are being given today, Tuesday 17 January, by the Queen's team at the University. Around 1,100 pupils and staff from schools throughout the Greater Belfast area are set to enjoy (in three separate groupings) a lively showcase of chemistry experiments, called 'Life, the Universe and Chemistry'. Following this the demonstration will go on tour to four different towns across Northern Ireland.

The second element of the new chemistry programme is the support material that has been developed for teachers at each stage of the programme. Including teacher notes and background science information, there are also teacher and pupil experiment packs, prepared to help teachers guide pupils in carrying out six simple hands-on classroom experiments.

For the third element of the chemistry science project, pupils will work with their teachers on an investigative science project of their choice. These projects may then be entered into a competition to take place at the project's grand finale in W5, with prizes to be awarded to the best project in each Education and Library Board.

Commenting on the project and the importance to society of Chemistry, Professor Hardacre said: "The schools' chemistry programme is designed to enthuse children about the wonders of chemistry and provide support for P7 teachers in performing safe and easy experiments in the classroom.

"Science is of critical importance in our society and for our economy. On a recent visit to Northern Ireland, Lord Sainsbury remarked that 'Nanotechnology could lead to many exciting commercial opportunities. The new technology has the potential to create new or dramatically improve many products and processes. Estimates predict a global market in nanotechnology worth over $1 trillion in a decade, and it is vital the UK gains a significant share of this.' Without chemistry this will not be possible. Therefore it is vital to stimulate interest in chemistry at the 'grass roots', hence the focus in this programme on the P7 age group."

The programme materials have been piloted with one local school, Loughview Integrated Primary School.

For further information, please contact: Communications, 028 9097 3087 (or Dolores Vischer, 07980 013362)


1. The Demonstrations at Queen's University on Tuesday 17 January will take place at 9.15am, 11.15am and 1.00 pm in room LG39 in the Keir Building on Stranmillis Road.
Media opportunities will be available at 1.30pm after the final demonstration.

2. The interactive demonstration will later be run in the following towns:

Orchard Leisure Centre, Armagh             19 January 2006
Calgach Centre, Londonderry                  23 January 2006
Loughrey College Campus, Cookstown   26 January 2006
Antrim Teachers Centre, Antrim               31 January 2006


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Hop on board the learning curve with Queen's this New Year

If you found yourself declaring an intention to learn more about a certain subject or take up a new hobby as part of your New Year's resolutions, then the Winter Open Learning programme from the Institute of Lifelong Learning at Queen's University could be for you.

Covering the period from January through to March, the programme offers a wide range of learning opportunities. In addition to regular favourites such as language and art classes and the opportunity to explore local history and World literature, the Institute has announced a host of exciting new classes for 2006.

For those who dream of being the next Ridley Scott or Jim Sheridan, the 2006 programme will provide fans of the silver screen with the opportunity to not only learn how to storyboard their own blockbuster but to also learn about the History of Film in Ireland and how we are represented in Hollywood.

Staying on a historical theme, the role of Irish soldiers in the First World War and the role of Nationalism and Unionism in Ireland in the Great War 1914-1918 can also be explored within the new programme.

Moving to the present day, Converting Challenges into Learning Opportunities could prove for many to be a useful antidote to the seemingly ever increasing range of challenges life can throw at us. While also on offer will be Community and Community Development in Northern Ireland, a course which will seek to explore the concept of that often used word in Northern Ireland, 'community' and just what it means to different people.

Urging people to fulfil their learning ambitions, Paul Nolan, Director of the Institute of Lifelong Learning, said: "United by their desire to learn, those who undertake a course in our Winter programme will meet people of all ages and from many walks of life, in a warm and informal learning environment. Indeed, as part of our strategy to increase the social and geographical reach of the programme, we will be piloting new literature and language courses in association with the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry and a series of visual arts courses in tailored studio space in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter".

Commending the programme, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson said "Since 1850 Queen's has been offering lectures for the citizens of Northern Ireland. Today, I am delighted to say we are not only continuing that proud tradition but also extending our range of programmes to serve the needs and wishes of the community in the 21st century. I genuinely look forward to many new enrolments at the Institute in the months ahead".

In all, over 100 courses are available and the programme also offers one-day workshops and weekend courses in a variety of subjects including law, inheritance tax, writing for profit and pleasure, relaxation and travel. There are no entrance requirements for any of these courses. Classes are open to all adults though some are offered at different levels. Credit towards the award of a certificate is available on some courses.

Information on all courses available in the New Year may be found on the Institute's website at www.qub.ac.uk/ill or to request a copy of the programme telephone 028 90 97 3323.

Further information, please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5384


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Queen's author provides clear advice on autism to international readership
The Japanese book jacket of
The Japanese book jacket of "Education as Autism Therapists" co-edited by Dr Karola Dillenburger.

A popular book by a Queen's University social work researcher that gives practical advice on bringing up children with autism has been published in Japanese.

The book, Education as Autism Therapists, is co-edited by Dr Karola Dillenburger of the Queen's School of Sociology, Social Policy, and Social Work.

An eminent Japanese educationist, Professor Shimizu of Tokyo University, discovered the book during a trip to London and was so impressed that he contacted the authors and subsequently arranged for its translation and publication in Japan.

"When Prof Shimizu wrote to us to tell us of the translations we were delighted," Dr Dillenburger explains. "We had received good reviews for the book and knew that the book was used widely in USA, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand, but we had not realised that it had travelled as far as Japan. I hope that this translation will benefit children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Japan by showing their parents how Applied Behaviour Analysis is used to improve lives and bring out the best in people."

The book provides parents and professionals working with children with autism with a solid introduction to an applied behavioural system for skills development. Dr Dillenburger summarises the book's approach:

"Successful child rearing is an essential skill for any parent," commented Dr Dillenburger. "For most of us it is a skill handed down from our own parents and society in general. However, when it comes to more difficult aspects of developing skills in our children, we need something more dependable than good will. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), the systematic implementation of scientifically proven behavioural principles offers just that. Aimed at enhancing people's lives in ways that they or their carers feel are important, it includes a variety of methods and techniques which can be used to promote, decrease, or maintain skills for daily living."

ABA has been used to help children with autism for many years in many countries. In Northern Ireland the Charity Parents' Education as Autism Therapists (PEAT) offers parents the education necessary to become their own child's therapists using ABA. "In this book these parents and the professionals involved in their training share their knowledge, experience, and successes," Dr Dillenburger added.

A further new book on autism has just been published by Karola Dillenburger and her co-editor entitled, Applied Behaviour Analysis and Autism: Building a Future Together. The foreword for this new book was written by Professor Gina Green who was awarded an Honorary Degree by Queen's University last December for distinction in psychology and for her contribution to the understanding of autism.

"We hope that the new book will help further to disseminate the science of Behaviour Analysis which is now finally being recognised to be the basis for the most effective treatment for children diagnosed with ASD - and that it too might one day be published in Japanese and other editions", said Karola Dillenburger.

For further information, please contact: Dr Karola Dillenburger, 028 9097 4589; Communications Office, 028 9097 3087


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Queen's University Announces Honorary Graduands for 2006

Queen's University has announced its list of honorary graduands for 2006. Those to be honoured are from the worlds of business, science, medicine, public service, sport and performing arts and include, Eamon Holmes, Mickey Harte, Angela Feeney and Sir Digby Jones.

Former GMTV presenter and well-known entertainer Eamonn Holmes will receive an honorary degree from the University for services to broadcasting. Holmes has had an extensive career in broadcasting but is best known for being the face of breakfast television for the past 12 years.

Top GAA coach, Mickey Harte will also be honoured for his services to Gaelic Football. The county Tyrone manager brought the Sam Maguire Cup to his native county for the first time in 2003, before repeating the feat in 2005.

Lord Patten of Barnes, former Governor of Hong Kong, will be awarded an honorary degree for distinction in public service, while eminent environmental writer, broadcaster and commentator, Jonathon Porritt, who also serves on the Prince of Wales's Business and Environment Programme, will receive an honorary degree for distinction in sustainable development.

Soprano Angela Feeney, who became the first Irish soprano to be signed as a soloist by the Munich State Opera, will be honoured for services to the performing arts. After forging a career in Europe, Feeney established the Belfast Classical Music Bursaries to encourage young classical musicians born in Ireland.

Several prominent business figures are also being honoured by Queen's. David Figgins, one of the USA's most successful businessmen and a member of the International Advisory Board of Invest Northern Ireland, will receive an honorary degree for distinction in engineering and service to business and commerce. Honorary degrees for services to business and commerce will also be conferred on both Sir Digby Jones, current Director General of the CBI and Belfast-born Nicky Kinnaird, founder of the beauty product retail venture, Space.NK.

Thomas Moran, President and CEO of the Mutual of America Life Insurance Company, who is listed as one of the top 100 Irish-American business people in the USA, will receive an honorary degree for services to business and commerce and for public service. Morgan is also Chairman of the charity, Concern Worldwide (US) Inc.

Honorary degrees will also be conferred on, Dr John King, a Queen's graduate and former Executive Chairman of Warner Chilcott (previously Galen Holdings plc), and Sir Harold Kroto. Dr King, who has fostered close ties with Queen's through research and business alliances with both the School of Pharmacy and the School of Chemistry, will be awarded for services to the pharmaceutical industry. Sir Kroto was recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 and is currently involved in collaborative work with QUILL (Queen's University Ionic Liquid Laboratories). He will be awarded his honorary degree for distinction in chemistry.

Lord Browne of Madingley, Group Chief Execuite of BP Amoco, will receive an honorary degree for distinction in engineering and services to business and commerce, while Christopher McCrudden, who has made an outstanding international contribution to the development of equality law and is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Human Rights Centre at Queen's, will be awarded with an honorary degree for services to the legal profession.

The list also includes Sara Parkin and Babill Stray-Pedersen. Parkin has been an independent campaigner, writer and broadcaster on environmental and sustainable development issues for over 35 years and co-founded the educational charity and think tank, Forum for the Future. She will be awarded an honorary degree for distinction in sustainable development. Babill Stray-Pedersen, a world renowned professor in the field of women's reproductive health and who is currently an executive Board member of the European Society for Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics, will receive an honorary degree for services to medicine.

The degrees will be awarded as follows:  

Lord (John) Browne DSc (Eng) For distinction in engineering and services to business and commerce
Angela Feeney DMus For services to the performing arts
David Figgins: DSc (Eng) For distinction in engineering and services to business and commerce
Mickey Harte : DUniv For services to Gaelic Football
Eamonn Holmes: DUniv For services to broadcasting
Sir Digby Jones: DSc (Econ) For services to business and commerce
Dr John King: DSc For services to the pharmaceutical industry
Nicky Kinnaird: DSc (Econ) For services to business and commerce
Sir Harold Kroto: DSc For distinction in chemistry
Christopher McCrudden: LLD For services to the legal profession
Thomas Moran: DSc (Econ) For services to business and commerce and for public service
Sara Parkin: DUniv For distinction in sustainable development
Lord (Chris) Patten: LLD For distinction in public service
Jonathon Porritt: DUniv For distinction in sustainable development
Babill Stray-Pedersen: DMedSc For services to medicine

For further information, please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office, 028 9097 5384.


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Queen's professor to lead British Pharmacopoeia Commission

David Woolfson, Professor of Pharmaceutics in the School of Pharmacy at Queen's University Belfast, has been appointed as the new Chair of the British Pharmacopoeia Commission.

The British Pharmacopoeia Commission was established by the UK Medicines Act 1968 and is responsible for setting and publishing legally enforceable, authoritative quality standards for drugs and pharmaceutical products. It plays a major role in the safeguarding of public health, ensuring that medicines bearing the letters 'BP' after their names meet the same quality standards, irrespective of the manufacturer.

In his role as Chair of the Commission, Professor Woolfson will also lead the United Kingdom delegation to the European Pharmacopoeia Commission in Strasbourg. Through this delegation the UK is also a major contributor to the development of common quality standards for drugs throughout 35 European states. The British Pharmacopoeia - an authoritative list of medicinal products - incorporates these standards into its yearly publication of monographs.

Professor Woolfson has been a member of the British Pharmacopoeia Commission since 1998. He also currently serves as the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Pharmacy and, in Europe, as a member of the United Kingdom delegation to the European Pharmacopoeia Commission and of its Group of Experts on Formulated Pharmaceutical Products.

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Woolfson said "It will be a great honour but also a great challenge to lead the British Pharmacopoeia Commission during a period where we are seeking to further develop common international quality standards for pharmaceutical products in order to facilitate the efficient development of safe, effective medicines for the UK and the international community".

Director of Research in the Queen's School of Pharmacy's McClay Research Centre for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Professor Woolfson's own research interests focus on advanced drug delivery systems. Most recently, his work has focused in particular on novel intravaginal drug delivery strategies for the prevention of the heterosexual transmission of HIV AIDS.

The British Pharmacopoeia Commission is responsible for preparing new editions of the British Pharmacopoeia and the British Pharmacopoeia (Veterinary) and for keeping them up-to-date. It also provides advice to the United Kingdom delegation to the European Pharmacopoeia Commission, of which the United Kingdom is a member. The BPC is also responsible, under Section 100 of the Medicines Act, for selecting and devising British Approved Names (BANs).

The Pharmacopoeia contributes to the overall control of the quality of medicinal products by providing an authoritative statement of the quality that a product is expected to meet at any time during its period of use. The publicly available and legally enforceable Pharmacopoeial standards are designed to complement and assist the licensing and inspection processes and are part of the system for safeguarding purchasers and users of medicinal products. www.pharmacopoeia.org.uk

For further information, please contact: Communications Office, 028 9097 3087


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Wardens initiative marks a new dawn for Holyland

An initiative, which it is hoped will mark the beginning of a "new and positive chapter" in the development of Belfast's Holyland area, was officially unveiled this morning.

A team of community safety wardens have been appointed to work in the area, in a novel approach to issues such as anti-social behaviour and community development.

The wardens scheme is one of a variety of initiatives in the Holyland area, co-ordinated by the Holyland Inter-Agency Strategy Group, which was set up last year and brings together statutory agencies such as Belfast City Council and government agencies, the Police, the city's universities and colleges and other relevant bodies.

Officially launching the scheme at the City Church, in the heart of the Holyland, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Wallace Browne, said that the various agencies had been working together to address the joint problems of anti-social behaviour and the decline in community infrastructure and the local environment in the Holyland, and expressed his confidence that the introduction of a visible and dedicated service would have a real and tangible impact upon the issues confronting this area.

"The wardens scheme also represents how true partnership working and community engagement can yield positive results and we hope that this combined commitment will assist the Holyland community in its ongoing regeneration," commented the Lord Mayor.

Councillor Browne noted that the Holyland Community Safety Wardens scheme was just one of the many initiatives which Belfast City Council supported in its quest to create a safer city. These included the Get Home Safe project and the Radiolink scheme, both of which would work alongside the warden scheme.

The Lord Mayor pointed out that the partnership of agencies overseeing the wardens scheme also was supporting a series of other measures which will contribute to the continued improvement of the Holyland. These included the recent consultation by the Planning Service on Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs), increased enforcement work by both Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, as well as the ongoing community relations work of Queen's University, the University of Ulster and the various residents' groups and associations. “

"I firmly believe, therefore, that the wardens scheme will contribute to this ongoing work to tackle anti-social behaviour and environmental decline. However, it is crucial that the wardens are regarded as a service for all in the area - there to provide advice and reassurance to all those affected by these problems. I would therefore urge everyone living in the Holyland to work together with the wardens and our partners to bring about positive changes and harness the true potential of this area," said the Lord Mayor.

Peter McNaney, Chief Executive of Belfast City Council and Chairman of the Holyland Inter-Agency Strategy Group, said that it was hoped today's launch would mark the opening of a new and positive chapter in the development of the Holyland area.

"Over recent years, attention has focused upon the apparently growing problems of anti-social behaviour, crime, environmental damage and the decline in the community infrastructure. We have also all witnessed the scenes captured by local media of the clash resulting from those choosing different lifestyles living side-by-side within a relatively compact area," he said.

Mr McNaney admitted that there were indeed some elements of truth within this analysis of the Holyland, with almost 9000 people living within an area which only contains 1500 households, and the Holyland residing within one of the top 15 per cent of most deprived wards in Northern Ireland.

"However, this fails to recognise and represent the true and enormous potential of this area. The Holyland contains a vibrant and resilient community whose desire to retain a mixed identity should be supported and welcomed. The skills and vibrancy which the young professional and student population can bring to an area should be recognised as an asset and positive attribute, and the achievements of those such as the University of Ulster, Queen's University and City Church, within the area should also be acknowledged.

"It is this potential and opportunity that we hope the Community Safety Wardens scheme will build upon," concluded Mr McNaney.

Conal Devitt, Head of the Northern Ireland Office Community Safety Unit - which is providing the majority of the funding for the project - said that the initiative was a practical example of agencies working together in partnership to tackle the issues which really matter to local people.

"The introduction of wardens demonstrates a long-term commitment by all the partner agencies to dealing with crime and anti-social behaviour in the Holyland for the benefit of everyone in the area," said Mr Devitt.

Adding his endorsement to the scheme, Paddy McIntyre, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, pointed out that the Executive employed more than over 50 wardens in mixed tenure estates who deal with problems of a similar nature to those which exist in the Holyland.

"We have seen the hugely beneficial effects of the work of our wardens over the years and we are therefore delighted to jointly fund the employment of wardens for the Holyland area," said Mr McIntyre.

Welcoming the launch of the wardens scheme, Inspector Trevor O'Neill of the PSNI, said: "Police in South Belfast are committed to working in partnership with relevant agencies to help reduce the incidence of anti-social behaviour and low level crime in the Holyland area. We are determined to reduce the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour. We view the Community Safety Wardens as a supportive resource with whom we can work alongside our partner agencies and others who seek to make the Holyland area safer."

The wardens scheme also has been warmly welcomed by both the faculties and the student bodies at the city's universities and colleges, who have played an integral role in the development of the service.

Queen's University Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Gerry McCormac, said: "Queen's University is pleased to welcome the launch of the community safety wardens scheme. As one of the main partners, Queen's has worked exceptionally hard with other key stakeholders to bring the wardens project to fruition. It is important to the University that both residents and students feel less vulnerable and more secure with the wardens on the streets. We are confident that their presence will have a positive impact in the Holyland area."

Colleen Dowdall, Overall President of the University of Ulster Students' Union, added: "The community safety wardens have been introduced to combat anti-social behaviour and to make the Holyland a better place for the entire community. The student representatives would ask all students to be cooperative with the wardens in the Holyland to ensure the safety of our students in the future."

The universities' comments were echoed by Paul O'Connor, Head of the Department of Information and Student Services at Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education (BIFHE), who said: "The Belfast Institute is delighted to be working in association with Queen's University and the University of Ulster in what we see as an important development to help reduce anti-social behaviour in this highly populated student area of Belfast. We will build up a good relationship with the Community Wardens so as to ensure that any Institute student involved in anti-social behaviour is dealt with quickly and effectively."

The Holyland Community Warden Scheme will be officially launched by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Wallace Browne, at the City Church in University Avenue this morning (Tuesday 10 January), at 10.30am. There will be refreshments on arrival, and interview and photographic opportunities will be available at the end of the formalities, at around 11.30am.

The initiative is a one year pilot which has the flexibility to be extended for three years. It is funded jointly by many of the partner agencies mentioned below. The Holyland Inter-Agency Strategy Group is made up representatives from Belfast City Council, the Department of the Environment Planning Service and the Northern Ireland Office Community Safety Unit, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Queen's University Belfast, the University of Ulster, BIFHE, St Mary's College and Stranmillis University College.

For further information, please refer media enquiries to: Mark Ashby, Media Relations Officer, Belfast City Council, 028 9027 0641


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UTV Art Exhibition opens at the Naughton Gallery Queen's

The official opening of the UTV Art Collection exhibition took place today (Tuesday 10 January) at the Naughton Gallery, Queen's University Belfast.

A selection of 40 paintings, prints and drawings from UTV's renowned collection of Irish artists will be on view until Saturday 18 February, including William Conor's "The Launch", Gerard Dillon's "The Artist in the Country" and Rosie McGurran's painting "Waiting".

Speaking at the opening, John B McGuckian, Chairman of UTV, said: "I am proud to say that our collection, which started back in the early days of UTV, has grown considerably over the years, to what is now one of the largest corporate collections in Ireland with more than 250 pieces.

"It includes works by famous Irish artists, like Arthur Armstrong, Basil Blackshaw, Colin Middleton, George Campbell, David Crone, Carol Graham and Joe McWilliams, to name but a few. In recent years we started a new initiative - The UTV Young Artist Collection - to support and nurture the talent of young, up-and-coming artists and several paintings from this collection are also exhibited at Queen's.

"Exhibitions like this provide us with an opportunity to share the enjoyment of our Art Collection with others and I am delighted that there will be public lectures and school talks while our collection is here.”

Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: "This exhibition offers an excellent opportunity to view key works by famed Irish artists across the generations, as well as UTV's recent acquisitions of the work of young and emerging local artists.

"Queen's and UTV are committed to sharing the delights of art with the wider community. We at Queen's are therefore very pleased to have this opportunity to display the treasures of the UTV collection both to the University audience and to the general public."

A selection of works from the UTV Art Collection will be on show at The Naughton Gallery at Queen's, Lanyon Building, Queen's University Belfast until Saturday 18 February Monday to Saturday 11.00am-4.00pm. Admission is free.

Public Talks:
There will be a public talk by Amanda Croft, Art Advisor to UTV, on Saturday 21 January 12.00pm-1.00pm (no booking required)

Schools Talks: (Key Stage 4)
Monday 23 January to Friday 27 January 10.30am-11.30am daily (These tours are free, but as places are limited early booking is recommended. To arrange a school group tour please contact Clare Leeman, Education and Outreach Officer on 028 9097 358 or c.leeman@qub.ac.uk)

Institute of Lifelong Learning Talks:
Tuesday 7 February: 11.00am-12.00pm
Wednesday 15 February 2.00pm-3.00pm (These talks can be booked through the Institute of Lifelong Learning at Queen's University: 028 9097 3323/3324 or http://www.qub.ac.uk/ill)

For further information,please contact: the UTV Press Office on 028 90 262187


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Remarkable robot helps Queen's win major Machine Intelligence prize

A team led by Professor David Bell from Queen's University has been awarded the British Computer Society's Annual Prize for Progress towards Machine Intelligence, after developing a mobile robot system which can reason about change and learn to adapt.

The advance made in the domain of Machine Intelligence by the robot, named IFOMIND, is that it combines learning and reasoning in novel ways in order to decide the best way to interact with objects it meets.

Initially reacting instinctively in a 'fearful' manner when encountering a new object, IFOMIND has also been equipped with the human-like capability of inquisitiveness. This means the robot recognises it can react in different ways and does not have to be scared of something which may not be harmful to it.

Likening the reaction of the IFOMIND robot to how an animal may react to another it has not previously seen, Professor Bell said "The IFOMIND mobile robot system is equipped to wait and watch in order to see if it can get some new information. It can then retain this information as it carries on and meets more objects.

"A major challenge in Artificial Intelligence is the development of a system that can observe events in an unknown scenario, and then learn and participate as a child would. Our team at QUB have not achieved this yet but we have certainly made a significant and noteworthy advance".

The award-winning QUB team also included Dr QingXiang Wu and Marcel Ono, with input from Dr Tony Savage of the School of Psychology. The project was partially funded by Invest Northern Ireland.

Potential applications are in a wide range of areas. The techniques can be used in devices such as household equipment or cars, large scale production control systems or complex adaptive software systems.

Discussing the importance of the award, Professor Max Bramer, Chairman of the British Computer Society's Specialist Group on Artificial Intelligence (SGAI) said: "As a group we are committed to fostering achievement, capability and awareness of applied artificial intelligence. One of the most effective ways we can do this is to ensure such progress is showcased and rewarded".

Sponsored by Electrolux, the award was presented at the 25th British Computer Society's Artificial Intelligence Conference which took place in Peterhouse College, Cambridge.

The award is open to anyone from business or academia who can demonstrate advances they have achieved in the arena of applied Machine Intelligence.

The principal aims of the 25th Annual International Conference of the British Computer Society's Specialist Group on Artificial Intelligence (SGAI) are to review recent technical advances in Artificial Intelligence technologies and to show how such advances have been applied to solve business problems.

Sales of domestic appliance robots reached 39,000 units in 2003 and are forecast to hit 20 million by 2008.

For further information, please contact: Lisa Michell, Communications Office at Queens: 028 9097 5384.


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ECIT targets US high technology contracts

Queen's University's Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) has teamed up with Invest Northern Ireland in a bid to secure lucrative US high tech research and development contracts.

Officials from the Belfast-based research organisation visited Washington and Boston recently for an intensive week-long schedule of meetings with senior officials from leading US funding bodies and technology corporations.

Organised with assistance from Invest NI and the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington, the programme included appointments with the National Science Foundation (NSF), an independent federal agency which aims to promote the progress of science to secure health, prosperity and welfare for the US.

The team also met with MITRE, a public interest company that works in partnership with the US government in applying systems engineering and advanced technology to address issues of critical national importance.

In addition, the ECIT delegation held talks with a number of high profile technology corporations to explore the potential for future research partnerships. They included Texas Instruments, Freescale Semiconductor - a global leader in the design and manufacture of embedded electronic components – and General Dynamics, a leading supplier of information systems and technologies.

According to Roz Carson, Manager of International Research and Development at Invest NI, the US is a potentially huge source of R&D funding for non-American organisations. "To access funding for technology projects in this market however, it is essential to build close relationships with indigenous suppliers and funding bodies. This was one of the main objectives of the visit which we helped arrange through Invest NI’s Technology and Development Center in Boston.

"The contacts made by the ECIT team will prove invaluable in the months and years ahead as the organisation works to extend its international outreach in this extremely important marketplace," adds Ms Carson.

ECIT's operations director, Dr Godfrey Gaston, believes the visit was extremely valuable not only for establishing new business leads but also as a means of validating the organisation's strategic direction and its research capabilities.

"The feedback we received from the high ranking officials we met with was extremely positive. Without exception, they were excited by work we are undertaking, particularly in the areas of IT security, Internet traffic management and high technology antennas.

"We're now working hard to further develop the relationships we established with a number of potential funders and industrial partners. We believe these efforts will put us in an excellent position to begin to generate significant new income streams by undertaking leading edge research projects for the US market here in Belfast," adds Dr Gaston.

Officially opened in May 2005, ECIT is a new £40 million world class research centre set up by Queen's University, Belfast to exploit Northern Ireland's expertise in key areas of electronics, communications and information technology. ECIT is one of eighteen Research Technology and Development (RTD) Centres of Excellence which have been established in Northern Ireland with support from Invest NI.

The RTD Centres of Excellence Programme is delivered by Invest NI. It is principally funded by the European Union Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland (PEACE II), managed by the Special EU Programmes Body in partnership with the Department of Employment and Learning.

The 40,000sq ft ECIT building is based at the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast's Titanic Quarter. The Institute's 120-strong staff includes four research teams whose interests cover areas such as broadband wireless communications, electronic data security, video and image processing, telecommunications software and antenna design for mobile communications.

For further information, please contact: Communications Office, 028 9097 3087


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