10-2003 Campus News
| October 2003
24/10/03: Business skills alive and well in Engineering and Management
Two exceptional teams of undergraduates picked up substantial prizes on Tuesday 21 October at a Gala Dinner in City Hall. Investment Belfast organises and supports the £20k Awards competition which encourages students to invent new products and use their entrepreneurial skills to present a business plan. A hot shortlist of 10 teams was showcased and seven of the teams were from Queen’s.
Joint runners-up were Niatruc, a combined School of Computer Science and School of Management team, and Clearview, from the School of Electrical Engineering. This was a great result for two completely undergraduate teams who had created, designed, researched and financed their ideas in only six months!
Niatruc were also winners of the undergraduate prize. Mark Annett, Kevin Bradley, Alan Crabbe and Darragh Scott are developing an innovative textile product to help prevent vandalism on curtain-sided lorries. A new slash-proof, stab-resistant and waterproof material designed to cut costs and lower insurance premiums is well under way.
Clearview Technologies are: Stephen McCormick, Joanne O'Kane, Kerry-Anne Robinson, Paul McClean and David Steele. These Electrical Engineers have developed an advanced imaging system for the firefighting industry. Combining infrared cameras and millimetric wave imaging technology, firefighters will be able to locate people more easily in dense, black smoke.
Many former law students will mourn the recent death of Michael Knight. He was one of the great "characters" of Queen's, which he served for many years, but will be remembered not just for his personality, colourful as it was, but for his devotion to students and colleagues.
Michael’s perfectionism made it hard for him to relax. His only refuge from his inner demons was an addiction to alcohol that ultimately cost him the career he so loved. After a major breakdown in 1990, he retired on the grounds of ill health. Yet with the help of his friends he managed to put his life back together again, and to help others in the same situation. He never lost his tremendous sense of humour, or his ability to laugh at the follies of the world. In his heyday Michael Knight was a fine academic who loved his job, but in the final decade of his life he also demonstrated his capacity to excel as a human being outside the confines of work.
John Stannard, School of Law
The University recently hosted the fifth annual conference of the Irish Association of French and Francophone Studies - ADEFFI (l’Association d’études françaises et francophones d’Irlande).
The opening address was delivered in French by the association’s Honorary President, John Hume MEP, pictured here with Dr Maeve McCusker of Queen’s, Secretary of the society, and Dr Mairéad Hanrahan, UCD, President of the society.
The keynote speaker was Jacques Neefs, Professor of Modern French Literature at Paris VIII and at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
On the recommendation of the Central Promotions Committee the following members of staff were promoted with effect from 1 October 2002:
The QUESTOR Centre has secured funding under the EU Sixth Framework programme for three projects due to begin next year that will have Europe-wide significance.
The first aims to assist the spread of EU-funded sustainable environmental technologies across the small- and medium-sized business sector.
In many EU member states, research centres like the QUESTOR Applied Technology Unit are actively supporting local SMEs through the development and introduction of new, environment-friendly technologies. However, precisely because of the regional character of these initiatives, organisations in other areas and other states do not have access to the experience that has been gained.
The PRODESTS project (Promotion, Demonstration and Development of Sustainable Environmental Technologies for SMEs) aims to progress the transfer of knowledge and its benefits across the sectors and the member states.
QUESTOR will help identify the barriers that prevent the rapid exploitation, commercialisation and distribution of the outcomes of EU-funded research, and will formulate strategies to help overcome these barriers.
The second project - WAPSCIENCE (Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvement by Smart Sensors and Computational Intelligence) aims to improve wastewater treatment at industrial and municipal sewage treatment plants by developing on-line ion sensors for nitrate and ammonia compounds. The aim would be to reduce these compounds to a satisfactory level, so that the remaining biodegradable elements contained in the wastewater will decompose easily.
It is anticipated that the new technology will improve the operation of wastewater treatment plants by 10-20 per cent. The sensors will be tested during field trials in the partner countries – Ireland, Germany and Greece. The QUESTOR Applied Technology Unit will manage the tests in Northern Ireland, and will work closely with the SME partner, ANORD, during field trials in the Republic of Ireland.
The third project relates to the textile and dying industry, an important activity in Europe which has, in recent years, largely shifted to the developing world due to both the cost of labour and increased production costs associated with the requirement for a higher level of environmental protection.
SOPHIED (Sustainable Original Processes for Healthy Industrial Ecofriendly Dyes) aims to overcome some of the environmental problems through a novel bioremediation technology which will render a range of dyestuffs less toxic to the environment than the current products.
QUESTOR will lead the development of bioremedial wastewater treatment processes for the colour industry, and will be involved in demonstrating the newly developed technology to SME partners across Europe.
The Clinical and Practice Research Group in the School of Pharmacy, which is developing a regime for testing medicines for use in infants and young children, has been the focus of international attention recently.
Over the summer, the group was visited by Professor Greg Kearns of the University of Missouri and Professor Kenjiro Kosaki and Professor Takao Takahashi from the Keio University School of Medicine in Japan. It is anticipated that collaborative links with both countries will be formalised in the coming weeks.
Many drugs used in hospitalised children have only been licensed for use in adults. In the absence of clear guidance, doses for infants/young children are “guestimated” from adult values, based on the child’s size or weight. Children, however, are not simply small adults - the medicines have different beneficial and adverse effect profiles. Furthermore, research involving multiple drug sampling over a prolonged period, used in constructing dosing guidelines in adults, is usually considered unethical in infants and children.
Professor James McElnay, Dr Paul Collier and Dr Jeffrey Millership in the School of Pharmacy, in collaboration with colleagues in the Royal Hospitals Trust, have found a solution to this dilemma. It involves a novel approach of obtaining small numbers of blood samples from children who are already receiving an adult medicine for management of their illness. The samples are usually taken as part of their routine clinical care. By measuring the drug concentrations, checking for beneficial and adverse effects and then using special statistical techniques, safe and effective dosing schemes can be calculated. This novel approach has been established and field tested by the group via funding from the national charity Action Research.
Professor McElnay who leads the research team commented: “We are pleased that our research efforts are attracting so much international attention. The new research collaborations will add to the speed at which we will be able to develop meaningful dosage guidance for children.”
Five Schools were represented this year among the winners of the Queen’s Teaching Awards, presented on 30 September by Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Development Professor Roy Crawford. Two of the winners were individual entries and three were team submissions.
Graduates of the 2003 Postgraduate Certificate of Higher Education Teaching (PGCHET) course received certificates of achievement at the event.
The full list of Teaching Award winners is as follows:
Geraint Ellis and Dr Ken Sterrett, School of Environmental Planning
Dr Stephen McCullough, David Wilson, Kenneth Lee, Nuala Tipping and Christopher Ferris, School of Anatomy
Dr David Newman, School of Economics and Management
Mike Tomlinson, Dr Ciaran Acton, Helen Beckett, Patricia Devine, Dr Myra Hird, Dr Madeleine Leonard, Dr Karen McElrath, Profesor Eithne McLaughlin, Dr Denis O’Hearn, Dr Richard O’Leary, Deaglan O Mochain, Michelle Smith, Dr Nicola Yeates, School of Sociology and Social Policy.
Dr Chris Turney, School of Archaeology and Palaeocology
The Teaching Awards seminar, at which the winners will give presentations on the aspects of learning and teaching that led to their Awards, will be held on 31 October at 1.45-4.15pm in Room G10N, Lanyon North.
This was the fifth year of the Scheme, and a total of 17 Awards have been made to date. Professor Crawford noted that the standard of applications this year was particularly high and quoted Professor John Cowan, external assessor to the Scheme who said:
“A central feature of the applications was the enthusiasm of the applicants to provide worthwhile learning experiences for their students, and their efforts are generally founded on an awareness of the need for the learning activities, the intended learning outcomes and the assessment to be well aligned with each other. Most of the applications were very well-referenced in a way which showed that current writing, thinking and research in higher education have influenced the developments which are being carried out.”
The PGCHET is a professional, accredited course in learning and teaching in higher education, run jointly by the Graduate School of Education and the Staff Training and Development Unit. It aims to provide academic and other staff with an opportunity to reflect on their own teaching, to learn about a range of approaches to teaching and learning in higher education, to share ideas with colleagues and to develop a network of peers across the University with whom they can discuss teaching and develop new approaches.
Course graduates are automatically eligible for membership of the Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (ILTHE) and a number of PGCHET graduates have received funding for developing their teaching - both an individually and as part of a School team - from the Innovations Fund and the Fund for Developing Learning and Teaching. The course has been running for six years and there were 30 graduates from the 2002/3 cohort.
Further details of the PGCHET can be obtained from Steve Walsh in the Graduate School of Education and Linda Carey in the Staff Training and Development Unit. Further information about the Teaching Awards can be obtained from Liz McDowell in CELT, Tel 9033 5356, email email@example.com
Scholars from China, America, France and England gathered at Queen’s recently to discuss the life and work of Sir Robert Hart in China. Papers were presented on a range of topics, including Hart’s roots in Ireland, his relationships with the Chinese, the invention of foreign trade statistics in China and the politics of the late Qing dynasty.
The meeting was convened by Dr Richard O’Leary of the School of Sociology and Social Policy and Dr Lan Li of the Institute of Lifelong Learning to coincide with the opening of the exhibition on `Hart and China’ at the University’s Visitors’ Centre. It was arranged in cooperation with Dr Hans Van de Ven (Cambridge) and Dr Robert Bickers (Bristol). They are all pictured here with Deirdre Wildy (Special Collections), the keynote speaker Professor Frank King, and four visitors from Nanjing, China.
The University is hosting the regional launch of the Rural Economy and Land Use programme on Tuesday 28 October at the Holiday Inn, 106a University Street, Belfast.
This £20 million programme is to support research into sustainable land use and rural economy matters in the UK.
Funded through the 2002 Government Spending Review, the programme is expected to contribute to the long-term achievement of a sustainable rural economy. It involves three of the UK Research Councils – the Economic and Social Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and the Natural Environment Research Council.
Part of a series of warm-up events, this regional launch will discuss themes within the programme, both current and future. It will explain the available streams of research funding, and provide advice and guidance on how to submit applications for support.
The programme will be of interest to those involved in multi-disciplinary research. Relevant topics include rural economy, rural society, regeneration, water resource use, the environment, food science and technology, biotechnology and land use.
Places at the event can be reserved through Research and Regional Services, Tel 9027 2579 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Please book before 17 October.
For further information, contact: Dr Sally Shortall in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, Tel 9027 3236, email email@example.com
Dr Sheena Lewis, Reader in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Dr James Uhomoibhi, Lecturer in ICT and e-Learning, have been representing Queen’s on the Common Purpose programme this year. The Programme’s aim is to improve the capacity of leaders to lead by developing core skills such as strategic thinking, team building, solving problems creatively and communications skills.
Since its foundation in 1989, it has worked with 60,000 leaders from public, private and voluntary sectors in cities through Britain and Ireland. It provides a powerful educational experience by informing participants about their particular city, and how they, as individuals and as organisations, can improve their leadership roles for the benefit of their local community. It aspires to broaden their understanding and attitudes to key issues, and to inspire and challenge participants to implement improvement.
The organisation realizes that some of these skills can’t be learned in traditional ways. Engagement with diversity underpins each aspect of the programme.
Dr Sheena Lewis described her experience: “Most of us approached the first morning of a two-day residential course at the Clandeboye Lodge with a little trepidation. Emphasis was placed on treating each other with tolerance and sensitivity, and abiding by Chatham House Rules, where neither the identity nor affiliation of speakers are disclosed when discussed outside the forum. The focus of the residential course was to build us into a team that would endure for the whole programme.
“By mid-afternoon on the first day we were feeling a tad tired but our facilitators knew we had reserves unknown to ourselves!
“The programme has continued with intensive monthly workshops; starting at 8am and ending at 7.30pm. Each day has explored a particular aspect of life in Belfast. We’ve addressed topics such as crime and justice, housing, securing a competitive economy in Northern Ireland, the sustainability of our environment, governance, the health of the nation and learning for life. During the ‘education’ day, I had an opportunity to speak on the importance and benefits of higher education to our community.
“We have had unrivalled opportunities to interact with senior civil servants, politicians, journalists, lobbyists and prison governors, to name but a few. We have visited law courts, prisons, young offenders centres, retail parks, recycling depots, landfill sites, schools, factories, community centres, newspaper production lines, Stormont and the City Hall.
“We have learned through interactive group exercises, case studies, expert presentations, site visits, panel discussions, vigorous debate and, most enjoyably, by dining together. We have observed leaders in action in their work environment to see if they practised what they preached.”
Dr James Uhomoibhi said of his experience: “I came to know of Common Purpose through graduates who have been through the programme and through my work involvement with the community in addressing issues such as promoting public understanding of science, identifying and developing models of good practice in enhancing good race relations, equality and diversity.
“It is good to see decision-makers and all those in leadership positions in the public, private and voluntary sectors being brought together to think and act for the common good. For me, the network of colleagues I have had the opportunity to develop throughout this year will, in no small measure, go a long way in helping to inform my decisions in the future in encouraging a good working and successful relationship with people from all sectors of the society.”
Queen’s scientists have taken part in a breakthrough against a disease which is a major health hazard in the poultry industry worldwide.
The partnership between researchers, government agencies, the chicken industry and feed producers resulted in a scientifically based study system for Necrotic Enteritis, which will make it possible to quantify the disease and introduce control procedures.
Dr Joan Smyth of the Veterinary Sciences Division at DARD was the project leader and Queen’s grant holder. Dr Carol Laird of the School of Agriculture and Food Science carried out extensive laboratory trials, while Dr Hywel Ball together with Michelle McCourt of the DARD Veterinary Sciences Division and the Department of Veterinary Science in the School of Agriculture and Food Science used hi-tech facilities to develop procedures which are expected to help predict disease outbreaks in flocks.
Devenish Nutrition conducted an extensive commercial feed trial using 845,000 birds. The birds on the experimental diet improved their feed conversion efficiency and achieved a better liveweight gain. Profitability increased and the health and welfare conditions of the birds were improved.
G E McLarnon & Sons, feed suppliers to O’Kane Poultry, manufactured the initial test diet while John Thompson & Son, who supply Moy Park, produced the commercial diets.
The multi-partner project also received funding and commercial support from Invest NI, as well as Moy Park and O’Kane Poultry.
The project may allow the Northern Ireland poultry industry to differentiate its products in the eyes of EU customers, and thus has significant commercial implications.
Owen Brennan, Managing Director of Devenish Nutrition, told a seminar of poultry industry representatives and government personnel in Belfast: “We must continue to work together and maintain a profitable industry by meeting consumer expectations for safe, quality assured food, produced under optimum animal welfare conditions. We need to use the best technology to manage the environment, flock nutrition, animal health and producer skills to achieve these objectives.”
Over the last 30 years there has been a large increase in broiler production in Northern Ireland, and this growth has accelerated in 2002 and 2003. Eighty million broilers are grown each year, mainly for export to Britain. The total value of external sales last year was £185.8 million and a further £94.6 million of poultry meat was consumed at home. An estimated 7,000 people are employed directly or indirectly in the industry.
Almost 2,000 farms produce poultry, employing almost 4,500 people. Many of these are smallholdings which would otherwise not be economically viable. An estimated 270 are employed in manufacturing feed and 4,104 in the processing sector.
This branch of farming receives no EU subsidies.
Pio Fedi’s splendid sculpture of Galileo, purchased by Sir William Whitla and now located at the back of the main entrance to the Lanyon Building, is familiar to most of us and photographed by many visitors. However the accompanying plaque identifies the rock on which he rests as ‘labradorite’, which is geologically incorrect.
Labradorite is a specific mineral, a calcic member of the plagioclase feldspar group. Plagioclase is the commonest mineral in the Earth’s crust: it also dominates the light-coloured highland areas of the lunar surface. Labradorite’s world type locality is, of course, in Canada and this variety of plagioclase can show a spectacular blue/green reflection - a phenomenon known as labradorescence.
The plinth material is in fact a dark variety of the rock type larvikite from southern Norway - a specific variety of the coarse-grained igneous rock type syenite (syenite being effectively “granite without quartz”). Light - and dark-coloured larvikites, exclusively from southern Norway, can be seen all over the world as ornamental facing stone on buildings, such as the Princess’ Theatre in Melbourne, and Belfast shopfronts are no exception.
There are now even synthetic kitchen surfaces which simulate this beautiful Norwegian rock type. The reason is a blue ‘labradorescence’ from some of its crystals, but in this case the feldspar is not plagioclase but alkali feldspar, the main mineral in syenites and granites.
Hitler selected dark larvikite (as on Galileo’s plinth) in his plans for reconstituting parts of post-war Berlin and consequently some highly fortunate Norwegian quarry owners were eventually paid twice for their product!
Finally, there is a lesson here – “always read the small print”. My first research project was on the southern Norwegian larvikites, but after 36 years at Queen’s, I have only just noticed the error on the Galileo plaque, having been photographed by it with my elder daughter and grandson during this year’s graduation!
Dr Ian Meighan, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Lifelong Learning
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