11-2009 Press Releases

Queen’s University among best in Europe for political science
Professor Richard English
Professor Richard English

Queen’s has been named as one of the best universities in Europe for political science.

The School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s is one of only 51  politics departments – from the 4,000 universities examined across Europe – to be included in the Excellence Group for Political Science. It received the accolade in the 2009 European Excellence Ranking, conducted by the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHE) in Germany.

The Excellence Ranking analyses the research strength of higher education institutes across Europe in the natural sciences, economics, political science and psychology.

Professor Richard English, Head of School said: “This achievement reinforces Queen’s reputation as a leading centre for teaching and research in political science. The School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy was deemed ‘excellent’ in terms of its publications and citations – an achievement matched only by 11 other Russell Group politics departments.

“Inclusion in the prestigious CHE Excellence Ranking will help the School build further on its success in last year’s Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), in which it was ranked among the top eight Russell Group performers.”

The CHE Excellence Ranking is a useful resource for prospective MA or PhD students who want to continue their studies but aren’t sure which university or course to choose. Inclusion in the Excellence Group will help the School continue to attract the best students and research staff from across Europe and around the world.

Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduates, Professor James McElnay, said: “This is a phenomenal achievement for the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy and a huge boost for the University as a whole as it seeks to enhance its global performance.”

For more information on the CHE Excellence Ranking visit www.excellenceranking.org For more information on the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s visit www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofPoliticsInternationalStudiesandPhilosophy  

For media inquiries contact Anne-Marie Watson at the Press and PR Unit at Queen’s University Belfast on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5320 or 00 44 (0)7814 415451 or email a.watson@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's 'powers' global wave industry
Oyster in the evening light
Oyster in the evening light

Queen’s University has helped the global wave energy industry take a major stride forward with the launch of the world’s largest working hydro-electric wave energy device by Aquamarine Power.

Known as Oyster, the device has been officially launched by Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond MP, MSP at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.

It is currently the world’s only hydro-electric wave energy device producing power and is now producing power by pumping high pressure water to its onshore hydro-electric turbine. This will be fed into the National Grid to power homes in Orkney and beyond. A farm of 20 Oysters would provide enough energy to power 9,000 three bedroom family homes.

Oyster was first conceived out of work funded by an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research grant to Queen’s between 2002 and 2004, to develop surging power-wave devices.

Professor Trevor Whittaker from Queen’s School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering was the principal investigator and was supported by Dr Matt Folley. Aquamarine Power Ltd was formed by a Scottish entrepreneur specifically to develop the technology. Today there is a joint agreement which results in Queen’s undertaking all the hydrodynamic testing for Aquamarine.

Professor Whittaker said: “The concept of Oyster came about through research in our wave-tank facility at Queen’s. The launch of Oyster is both a major landmark in terms of carbon-free sustainable energy production and a proud day for Queen’s University Belfast, which already has a reputation as being one of the leading wave-power research groups in the world. In fact Oyster is the third prototype demonstration wave power project which the team at Queen’s has instigated in the past 20 years.

“Devices such as these have the power to revolutionise the world’s energy industry and help combat climate change. And we aren’t stopping with Oyster. We are continuing to work with our partners in Aquamarine Power and the EMEC to develop the next generation of Oyster, by providing testing opportunities at Queen’s large wave tanks facility in Portaferry which is part-funded through the University’s Institute for a Sustainable World.”

The marine energy industry could provide as many as 12,500 jobs, contributing £2.5 billion to the UK economy by 2020. Marine energy such as that produced by Oyster has the potential to meet up to 20 per cent of the UK’s energy demands.

Speaking at the launch of Oyster, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond MP, MSP said: “I’m delighted to see first-hand the full-scale Oyster now installed and operating offshore. This is a key milestone for Scotland’s marine renewables sector.

“Scotland's potential renewables capacity is estimated to be around 60GW. Our waters hold around ten per cent of Europe’s wave power potential and as much as a quarter of its tidal power potential. The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) provides world-leading test facilities for Aquamarine and other companies to develop the technology needed to harness this huge untapped potential.

“I am delighted to confirm further R&D funding of almost £1m to Aquamarine Power for the development of Oyster 2, which could be installed within two years. Through our investments and initiatives such as the Saltire Prize, the Scottish Government is working to ensure we capitalise on our rich natural resources, to meet our ambitious climate change targets, to create more high-skilled green jobs and to make a substantial contribution to one of the most pressing global challenges.”

Martin McAdam, Chief Executive Officer of Aquamarine Power, said: “This is a fantastic day for the wave energy industry and for Aquamarine Power. We have proved what we always believed – that wave energy can produce sustainable zero-emission electricity to power our homes. The UK has one of the best wave resources in the world. Now it also has the best technology.

“The announcement of nearly £1 million Scottish Enterprise funding is very welcome and will enable Aquamarine Power to attract further inward investment for the successful development of the next-generation commercial-scale Oyster. This is exactly the kind of support the industry needs. With continued support of this nature we can help decarbonise our electricity supply, and build a major, world-beating industry here in the UK.”

Neil Kermode, Managing Director of EMEC said: “EMEC are delighted to see Oyster installed, running and on test. It is a tribute to both the Aquamarine Power team for their work, and also to the vision of the public sector in setting EMEC up in the first place to help developers get into the water as efficiently as possible. I look forward to Oyster being joined by many more machines in the coming years.”

The Oyster launch took place at EMEC’s Billia Croo site near Stromness, where the device was installed this summer.

Videos of Oyster can be found at www.youtube.com/aquamarinepowerltd

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Queen’s University Belfast. Tel: 028 9097 5384, email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk

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East Belfast residents set to benefit from Queen's research QTV News Story
Professor Frank Kee
Professor Frank Kee

QTV Icon New Watch the QTV story

Increases in levels of physical activity by residents in the Connswater area of east Belfast will be the target of a new five year £800,000 Queen’s University study launched today (Tuesday).

It is hoped that by encouraging members of the community to do more exercise they will reduce their risk of serious conditions including obesity, heart disease, cancer and depression.

Under the PARC project - Physical Activity and the Rejuvenation of Connswater - researchers from the Centre of Excellence of Public Health NI, based at Queen’s, will consult with the East Belfast Partnership and community groups to find out what can be done to help people become more active.

PARC, funded by the National Prevention Research Initiative which supports research on health behaviour, aims to help community groups introduce new initiatives to encourage people to be more active. These could include a ‘walk to school’ club and other neighbourhood walking schemes, better amenities for cyclists and guidance to local employers about how the working environment can help support people taking a little more exercise.

The announcement comes after the East Belfast Partnership’s Connswater Community Greenway, was awarded a grant from the Big Lottery Fund, the Department of Social Development and Belfast City Council in 2007, totalling £32m, to carry out a major environmental improvement and rejuvenation project, connecting 379 acres of public open space, building 43 bridges and 19 kilometres of cycles and walkways. It aims to give around 40,000 people living nearby, and thousands of visitors more opportunities for exercise and recreation and support for a healthier lifestyle. PARC’s role will be to evaluate the effects of the project on people’s health.

The main focus of the research will be face-to-face surveys with nearly 2,000 people living in the Greenway area. One will be conducted in early 2010 and another in 2013/4, to coincide with the beginning and end of the Greenway construction.

Questions will include some on the participants’ physical activity and attitudes to exercise, health, smoking and drinking habits, as well as those on their social life, housing, employment and education.

Professor Frank Kee, the Director of the Centre of Excellence for Public Health, said: “This is a groundbreaking study looking at the effects of the built environment on physical activity and the health of people in east Belfast. It will involve the creation of new opportunities for physical activity through the improvement of physical amenities and green space in the area and a variety of innovative community initiatives.

“One of the strengths of this exciting project is the partnership between an international team of researchers, the East Belfast Partnership and members of the local community.

“Research shows that increased physical activity can help reduce the risks of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease and cancer.

“As well as helping to inform policy on future redevelopment projects, we anticipate the study will have direct benefits to the communities in east Belfast, including new amenities and an increased range of opportunities for physical activity delivered by local groups. These will be designed according to what the local community wants, and so we hope that local people will come on board.

“The results of the project will help other groups across the UK to develop their own plans to promote more active lifestyles.”

Project Manager of the Connswater Community Greenway Wendy Langham added: “In addition to the improvements to the physical environment, the Connswater Community Greenway will provide opportunities for everyone, young and old, families, commuters and visitors to embrace a more active lifestyle.

“Improved, accessible green and open spaces, cycle and walking paths alongside rivers running through the heart of east Belfast will be a catalyst for the community to enjoy the natural environment, right on their doorstep.”

Lord Mayor, Councillor Naomi Long, acknowledged the importance of the study and welcomed the opportunity it offers to involve Belfast City Council.

"Hopefully our involvement will maximise the impact of the Connswater Community Greenway project on the health and wellbeing of local people.

"Congratulations to Professor Frank Kee and the team of researchers from Queens University, as well as the wide range of partners involved in this initiative. We can all look forward to the results of this study being published in due course, and there is no doubt that this will make a significant contribution to the design of future initiatives and services in our city".

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362, a.clements@qub.ac.uk

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Local schools make 'smart moves' in global competition

Over 140 local young scientists hope to make the 'right moves' at W5 in Belfast on Tuesday 24 November.

The budding innovators, from 14 secondary schools in Northern Ireland, are competing in the regional heat of the global robotics competition, FIRST Lego League.

The Lego League is being brought to Northern Ireland by a partnership of Queen’s University’s Widening Participation Unit, the Institute of Engineering Technology (IET), SAP Research (SAP), Invest Northern Ireland and W5.

The annual competition invites secondary school pupils to design, build and programme a willing robot that must perform a series of challenging tasks. Contestants also have to complete a research project and presentation on the ‘Smart Move’ theme which will focus on everyday transportation.

The League aims to introduce children aged from nine to 16 to the fun of solving real-world problems by applying the principles of mathematics, science and technology.

The partners are hoping the initiative will also help achieve the Programme for Government's target to increase the number of students involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects by 25 per cent by 2015.

They said: “LEGO League offers a unique opportunity for our young people to develop their creativity, and their teambuilding and problem-solving skills. It also introduces them to the wonders of science and innovation and encourages them to think about the possibility of pursuing a career in STEM subjects. Above all, it helps them to learn that learning science can open up a fascinating world for them and that it has huge practical benefits to their everyday lives.”

The organisers have teamed up with a range of leaders in the field of industry and academia to spearhead the initiative to engage schools with real world issues using robotics. These include FG Wilson (Engineering) Ltd., ESB International, Thales Air Defence Ltd, NIE, Queen’s University - School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, South Eastern Regional College, and the University of Ulster’s School of Computing and Intelligent Systems.

This year’s teams and sponsors are:

  • Aquinas Grammar School, Belfast (NIE)
  • Ballyclare High School (Queen’s School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
  • Hazelwood Integrated College, Belfast (Queen’s University – Widening Participation Unit)
  • Lisneal College, Londonderry (University of Ulster, School of Computing and Intelligent Systems)
  • Lumen Christi College, Derry (University of Ulster, School of Computing and Intelligent Systems)
  • Magherafelt High School (Queen’s University – Widening Participation Unit)
  • Shimna Integrated College, Newcastle (Queen’s School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
  • St Columb's College, Derry (University of Ulster, School of Computing and Intelligent Systems)
  • St Dominic’s (South Eastern Regional College)
  • St Joseph's College, Enniskillen (Queen’s University – Widening Participation Unit)
  • St. MacNissi's College, Carnlough (F G Wilson (Engineering) Ltd)
  • St Mary's Grammar School, Magherafelt (Thales Air Defence Ltd)
  • St Patrick's College, Belfast (Queen’s University – Widening Participation Unit)
  • Thornhill College, Derry (ESB International)
For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5310, Mob 07815 871997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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'Golden Age' for clinical psychology in Northern Ireland

Two hundred leading clinical psychologists will converge on Belfast tomorrow (Friday, 20 November) to hear about new clinical and research initiatives to improve the healthcare of a diverse range of patients.

The event, entitled Leading the Way: Psychological Initiatives across Healthcare, is being staged by Queen’s, the British Psychological Society and the Department of Health. Held at the Culloden Hotel, the event celebrates the contribution made by Queen’s graduates in 50 years of clinical psychology in Northern Ireland.
Dr Chris McCusker from the School of Psychology is the conference organiser. He said: “This event showcases the new therapeutic interventions which demonstrate how psychological interventions are now at the heart of everyday healthcare.
“Fifty years ago Queen’s and its partners in the health service and wider higher education pioneered the teaching and research of clinical psychology in UK universities. This event showcases how that tradition is continuing with many clinical psychologists travelling to Belfast to hear about the development of a wide range of new therapies and interventions for the benefit of the local and global community.”
After the conference, a formal reunion for Queen’s clinical psychology graduates and staff over the past 50 years will take place.
Conference speakers:
Dr Geraldine Scott-Heyes is one of only a few psychologists in the United Kingdom running a psychological service for pregnant mothers. Increasing awareness of maternal mental health needs during pregnancy and the potential impact on the child highlights the value of the service at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital. She describes research and interventions with pregnant women and new mothers on the emotional challenges which can arise in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and parenting, especially when complications arise.
Brian McCrum describes a new initiative in the Northern Trust which uses virtual-computerised therapy to cut waiting times and bring the talking therapies to a wider number of people with mental health difficulties than ever before.
Dr Colin Wilson at the Regional Acquired Brain Injury Unit describes how psychological interventions are giving new directions to the rehabilitation of people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries and Dr Mandy Irvine highlights how psychologists have provided a new deal for people with a learning disability whose mental health needs have for too long gone unnoticed and unmet.
Dr Ciaran Shannon will focus on unrecognised histories of trauma (including troubles-related trauma), in people with schizophrenia, and new psychological approaches that go beyond traditional drug treatments are described.
Dr Nichola Rooney provides evidence of the psychological, physical and financial benefits of providing early interventions to children with a chronic illness and their families. In an exciting new programme at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children of psychological intervention for children with congenital heart disease improvements in child development, activity levels and behavioural adjustment are proven with associated decreases in mental health difficulties in mothers and a reduction in unplanned attendances at casualty and GP surgeries.
Dr Raman Kapur, author and media psychologist, from Threshold, provides a unique psychoanalytic insight into what has maintained the “troubled mind” of Northern Ireland which he argues “hasn’t gone away you know”.
Finally, Professor Robin Davidson delivers a provocative caution to mental health professionals and commissioners that one size does not fit all and that a diversity of psychological interventions are required to meet the needs of service users – against the current trend for standardised and proceduralised therapies.

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Press and PR Unit. Tel: 028 90 97 5384 or email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk

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Money + advice = financially aware students at Queen's SU
Vincent Murray,Rachel Herbinson, Julie Gray, Debbie Forsey and Susan Kearney

Queen’s Students’ Union supported by Barclays Money Skills has launched a new initiative aimed at encouraging students to become more financially aware.

The money+ programme is being run by Queen’s students and will see them offer their peers and sixth form pupils a wealth of information, online weblinks and resources for managing money. 

Research undertaken by the co-ordinators of money+ shows that students are more likely to respond to recommendations and experiences from peers who have lived through student debt and survived.  As a result, student volunteers from Queen’s  have been recruited to assist with the delivery of this programme.

Debbie Forsey, Debt Adviser with Queen’s Students’ Union said: “I advise students on a daily basis on managing their money and avoiding debt and have talked with some who have found themselves in very difficult circumstances which could have been avoided if they had better prepared their finances.  These students have learned from their experiences and are now participating in money+ because they believe it is important to highlight the value of budgeting to fellow students.

“A very successful pilot of money+ took place last year in which with fifteen schools were visited and over 850 post primary school students addressed. This is an excellent starting point for the official launch of the programme.”

The students who volunteer to be involved in the project may use their participation towards gaining accreditation with Queen’s Degree Plus Award.  The Degree Plus Award provides official recognition of extra-curricular activities and achievements and helps students to demonstrate that they have the relevant skills needed for workplace success when they graduate.

Adrian Doran, Head of Northern Ireland, Barclays said: “In this economic climate it is more important than ever for our young people to be able to identify the benefits, responsibilities and risks of budgeting, borrowing and spending money.  Barclays support of the money+ programme is at a time when young people need to be confident in the way they manage their money. The skills and habits we learn at a young age are what many people use for the rest of their lives.  Navigating the change from school education to university is a tricky process for even the most financially confident person, so help from projects like money+ is vital in equipping our young consumers of the future.”

The money+ website www.moneyplusni.com is now live and offers sixth form, current higher education students and graduates a wealth of information, links and resources for managing money.

For further information on money+, contact:  Seana Skeffington, Marketing Manager, Queen’s Students’ Union. Tel: 02890972577, email: seana.skeffington@qub.ac.uk

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Male infertility focus of international event at Queen's

Male infertility and tackling falling birth rates across Europe will be among the topics addressed at this year’s British Andrology Society’s annual conference at Queen’s.

World leaders in the field of andrology – the study of male reproduction – will meet at Queen’s this week (Thursday and Friday) to discuss the latest developments in the field of fertility including the potential to create artificial sperm from stem cells.

The conference organiser, Professor Sheena Lewis from the Centre of Public Health in the University’s School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, says research into male fertility is vastly underfunded.
Professor Lewis said: “Male infertility is now a public health issue. Infertility affects one in six couples around Europe and the male partner is responsible for 40% of these problems.

“DNA damage to sperm is a major cause of male infertility. “We know sperm DNA damage is closely associated with all fertility check points and also longer times to get pregnant and increased pregnancy loss.”
Over the past 50 years birth rates have declined at an unprecedented rate so that instead of the 2.1 children a couple necessary to maintain population replacement current rates stand at 1.5 births per woman. Only a minimal increase to 1.6 is expected by 2030.

Last year the European Parliament acknowledged for the first time that falling fertility rates were a major cause of demographic decline.

There are many possible reasons for the fall in the European birth rate including changes in women’s roles in society and the choice of some couples to be childfree. But research shows that European couples of child-bearing age would like to have more children but are unable to.

As social trends have not altered significantly over the past 50 years researchers, say it is more likely that falling birth rates are impacted more by an increase in infertility. Over mortality and migration, infertility is the major determinant of Europe’s future population.

Professor Lewis explained:  “We are trying to develop diagnostic tests to give couples more information about the causes of their infertility and how to improve their chances of a successful conception.

“We need to do this through multi-centred trials and this can only be done with increased government funding.
“Sperm DNA can be damaged by lifestyle factors including smoking, alcohol, drugs and obesity
Sperm DNA tests have a huge potential as they can determine the basis of damage so we can find ways to protect it.”
A major component of the solution to  falling birth rates is through assisted reproductive technology (ART) but Professor Lewis says that for ART success rates to be improved much more research, including the prognostic sperm tests, needed to be carried out.

“Research into infertility has not been deemed strategic to health services or governments over the past three decades and so had been dogged by lack of funding.

“This is illustrated by UK statistics where research councils or charities spend less than one per cent on reproductive research compared with nine per cent on cardiovascular research and 27 per cent on cancer studies.

“Stemming the tide with ART techniques including IVF and ICSI – where one sperm is injected into an egg - will make a significant contribution to tackling the falling birth rates.”
For media enquiries contact Andrea Clements on 028 9097 5391 or a.clements@qub.ac.uk

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New breast cancer research funding for Queen’s
Professor Kevin Prise
Professor Kevin Prise

Individualised radiotherapy treatment based on a person’s genetic make up could soon become a reality thanks to work being carried out at Queen’s and other institutions which is being funded by Breast Cancer Campaign.

Professor Kevin Prise, Associate Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, has been awarded a three year project grant by the charity to study how genes are involved in the effectiveness of radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer.

The grant, worth more than £160,000, is part of £2 million awarded to 20 projects in the UK and Ireland.

Radiotherapy is given to women with breast cancer to destroy any remaining breast cancer cells after surgery and limit the chance of the disease returning. However, it is believed that a range of genes including BRCA1, BRCA2 and Fanconi Anaemia work together to prevent the cells being destroyed by radiotherapy, as they appear to repair the damage caused to the DNA of breast cancer cells.

In the laboratory at Queen’s, Professor Prise and his team will treat breast cancer cells with radiotherapy to see why this is happening and find out why these genes have an impact on the success of the treatment.

Professor Prise said: “We are grateful for this funding from Breast Cancer Campaign. We hope our findings will lead to methods to predict which patients will gain limited benefit from this treatment. The course of radiotherapy could then be adapted to the individual to ensure they receive a more effective dose.”

Arlene Wilkie, Director of Research and Policy, Breast Cancer Campaign said: “There are many different genes which are important in both the development and treatment of breast cancer. “Identifying them and finding out more about their role is a vital area of breast cancer research and we are delighted to be funding this project.”

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‘Sharing innovation’ key to business success

Innovation guru Professor Henry Chesbrough (second left) with Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor James McElnay, Liam Nellis, Chief Executive, InterTradeIreland; and Dr Nola Hewitt-Dundas, Senior Lecturer in Innovation at Queen's’
Northern Ireland companies should share their innovations in order to succeed, according to innovation expert Professor Henry Chesbrough.

 Professor Chesbrough, Director of the Centre for Open Innovation, University of California, Berkeley, shared his thoughts with the local business community at a recent InterTradeIreland Innovation lecture and masterclass at Queen’s University.
With a unique background as both a practitioner and researcher, Professor Chesbrough spent 10 years in senior product planning and strategic marketing positions in Silicon Valley. His book, Open Innovation, which puts forward a new theory for organising and managing research and development, was named a “Best Business Book’ by Strategy and Business magazine.
Professor Chesbrough suggests that the key to success is creating an open platform around innovations so that a firm’s customers, employees and even competitors can build upon them. In short, firms that can harness outside ideas to advance their own businesses, while leveraging their internal ideas outside their current operations, are likely to thrive in a new era of open innovation.
This concept runs counter to the traditional view of companies protecting their intellectual property and undertaking the R&D and market development work themselves to create new products and services. Professor Chesbrough said: “Useful knowledge is no longer concentrated in a few large organisations – business leaders must adopt a new, ‘open’ model of innovation.”
Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduates, Professor James McElnay, said: “Professor Chesbrough’s approach presents a real opportunity for Northern Ireland to exploit the innovation potential among its world class research centres, multi-national companies and its dynamic, indigenous SME community. 
“Just last month, Queen’s was named the Times Higher Education Entrepreneurial University of the Year. In particular, the judges highlighted the success of Queen’s spin-out businesses and its pioneering model of entrepreneurship education within the curriculum. Other key activities in this area include the forging of ever-closer links with the local business community, through initiatives such as the InterTradeIreland Innovation programme, and we are very grateful to the agency for its continuing sponsorship and support.”
InterTradeIreland Chief Executive Liam Nellis said: “The theme of open innovation has a strong resonance with our own work in InterTradeIreland. Through our programmes and initiatives, we are facilitating the development of an open innovation system across the island, North and South to deliver not only a more efficient use of the two jurisdictions’ knowledge resources, but also a more effective one as well.”

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Indian and Irish poets create ‘world first’ cultural event
Professor Ed Larrissy, School of English
Professor Ed Larrissy, School of English

Some of Ireland’s most distinguished poets have joined together with their Indian counterparts to celebrate a week long festival of languages and culture in New Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata.

Believed to be the first event of its kind, this cultural festival provides the literary traditions of India and Ireland an opportunity to build on the shared history of excellence in poetry from W.B. Yeats and Rabindranath Tagore to today’s finest writers and critics including Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney.

Tomorrow’s event, which takes place in Kolkata, has been supported by the British Council and Queen’s University Belfast, where many of the participating Irish poets are based.

Those taking part from India are: Ashoke Viswanathan; Jayanta Mahapatra; Sunil Gangopadhyay; Professor Nabaneeta Dev Sen; Srijato and Mamang Dai. The Irish delegation includes: Michael Longley, Ireland Chair of Poetry and one of the foremost living poets in the English language; Ciaran Carson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queens University; Ed Larrissy, Professor of Poetry at the School of English at Queen’s; Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, traditional singer in residence at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, and Edna Longley, Professor Emerita at Queen’s.

Speaking about the evening President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Peter Gregson said: “Since the early 20th century Queen’s has been home to a vibrant and diverse poetic tradition. Indeed, it is little surprise that the Times Literary Supplement has said that ‘poetry is now the activity for which Queen’s is best-known throughout the English-speaking world.’

“Queen’s has many assets, but our reputation as a centre for poetry is one that we particularly prize. Few other universities in Britain and Ireland can point to such a wealth of talent, and such a single contribution to modern poetry.

“It is therefore a great privilege that Queen’s can share this wealth of talent with fellow artists in India and compare how their experiences have helped shape modern-day contemporary Indian and Irish poetry.”

Taking part in the event, Ciaran Carson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s said: "Poetry is one of the areas for which Queen's University is internationally known, and the Seamus Heaney Centre is at the heart of that endeavour, whether through the work of its poets and critics, or its links with other art-forms, especially traditional singing and music. Poetry transcends international boundaries and we greatly look forward to exploring it further with our fellow poets in India."

The visit to Kolkata is part of a ten day visit to India by a senior delegation from Queen’s University and also included visiting major institutions in New Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. The purpose of the visit was to strengthen existing links and to develop new partnerships which would be of mutual benefit to the Indian economy and education sector and those of Northern Ireland

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Queen’s graduates boost child psychology services

Essential psychology services for young people across Northern Ireland have been enhanced by the first group of graduates from Queen’s Doctorate in Educational, Child and Adolescent Psychology (DECAP).
All 12 of the new course’s first graduates have been snapped up to fill psychology services jobs in Northern Ireland’s five Education and Library Boards. The new doctors of psychology were the first intake to the three year course in September 2006.
Course director, Dr Harry Rafferty from the School of Psychology at Queen’s, said: “Thanks to the foresight of the Department of Education and its commitment to developing joined-up services for children and young people, we have had the opportunity to design this unique, fully funded and much needed training programme which has been commended by the British Psychological Society.
“These new graduates are a valuable and vital resource for Northern Ireland. The focus of training and experience shifts in each year of the course, from children and young people in their schools in the first year, to their families in the second, and to the community in the third. The five Education and Library Boards have been very supportive of the development of the course and in providing training and research opportunities.
“In these times of employment uncertainty I am delighted that all our graduates have secured jobs in the field in which they have been so well trained. This is testament to their hard work and the value of the skills and expertise they have developed in the past three years.”
Dr Clare Caughey from Knock in Belfast is one of the graduates who has recently started working as an Educational Psychologist with Belfast Education and Library Board. Dr Caughey said: “It has been a challenging and a hugely enjoyable experience. Together with the team of tutors, we often felt we were breaking new ground and being given unprecedented opportunities.
“While training as educational psychologists we worked closely with colleagues in other professions and agencies – both statutory and voluntary – and researched new methods of helping children, their parents and teachers. It has been a challenging three years, but staff and fellow students provided tremendous support and the fact that we have all secured good jobs has made the hard work worthwhile.”
For more information on the Doctorate in Educational, Child and Adolescent Psychology visit www.psych.qub.ac.uk or contact Mr John Eakin on 028 9097 4384 or at j.eakin@qub.ac.uk.

For media inquiries contact Anne-Marie Watson on 028 9097 5320 or email a.watson@qub.ac.uk

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Global concert for peace at Queen's

Musicians at Queen’s will join others around the world to perform in Reso-Nations – an internet based international United Nations concert for peace.
The late night concert is taking place on Friday 20 November (21 November local time, at 12.30am) and is a Telematic performance. Telematic music is real-time performance via the internet by musicians in different geographic locations. Queen’s musicians will join performers in New York, San Diego, Alberta in Canada and Seoul in South Korea.
The performance at Queen’s Sonic Arts Research Centre is open to the public and will take place at 12.30am on 21 November 2009. Reso-Nations can also be viewed online through the world-wide webcast hosted by The Banff Centre. Webcast spaces are limited to 200 and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. To reserve a place for the webcast contact Dominique_Carrier@banffcentre.ca
Professor Michael Alcorn, Head of the School of Music and Sonic Arts at Queen’s said: "The Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) at Queen’s has been at the forefront of research in the area of network performance since 2005. Taking advantage of high speed internet, researchers in this area have been developing methods for performing music across the globe. Through collaboration with institutions such as Stanford University in the US as well as partners of the European Culture 2007 project ‘CoMeDia’, researchers, musicians and composers at SARC have regularly performed over the internet with ensembles distributed amongst different locations."
Musicians from Queen’s University include Pedro Rebelo, composer and piano, Franziska Schroeder, saxophone, Manuela Meier, accordion, Steve Davis, drums/percussion, Justin Yang, saxophone/electronics, and technology by Chris Corrigan, Felipe Hickman and Rui Chaves.
For more information on Reso-Nations visit http://resonations.kaist.ac.kr/en/introduction.html For more information on the School of Music and Sonic Arts at Queen’s visit www.mu.qub.ac.uk
For media inquiries please contact Anne-Marie Watson at the Press and PR Unit at Queen’s University on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5320 or 07814415451.

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Tolerance study results revealed

One in three people admit to being prejudiced against ethnic minority communities and, disturbingly, some of them are not afraid to show it, according to joint research by Queen’s and the University of Ulster.

The latest Northern Ireland Life and Times survey (NILT) conducted by ARK, a collaborative venture of the universities, reports that bias is growing, fed in part by “stereotypical generalisations which are based upon a limited engagement.”

The proportion whose prejudice ranges from ‘a little’ to ‘very’ mirrors levels of respondents’ lack of knowledge of ethnic cultures and a limited amount of contact with people from them.

“A sizeable proportion of those admitting prejudice are also unwilling to disguise it in interactions with members of minority communities,” the survey notes. “However, there is also some evidence that people do not see all minority communities as the same.”

The findings are being discussed on 18 November at an ARK seminar, entitled Prejudice and Tolerance in Northern Ireland, presented by Dr Neil Jarman of the Institute for Conflict Research, at the office of NICVA at Duncairn Gardens, Belfast. 

Dr Jarman noted that “three years ago the Chinese community was seen bearing the brunt of the prejudice but the new survey finds that Polish people are now most in the firing line.”

The study also reveals continuing and deeply ingrained bias against members of the Traveller community, who are second to the Poles as being perceived as victims of prejudice. The fieldwork was completed before the sudden upsurge in intimidation against people from the Roma in south Belfast earlier this year.

Respondents were less willing to consider integrating with members of the Traveller community and with Muslims, than with Chinese, Asians or with East Europeans.
The survey noted that 15 years ago, only one in ten people in Northern Ireland described themselves as at all prejudiced. A decade later that had risen to one in four. 

In the 2008 NILT survey, two per cent of respondents described themselves as ‘very prejudiced’ and 30 per cent as ‘a little prejudiced’ against people of minority ethnic communities.

University of Ulster's Professor Gillian Robinson, Director of ARK, said: “There is overwhelming acknowledgement by respondents that anti-ethnic prejudice exists. That acknowledgement, in itself, is positive. The downside is that we now have a time-series that shows that bias is on the increase.”

“This survey is clearly a wake-up call for action to break down prejudice, not least by increasing areas of contact between the ethnic population and the indigenous general public.”

Dr Jarman said: “In the past 10 years, the size and diversity of the ethnic population has grown very substantially, and so have the numbers of racist incidents that have been logged by the PSNI.

“The number of such incidents recorded by the police each year since 1999 shows a dramatic rise in the total from 185 in 2002 to 1047 in 2007. This increase would have been even greater if hate crimes against minority faiths were included in the total.”

Paula Devine, Coordinator of the Life and Times Survey at Queen’s University added that “The findings suggest that more detailed qualitative research into the views and attitudes of the two majority communities are imperative for understanding the patterns of prejudice and tolerance in Northern Ireland.”

Details of the research are available at: http://www.ark.ac.uk/publications/updates/update63.pdf

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Student 'cements' place as world lecturer
Rochelle O'Hara receives her award from Barry Lye, IOM3 President
Rochelle O'Hara receives her award from Barry Lye, IOM3 President

Queen’s PhD student Rochelle O’Hara has recently won this year’s Young Persons’ World Lecture Competition.

Representing the UK she beat contests from around the world in the finals held in Port Elizabeth in South Africa. Rochelle delivered a 15 minute talk on the potential of calcium phosphate bone cements for spinal repair, followed by questions from the judging panel.

The West Belfast student has been studying the use of injectable cement for the treatment of burst fractures, a highly traumatic spinal injury, as part of her three year postgraduate position in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s. The technique is minimally invasive compared to the traditional method of fusing spinal fragments together using metal screws or rods.

Explaining the process, Rochelle said: “Burst fractures account for over 1,000 emergency NHS admissions each year and often require highly complex invasive surgery and a long stay in hospital. Use of bone cements would reduce recovery times and NHS costs.”

Michelle won a trophy, certificate and £700 prize money. Earlier this year she also won the 2009 Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) Young Persons' Lecture Competition for the United Kingdom.

For media inquiries, please contact Judith Rance, Press and PR Unit, 028 9097 5292, j.rance@qub.ac.uk

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Report shows fathers have a role to play in sex education

A new study on how parents communicate with their children about relationships and sexuality shows that fathers may need further encouragement to discuss these issues with their children.
The study, published by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency in the Republic of Ireland, was co-authored by Dr Maria Lohan from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s with academics from University College Dublin.
It involved 43 parents - 32 mothers and 11 fathers across Ireland - in an attempt to understand how parents communicate on the topic of relationships and sexuality with their pre-adolescent and adolescent children.
Findings included:

  • Parents reported that younger children often came to them with questions but said they were reluctant to discuss sexual matters, particularly about sexual intercourse, with them for fear of compromising their innocence. 
  • While parents didn’t always respond fully to questions from their younger children, they reported trying to raise sexual issues with their teenage children. These attempts, however were often blocked by the young people who were reluctant to talk about the topic. 
  • While many parents reported that they were ‘open’ about discussing issues of sexuality in the home, participants who felt that schools and parents need to take a shared responsibility for sexuality education were often found to deliver similar messages and information to those who felt that they did not need to undertake much sex education.  
  • Some parents reported talking about sexual matters at a superficial level. It is important to note that they did tend to invite their children to raise issues with them, leaving the onus on the young person to initiate the discussion. 
  • Issues such as contraception were often not covered because parents believed that their adolescent was not sexually active, was not romantically involved or had acquired adequate information at school. 
  • Even those who believed that sexuality education was the responsibility of both parents and the school tended to rely heavily on the school to deliver that education.  

Dr Maria Lohan said:  “The research suggests that fathers, in particular, may need further encouragement to communicate with their sons and daughters and may need advice on how best to do this.
“Many of the fathers distanced themselves from traditional notions of a strict gender division of labour in the household and instead emphasised how they wanted to be as involved as their partners/wives in listening and talking to their children about issues of sexuality and relationships.
“However, adolescents were more likely to approach mothers and while neither mothers nor fathers seemed very comfortable talking about issues of sexuality and relationships with their adolescents, it would appear that fathers are less practiced and are sometimes happy to defer to the mother.
“A few participants who gave the view that fathers would be better placed to undertake sexuality education with their sons went on to reveal that the child’s father was too embarrassed or otherwise reluctant to do so.
“A growing body of research emphasises the important health-protecting effects of parental involvement in children’s sex education.
“This is one of the first reports, nationally or internationally, that focuses on the content of parental communication with children from a parent’s perspective.
“The research identifies the value of parents responding – in a manner that the parents regard appropriate – to their pre-adolescent children’s questions about relationships and sexuality.
“At this stage, it is the children who usually initiate the communication. If parents convey a willingness to discuss issues of relationships and sexuality from an early stage, it may be easier to maintain a dialogue around these matters through the critical adolescent years, when parental input is crucial.”
Director of the Crisis Pregnancy Agency, Caroline Spillane, said: “It’s important that parents start communicating with children at an early age about relationships and sex, delivering age-appropriate and accurate information to create an environment where children will feel comfortable in discussing the subject as they get older. 
“Parents are best placed to judge precisely what information is appropriate for their children at various stages in their lives. The Agency has created a number of resources to help parents feel comfortable and confident in leading a conversation about relationships and avoid a situation where they are reacting to teenagers’ behaviour as they get older.”
The report, entitled Parents’ approaches to educating their pre-adolescent and adolescent children about sexuality, was co-authored by Dr Abbey Hyde, Professor Marie Carney, Dr Jonathan Drennan, Dr Michelle Butler.
It is the Agency’s 30th research report since its establishment in 2001.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit, 028 90 97 5391 a.clements@qub.ac.uk

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New appointment for Pro-Vice-Chancellor
Professor Gerry McCormac has been appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling.
Professor Gerry McCormac has been appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling.
One of Northern Ireland’s leading academics has been appointed Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling.

Professor Gerry McCormac, currently Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Queen’s University Belfast, is due to take up his appointment in May next year. He succeeds Professor Christine Hallett.

Queen’s University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson, said: “Gerry McCormac has made an enormous contribution to Queen’s and to Higher Education in Northern Ireland, we wish him well in his new job.

“I know the University of Stirling will benefit from his vision and his commitment. As a valued member of our senior management team, he has played an important role in the transformation of Queen’s, which has established its credentials as a research-driven University of international standing.

“He is a great communicator, and during the past eight years as Pro-Vice-Chancellor with specific responsibility for external affairs, he has helped the University build close partnerships with business, politics and the wider community.”

Professor McCormac, whose academic background is in the fields of Carbon Dating and Space Physics, said: “I will be very sorry to leave Queen’s after 20 years. The University plays a central role in the life of Northern Ireland, and it has been a privilege to have contributed to its success as Pro-Vice-Chancellor under two Vice-Chancellors, Professor Sir George Bain and Professor Peter Gregson.

 “I know I will be able to put the knowledge and skills I have acquired in Northern Ireland to good use in Scotland. Queen’s and Stirling share a common commitment to excellence in research and education, and both play a central role in the regions they serve.”
Professor McCormac holds a BSc in Physics and Geology and a PhD in Space Physics. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Space Physics Laboratory, University of Michigan, he conducted research on the NASA Dynamics Explorer Program. He was appointed to the research faculty at Michigan in 1987 where he published extensively on high altitude winds that constitute space ‘weather’ and impact low earth-orbiting satellites.

In 1990, he assumed the position of Director of the High-Precision Carbon Dating Facility at Queen’s University Belfast. He published important papers on radiocarbon calibration, the revised dates for Stonehenge and the Royal Tombs in Pazyryk, Siberia. He became Head of the School of Archaeology in 1997.  In 2000, he led the University team that won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education.

He was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor in 2001, and in this role he has had responsibility for: Academic Planning; Economic Development, and External Affairs.
Media inquiries to Press and PR Unit, Tel: 028 9097 3091

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Abbey opens new branch at Queen’s
The Vice-Chancellor is pictured at the opening with (from left):  Margaret Chambers, Regional Manager Northern Ireland; Matthew Hutnell, Performance Director, Santander Universities; David Mackay, Divisional Director North, Abbey; Michael Wilson, Branch Manager.
The Vice-Chancellor is pictured at the opening with (from left): Margaret Chambers, Regional Manager Northern Ireland; Matthew Hutnell, Performance Director, Santander Universities; David Mackay, Divisional Director North, Abbey; Michael Wilson, Branch Manager.

Queen’s has increased its banking services on campus with the opening of a new Abbey branch.

Professor Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s and David Mackay, Divisional Director North, Abbey cut the ribbon at the opening of the new branch, situated in the Queen’s Students’ Union Building, which will offer a full range of banking services to students, staff and visitors to the campus.

Since 2008 Abbey has been opening branches on some of the most important campuses in the UK, Queen’s Belfast being its 14th such branch.

Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: “In the short time since Queen’s became part of the Santander Universities network, we have developed a rewarding and exciting partnership which directly benefits our students and staff and also enhances our international research links. This is an excellent example of how universities and business can work together to promote innovation and knowledge transfer in the global higher education environment.

“The opening of the Abbey branch in the Students’ Union marks the beginning of the next stage in the relationship between Santander and Queen’s, and we are very grateful to the bank for its ongoing support. I have no doubt that our partnership will continue to go from strength to strength.”

The Santander Universities network began its activity in the UK in 2007 and since then 35 universities have signed agreements with Santander to become a part of the network.

Queen’s University Belfast signed the agreement in May 2008, and was one of the first universities to benefit from these partnerships.

Through these agreements the Bank supports the university community funding scholarships, entrepreneurship activities, research awards and non-academic achievements awards.

More than 700 universities in 4 continents are part of the Santander Universities network.
At the end of the event, Santander Universities welcomed the international scholars who have been awarded with a Santander Universities scholarship for the current academic year.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5310, Mob 07815 871997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Queer performance under the spotlight at Queen’s

Queen’s University is hosting a weekend of events exploring the role of ‘queer theory’ and how it can be applied to our thinking about the performing arts (14-15 November 2009).

Queer theory is a recognised branch of academic study, exploring notions of identity –and particularly the strategies by which we form ideas of ourselves as having a particular identity. The events at Queen’s are part of the OUTburst Queer Arts Festival - Belfast’s annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender arts festival.

Dr Alyson Campbell, lecturer in Drama at Queen’s School of Languages, Literatures and Performing Arts has organised the Performing Queer Subjectivities conference. Dr Campbell said: “The weekend’s queer theory programme at Queen’s offers a place where we can experience related art events – theatre and photography – and discuss their importance and meaning.

“We will present the European premiere of Bison, by Sydney playwright Lachlan Philpott. Bison portrays gay masculinities as a set of patterns which play out repeatedly in society. There is also the debut solo exhibition of portraits by Dublin photographer Daniel Holfeld.

“Attached to the conference are two free public events: a panel discussion on the place of the queer arts festival, which sets out to engage artists and theorists in conversation about the need for LGBTQ events and visibility through arts; and a rehearsed reading of Billy Cowan’s Smilin’ Through - a hard-hitting play about a young Protestant man from Belfast, and his mother’s reaction to the revelation that her son is not only gay, but is in a relationship with a Catholic man.

“Aside from the public events, the conference will also include a keynote address by Professor Brian Singleton, who has been a driving force in promoting queer theory and the study of masculinities within Drama at Trinity College Dublin.

“This conference aims to provide a forum for discussion on queer theory and performance. While queer theory emerged as a field of academic study in the 1990’s, Northern Ireland seems to be lagging behind the US and much of the UK in terms of study and research in this area. It is an exciting development that Queen’s is addressing these areas of theory and research.

“This is an opportunity for queer theorists, arts practitioners or anyone with an interest in queer performance to discuss topics including the implications of queer performance in Ireland, queer theatre North and South and the politics of dancing.”

For more information the OUTburst Queer Arts Festival and events at Queen’s visit www.outburstarts.com

For media inquiries please contact Anne-Marie Watson at Queen’s Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 5320 or a.watson@qub.ac.uk

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ESB Independent Energy and Queen’s announce new partnership
Dr Timothy Littler, from School of Electronic, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Norma Sinte, Queen's Director of Development, and Liam Molloy, Managing Director, ESBIE, announcing the new partnership between Queen’s MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering programme and ESBIE.
Dr Timothy Littler, Queen’s University School of Electronic, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Norma Sinte, Queen's Director of Development, and Liam Molloy, Managing Director, ESBIE, announcing the new partnership between Queen’s MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering programme and the business energy supplier ESBIE.

Queen's School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has linked up with business energy supplier ESB Independent Energy (ESBIE) in a new partnership to support and create opportunities for Northern Ireland’s top engineering students.

The deal will see ESBIE providing scholarships to four students from the MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering programme on an annual basis. The package will include financial support, ongoing mentoring and practical experience through summer and corporate placements throughout ESB International’s many energy sites throughout Europe.

Queen’s ranks at number five in the UK for Electrical and Electronic Engineering in university league tables. It is also a member of the prestigious UK Power Academy which is made up of the top seven UK universities for electrical power engineering.

Commenting on the initiative, Liam Molloy, Managing Director, ESBIE, said: “ESBIE is committed to supporting the business market here in Northern Ireland, not only through our competitive and tailored energy services but also by bringing our experience to bear in areas such as the renewable sector. This will ensure Northern Ireland, which has enormous potential, is at the cutting edge of business economies in the near future.

“This exciting new partnership with Queen’s is a reflection of that commitment by helping support the quality of students that enter into the workplace here.

“Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects have been earmarked as key areas that will impact our future competitiveness and ability to grow and maintain high value jobs. Queen’s has a proven track record and we are confident that supporting and working with its students is a win-win scenario.”

Queen’s School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is one of the largest in the University with almost 150 undergraduates and over 80 postgraduate students studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering.  Queen’s graduates in this area have a high employment rate, with 86% employed in jobs related to their degrees within six months of graduating.

Dr Tim Littler, who oversees the management of scholarships within the School, said, “The ESBIE scholarships provide an excellent package that will support and shape the academic and career pathway of Electrical and Electronic Engineering students at Queen’s. The prestigious new scheme provides ESBIE with direct access to high calibre engineering students and offers an annual bursary and book allowance, comprehensive placement training, industrial mentoring and the prospect of a professional career with ESBIE after graduation.

“The joint scheme has been founded on a strong technical synergy between the two partners which embraces ESBIE innovation and global developments and the international reputation for high quality teaching and research at Queen’s University.”

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Irish place-names scholar remembered at Queen’s

The legacy of one of Ireland’s most renowned Gaelic scholars will be explored at Queen’s University on Thursday 12 November.

Anyone with an interest in the history of Irish place-names can learn about the work of John O’Donovan, who is recognised as one of Ireland’s greatest scholars and a pioneering toponymist, or expert on the history of place-names.

O’Donovan was the first Professor of Celtic Languages at Queen’s College Belfast – the forerunner to Queen’s University. He is best known for his work advising the Ordnance Survey on Irish place-names and for his editions of several important early Irish texts, most notably of Annála Ríoghachta Éireann (better known as The Annals of the Four Masters).

The public talk by Dr Nollaig Ó Muráile of the National University of Ireland, Galway will take place at 8pm in room G06 of the Peter Froggatt Centre at Queen’s. The talk is one of the highlights of an international conference at Queen’s exploring early Irish and Scottish place-names. The Second International Conference on the Early Medieval Toponymy of Ireland and Scotland takes place at Queen’s from 12-14 November and is organised by postgraduates of Queen’s in collaboration with postgraduates from other UK and Irish universities.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5320 a.watson@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's research could protect front line troops
An illustration of how the antenna signals would operate in the field. Reproduced from the paper: Millimeter-Wave Soldier-to-Soldier Communications for Covert Battlefield Operations by SL Cotton, WG Scanlon and BK Madahar which appeared in Communications Magazine, IEEE (Volume 47, October 2009)Image © 2009 IEEE
An illustration of how the antenna signals would operate in the field.

A team of researchers at Queen's University Belfast’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) is working to develop futuristic communications systems that could help protect frontline troops.
Building on work completed recently for the UK Ministry of Defence, the project is aimed at investigating the use of arrays of highly specialised antennas that could be worn by combat troops to provide covert short-range person-to-person battleground communications.
The project could lead to the development of advanced wireless systems that would enable small squads of soldiers to share real-time video, covert surveillance data and tactical information with each other via helmet mounted visors.
The equipment would bring major benefits to members of the armed forces by providing high levels of situational awareness in hostile environments as well as helping to preserve the element of surprise in close encounters with an enemy.
Details of the project appear in the most recent edition of IEEE Communications Magazine - one of the most authoritative international academic publications in the field.
According to lead researcher, Dr Simon Cotton of CSIT’s Radio Communications Research Group, it is the seventh article the team has published on the topic in leading academic journals since the beginning of 2009.
“This is a major achievement and underlines the fact that the group is now a recognised international leader in the area of Body Area Networks (BANs). Our paper in IEEE Communications Magazine is also the first to be published on Body-to-Body Networks (BBNs),” says Dr Cotton.
“Through our work, we aim to overcome some formidable challenges as the proposed wireless devices will be expected to operate in a range of environments much more exacting than those encountered in civilian life.
“Despite this, they still need to be extremely reliable, efficient and resilient to ‘jamming’ or interception and decryption by enemy forces
“Our job is to help make them a reality by modelling how the devices would work in real life; how the signals would be transmitted to and from the body of each user and what types of antennas would be required to allow them to function properly.
“To do this, we are modelling specific combat scenarios using state-of-the-art animation normally used to create computer games.
“We believe that ultimately this work will lead directly to the development of new applications not only for the military but also for the emergency services and the sports and entertainment markets,” adds Dr Cotton.

For further information, please contact Lisa McElroy, Tel: 028 90 97 5384 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Lights, camera, action: new movie making centre at Queen’s
A new state-of-the-art Apple digital editing training centre is now available at Queen's
BBC’s Mark Carruthers (L) gets to grips with the new Film Studies digital editing suite at Queen’s, along with teaching fellow Declan Keeney (R) and Film Instructor Technician Glenn Gallagher (centre).

Queen’s is giving budding film makers a head start in the movie industry by offering access to a new state-of-the-art Apple digital editing training centre.

The Apple Authorised Training Centre for Education (AATCe) at the University will deliver high-quality training to Queen’s students and members of the public in the area of digital editing. It is based in the University’s Film Studies department.

Declan Keeney, Teaching Fellow in Film Studies at Queen’s, said: “The Apple Authorised Training Centre for Education at Queen’s will provide industry standard training on editing software used by the professionals and is perfect for anyone who wants to get ahead in the film, television or media industry.

“You don’t have to be a Queen’s student to make use of this top-class facility. From Queen’s Film Studies students to amateur film makers, videographers and photographers, all are welcome. The Centre offers training at various levels, from introductory courses to an Apple Pro Certification status.

“The Centre provides training in the key software applications used by digital media professionals. It will equip our students, and anyone with an interest in film production, with the skills needed to unlock their creativity and gain valuable and much sought after editing skills which will give them a real advantage in a very competitive industry.”

Professor David Johnston, Head of the School of Languages, Literatures and Performing Arts at Queen’s, said: “The AATCe is an excellent resource for Queen’s Film Studies students and will help boost the University’s reputation for world-class digital education.

“Queen’s graduates are already working in the television and film industry around the world. Film Studies graduate Conor Clements recently saw success with his film James at the Sundance and Cannes film festivals and has won 20 international awards to date. This Centre will help Queen’s continue to produce highly qualified graduates with the skills necessary for a successful career in digital media.

“The Centre will allow students to gain a professional qualification as an ‘Apple Certified Pro’ alongside their degree. The coursework to secure this qualification will be embedded in the Film Studies degree programme.”

For more information on the Apple Authorised Training Centre for Education at Queen’s and the training available visit www.qub.ac.uk/film/welcome/APPLE_TRAINING.html

To find out more information about Film Studies at Queen’s visit www.qub.ac.uk/film

For media inquiries please contact Anne-Marie Watson at Queen’s University Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 5320, 07814415451 or a.watson@qub.ac.uk

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Ignored and excluded in a divided society

High levels of poverty and the legacy of the conflict in six communities across Northern Ireland have been highlighted in a study by the Childhood, Transition and Social Justice Initiative at Queen’s.

The research, in partnership with Save the Children and The Prince’s Trust, will be discussed at a public event to launch Childhood in Transition: Experiencing Marginalisation and Conflict in Northern Ireland at Queen’s on Wednesday 4 November.

The voices of the children, young people and community representatives who took part in the study provide a stark alternative to over-optimistic claims about living in a ‘post-conflict’ society that safeguards children’s rights.

In their families, schools and wider communities, children and young people are still dealing with the effects of trauma, bereavement, parental imprisonment and community-based punishments.

Community representatives consistently reported lack of preparation in communities and limited resources to deal with the aftermath and continued legacy of the conflict. One participant said: “On the streets in the community, you don’t see any benefits from the peace process at all. Despair is still there.”

Children and young people were particularly concerned about the lack of respect and hostility they regularly experienced. A typical comment from a young person was: “It’s your appearance. It’s the way you dress - wearin’ hoods, whereabouts you hang about - street corners, the types of things you’re into - like cars and all this here. You know, they just automatically assume.”

Professor Phil Scraton, Director of the Childhood, Transition and Social Justice Initiative said: “More than a decade after the Good Friday Agreement, the research chronicles the continued impacts of violence and sectarianism on children and young people’s everyday lives.

“It highlights the social and economic exclusion experienced by children and young people in some of Northern Ireland’s most marginalised communities. For many, basic rights are not being adequately promoted and protected including rights to an adequate standard of living; age appropriate play and leisure activities; non-discrimination; freedom of peaceful assembly; highest attainable standard of health and the principle of participation - all issues raised as concerns by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child last year.

“Identifying 96 key issues, this research should contribute significantly to public education, policy change and law reform as full devolution is achieved. It reinforces the need for rights-based policies across government departments and the promotion and protection of rights for children, young people and their families.”

The launch of Childhood in Transition: Experiencing Marginalisation and Conflict in Northern Ireland will take place at 4pm on Wednesday 4 November in the Canada Room at the Lanyon Building, Queen’s University.

For media inquiries please contact Anne-Marie Watson on 028 9097 5320, 07814415451 or a.watson@qub.ac.uk

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Stark warning for UK automobile sector

Findings from the largest ever study of the sustainability of car manufacturing of 17 of the world’s leading car companies have just been published by a leading European research team.
Key findings from the study entitled Sustainable Value in Automobile Manufacturing highlight: 

  • How Asian car manufacturers are outperforming their North American, and many of their European competitors, in using their economic, environmental and social resources more efficiently
  • How General Motors’ poor financial performance is accompanied by the worst sustainability performance recorded.
  • Leading manufacturers including Porsche, KIA or Chinese manufacturers are still not producing sufficient sustainability performance data.

The unique report, which covers the period between 1999 and 2007, has been created by researchers at Queen’s Management School in Belfast, alongside colleagues from the Euromed Management School Marseille, and the Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment (IZT) in Berlin.
It provides a full account of the societal impacts of car production, including issues such as the volume of greenhouse gas emissions from production facilities and the number of work accidents recorded by a company. It also looks at how efficiently car manufacturers used key natural resources compared with their industry peers and how much profit or loss was generated with these resources.
The ratio of sustainable value to sales is calculated in the report so that different companies can be directly compared irrespective of their size. Sustainable value includes not just the use of economic capital but also environmental and social resources. It is the first value-based method for assessing corporate sustainability performance.
In the report Asian car manufacturers including Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan, Honda, and to a lesser extent, Suzuki have all out-performed their North American competitors. In stark contract to the Asian manufacturers, both North American carmakers Ford and General Motors (GM) lie well into negative territory, with GM showing the most striking downside trend.
There is a mixed picture among European manufacturers. While BMW tops the ranking of all 17 manufacturers in most of the years assessed, other European carmakers PSA (Peugeot, Citroën), Renault, Volkswagen and DaimlerChrysler/Daimler AG only occasionally keep pace with the industry leaders. FIAT Auto consistently falls behind throughout the entire review period.
Professor Frank Figge from Queen’s Management School, one of the authors of the study, said: “Economic crisis, energy crisis, climate crisis and recent global developments have affected the automobile industry like few other sectors. Never before has it been as important for car manufacturers to employ their economic, environmental and social resources wisely – and efficiently.
“However, while issues such as fleet consumption and CO2 emissions have been firmly put on the public agenda, the equally considerable environmental impact of the production phase of car manufacturing has as yet been largely ignored. The survey attempts to close this gap.”
The study also shows the improvement potential that a car giant like General Motors has in  how it could improve its long-term performance. GM achieved a sustainable value of minus €9.87 billion, in comparison with BMW, which having used all the resources considered necessary to create value doubled its sustainable value to €2.8 billion from 1999 to 2007.
Ralf Barkemeyer from Queen’s Management School said: “The study shows that in 2005 GM had by far the worst negative Sustainable Value within the industry which is mainly the result of a dramatic profits slump in 2005. But GM‘s value contributions from carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sodium oxide emissions as well as waste generation are very negative during the period 1999 to 2007. Its sodium oxide value contributions show the worst level of resource efficiency in the entire study.
“The example of several of the other car manufacturers shows that there is a multi billion euro potential for a company like GM to improve both its environmental and social and its financial performance simultaneously.”
But accessing sustainability data for the whole sector remains a problem. Ralf Barkemeyer added: “While Tata could be assessed for the first time in 2007 – and narrowly beats the benchmark in this year – other car manufacturers such as Porsche, KIA or Chinese manufacturers do still not provide sufficient data. Likewise, Daihatsu could not be included in the assessment in the year 2007 due to its insufficient sustainability reporting”.
Professor Figge added: “The bottom line is that this study reveals big differences in sustainability performance in automobile manufacturing. This shows that the production process itself bears considerable room for improvement in terms of sustainability performance. We hope car manufacturers and governments worldwide will take note of this important study.”
Both study and extensive information on the Sustainable Value approach are available at www.sustainablevalue.com.

Media inquiries to Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit. Tel +44 (0)28 90 97 5391 or email a.clements@qub.ac.uk

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Encourage our young people to consider STEM subjects – parents urged

Dr Geoff Cunningham from Queen’s with Alison Black from FG Wilson and Jonny McLaughlin, a student at Dalriada School in Ballymoney.”

Parents of fifth and sixth formers from throughout Northern Ireland have been urged to encourage their children to consider university courses in subjects essential to future economic growth.

The call came at a parents’ evening at Queen’s at which more than 500 parents and pupils learned of the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, particularly engineering, and the career options available.

The event was supported by The Caterpillar Foundation and FG Wilson, a Caterpillar Company, and featured presentations from Queen’s academics, recent graduates and FG Wilson staff. 

Keynote speaker Queen’s Professor John Orr, said: ‘Parents play an important role in influencing the subjects their children choose to study. This event ensured that parents are well informed about the broad range of opportunities available and the subject choices required to pursue a career in engineering.

“A workforce with STEM qualifications is vital for the sustained growth of Northern Ireland’s economy, and Queen’s offers scholarships of £1,000 for students gaining three As at A-level and enrolling on STEM subjects at the University.”

Stephen McKinty of FG Wilson said: “To enable FG Wilson to remain a world-leader in the manufacture of generator sets into the future, we require access to high calibre STEM graduates into the long-term. We are therefore pleased to support this important event, which aims to ensure a workforce of STEM qualified graduates for many years to come.

 “This is an excellent example of how local companies can support the communities in which they operate and further enhances the links between the University and FG Wilson”.

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