News

Queen’s University in £400,000 bid to reduce cyber-attack threats to national grid

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have received funding of almost £400,000 to reduce cyber-attack threats to the UK’s national grid.

The project aims to identify vulnerabilities within the national grid as wind and solar generated electricity become more widely used. The grid operates over the telecoms network making it vulnerable to cyber-attack.

The research is one of four new projects which make up a £2.5million initiative, co-funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and UK’s National Cyber Security Programme, which will focus on the cyber-security of the UK’s critical infrastructure including manufacturing plants, power stations, the electricity grid, and the rail network.

Professor Sakir Sezer, from the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) at Queen’s, said: “Presently, Ireland frequently operates with over 50 per cent of electricity supplied by wind generation.  Operating the system with such high levels of renewable generation is a challenge, and requires complex wide area monitoring and control. 

“Should the telecoms systems that support the control system be compromised, the impact of the resultant loss of electricity supply would have far-reaching consequences for society.  This would involve loss of consumer supply, supply to hospitals, industry, and would even affect the gas, water and sewage networks.

“The researchers will demonstrate assured and improved operational decision making and lay the groundwork for a new, cyber-threat resilient, control architecture for the grid.” 

The Research Institute in Trustworthy Industrial Control Systems (RITICS), based at Imperial College London, is co-ordinating the overall research with projects at Queen’s, the University of Birmingham, City University London and Lancaster University.

The research teams will work with industry partners to understand and analyse the risks from cyber-attack, examine how risk is communicated to business and provide effective interventions to counter the risk. Metrics and software tools will be produced so that non-technical decision makers can assess cyber-security in the context of their business.

Professor Chris Hankin, from the RITICS at Imperial College London, said, “Where control systems are linked to the internet we need to understand how failures could cascade across the system. We will be looking at new ways of repairing damage to systems if an attack happens.

“We need to address how to approach network maintenance for industrial control systems, particularly as most systems operate on a 24/7 basis. So we will be looking at how we can ensure better protection without compromising performance.”

Ends

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s Communications Office on c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk or 02890973087.

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Queen’s scores hat-trick at regional 2014 KTP awards

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Queen’s University Belfast and Hughes Insurance has been named as the NI Regional Winner in this year’s KTP Awards, held last night (Thurs, 25 Sept) in The Merchant Hotel.

Queen’s is the UK’s leading institution for KTPs, working with businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the University.

Speaking about the award, Hughes’ Chief Executive, Gareth Brady, said: "Hughes Insurance has been working closely with Jim McCann at Queen’s for the last three years to develop new ways to improve our customer contact activities. The KTP was hugely successful for us, embedding new technology and expertise in our business, and contributing to a 4.5 per cent increase in customer retention figures.”

Queen’s also saw Professor Su Taylor, from its School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, named as the UKs Academic Ambassador for KTP.

This Award is made in recognition of the outstanding contribution made to KTP by a member of academic staff and the role they have had in influencing the uptake of KTP throughout their institution. Professor Taylor has been involved in eleven Partnerships with local pre-cast concrete companies and has published 52 academic papers on her work.

A KTP Associate with Queen’s was also awarded the title of Business Leader of Tomorrow for his work on a Partnership with McFarland Associates Ltd in Belfast.

Brian McFarland, Managing Director of the company, said: “Paul Callender’s ability to network at an extremely high level internationally, find new markets and apply novel technologies, is what has made this KTP so successful. He has consistently gone beyond the original goals for the project and satisfied the requirements of both the company and academic partners. At the end of his KTP he will be offered a senior role within the company.”

KTP is a driving force in local wealth and job creation, with KTP businesses seeing an increase in pre-tax profits of around £270,000 per year. On average, each project creates three extra jobs, secures training for an additional 14 staff members, and invests an additional £166,000 in plant and machinery. Northern Ireland currently has 8 per cent of the UKs KTPs.

Recognising the success of Queen’s in this year’s awards, Dr Mary Flynn, Head of KTP and Business Networks at Queen’s, added: “As the UK’s leading KTP university, Queen’s has helped more than 350 companies improve their products and services through knowledge transfer. We are currently working with 40 companies across all sectors, ranging from multi-nationals to very small firms, but we want to see more businesses cross our threshold.

“I am delighted to see so many of our Partnerships being recognised for their hard work and commitment. Queen’s is where business begins and it is now, more than ever, that businesses need to think of new ways to stay ahead of the competition. Our KTPs at Queen’s enable them to do that by giving unrivalled access to the world-class research and technology available here.”

Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: 028 9097 3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Six Queen’s University students named ‘brightest and most innovative in the world’

Six students from Queen’s University Belfast have won an international award for being the brightest and most innovative in the world.

The students, who were this week announced as winners in The Undergraduate Awards, were selected from nearly 5000 submissions from over 200 universities worldwide.

The Undergraduate Awards, which are now in their fourth year, aim to give recognition to the brightest and most innovative undergraduate students in the world, and those who are leading creative thinkers, problem solvers and future leaders.

  • Ciarán Quinn, from Armagh, won the award in the Historical Studies Category for his paper entitled How did the Irish Free State’s efforts to regulate sexuality (and its motivations for doing so) compare with trends elsewhere in interwar Europe?
  • James Pow, from Lisburn, won the award in the International Relations & Politics Category for his paper entitled Still Rising: The Career Politician in the British House of Commons, the Cabinet and the Shadow Cabinet.
  • Tracy O'Connor, from Glengormley, won the award in the Language and Linguistics Category for her paper entitled To What Extent can the Poetry of Borja da Costa be Seen as Promoting the Idea of a Common National Identity?
  • Maran Lowry, from Derry, won the award in the Life Sciences Category for his paper entitled Assessing the Escapement Success of Migrating European Silver Eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) from Lough Neagh Using Acoustic Telemetry to Corroborate a Traditional Mark/Recapture Method.
  • Aaron Reid, from Lurgan, won the award in the Mathematics & Physics Category for his paper entitled Solar Vortices.
  • Grace McKenna, from Magherafelt, won the Undergraduate Award in the Medical Sciences Category for her paper entitled Identification of Tumour Suppressor Genes whose loss mediates sensitivity to conventional chemotherapy and targeted therapeutics.

As well as these winners, 13 students from Queen’s were Highly Commended across eight of the categories.

David Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “I would like to congratulate all of our students on their success at this year’s Undergraduate Awards. We, at Queen’s pride ourselves on the world-leading education on offer here and the success of our students in these prestigious and internationally competitive awards is testimony to that. A degree at Queen’s is about much more than an education, it is about the student experience and being afforded a lifetime or opportunity.”

Louise Hodgson, Executive Director of the Undergraduate Awards, said: “The Undergraduate Awards is the only pan-discipline academic awards programme in the world. The Awards recognise the best and brightest students and brings them together to encourage inter-disciplinary cooperation that transcends borders, advances scholarship, and promotes new academic thinking. I wholeheartedly congratulate all of the winners.”

The winners are invited to attend The Undergraduate Awards Global Summit, which is taking place in Dublin, Ireland from November 19th-21st.

Media inquiries to Claire O'Callaghan Queen’s Communications Office, comms.office@qub.ac.uk or 028 9097 3091.

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Antibacterial resistance a cause for major concern according to world leading Cystic Fibrosis expert

World leading Cystic Fibrosis experts, from Queen’s University Belfast, have called for greater research to address the major concern of antibacterial resistance.

Professor Stuart Elborn, an international authority on respiratory medicine, said that more funding and further research are required into antibiotic resistance in order to improve patient outcomes for people with Cystic Fibrosis.

In his paper, Infections in chronic lung diseases 2, which was recently published in The Lancet, Professor Elborn reviews current research into infections in chronic lung diseases. Professor Elborn and his colleagues state that while not all resistance found in bacteria is caused by antibiotics, the increasing resistance to antibiotics is proving a major problem in treating people with Cystic Fibrosis.

Speaking about his research Professor Elborn, Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s, said: “Our review of current research has found a need for further investigation into antibacterial resistance. While antibiotic treatment has undeniably resulted in increased life expectancy for patients with Cystic Fibrosis during the past 50 years, the emergence of antimicrobial resistance is a cause for major concern.

“We need more research into how to improve cystic fibrosis patient outcomes while reducing antibiotic resistance. We need to look at the use of compounds that may work against bacteria in a way that helps our current antibiotics to be more effective. Such compounds are readily available for treatment of other conditions. At Queen’s we are leading the way and are working on developing some of these compounds.

“Queen’s University, through its internationally renowned research, is committed to advancing knowledge and changing lives.”

The full journal paper of Professor Elborn’s review and recommendations is available at: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)61137-5/fulltext

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 3087 email: c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s celebrates European Day of Languages

Queen’s University is at the forefront of celebrations for this year’s European Day of Languages (EDL).

With international students and staff at Queen’s representing more than 80 countries, the University will mark the rich tapestry of languages spoken by people currently living in Europe, and the diverse cultures that accompany them.

The Northern Ireland Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (NICILT), based in Queen’s School of Education, will also be showcasing the wide variety of languages available to learn at the University.

Schools, colleges and organisations throughout Northern Ireland have been celebrating EDL since its creation in 2002. This year, 48 countries across Europe will mark the occasion. Along with Queen’s, two primary schools will be spearheading celebrations across Belfast. Lowwood Primary School in the north of the city has organised a continental breakfast followed by a multilingual assembly in collaboration with the European Commission. Meanwhile, Scoil Na Fuiseoige in west Belfast will be teaching pupils French for the day and hosting a Gallic-themed breaktime.

NICILT Executive Officer, Louisa Gibson said: “The European Day of Languages is a day to celebrate all languages spoken by people who are now living in Europe. It is a wonderful opportunity to inspire and encourage people of all ages to get involved and get them excited about learning a new language. We want people to take part in celebrating the day and to tell us about their exciting events they have planned across Northern Ireland in primary schools, post-primary schools, further-education and higher-education institutions.

“The Language Centre here at Queen’s is marking the day with celebrations taking place in the McClay Library between 12pm and 3pm to highlight the importance of languages in the world of work and the wide variety of language courses on offer at the university.”

For more information on how to celebrate the day visit: http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofEducation/nicilt/AnnualEvents/EuropeanDayofLanguages/ or contact Louisa Gibson (NICILT Executive Officer) at l.gibson@qub.ac.uk or telephone 028 9097 5955.

For media inquiries please contact Una Bradley on 9097 5320 (Mon-Wed) or Michelle Cassidy on 9097 5310 (Thurs-Fri) at Queen’s Communications Office or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s invites public to learn about new discoveries in eye disease research

The latest, cutting-edge research into eye disease carried out by medical researchers at Queen’s will be unveiled at a free public information evening in the University’s Great Hall this Tuesday (23 September 2014) at 6pm.

A major theme of The Centre for Experimental Medicine (CEM) event is ophthalmology and the evening will feature the ongoing efforts of Queen’s researchers and their work into eye disease. Professors Augusto Azuara-Blanco, Usha Chakravarthy and Noemi Lois will showcase the recent advances within CEM.

Topics including ‘How diabetes affects the retina’ will be featured during the evening, and the audience will hear about two new Queen’s projects which have been awarded international funding from the New York-based Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Dr Reinhold Medina has been awarded a prestigious JDRF Career Development Fellowship which carries a value of $736,000, to fund a five-year investigation into blood vessel damage in the retina and the role of stem cells.

Dr Medina and his team plan to study vascular stem cells, which circulate in the blood, and how they become damaged during diabetes. They are seeking to use these cells to test drugs for diabetic patients as a novel ‘personalised medicine’ solution for diabetic retinopathy.

Professor Heping Xu was also awarded a two-year grant from the JDRF, valued at $498,000. The team consisting of co-researchers Professors Tim Lyons and Noemi Lois and Dr Mei Chen, will study diabetic retinopathy, using already-existing drugs to try to ‘switch off’ a molecule that has been identified as central to the development of the illness. This project will combine laboratory and clinical science to achieve more rapid benefits for patients.

Commenting on the recent awards, Director of the Centre for Experimental Medicine, Professor Alan Stitt, said; “These awards demonstrate the international reputation of ophthalmology research at Queen’s and the efforts being made to achieve significant outcomes for patients with sight-threatening conditions. “I would urge everyone to come along to our information evening to hear about our life-changing work and to meet the researchers.”

For further information visit www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CEM/

For more information, contact Una Bradley on 028 9097 5320 (Mon-Wed) or Michelle Cassidy on 028 9097 5310 (Thurs-Fri) or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s University welcomes multi-million pound Shared Education initiative

Queen’s University today welcomed the announcement by the First Minister and deputy First Minister of a £58M investment in three key areas, including £25M for the Shared Education Signature Programme.

Speaking about the announcement Queen’s University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston said: “This is a good news day for Northern Ireland and for Shared Education. I welcome the continued support of The Atlantic Philanthropies and OFMDFM in helping realise this initiative.

“The shared commitment of Queen’s University and The Atlantic Philanthropies to overcome the division created by our current separate education system has resulted in this sea-change in educational policy.

“Since 2006, over 15,000 pupils from over 130 schools have engaged in sustained and structured contact through the Sharing Education Programme, which has been led by the School of Education at Queen’s. The educational, economic and societal benefits of this continuing initiative have been ground-breaking.

“We are proud to celebrate the enlightened leadership and philanthropy of Chuck Feeney and this unique partnership between The Atlantic Philanthropies and Queen’s.”

Pioneering research led by Professor Tony Gallagher and Professor Joanne Hughes from the Centre for Shared Education in the School of Education at Queen’s has driven this success. Professor Gallagher’s work examining the formation and development of collaborative partnerships between schools has been both innovative and influential.

The positive impact of contact on pupils’ attitudes to peers from ‘the other community’ has been the focus of Professor Hughes’ important work. Together with extensive development work with schools, this research has resulted in the successful ‘mainstreaming’ of shared education in Northern Ireland.

The support of The Atlantic Philanthropies is leading to transformative change in the relationships between schools, teachers, parents and the wider community. The exemplary nature of the collaborative model of shared education is evident in the potential for knowledge transfer, the work at Queen’s now being studied as an option for other divided communities in Israel/Palestine, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Cyprus. Once more, transformation at home and in our shared world.

Media inquiries to Queen's University Communications Office on 02890973087 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s opens race to find elite student athletes

The race is on at Queen’s to grab one of the University’s eight Elite Athlete Programme (EAP) places worth up to £8,000 each.

Open to undergraduate and postgraduate students, the EAP has been designed to support outstanding sportsmen and women in combining both academic and sporting excellence throughout their entire time at Queen's. The successful Elite Athletes will receive a contribution towards fees, accommodation and international competitions, in addition to tailored academic support and flexibility, lifestyle management, a food and nutritional budget, expert coaching and sports medicine support.

This is the second year of the programme, which last year helped contribute towards Queen's having nine athletes taking part in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, including Katie Kirk, who reached the 800m semi-finals. Current participants in the programme are involved in a range of sports including GAA, rugby, hockey, swimming, judo and athletics. The EAP is the latest addition to a suite of over 120 sports scholarships already available to Queen's students through the university's Rugby, GAA, Hockey, Rowing and Soccer Academies and its Ulster Bank Sports Bursary scheme which supports non-Academy sports. There is now a clear and bespoke athlete pathway being established between EAP, Academy and Club structures.

Queen's Sport Development Manager, Karl Oakes said: "Encouraging our students to participate in sports at all levels is a key part of the unique student experience offered by Queen’s. In addition to our recent £20 million investment in sporting facilities, which has made Queen’s a premier sporting university, our Elite Athlete Programme now allows truly exceptional athletes to be provided with further support so they can stay on course to achieve greatness in their chosen sport, whilst maintaining a strong academic focus. Enabling successful applicants to compete internationally, it is another example of how a Queen’s education is a doorway to a world of opportunities for its students, both on and off the field of play.”

Online applications are now open for the 2015-16 academic intake and the winners will be announced in May 2015 subject to the athlete gaining admission to Queen's. Anyone interested in applying for the Elite Athlete Programme can visit www.queenssport.com for more information.

For media inquiries please contact Una Bradley on 9097 5320 (Mon-Wed) or Michelle Cassidy on 9097 5310 (Thurs-Fri) at Queen's Communications Office or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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View ‘Hidden Belfast’ as part of the Open Learning programme at Queen’s

Queen’s University is offering people the chance to see the ‘Hidden Belfast’ as part of the new Open Learning programme.

The walking tours, which offer an insight into the City’s heritage, are just some of the three hundred courses on offer in this year’s programme. Also in the new programme are courses which examine the legacy of World War One as centenary commemorations get underway, these include: Gott Strafe England: Understanding the Central Powers, 1914-1918 and Technowar: Technology and World War I.

For those looking to indulge their more creative side there are courses in creative writing, music and visual arts including: Exploring Creativity with the Five Senses, A Comprehensive Introduction to Jewellery Making, and Sewing Bee.

For those looking to dabble in something completely new there are a number of introductory courses including: Argentine Tango for Beginners, Shiatsu for Beginners, and Wine Appreciation: An Introduction.

Cathal McManus, Open Learning Course Director, said: “We are excited to launch the new Open Learning programme at Queen’s. The Open Learning courses give people the opportunity to try their hand at something new at a time that suits them. At Queen’s we are committed to offering our students a lifetime of opportunities and our diverse programme is testimony to that.

“As well as offering courses which tie in with topical events such as the centenary of World War One, the programme also offers participants the opportunity to learn more about Belfast with a series of walking tours highlighting the City’s built heritage. The course Wild Belfast: Our Unnoticed Neighbours highlights the remarkable range of habitats within the City’s boundaries and the wealth of wildlife they support.

“We would encourage everyone to have a look at our new programme as we have something for all tastes. All of our courses are delivered in a relaxed, informal and accessible manner and are designed to be both informative but also enjoyable.”

The Autumn term starts the week beginning 29 September. Information on all the courses and on how to enrol can be found at the School of Education’s website: www.qub.ac.uk/ol

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 3087 email: comms.office@qub.ac.uk  

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Queen’s University to transform how research discoveries are translated into real benefits for patients

Scientists from Queen’s University Belfast are in Brussels today to launch a ground-breaking initiative which could radically improve how research discoveries are translated into real benefits for patients across Europe.

Endorsed by all three of Northern Ireland’s Members of European Parliament (MEPs), the initiative is led by Professor Mark Lawler, Chair in Translational Cancer Genomics at Queen’s Centre of Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB). Known as the Roadmap for Personalised Medicine in Europe, the initiative is a collaboration involving patients, doctors and scientists, as well as the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. It is aiming to make personalised medicine available to all European patients.

Professor Lawler, said: “In many diseases, we have tended to use a ‘one size fits all’ approach and give every patient the same treatment, yet a significant proportion of patients don’t respond to this treatment and can develop serious side effects.

“Understanding the genetics of the disease, say for example, bowel cancer, has made us realise that all bowel cancers are not the same and therefore a ‘one size fits all’ approach cannot work for all patients. New technologies allow us to understand the type of disease based on the genetic make-up and therefore this information lets us personalise the treatment for each of those bowel cancer patients.

“Getting the right treatment to the right patient at the right time can greatly improve our chances in the fight against deadly diseases such as cancer.

“This personalised medicine approach holds great promise and has already shown benefit in many diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease. However, the real challenge is how to make sure that it becomes part of the standard of care for Europe’s citizens.

“Today we provide a blueprint of how this can be achieved and call on the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) here today and to national health ministers to embed personalised medicine into health systems throughout Europe.”

Suggestions in the blueprint include the development of a European Translational Research Platform to ensure the efficient conversion of exciting research discoveries into new diagnostics and therapies, and the creation of a new regulatory framework that ensures a more rapid take up of personalised medicine for the benefit of patients.

Commenting on the initiative, Queen’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Patrick Johnston said: “Today’s launch highlights how Queen’s is at the forefront of world-class medical research and how Queen’s scientists are taking a leadership role and making an impact in European healthcare by addressing the international challenges and needs of today’s society.”

Mr Jim Nicholson Northern Ireland MEP, who chairs today’s session in Brussels, said:  “Personalised medicine gives hope for all our patients. I am proud to be chairing this session particularly as it is local research which is leading the way in this important initiative and it will make a real difference to patients’ lives.”

Mrs Diane Dodds MEP commented: “'I recently welcomed Professors Mark Lawler and Patrick Johnston to Parliament for the launch of the European Cancer Patient's Bill of Rights, and I am delighted to see Queen's University again leading the way in terms of European best practice with this innovative initiative on personalised medicine.”

Northern Ireland’s third MEP Ms Martina Anderson said: “I commend Professor Lawler for his tireless work to improve both patient and professional knowledge of cancer and its effects. During my time as an MEP, I have prioritised the fight against cancer in my own work on EU legislation on tobacco products.”

Professor David Waugh, Director of Centre of Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) in Queen’s University said: “This is another great example of how our researchers and scientists at Queen’s University are impacting on society, as this initiative creates a pathway to bring our best scientific discoveries to the clinic for the benefit of our patients and which may also lead to a new model of healthcare for Northern Ireland and beyond. A ‘personalised medicine’ approach allows innovative science to be translated into new diagnostics and treatments.”

Professor Paul Harkin, President and Managing Director of Almac Diagnostics said: “We welcome this Queen’s-led initiative. Personalised medicine has the potential to revolutionise medical diagnostics and contribute significantly to the growth of this sector in Northern Ireland. At Almac Diagnostics we are working closely with CCRCB researchers to realise this vision.”

For media inquiries please contact Una Bradley on 028 9097 5320 (Mon – Wed) or Michelle Cassidy on 028 9097 5310 (Thur – Fri) or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Public invited to discuss parading and dealing with the past at Queen’s

Parading, dealing with the past and shared education are among the issues members of the public are being invited to discuss at an event at Queen’s University next week.

The event is part of discussions on a shared future in Northern Ireland which is being led by the Stormont Executive. It has established a consultation into sectarianism, social division and community relations, with a deadline of 26 September 2014 for individual submissions from members of the public. Officially known as the Inquiry Into Building a United Community, the process is being chaired by Mike Nesbitt MLA.

To encourage submissions and support debate on these matters, the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice (ISCTSJ) at Queen’s is hosting a ‘Civic Conversation’ on 17 September, featuring talks by academics and civic leaders along five key themes: parading; shared education; shared space; dealing with the past; and dealing with emotions.

Members of the public are being invited to participate in The Civic Conversation event which is taking place between 2-5pm on 17 September 2014 in the Great Hall at Queen’s. The event is free and open to all with refreshments provided. No pre-registration is required. It is hoped that the workshop will be the first of many such Civic Conversations at Queen’s during 2014-2015.

Professor of Post Conflict Studies at Queen’s, John Brewer said: “The issue of how we in Northern Ireland learn to live together is vitally important and is key to establishing and consolidating the peace process. The Inquiry into Building a United Community is designed to hear people’s views on how this can be achieved. The Queen’s workshop will hopefully feed into the consultation and encourage people to submit comments to the Inquiry.”

Pro-Vice Chancellor at Queen’s, Professor Tony Gallagher added: “Queen’s University is committed to civic engagement, and the programme of Civic Conversations is one small way of cementing links with local civil society. In particular Queen’s has an array of expertise that is relevant to the Inquiry and to assisting Northern Ireland to become reconciled to the past.”

Confirmed speakers for the 17 September event so far include Professor John Brewer (Queen’s); Dr Dominic Bryan (Queen’s); Professor Roddy Cowie (Queen’s); Professor Tony Gallagher (Queen’s); Sylvia Gordon (Groundwork NI); Professor Joanne Hughes (Queen’s); Rev Brian Kennaway (author: The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed); Rev Dr Gary Mason (East Belfast Methodist Mission); Alan McBride (WAVE Trauma Centre); Dr Ken Sterrett (Queen’s); Professor Kieran McEvoy (Queen’s); and Noreen Campbell (Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education).

To find out more about this event, see http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/isctsj/Events/Title,458038,en.html#d.en.458038

For further information, contact Una Bradley on 9097 5320 (Mon-Wed) or Michelle Cassidy on 9097 5310 (Thurs-Fri) at Queen’s Communications Office or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Northern Ireland’s brightest students win free education at Queen’s

Ten of Northern Ireland’s brightest young people have won a free education at Queen’s, worth a total of almost £150,000, after being named Queen’s Scholars.

As a Queen’s Scholar, the students, who are beginning their studies at the University later this month, will each have their annual tuition fees paid by Queen’s for the duration of their undergraduate degree.

The awards, which are in their second year, are worth a total of almost £150K to the ten winning students, who were selected from 156 students nominated by 83 schools and colleges across Northern Ireland.

Each school or college was asked to nominate those pupils who could demonstrate exceptional achievements outside academic life, whether in sport, music and the arts, business and enterprise or through community work, with a particular focus on leadership, enterprise and social responsibility.

Prior to the winners being announced, a shortlist of 68 pupils attended a selection day at Queen’s where they were assessed on a range of competencies by a number of business leaders.

The ten Queen’s Scholars are:

  • Rebekah Ruth Craig (Belfast), Strathearn School, Belfast - Maths.
  • Rachel Cullen (Belfast), Grosvener Grammar School, Belfast - Medicine.
  • Eoin Curran (Crossgar), St Patricks’s Grammar School, Downpatrick - Medicine.
  • Daryl Jane Hinchcliffe (Carrowdore), Glenlola Collegiate School, Bangor - Chemistry.
  • Nina Lloyd-Humphreys (Donaghadee), Sullivan Upper School, Holywood - Law.
  • Katie McComb (Lisburn), Victoria College, Belfast - Medicine.
  • Jordan McCullough (Carrickergus), Carrickfergus Grammar School, Carrickfergus - French and Spanish.
  • Bronagh McGuckin (Maghera), St Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt - Dentistry.
  • Aoife McQuaid (Banbridge), Our Lady’s Grammar School, Newry - Law and French.
  • Jason Nicoletti (Broughshane), Ballymena Academy, Ballymena - Medicine.

Announcing the winners, Director of Student Plus at Queen’s, Isabel Jennings, said: “Each of the Queen’s Scholars has demonstrated exceptional leadership and enterprise skills and an outstanding commitment to social responsibility which, alongside their academic strengths, mark them out as the best and brightest young people Northern Ireland has to offer.

“I am delighted to welcome them to Queen’s. I am sure they will each make a valuable contribution to university life and embrace the many opportunities on offer here. A Queen’s degree is about much more than an education, it is a gateway to the world.  We are committed to supporting the ambitions of all our students and nurturing their talents, inside and outside the lecture hall, to afford them a lifetime of opportunity.”

The Queen’s Scholars will arrive on Saturday 13 September 2014 to meet University staff during the first ever Family Open Day which gives students and their families a chance to find out more about studying at the University.  Visitors will learn more about tuition fees and funding, careers and employability and hear talks from world-leading academics.  The Family Day is in addition to the Undergraduate Open Days to be held earlier that week on Thursday 11 and Friday 12 September. 

Domestic Recruitment Manager at Queen’s, Anthony McGrath said: “The Queen’s Scholars awards are among the most prestigious available from any UK university. They are the latest addition to Queen’s annual undergraduate scholarship package, which is worth £300,000 per year, benefits approximately 200 students, and represents a crucial investment in Northern Ireland’s future prosperity.

“Queen’s is committed to investing in the delivery of an exceptional academic and non-academic student experience, leading to excellent career opportunities for our graduates so they can stay local and go global. Our aim is to provide students with the life skills that will allow them to contribute to the Northern Ireland community, both professionally and culturally.  That is why our scholarships include awards for students across all disciplines.”

For more information on the Queen’s undergraduate scholarships visit www.qub.ac.uk/scholarships and Queen’s Open Days visit www.qub.ac.uk/home/StudyatQueens/UndergraduateStudents/OpenDays/

Media inquiries to the Communications Office at Queen’s University Belfast on 02890973087 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Government Supports Queen’s Professor's Recommendations For A National Food Crime Prevention Framework

The final report into the integrity and authenticity of UK food supply chain, which has been led by Professor Chris Elliott, Director of the Global Institute for Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, has been published today.   

It makes a number of recommendations to government about how to ensure consumers can be fully confident about the quality of their food.  

Following last year’s horse meat incident, Professor Chris Elliott was asked by the Secretaries of State for Defra and the Department of Health to lead a review into the integrity and assurance of food supply networks and to make recommendations on what could be done to protect UK consumers from food fraud.  

Professor Elliott has published over 270 papers in the field of detection and control of chemical contaminants in agri-food commodities. He has co-ordinated one of the world's largest research projects in this area, and coordinates another major EU research project (QSAFFE) that deals with contaminant issues within the animal feed supply chain. He received a Winston Churchill Fellowship in 1993, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Biology and Institute of Food Science Technology.  

He said: “The UK has one of the safest food supply systems in the world, and all those involved should be commended for what has been achieved. I am pleased that the Government and the food industry have already taken some major steps forward in response to the interim report’s recommendations aimed at restoring consumer confidence and protecting hardworking honest businesses from food crime.  I believe the creation of the national food crime prevention framework will ensure measures are put in place to further help protect consumers from any food fraud incidents in the future.”  

The final report provides the rationale and evidence for 8 overarching recommendations to improve the integrity and assurance of food supply networks. These include:  

  • Putting the consumers first by ensuring that their needs in relation to food safety and food crime prevention are the top priority' 
  • Creating a robust, effective Food Crime Unit to protect our food industry and consumers from criminal activity, and support better links with food crime agencies across the EU and beyond;  
  • A zero tolerance approach to food fraud by improving intelligence gathering and sharing to make it difficult for criminals to operate; • Introducing new unannounced audit checks by the food industry to protect businesses and their customers;
  • Supporting the development of whistleblowing and reporting of food crime;
  • Improving laboratory testing capacity and capability to ensure a standardised approach for testing for food authenticity; and;
  • Encouraging the food industry to question the source of their supply chain.

The full review can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications  

The review page is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/review-into-the-integrity-and-assurance-of-food-supply-networks  

Professor Chris Elliott and colleagues in the Global Institute for Food Security at Queen’s University have developed a free online course on Global Food Security. The course is being run in partnership with FutureLearn and starts on 17 November 2014. It is open for registration now at https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/global-food-crisis. The course is open to all and aims to provide advanced knowledge of food safety and food security across different levels of the food supply chain, with a focus on the pathway to enhance global food security for a sustainable future.

Press and interview enquiries to Hope Hadfield, Elliott Review Press Office 020 7238 6146 / 07825 023726

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26 Premieres, 18 Countries, 110 Events - One World Class Festival

Internationally acclaimed disabled dance artist, Claire Cunningham arrived in Belfast today (Thursday 4th September) to commence her role as ‘Artist in Residence’ for the 2014 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s and to officially launch this year’s programme. Claire’s appointment is representative of a Festival that continues to push boundaries, deliver diversity and encourage debate and is a co-commission with Glasgow 2014 Cultural programme and Southbank Centre London. Featuring Europe’s top theatre directors, internationally acclaimed artists from the worlds of dance, film, theatre and music - the 2014 Festival will showcase a world class line-up of 110 events with 26 premieres from 18 countries filling venues all over Belfast from 16th October - 1st November.

Director of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s, Richard Wakely commented, “We are thrilled to be welcoming Claire as our ‘Artist in Residence’ for 2014. As a choreographer and performer Claire is a genuine inspiration - a breathtaking talent and we are privileged to be working with her.  For over 50 years the Festival has been delivering new experiences to audiences and bringing new audiences into contact with the arts.  We strive to spark debate, showcase diversity in its broadest sense and demonstrate that the arts can entertain, delight, inspire and transform.  I am confident that the programme for 2014 does all this and more.”

The 2014 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival will also be welcoming two of the world’s leading theatre directors to Belfast - Peter Brook and Thomas Ostermeier - plus a host of leading ladies in Theatre, Dance and Music including four-time Grammy Award winning Jazz Vocalist Dianne Reeves, legendary soulstress Bettye LaVette, celebrated actress, Charlotte Rampling and two-time Princess Grace Award winning choreographer Camille A. Brown - to name a few.

This year’s event boasts 26 Premieres including: the European Premiere of Camille A Brown’s theatrical and gutsy African-American dance performance Mr TOL.E.RAncE; the UK and Irish Premiere of The Night Dances featuring Charlotte Rampling; the Irish Premiere of the world’s most celebrated Flamenco dancer Israel Galván; prestigious German Theatre Company Schaubühne Berlin presenting the Irish Premiere of the controversial production An Enemy of the People; the Northern Irish Premiere of The Suit - a moving story of adultery during apartheid from Director Peter Brook and his company Théâtre Des Bouffes Du Nord and the Northern Irish Premiere of Hannavas -  a free family event which will see the African Savannah come to Belfast city centre.

Richard Donnan, Managing Director, Retail Banking as title sponsor Ulster Bank said, “A thriving arts sector is a crucial part of social and economic development and as a key partner of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s, we’ve seen it grow and develop to become a truly international event. Its focus on community engagement makes it a perfect partner to us as a business and we’re proud to be the title sponsor. The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is an integral part of the cultural calendar in Northern Ireland and right throughout our business we encourage people to take part. This year, the Festival’s exciting and inclusive programme is offering everyone a passport to the arts and to a unique showcase for Belfast.”

One of the key elements of this year’s programme is the new EMBRACE initiative supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland which will bring audiences ‘up close’ to world class artists in a series of masterclasses, workshops and talks. Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council for Northern Ireland stated, “Arts Council support for the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queens represents one of our major annual investments in the creative and cultural life of Northern Ireland. It’s a fabulous programme this year, offering us the chance to experience extraordinary performances from the likes of Schaubühne Berlin or indeed the amazing Charlotte Rampling, alongside brilliant work from local companies like Kabosh with 20 or Replay with Tiny – possibly Festival’s youngest ever audience of little people aged 0-12months old! Like the Arts Council, the Festival works hard to bring great art within the reach of everyone. So I am delighted that this year, Festival has managed to reach out even further across Belfast, providing more opportunities for communities, families and schools to access and participate in events through initiatives like Embrace. A great programme and well done.”

Alongside international artists the Festival will showcase the very best local talent with World Premieres from our leading local theatre and dance companies including; Maiden Voyage Dance Company’s  in a new cross border collaboration with Dublin’s Liz Roche Company entitled Neither Either; Kabosh’s new production ‘20’ which reflects on the 20th anniversary of the 1994 IRA Ceasefire; Brassneck Theatre’s hilarious new comedy, The Holy Holy Bus; Aisling Ghear’s futuristic and multi-lingual new play, Makaronik and Replay Theatre Company with Tiny for audiences from 0 - 12 months. Plus, More than a Flag - a world premiere from Dan Gordon and Happenstance - a collaboration with young East Belfast Bandsmen commemorating the part East Belfast played in WW1.

Eddie Rowan, Events Manager, Northern Ireland Tourist Board said, “This fantastic festival is a perfect platform to showcase all that is great about our arts and cultural offering and brings the very best of world class talent to Belfast.  Covering all genres, it will appeal to many varied audiences and create unique and memorable experiences for all of our visitors.”

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s would not be possible without the support of sponsors and public sector funders including Title Sponsor, Ulster Bank, Principal Funder, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Queen’s University, Belfast City Council, British Council, O2 International Sim, Belfast Harbour, Arts & Business NI, Visit Belfast and Department for Social Development, plus, the many venues, performers and partner organisations whose commitment and passion bring the arts to life for all to enjoy. The 2014 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s runs from 16th October - 1st November in venues all over Belfast, for more information and to book tickets ‘Check In’ to www.belfastfestival.com.

Further information, please contact Angela Warren M: 07849 561 919 (9.00am-1.30pm M-F) or Cathy Law: 07876 358 842.

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Queen’s Shortlisted for Family Friendly Employer Awards 2014

Queen’s has been shortlisted as a finalist for the Family Friendly Employer Awards 2014.

Due to Queen’s innovative approach to family friendly employment initiatives, the University will now battle it out with 11 other finalists at an Award Ceremony on 24 September in Belfast City Hall.

The Family Friendly Employers Awards recognise organisations that promote family friendly working practices. Initiatives such as flexible working, Childcare Vouchers and other employee benefits make it easier for parents to balance their home and work life.

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Curtain up for cultural tourism

The Ulster Bank Festival at Queen’s has launched a 2014 ‘Postcard Campaign’, shining a spotlight on the vital role of the arts for tourism in Northern Ireland.  The Festival “Postcards” will target tourists from all over Ireland and GB providing a snapshot of what is on offer at the leading international contemporary arts festival.

A recent NITB Visitors Survey found an 11 per cent increase on the previous year in visitors reporting ‘opportunities to attend local events and festivals’ as a reason to visit Northern Ireland.  In addition an independent economic assessment showed that the 2012 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s generated £577,180 in tourism revenue, including £112,637 on tourism accommodation, and £464,543 on food and drink, transport and shopping. The Festival also provides an important role in business development creating an annual equivalent of 311 full-time jobs and a total benefit to Northern Ireland businesses of £2 million.

Susie McCullough, Director of Business Support and Events, NITB, said: “NITB is delighted to be supporting the 2014 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s, showcasing a variety of world class arts performances across the city of Belfast.  The research carried out on the 2012 festival indicated that 92 per cent of spectators felt that the festival improved Northern Ireland’s reputation as a tourism destination, and 72 per cent of spectators that attended stated that the festival made them feel more proud of Northern Ireland.”

Richard Wakely, Director, Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s, said, “These report findings demonstrate that the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s provides significant economic benefits for Northern Ireland, creating employment and reinforcing the message to visitors and potential visitors that we have an outstanding cultural tourism product to offer.  The Festival not only offers high-quality international acts but we also place a huge emphasis on showcasing and celebrating the exceptional talent we are fortunate to have in the region.  The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s connects Belfast to the world and the world to Belfast and this year we have 17 days of world-class arts featuring performers from 18 countries with 110 events and 26 premieres.”

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s presents great and diverse works of art from home and abroad, bringing audiences something very special that they cannot see elsewhere, all combining to deliver one unique festival which runs throughout the city from 16 October – 1 November.  The 2014 festival features performers from 18 different countries covering classical and contemporary music, film, dance, theatre, talks and visual arts, many of which are EU, UK and Ireland premieres.

The festival would not be possible without the support of our sponsors and public sector funders including Title Sponsor, Ulster Bank, Principal Funder, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Queen’s University, Belfast City Council, British Council, O2 International Sim, Belfast Harbour, Arts & Business NI and Department for Social Development, plus, the many venues, performers and partner organisations whose commitment and passion bring the arts to life for all to enjoy.

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s box office officially opens on 4th September but some shows are currently on sale check-in at www.belfastfestival.com for details.


Further information from Angela Warren on 07849561919 or email festivalpress@qub.ac.uk

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Over a quarter of people in Northern Ireland live with ‘multiple deprivation’

More than a quarter (26 per cent) of adults in Northern Ireland live with ‘multiple deprivation’, (lacking three or more basic necessities), and this figure increases among those who experienced violent events during the ‘Troubles’, according to research from Queen’s University Belfast.
 
Among those who lost a close friend during the ‘Troubles’, the multiple deprivation rate rose to 36 per cent. Multiple deprivation means that people live with three or more deprivations, such as lack of food, heating or clothing, due to lack of money.
 
The figures are included in the largest study of poverty and deprivation ever conducted in the UK, The Poverty and Social Exclusion in the United Kingdom (PSE) project, led by the University of Bristol and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
 
Professor Mike Tomlinson from Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work led the study in Northern Ireland, which included a special section on people’s experience of violent events during the ‘Troubles’.
This looked at death and injury of close friends and relatives, witnessing violence such as bomb explosions or assaults, imprisonment, and other events including moving house because of threats, attack or intimidation.
Additional findings from Northern Ireland relating to multiple deprivations include the following:
 
• For those who had a close relative injured the deprivation rate is 38 per cent.
• If someone witnessed an assault, the deprivation rate is 43 per cent.
• If a close relative had spent time in prison, the deprivation rate is 45 per cent.
• Those who had their house searched by the police or army have a deprivation rate of 56 per cent.
• The deprivation rate for those who moved house due to attack, intimidation, threats or harassment is 58 per cent.
 
Professor Tomlinson said: “Experience of violent events in the past increased the chances of suffering from ‘multiple deprivation’ in the present. Research in many parts of the world has shown that violent conflicts can result in long term problems of poverty and deprivation.  This is what has happened in Northern Ireland.  The evidence is clear. ‘Dealing with the past’ needs to include tackling the deprivation of those whose lives are most blighted by the years of conflict.”
 
Across the UK, the PSE project found that the percentage of households who fall below society’s minimum standard of living has increased from 14 per cent to 33 per cent over the last 30 years, despite the size of the economy doubling.
Other key figures reveal that almost 18 million people in the UK cannot afford adequate housing conditions; 12 million people are too poor to engage in common social activities; one in three people cannot afford to heat their homes adequately in the winter and four million children and adults aren’t properly fed by today’s standards.
Other UK-wide findings include:
• About 5.5 million adults go without essential clothing.
• Around 2.5 million children live in homes that are damp.
• Around 1.5 million children live in households that cannot afford to heat their home.
• One in four adults have incomes below what they consider is needed to avoid poverty.
• One in every six (17 per cent) adults in paid work are poor.
• More than one in five adults have had to borrow in the last year to pay for day to day needs.
 
The PSE standard of living survey results show that more than one in every five (22 per cent) children and adults in the UK were poor at the end of 2012. They had both a low income and were also ‘multiply deprived’ - suffering from three or more deprivations such as lack of food, heating and clothing due to a lack of money.
 
Far more households are in arrears on their household bills in 2012 (21 per cent) than in 1999 (14 per cent).  The most common bills in arrears now are utility bills, council tax and mortgage/rent.
 
The PSE project involved researchers from Queen’s alongside the University of Bristol, Heriot-Watt University, the Open University, University of Glasgow, University of Oxford, University of Birmingham, University of York, the National Centre for Social Research and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
 
For more information visit http://www.poverty.ac.uk


Media inquiries to Una Bradley (Mon-Wed) or Michelle Cassidy (Thur-Fri) at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5320/5310 email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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