10-2003 Press Releases

October 2003

31/10/03: Computerised training improves cancer diagnosis
30/10/03: Barry Douglas tunes up for Halloween performance
29/10/03: CD launched to reduce ‘Sharps and Splash’ injury
28/10/03: Solar Storm Alert
28/10/03: Pioneering ecstasy test developed
28/10/03: Queen’s launches new Irish translation course
27/10/03: Research shows threat to wild salmon from farmed fish
23/10/03: Czech honour for Queen’s honorary graduate
23/10/03: Child neglect a serious problem in Northern Ireland, say researchers
21/10/03: For the Love of Monsters! - Gargoyles at Queen’s
20/10/03: Talking in Colour - African flags of the Fante
20/10/03: Belfast school children to debate ‘Genetic Futures’ with local scientists
17/10/03: Thorn mental health care education at Queen’s embraces multi-disciplinary approach
16/10/03: Canadian Chief Justice to lecture at Queen’s
16/10/03: University to host Conroy Cup
16/10/03: Coveted Irish Scientific Research Award goes to Queen’s Professor
15/10/03: IQ testing for fun!
14/10/03: Award-winning local poet to lead Heaney Centre at Queen’s
13/10/03: More than one-quarter of Northern Ireland households in poverty, say researchers
10/10/03: Former Queen’s Senator “books” his return
10/10/03: TruCorp gives trainee medics a head start
10/10/03: New study to explore psychological effects of ‘the Troubles’
09/10/03: Queen’s agrees microchip research project with leading high-tech company Xilinx
09/10/03: Halloween Gershwin Gala
07/10/03: Trip of a life-time for three Queen’s midwives
03/10/03: Flag making fun at African Centre

Computerised training improves cancer diagnosis

i-Path Diagnostics, a new QUBIS Ltd supported spin-out venture from a Queen’s University Belfast research group, has just signed a major contract to deliver training to cancer pathologists in Australia and the Far East.

The team at Queen’s responsible for the new computer-based cancer diagnosis tool. Professor Peter Hamilton (centre), Head of the Centre for Health Care Informatics within the Faculty of Medicine at Queen’s, and Managing Director of the new spin-out venture i-Path Diagnostics, with team researchers and venture partners Dr Perry Maxwell (left) and Dr Jim Diamond (right). The team at Queen’s responsible for the new computer-based cancer diagnosis tool. Professor Peter Hamilton (centre), Head of the Centre for Health Care Informatics within the Faculty of Medicine at Queen’s, and Managing Director of the new spin-out venture i-Path Diagnostics, with team researchers and venture partners Dr Perry Maxwell (left) and Dr Jim Diamond (right).

The Informatics research team has developed a novel computer-based tool for decision-making in cancer pathology.

The system, called InView, has an important role in training young pathologists to make better and more reliable diagnoses.

The Royal College of Pathologists in Australia will use this new approach not only to train all of their junior pathologists, but also to allow doctors to test their diagnostic accuracy. This will allow health authorities to ensure that consistently high standards are maintained.

It represents a major step forward in enhancing the practice of diagnostic laboratory medicine through the use of digital computer-based technology.

Professor Peter Hamilton, Head of the Centre for Health Care Informatics within the Faculty of Medicine at Queen’s, said: “This is a major development for cancer pathology, a development that will provide the best training and decision support to pathologists around the world through the use of computers and the internet. Having made a major impact in Australia, there is now significant interest in using this technology in UK, Europe and USA.

“In addition to InView, our group is working on a number of other new and exciting computerised approaches to cancer diagnosis. Our hope is that these will revolutionise the way medicine is practised in the future.”

The development of InView has attracted funding from Invest NI and University Challenge Fund.

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For further information, contact: Professor Peter Hamilton, 028 9063 2604, Mobile 07977 513 875 p.hamilton@qub.ac.uk or the Communications Office, 028 9027 3087

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Barry Douglas tunes up for Halloween performance

Internationally acclaimed Belfast-born pianist Barry Douglas called in with Aine Gibbons, Director of Development at Queen’s University, to fine-tune the details of the special performance he will give in the Whitla Hall at Queen’s University on Friday 31 October.

Barry Douglas & Aine Gibbons
Barry Douglas & Aine Gibbons

The gala Belfast Festival at Queen’s event is being organised by the Queen’s University of Belfast Foundation that is currently raising funds for a new library. All proceeds from the concert will go towards the New Library Appeal.

On Friday, Barry Douglas will celebrate the music of American composer George Gershwin, appearing with his orchestras Camerata Ireland and Camerata Jazz. Taiwanese-American Cho-Liang Lin, one of today’s foremost violin virtuosos, will also join him on stage.

For tickets, contact the Festival Box Office: 028 9027 2626

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CD launched to reduce ‘Sharps and Splash’ injury

The School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast, in collaboration with Green Park Health Care Trust, has developed a new educational interactive CD ROM intended to reduce the number of ‘Sharps and Splash’ injuries among health care professionals.

By the nature of their daily work, health care professionals may face the risk of injury from needles and splash incidents and therefore the possibility of the transmission of a blood-borne disease such as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B or HIV.

The School of Nursing and Midwifery was approached by Green Park Health Care Trust to produce a new educational resource that would give those working in our hospitals and medical centres a clear understanding of the techniques and procedures to be used to prevent and minimise these risks. The new CD-ROM launched today is the result of this collaboration.

“The CD highlights certain areas within the health care setting where individuals may be more at risk of receiving a sharp or splash injury – for example in theatre or laboratories,” Dr Marian Traynor of the School of Nursing and Midwifery explained. “It includes video footage, filmed by Queen’s technicians, of actual staff going about their work in these contexts, not only nursing staff and doctors, but physiotherapists, laboratory workers and domestic staff. Interactive in nature, a series of multiple-choice tests have been designed for each section of the resource. This allows the user to view and work on individual sections and to test their own knowledge of the issues covered. The CD has been piloted and audited with Green Park Health Care Trust staff during the development stages and the initial evaluation from users has been very positive.”

The CD covers a range of practical topics including hand washing, gloving procedures and waste and sharp disposal practices. It also examines risk assessment in a number of different contexts – working with the elderly, physiotherapy, paediatrics and in laboratory settings.

Professor Kenneth Brown, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Planning and Resources at Queen’s, spoke at the launch of the CD at the University on Wednesday (29 October). He said: “The University is delighted to be associated with the production of this innovative educational resource that represents an excellent example of collaboration between an employing Health Care Trust and the University. The University values the contribution from employers to student learning and recognises that the Queen’s academic experience should also prepare individuals with the knowledge and skills essential to the workplace. The CD provides a stimulating and challenging learning tool to be used with students of nursing and related health care disciplines, and by professionals alike. ”

Ms Patricia O’Callaghan, Director of Nursing and Clinical Effectiveness at Greenpark Health Care Trust, also welcomed the new CD: “It is vital that students of nursing and indeed all health care workers are aware of the serious injuries that can occur as a result of a sharp or splash injury. This CD represents a new approach to the education of staff on how to prevent such injuries and the information is relevant to all members of the health care team. It provides a valuable means of offering continual education in the workplace and the fact that the CD can be adapted to meet the requirement of individual Trusts, GP practices, dental surgeries and nursing homes makes it a very appealing package that will complement the existing literature available.”

Enquiries about availability of the CD should be made to the Clinical Skills Laboratory at the University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery.
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For further information, contact: Dr Marian Traynor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, 028 9033 5819; or Dolores Vischer, Communication Office, 02890 33 5320

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Solar Storm Alert

An image of the sun taken at lunch-time on Tuesday 28 October by the SOHO spacecraft which is half-way between earth and the sun. The sun is blocked out by a solid disk in front of the camera, making it possible to image the coronal mass ejection. As this explosion seems to completely surround the sun, it indicates that the gas is directed straight toward earth.
An image of the sun taken at lunch-time on Tuesday 28 October by the SOHO spacecraft which is half-way between earth and the sun. The sun is blocked out by a solid disk in front of the camera, making it possible to image the coronal mass ejection. As this explosion seems to completely surround the sun, it indicates that the gas is directed straight toward earth.

Astronomers at Queen's University Belfast report that one of the largest ever explosions on the Sun has resulted in the release of billions of tonnes of super-hot gas, which appears to be heading directly toward the Earth. The gas may result in communication blackouts, and cause temporary disruptions in power systems.

There is also a real possibility of the Northern Lights (called the aurora), that is normally a polar phenomena, being observed throughout the south of the UK, including Northern Ireland, over the next few nights.

The Belfast astronomers have been watching these sunspots develop over the past week. James McAteer, a researcher with the solar group in the Astrophysics and Planetary Science Research Division in the Queen’s University School of Mathematics and Physics, drew the phenomenon to the attention of his supervisors, Professor Francis Keenan and Dr Mihalis Mathioudakis.

Mr McAteer said: “ Last week, two large groups of sunspots appeared on the Sun. These developed into two of the largest and most complex regions ever recorded - over 100 times the size of the Earth. A solar flare last Wednesday resulted in some communications problems last weekend in the UK. However, this new solar flare (at 11:18 GMT today) is up to six times larger. Also, as the sunspots are now on the central meridian of the Sun, the resulting explosion (called a Coronal Mass Ejection) is much more likely to be directed towards the Earth.”

Queen’s University Belfast is one of only three institutions worldwide with designated Chief Observers status in the Max Millennium program to predict solar activity. Astronomers in Belfast send out daily e-mails to hundreds of solar telescopes and astronomers predicting solar activity. Professor Keenan added: “These dynamic pair of sunspot regions (designated NOAA 0484 and 0486) are expected to produce more high level activity as they pass across the sun's surface over the next week.” An image of the sun taken at lunch-time on Tuesday 28 October by the SOHO spacecraft which is half-way between earth and the sun. The two large sunspot groups are visible.
An image of the sun taken at lunch-time on Tuesday 28 October by the SOHO spacecraft which is half-way between earth and the sun. The two large sunspot groups are visible.

Notes:
To access other information on the sun flare incident visit the web sites below.
http://beauty.nascom.nasa.gov/arm/latest/
http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime-images.html
http://www.spaceweather.com
http://solar.physics.montana.edu/max_millennium/

For further information contact: James McAteer, School of Mathematics and Physics, 07736 282327; or Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 028 9033 5320 or 07815 133 415

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Pioneering ecstasy test developed

A team of researchers in the School of Chemistry at Queen’s University Belfast has pioneered a new technique to generate an accurate ‘finger print’ analysis of the chemical content of individual ecstasy tablets in a test that takes only 40 seconds using laser beams.

Dr Steven Bell of the Queen’s University School of Chemistry uses the exciting new Raman spectroscopy laser technology with a team of researchers to analyse ecstasy tablets in 40 seconds.
Dr Steven Bell of the Queen’s University School of Chemistry uses the exciting new Raman spectroscopy laser technology with a team of researchers to analyse ecstasy tablets in 40 seconds.

The discovery is the result of a long-standing collaboration between Dr Steven Bell of the Queen’s Laser Raman Group and Forensic Science Northern Ireland. A full report on the innovative work has been published this month in The Royal Society of Chemistry journal The Analyst.

The scientists have to date used the new screening test to analyse 1,500 ecstasy pills from different seizures in Northern Ireland. “In modern Raman spectroscopy, a laser beam is focused onto the sample and the energy of the scattered light is analysed,” said Dr Bell. ”The scattered light contains a unique set of peaks – a spectroscopic ‘finger print’ of the compound.”

In under one minute – compared with conventional tests that take about a day - scientists are provided with a picture of the exact composition of the tablets and the concentration of the active ingredients. The method is convenient and rapid: the tablets are analysed directly, not dissolved or treated in any way. In the samples tested, researchers found that the dose varied enormously.

Dr Bell said: “It is easy to identify the drug in the tablets using this method, but our main interest was in looking at the overall composition of the tablets to determine if batches taken in different seizures had identical composition and therefore came from a common source. In addition to finding exact matches, there are many examples of batches of tablets where the differences are so small that they appear to be due to random variations within a standard manufacturing method. This implies that it may be possible to recognise the ‘signature’ of tablets prepared by major manufacturers, when more extensive data are available.”

To date, the researchers at Queen’s University have used a specialist research-calibre laser Raman system, but the study will be continued using a compact spectrometer developed by a University spin-out company, Avalon Instruments Ltd.

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For further information contact: Dr Steven Bell, School of Chemistry, 028 9027 4470 s.bell@qub.ac.uk or Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 028 9033 5320 or mobile 07815 133 415

Notes: The paper ”Tracking the distribution of ‘ecstasy’ tablets by Raman composition profiling: A large-scale feasibility study,” is published in The Analyst, the journal of The Royal Society of Chemistry DOI: 10.1039/b308312h.

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Queen’s launches new Irish translation course

A new Irish translation course – the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland – is to be launched at Queen’s University on Wednesday (29 October).

Provided jointly by the School of Languages, Literatures and Arts and the University’s Language Centre, the new Diploma and Master’s in Modern Irish Translation Studies has already attracted a high calibre of students from throughout Ireland, north and south, including those who are already pursuing a career in translation.

The University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Community and Communications, Professor Gerry McCormac, said: “Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, and the Charter for Minority Languages, there is a strong demand for services through Irish and for Irish language translators. This course will help to meet this demand.

“It will appeal not only to academics and teachers, but to those who are already engaged in interpreting and translating in a variety of areas, including the public sector.“

Professor Donall Ó Baoill, Head of the School of Languages, Literatures and Arts, and Language Centre Manager Pam McIntyre said they were delighted to receive funding for the course, which would help standardise the quality of Irish translation.

“Having a recognised qualification will not only improve the standard of translation, but also increase the employment opportunities for those who obtain it,” they said.

Applications are welcome from graduates and non-graduates. However, Irish native speakers, who do not have a degree in Irish, and non-graduates, who have been involved in Irish translation for a number of years, should be able to demonstrate a high command of written Irish and English in a qualifying examination.

Funding for the new course came from the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (PEACE II) and the European Social Fund, administered by the Department of Employment and Learning.


For further information contact:

Professor Donall Ó Baoill, Irish and Celtic Studies, (028) 9027 3390
Pam McIntyre, Language Centre, (028) 9033 5291

Note for Editors:

The course will be launched at an event in the Great Hall, Queen’s University on Wednesday 29 October at 4pm. Media facilities will be available.

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Research shows threat to wild salmon from farmed fish

New scientific evidence from an Irish research project reveals that interbreeding between cultivated and wild salmon could lead to the extinction of vulnerable wild Atlantic salmon populations.

Professor Andrew Ferguson of the School of Biology & Biochemistry at Queen’s University Belfast and Dr Philip McGinnity of Ireland’s Marine Institute jointly led the ten-year project, carried out in unique salmon research facilities on the Burrishoole River System in County Mayo. Their experiments examined multiple families of both first and second-generation hybrids between wild and farm salmon in the freshwater and marine life history phases.

Professor Ferguson explained the background to the study: “It is estimated that some two million Atlantic salmon escape each year from fish farms in the North Atlantic, which is equivalent to about 50% of the total number of wild adult salmon in the sea. For example, the largest single incident to date occurred in the Faroes in Spring 2002 when 600,000 fish escaped during a storm accident. In Northern Ireland, we have had recent incidents including one at Glenarm. Escaped salmon can enter rivers where they breed and interbreed with wild salmon, thereby potentially changing the genetic make-up of wild populations of Atlantic salmon. The importance of such changes in the survival of the remaining wild populations of Atlantic salmon has been a matter of debate for the past decade, but little scientific evidence has been available – until now.”

The results of the extensive project were published recently in the scientific journal, Royal Society London Proceedings B. The results indicate that the accidental and deliberate introduction of farm salmon to wild stock results in reduced survival and fitness and could lead to the extinction of wild Atlantic salmon stock.

“The experiment demonstrated that farm salmon have both genetic and competitive impacts on wild populations,” said Dr Prodöhl, one of the Queen’s School of Biology & Biochemistry researchers involved. “From our results it can be concluded that genetic changes, as a result of domestication, lead to reduced survival rates in the wild of farm salmon and trout and that consequently hybrids between farm and wild fish also have reduced survival.”

The findings in the report will have important implications for the future management of wild salmon stocks and for the restocking policies of those agencies responsible for river systems.

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Notes:
The full report is published in Proceedings Royal Society London B (2003). DOI 10.1098/rspb.2003.2520. The paper title is: ‘Fitness reduction and potential extinction of wild populations of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar as a result of interactions with escaped farm salmon’. The paper is authored by a team of researchers from Aquaculture and Catchment Management Services, Marine Institute , Ireland; School of Biology and Biochemistry, Queen’s University Belfast; Department of Biological and Molecular Sciences, University of Stirling; Department of Zoology and Animal Ecology, National University of Ireland, Cork. The report is available on-line at www.pubs.royalsoc.ac.uk/proc_bio/proc_bio.html

For further information please contact: Dr Paulo Prodöhl, School of Biology & Biochemistry 028 90272267; p.prodohl@qub.ac.uk: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office 028 9033 5320

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Czech honour for Queen’s honorary graduate

Queen’s University honorary graduate, the distinguished choreographer and Auschwitz survivor Dr Helen Lewis, is to be honoured by the Czech Republic at a special ceremony on the Belfast campus on Thursday (23 October).

Czech-born Dr Lewis will be presented with the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs Medal in recognition of her life’s achievements and her role as an inspiration to others.

The presentation will be made by Mrs Hana Füleová, wife of the Czech Ambassador to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Stefan Füle, who is on an official visit to Northern Ireland.

Congratulating Dr Lewis on the award, Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Community and Communications, Professor Gerry McCormac, said: “We are delighted that the Czech Republic is honouring Dr Helen Lewis in this way. Her creativity as a choreographer and teacher greatly enriched the cultural life of Northern Ireland over many years, and her life story in general is a remarkable example of triumph over adversity.”

Dr Lewis, who settled in Northern Ireland after the Second World War, was choreographer to the Lyric Theatre, founded the Belfast Modern Dance Group and made an enormous contribution to contemporary dance in Northern Ireland. In 1992 her memoir, “A Time to Speak”, was published.

For her services to the arts, she was awarded an honorary degree by Queen’s in 1996. She was appointed an MBE in 2001.

For further information contact:

Anne Langford, Tel 028 9033 5310

Note for Editors:

The presentation of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs Medal to Dr Helen Lewis will take place in the Naughton Gallery, Lanyon Building, Queen’s University on Thursday 23 October at 4pm. Media facilities will be available.

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Child neglect a serious problem in Northern Ireland, say researchers

Almost one-third of younger children in the care of social services in Northern Ireland have been taken into care because of neglect, according to new research, and babies under a year old are the most likely to have been neglected.

Dr Emma Larkin, Andrew Percy, Professor Dorota Iwaniec and Wendy Cousins of Queen’s Institute of Child care Research – authors of `The Care Careers of Younger Looked After Children’
Dr Emma Larkin, Andrew Percy, Professor Dorota Iwaniec and
Wendy Cousins of Queen’s Institute of Child care Research – authors of
`The Care Careers of Younger Looked After Children’

The neglect amongst children under the age of seven is particularly associated with a family history of alcohol abuse and domestic violence. Moreover, children with a background of neglect are most likely to remain within the care system.

The information is published today by the Institute of Child Care Research at Queen’s University, which argues that, while in recent decades there has been an increased awareness of physical and sexual abuse of children, child neglect is more common and its dangers should also be highlighted. This is defined as a persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and psychological needs, to the extent that the child’s health or development is likely to be seriously impaired.

The research also points out that almost half the “looked after” children have emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Entitled `The Care Careers of Younger Looked After Children’, the report is the culmination of a three-year study which followed the case histories of 388 children in care who were all under the age of five when the project began. It is being launched at a one-day conference at Stranmillis University College.

Institute Director Professor Dorota Iwaniec noted that, at the end of the study, 40 per cent of the children were being looked after by foster parents, whereas only 22 per cent were being cared for by their parents. Almost one-quarter (21 per cent) of the children had been adopted, which represented a substantial increase over previous years.

Professor Iwaniec also drew attention to the fact that 13 per cent of the children had been looked after by three or more carers over a period of just two years.

“Children need secure loving attachments in order to help them fulfil their potential in later life and to grow up as well-adjusted members of society,” she said.

Wendy Cousins of the Institute of Child Care Research said that the children in the study came from extremely troubled family backgrounds. A total of 77 per cent of their families had a history of alcohol abuse, 74 per cent had a history of domestic violence, 64 per cent had a history of mental health difficulties, 50 per cent had a history of offending behaviour and 42 per cent had a history of drug abuse. Over half (56 per cent) of the children had more than three of these problems in their family background and children with greater numbers of family problems were significantly more likely to have a higher number of foster care placements.

“It would be reasonable to assume that the circumstances prevailing within the children’s families contribute to the difficulty of enabling them to return home on a permanent basis,” Wendy Cousins said. ”This has implications for the allocation and resourcing of support services to troubled families.”

Notes for editors:

`The Care Careers of Younger Looked After Children’ is available from the Institute of Child Care Research, Queen’s University Belfast, Tel 028 9033 5401

The conference opens at Stranmillis University College, Belfast, at 9.30am.

The keynote speaker is Jane Aldgate, Professor of Social Care at the Open University. Other speakers include: Wendy Cousins, Dr Emma Larkin, Dr Dominic McSherry and Dr Sharon Milner from the Institute of Child Care Research at Queen’s University; Dr Theresa Donaldson (NI Guardian Ad Litem); Dr Una Lernihan (North & West Belfast Health and Social Services Trust); and Dr Colette McAuley (School of Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast).

For Further Information contact: Rosaleen Gormley, Institute of Childcare Research’ Tel 028 9033 5401 Email: r.gormley@qub.ac.uk

Or

Robert Baxter, Communications Office, Tel 028 9033 5323

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For the Love of Monsters! - Gargoyles at Queen’s

On Wednesday 22 October, an exhibition will open in the Black and White Hall at Queen’s University, of artwork celebrating the gargoyles adorning the Lanyon building, produced by community groups under the guidance of renowned sculptor Betty Newman-Maguire as part of an outreach project for art@queen’s.

One of the new replacement gargoyles sculpted by local stonemasons for the Lanyon Building at Queen’s that provided the inspiration behind an art@queen’s community art project.
One of the new replacement gargoyles sculpted by local stonemasons for the Lanyon Building at Queen’s that provided the inspiration behind an art@queen’s community art project.

Gargoyles have been an architectural feature of large buildings, particularly churches and cathedrals since medieval times. These carvings, usually in the form of a grotesquely carved face or figure, were used as channels to direct rainwater away from buildings but they also occur as non-functional architectural features on towers and walls. There was a resurgence of interest in gargoyles during the Victorian era with the Gothic Revival and Charles Lanyon included them in his design for the new Queen’s College in the 1840s.

Since then, an unfortunate combination of geography and heavy industry has taken its toll on the built heritage of Belfast, with the popular soft sandstones proving particularly susceptible to damage.

In 1996 a survey of the Lanyon building revealed significant defects in the stonework and a phased maintenance programme was planned by the Estates Department and the University’s architects Consarc. Before this could begin, however, a section of one of the corner pinnacles of the tower dramatically collapsed and investigations revealed that almost every stone of the other two pinnacles was split. Replacement was the only option. New gargoyles were commissioned from skilled stonemasons at Cunningham Stone of Kilkeel - and are now proudly in place on the building roof!

There is a long tradition in stone carving for the masons to leave their personal mark and the carving of gargoyles provides the perfect opportunity to interpret the tradition in a more personal style. Most of the new gargoyles at Queen’s are copies of the originals. Some though are executed in a more contemporary style – one wears a dust-mask and sports an ear-ring in an uncanny representation of the carver himself!

Shan McAnena, Curator of Art at Queen’s, invited Betty Newman-Maguire to develop an outreach project for art@queen’s based on the original gargoyles. Working with senior citizens from the Morton Community Centre in South Belfast and pupils from Lagan College, the artist explored the gargoyle tradition and encouraged the participants to make life-size clay masks, which were then cast in plaster and painted.

“The idea of working with people making artistic responses to the gargoyles ties in with Halloween, a time we associate with monsters of all kinds and various masks which children especially take great delight in creating and wearing,” Betty Newman-Maguire commented.

She added, “I worked with two very different groups on the residency and was not at all surprised at the spontaneity and self expression of the participants as they each manipulated and created their mask. I marvelled at the directness of approach and the delight they expressed while exploring their creative side.”

Josie Reid, one of the pupils who took part in the project, said that “The experience was excellent – I’m having a brilliant time”. Senior Citizen Leah Petri confirmed this sentiment adding, “In all my 83 years I have never enjoyed anything as much. When I put the plaster on my hands I did not know what I was doing but with Betty’s encouragement I made my mask.”

The ‘monstrous’ plaster masks by the pupils and senior citizens, will be on display at Queen’s during the Halloween period - until 9 November - alongside the original and now replaced Lanyon gargoyles.

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Notes

  1. Media facilities will be available at a Preview on Tuesday 21 October, 6-9pm in the Black and White Hall, Lanyon Building, queen’s University.
  2. Stonemasons at Cunningham Cunningham Stone, Kilkeel carved the new gargoyles on the Lanyon Building, under the guidance of Dawson Stelfox and Bronagh Lynch of Consarc Conservation on behalf of the Queen’s University Estates Department.
  3. The project has been supported by Unlocking Creativity

For further information contact: Shan McAnena, 028 9033 5383; or Communications Office 028 9033 5320.

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Talking in Colour - African flags of the Fante

An exhibition of the vibrant work of four master African flagmakers from Ghana, together with the banners they helped members of 19 different community groups around Northern Ireland produce, opens in the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s on 22 October, heralding a colourful launch to the 41st Belfast Festival at Queen’s.

Three Ghanaian flagmakers - Akwesi Assemtim of Kromantze, Baba Issaka of Agona Swedru and his apprentice, Charles Owusu, and their interpreter Atta Gyamfi – hold one of the Fante tribe flags that they brought over for the ‘Talking in Colour’ exhibition at the Naughton Gallery. Helping them is Queen’s Professor Gerry McCormac Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Community and Communications, at a workshop they gave in the Northern Ireland African Centre. Three Ghanaian flagmakers - Akwesi Assemtim of Kromantze, Baba Issaka of Agona Swedru and his apprentice, Charles Owusu, and their interpreter Atta Gyamfi – hold one of the Fante tribe flags that they brought over for the ‘Talking in Colour’ exhibition at the Naughton Gallery. Helping them is Queen’s Professor Gerry McCormac Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Community and Communications, at a workshop they gave in the Northern Ireland African Centre.

The exhibition marks the culmination of a busy three-week programme of workshops by the visiting Ghanaians - Akwesi Assemtim of Kromantze, Baba Issaka of Agona Swedru and his apprentice, Charles Owusu, with their interpreter Atta Gyamfi. The workshops were part of a diverse programme of activities being supported under the Queen’s in the Community initiative.

The African flagmakers worked with schools and a wide range of community groups, sharing their expertise in banner design – and learning a little in return of our own local flag and banner traditions!
The fruits of their work - 20 bright new banners – will be on display, alongside many of the African Fante tribe flags brought over from Ghana, in what promises to be a colourful event.

The Fante is a tribe of the Akan people of West Africa, occupying an eighty-mile strip of Ghana’s southern coastline where they are traditionally employed as fishermen. Shan McAnena, Curator of Art at Queen’s University, who conceived the idea for the project, said:

“Akan culture has no written language and so relies on a visual and oral tradition for handing down religious, ethical and social codes, its law and education. The Fante are a highly visual people and, apart from the flags are well known for their vibrantly coloured coffins, fetishes and shop boards.

“In their flags the Fante have developed an extremely sophisticated art form, a visual language which allows them to celebrate their history, display their values and provoke their rivals.

“Not only were the Fantes lives changed forever when the Europeans sailed into the area 500 years ago, but the creative provocation that occurred when the Fante encountered European coats of arms, national flags, logos of the trading companies, regimental colours and military regalia was profound.”

Atta Gyamfi, who is accompanying the three flagmakers from the Fante region of southern Ghana, is fascinated by all that he is seeing on his first trip outside Africa. “It’s all so exciting for us - and Belfast and the Northern Ireland countryside look so very beautiful. Our flags are influenced by old European heraldry and emblems and it is thrilling for us to recognise some familiar elements in the coats of arms and other signs and symbols that we are seeing.”

The work on show is certainly a vibrant example of this year’s Belfast Festival at Queen’s theme of ‘colours of the world’.

The exhibition of the Fante flags will continue in the Naughton Gallery until 4 December, opening daily 10am – 4pm. The community project banners will be on display in Belfast City Centre, at Linenhall Street/Donegall Square South from 24 October until 9 November and will then tour venues around Northern Ireland.

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Notes:
1. Media facilities will be available at the exhibition Preview in the Naughton Gallery (Lanyon building) at Queen’s on Tuesday 21 October between 6-8pm.
2. The outreach programme of workshops arranged for the Ghanaian flagmakers by Queen’s University was funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Lottery Fund, Belfast City Council and Creativity Seed Fund, with support from Ulster Weavers Ltd in providing linen.

For further information, contact: Shan McAnena, Curator of Art: 028 9033 5383; or Communications Office: 028 9033 5320

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Belfast school children to debate ‘Genetic Futures’ with local scientists

School children from the Belfast area will spend Monday (20 October 2003) at W5 discussing their views on the advances of genetic science with leading local scientists. Dr Paul Duprex, a molecular virologist in the School of Biology and Biochemistry at Queen’s University, is one of the scientists who will be involved in the fun educational initiative.

The 14-16 year olds will be taking part in one of an exciting series of all-day events for schools called ‘Genetic Futures’ which are happening all over the UK.

The initiative is designed to educate and inspire pupils with the achievements and possibilities of genetic science and is part of the programme of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA.

Commenting on the event, Dr Paul Duprex said: “This is an exciting and fun way for children to learn about ground breaking research that has the potential to change all of our lives for the better. The schools initiative offers children the unique opportunity to ask scientists questions about the latest advances in genetics. From my point of view, it’s a great opportunity to find out what the children think about genetic issues. We hope the children learn a lot from their day, are excited by the research taking place and that some of them are inspired to consider research as a career in the future.”

The children will take part in three workshops: ‘Gene Talk’, ‘Gene Play’ and ‘Gene Dreams’.

‘Gene Talk’ gives the students the opportunity to learn more about the science behind current topical gene-related issues. Students will be given a scenario and with the help of a panel of experts decide what they consider to be the appropriate outcome. Topics for discussion include ‘Designer Babies’ – should parents have the right to select an embryo on the basis that stem cells taken from that child’s umbilical cord could be used to save the life of an existing child? And, Genetically Modified Plants – should we use them to help clean up the environment?

In ‘Gene Play’, students will take part in a hands-on experiment that will allow students to capture, preserve and even wear their own DNA. The students will use a real-world laboratory procedure to extract DNA from their cells and can watch it precipitate from the solution as floating white strands. The DNA strands will then be collected and transferred to a glass vial that is fashioned as a necklace.

In ‘Gene Dreams’, students will get the chance to think about how science is turned into news stories. Pupils will be given advice on how to get a scoop as they travel into the future to the year 2053 to report on the discoveries and advances that DNA technology might bring 50 years from now. The children will report on the opening of a prehistoric theme park in Siberia where Woolly Mammoths will walk again and on the use of gene therapy to make athletes run faster.

Two schools from each of the regional events will be selected to go on to the National Forum that will be held in London in November. There pupils will take part in a ‘Junior Question Time’ with a panel of experts from science, government, interest groups and regulatory bodies.

The schools taking part in the Belfast event are Aquinas Grammar School, Ashfield Boys School, Ballyclare Secondary School, Glenlola Collegiate, La Salle Boys School, Lagan College, St Dominic’s High School, St Genevieve’s High School, St Joseph’s College, Wellington College.

The ‘Genetic Futures’ events have been developed by a partnership of organisations including the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Royal Society, the Department of Health, the Department for Trade and Industry, the Department for Education and Skills, NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), BBCi and Bio-Rad.

Dr Duprex added that Queen’s University is happy to be involved with “this innovative educational initiative that shows children a glimpse of the exciting range of scientific research areas that have become possible since the discovery of DNA fifty years ago.”

ENDS

Note:
Journalists and photographers are welcome to attend the event between 10am and 2pm. Please contact Jennifer Crawley at W5 Press Office on 02890 467 788.

For further information please contact: the MRC Press Office on 020 7637 6011

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Thorn mental health care education at Queen’s embraces multi-disciplinary approach

The Thorn accredited education course in mental health care at Queen’s University Belfast exemplifies the multi-disciplinary approach advocated in the review of mental health and learning disability services currently taking place in Northern Ireland. Aimed at experienced, qualified mental health professionals, there are three social workers and one occupational therapist taking the course for the first time this academic year, alongside mental health nurses.

The Thorn Mental Health Care programme at the Queen’s School of Nursing recently welcomed new Occupational Therapists and Social Workers recruits. Pictured (l-r) Susan Bowman, lecturer; Jane Smith, Occupational Therapist; Professor Jean Orr, Head of the School of Nursing & Midwifery; Elizabeth Reid, Community Psychiatric Nurse; and Fiona Martin, Queen’s Thorn Course Co-ordinator. The Thorn Mental Health Care programme at the Queen’s School of Nursing recently welcomed new Occupational Therapists and Social Workers recruits. Pictured (l-r) Susan Bowman, lecturer; Jane Smith, Occupational Therapist; Professor Jean Orr, Head of the School of Nursing & Midwifery; Elizabeth Reid, Community Psychiatric Nurse; and Fiona Martin, Queen’s Thorn Course Co-ordinator.

The mental health course was awarded the prestigious nationally and internationally recognised Thorn Accreditation in July 2002. It facilitates the development of psychosocial approaches to the provision of care for seriously mentally ill people and their families, within a multidisciplinary and multi-agency context.

“Through this integrated skills-based programme, mental health professionals will be in a position to integrate psychosocial interventions of proven efficacy into their practice,” said Thorn Course Co-ordinator Fiona Martin. “We are delighted to be able to make this course available to all interested and appropriately qualified mental health professionals.”

The Thorn Initiative was launched in 1992 to educate nurses in effective care for people experiencing a severe mental illness, and was originally funded by the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust.

As the issue of mental health and carers receives a more prominent profile at local and national strategic levels, the focus of the Thorn course has developed over the last ten years.

Professor Jean Orr, Head of the School of Nursing & Midwifery at Queen’s explained that the School’s mental health programme is committed to providing learner-centred and practice based education that will deliver the best possible care to patients and their families in a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency approach. She said, “The Thorn programme has now become the model around which training for all mental health professionals working with people with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, severe depression, schizo-affective disorder and paranoid psychosis, is based. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE, 2002) issued the UK’s first clinical guidelines for the treatment of schizophrenia, and all of their recommendations are taught on the Queen’s Thorn Course.”

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NOTES: The first Thorn programme commenced in 1992 with courses delivered at the Institute of Psychiatry, London and The University of Manchester. In early 1997 several other validated training programmes were being offered including, Cheltenham, Nottingham and Eastbourne. In July 2002 the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University was awarded the prestigious Thorn Validation, the first and only institution within Ireland offering this validated training.

For further information contact: Fiona Martin, Thorn Course Co-ordinator Belfast BT9 6AZ f.martin@qub.ac.uk. (028) 90335742; or Communications Office 9033 5320

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Canadian Chief Justice to lecture at Queen’s

The co-existence of two legal traditions in Canada is to be the focus of a major public lecture by the country’s most senior judge at Queen’s University on Friday, 24 October.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada will deliver the University’s annual Eaton Lecture, entitled “The Conversation of Cultures: Bijuralism in Canada” in the University’s Council Chamber, Lanyon Building at 6pm. Admission is free.

Beverley McLachlin was appointed Chief Justice of Canada in January 2000 and is the first woman to hold the post. Born and educated in the province of Alberta, she held a number of senior positions in the judiciary of British Columbia before moving to the Supreme Court in Ottawa in 1989.

She has achieved an international reputation as a pioneer in formulating constitutional law and as a courageous decision-maker in defining the rights of minorities within a modern legal system.

The Eaton Lecture series at Queen’s started in 1994 when Fredrik Eaton, the then Canadian High Commissioner in London, decided to support the work of the Queen's Centre of Canadian Studies. The lectures are funded by Canada’s Eaton Foundation.

For further information contact:Anne Langford, Tel 028 9033 5310

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University to host Conroy Cup

Queen’s is to host the Conroy Cup this weekend – Ireland’s premier university rugby tournament for under-20s.

Six Irish universities will be represented in the competition – University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Limerick, University College Galway, University College Cork and Queen’s University Belfast.

Group matches will be held at the Malone playing fields on Saturday 18 October between 10am and 4pm, with the finals on Sunday afternoon.

This is the first time that the tournament has been held at Queen’s, and Belfast City Council is marking the occasion with a reception at the City Hall on Saturday evening for the 150 players taking part.

The Conroy Cup is named after Paddy Conroy, who died suddenly during the 1988-88 season while he was President of UCD Rugby Club, and his widow Geraldine will be travelling to Belfast at the weekend to present the trophy. The first tournament was played in the 1989-90 season.

Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students and Learning Professor Ken Bell said the University was delighted to welcome the Conroy Cup tournament to Belfast: “Sport is a vital part of the student experience at Queen’s. Through our rugby academy we offer unrivalled facilities for nurturing young players. The Conroy Cup is a showcase for the fresh rugby talent that has come into the universities and I am sure that we will be seeing much more of the participants in the years to come,” Professor Bell said.

For further information, contact: Robert Baxter, Communications Office, Tel 028 9033 5323

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Coveted Irish Scientific Research Award goes to Queen’s Professor

Professor John McCanny, Professor of Microelectronics Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast, has been presented with the prestigious 2003 Boyle Medal Award for excellence in research.

‘Cyril Bryne/The Irish Times’
‘Cyril Bryne/The Irish Times’
Professor John McCanny of Queen’s University Belfast receives the Boyle Medal
and Bursary for his ground-breaking research on novel System-on-Chip architectures for
digital signal and image processing.

The Royal Dublin Society/Irish Times 2003 Boyle Medal award recognises first-class research carried out in Ireland that has attracted international acclaim and the Medal is awarded to an individual every other year. Accompanying the award is a £25,000 student bursary.

The Award winner was selected after a comprehensive and rigorous two-part judging process involving a four-strong judging panel of scientists from Ireland and abroad. Professor McCanny was announced as the winner from a short list of five candidates that also included Professor Michael Finnis of the Department of Pure and Applied Physics in the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen's University.

Professor McCanny’s research is in the field of novel System-on-Chip architectures for digital signal and image processing, a field he helped pioneer. A range of technological innovations that have improved the quality of digital images and sounds have been developed as the result of advanced research that he directs at Queen’s. Novel silicon chips based on the research undertaken by his team are now used in a wide range of electronic equipment including next generation mobile phones, televisions, video camera equipment and DVD recorders.

The work undertaken by Professor McCanny and his colleagues has also led to the creation of two high technology companies. The first, Audio Processing Technology markets audio compression products to the professional audio industry worldwide. The second Amphion Semiconductor licences complex silicon chip designs for video compression to major semiconductor companies worldwide, mainly in the United States and Japan.

Professor McCanny is leading the major £38m Queen’s University project to set up the new flagship Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), in the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast’s ‘Titanic Quarter’. ECIT’s mission is to combine world-leading research in key, complementary technologies in an exciting new environment. Bringing together specialists in the key areas of advanced digital and electronic communications, ECIT’s activities covers the range from blue skies and applied research, through innovation and commercial development to strong links with industry, including new company creation. A key objective is to rapidly accelerate the knowledge-based economy in Northern Ireland.

“I am personally very honoured to have been awarded the Boyle Medal,” said Professor McCanny. “However, in receiving this I wish to acknowledge and dedicate this to all the highly talented engineers I have had the pleasure to work with over many years both in Queen’s and in Amphion Semiconductor Ltd. Many of the contributions that these people have made have been outstanding. The award is also a strong endorsement of the level of high technology research that is now being undertaken in Ireland, North and South and I am very pleased that the RDS and the Irish Times have recognised this.”

The Boyle Medal is the latest in a prestigious list of accolades that Professor McCanny has received. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and was awarded the CBE for ‘contributions to engineering and higher education’ in 2002. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, an IEEE Fellow and a member of the Royal Irish Academy.

The Boyle Medal was initiated in 1895 by the RDS and is named after one of Ireland’s most distinguished scientists, Robert Boyle (1627-1691) who was largely responsible for achieving recognition of the experimental method on which all modern science is based.
Ends

 

Notes:
1. The international judging panel was chaired by Sir Dai Rees, whose distinguished career in the sciences has included holding the positions of Secretary and Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council and President of the European Science Foundation. The other three judges were: Professor Dorothy Guy-Ohlson, a Swedish expert in historical geology and palaeontology; Professor Dervilla M X Donnelly, emeritus professor of Organic Chemistry at UCD, Chair of the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction and the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and is a former President of the Royal Dublin Society; and Professor John Enderby CBE Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at the University of Bristol, who is Vice-President of the Royal Society.

For further information, contact: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office 028 9033 5320, or Professor John V McCanny on 028 90335438 or p.williams@ee.qub.ac.uk

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IQ testing for fun!

Dr Colin Cooper, the Queen’s psychologist who developed the tests for the ‘Test the Nation’ television programmes.
Dr Colin Cooper, the Queen’s psychologist who developed the tests for the ‘Test the Nation’ television programmes.

Queen's University psychologist, Dr Colin Cooper, is set to speak out this Friday (17 October) on his behind-the-scenes involvement with the highly-popular BBC television Test the Nation IQ and National Quiz programmes.

Throughout the UK, millions of adults - whose exam-taking days are firmly behind them - took part in the live interactive television programmes to test first their own IQ (intelligence quota) and, more recently, their general knowledge scores.

Dr Colin 'Cooperman' Cooper, an expert in intelligence testing, is the man behind the tests. He developed and verified the 70 question IQ tests used on the 'Test the Nation' IQ shows, and devised the unique scoring system which determined the national average score and gave a cross-section of the nation's general knowledge for the September National Quiz programme. He also took part in the programmes, commenting on the studio groups' scores.

"There is a lot of confusion surrounding IQ tests, with many believing they measure general knowledge. In fact, they measure not what you know, but how well you can think. So no amount of swotting up on the world's capital cities or a list of American presidents will make any difference to your score." He added, "There is also popular misconception of what intelligence is all about."

At the seminar, which is open to the public, Dr Cooper will talk about his involvement with the BBC programmes, explaining the scientific basis on which the tests were developed and why they work.

Dr Cooper's involvement with the BBC began in early 2001 when the production company contacted him at Queen's through his membership of the British Psychological Society. One of only a handful of experts across the country specialising in intelligence testing and analysis, it wasn't too hard to track him down - and Queen's is one of only about four UK universities to teach intelligence within its School of Psychology.

But does it really matter what our IQ scores are? Well, Dr Cooper thinks there is evidence that it does. "Performance in a wide range of jobs, ranging from sales and clerical work to driving, correlates moderately with IQ, as does school performance and salary. There is also evidence to indicate that IQ influences the amount of education that a person receives, and that this influences their salary.

"It used to be controversial to suggest that IQ has a biological basis, but it is now well-known that it has moderate heritability and there are several links to the biology of the nervous system. Environment is also important, as IQ appears to be rising by about three points per decade," he said.

Since then our fascination with the area of IQ and intelligence testing has continued - a fact that is contributing to the sales success of Dr Cooper's recent book, 'Test the Nation: The IQ Book'.

Dr Cooper's School of Psychology seminar will take place at 1pm on Friday 17 October in the David Keir Building at Queen's.
Ends

For further information, contact: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 028 9033 5320

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Award-winning local poet to lead Heaney Centre at Queen’s

Professor Ciaran Carson
Professor Ciaran Carson

Award-winning Belfast poet Ciaran Carson has been appointed as the first Director of the new Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University.

A Queen’s graduate, Professor Carson last week won the £10,000 Forward Prize, the United Kingdom’s most prestigious annual poetry award, for his ninth collection, “Breaking News”. He took up his post at the University earlier this month.

Commenting on his appointment, he said: "I am honoured to be the first holder of a post with such prestigious associations. I hope the Centre will become a forum for all kinds of debate about poetry.”

Professor Hugh Magennis, Head of the School of English at Queen’s, said: “Ciaran Carson’s appointment will set the standard for the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. It is great news for us, and particularly fitting that an award-winning local poet should be the first Director of a centre of excellence named after the Nobel Prize-winning poet who is one of our most famous graduates.

“Queen’s has an international reputation for the quality of its poets – indeed, the Times Literary Supplement has said that poetry is now the activity for which the University is best known throughout the English-speaking world. With Ciaran Carson at the helm of our new Centre, the University’s reputation in this area is set to be even further enhanced.

“The award of the coveted Forward Prize to Ciaran is a timely indication of how outstanding an appointment he is.”

Born in Belfast in 1948, Ciaran Carson has won a number of prestigious awards for his work, including the T S Eliot Prize in 1993. Also a gifted musician, he is a former literature and arts officer of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Funded by the Campaign for Queen’s – the most ambitious fund-raising initiative in the University’s history – the new Centre will be an international base for high-quality research and creative writing with a particular, but not exclusive, focus on poetry in modern Ireland.

In addition to Seamus Heaney and Ciaran Carson, many other distinguished poets have emerged from Queen’s, including Paul Muldoon, winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

To mark his new appointment, Professor Carson will be giving a poetry reading in the English Lecture Theatre, Room G9, Lanyon North, on Thursday (16 October) at 6pm.

For further information contact: Professor Ciaran Carson, Tel: 028 9091 1074

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More than one-quarter of Northern Ireland households in poverty, say researchers

Bare Necessities: Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland, by Paddy Hillyard, Grace Kelly, Eithne McLaughlin, Demi Patsios and Mike Tomlinson
Bare Necessities: Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland, by Paddy Hillyard, Grace Kelly, Eithne McLaughlin, Demi Patsios and Mike Tomlinson

Half a million people in Northern Ireland live below the poverty line, including more than one-third of all children, say university researchers.

The report, entitled Bare Necessities: Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland and published today by think tank Democratic Dialogue, provides a “scientific” measure of poverty and social exclusion in Northern Ireland for the first time. It also asserts that poverty in Northern Ireland is worse than either the Republic of Ireland or Great Britain, which are two of the most unequal societies in Europe.

The research, directed by Professor Paddy Hillyard of the University of Ulster, and by Professor Eithne McLaughlin and Mike Tomlinson of Queen’s University Belfast, is based on a representative sample of more than 3,100 people across Northern Ireland surveyed between October 2002 and January 2003. It was funded by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, the Department of Finance and Personnel, and the Treasury’s evidence-based policy fund.

The research measured poverty in terms of both low income and inability to afford things or activities most people regard as necessities of life – for example “new, not-second hand clothes”, “attending weddings, funerals or similar occasions” and “enough money to pay heating, electricity and telephone bills on time”. The research found that all sections of the community agree on what the bare necessities of life are. The authors of `Bare Necessities' - Mike Tomlinson, Professor Eithne McLaughlin, Professor Paddy Hillyard and Grace Kelly
The authors of `Bare Necessities' - Mike Tomlinson, Professor Eithne McLaughlin, Professor Paddy Hillyard and Grace Kelly

Poor households were found to be those with incomes around half the average and lacking three or more necessities.

Key findings included:

  • Well over one-third (37.4 per cent) of Northern Ireland’s children are growing up in poor households.
  • Over two-thirds (67 per cent) of lone parents are in poverty.
  • Twenty-nine per cent of women but only 25 per cent of men are in poor households
  • Over half (56 per cent) of households containing one or more disabled people are in poverty, compared with 29 per cent containing no-one with a disability.
  • Catholics are 1.4 times as likely as Protestants to live in poor households.
  • Forty-three per cent of Sinn Féin supporters live in poverty, as against 19 per cent of those who support the Ulster Unionist Party.
  • The richest 40 per cent of households together possess 67 per cent of the total household income in Northern Ireland.
  • The poorest 40 per cent of households have one-sixth (17 per cent) of total household income.

The authors conclude that “Northern Ireland is one of the most unequal societies in the developed world” and they throw up a challenge to the region’s politicians and policy-makers:

“While the divisions around religion, national identity and political preference dominate all discussions in the media, in local council chambers and in the Assembly, this study has turned the spotlight to other equally important but less visible divisions of class, gender, age and disability.

“The challenge for Northern Ireland, as a whole, and local politicians, in particular, is how to reduce these deep fractures of inequality and create a more just society.”

The reduction of poverty and inequality is, they say, “ultimately a matter of political will”.


Notes to Editors

Bare Necessities: Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland, by Paddy Hillyard, Grace Kelly, Eithne McLaughlin, Demi Patsios and Mike Tomlinson, is available (price £7.50, £4 unwaged, £10 institutions, plus p&p) from Democratic Dialogue, 23 University Street, Belfast BT7 1FY (tel: 028 9022 0050, e-mail info@democraticdialogue.org) or on the Democratic Dialogue web site at http://www.democraticdialogue.org.

The report will be launched in Grosvenor House, 5 Glengall Street, Belfast at 10am on 13 October.

The research directors are available for interview on 12 and 13 October: Professor Paddy Hillyard, University of Ulster, Tel 90365131; Professor Eithne Mc Laughlin, Queen’s University Belfast, Tel 9033 5102; Mike Tomlinson, Queen’s University Belfast, Tel 90273391.

For further information, contact:

Robert Baxter, Communications Office, Queen’s University Belfast, Tel 028 9033 5323, Email r.baxter@qub.ac.uk

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Former Queen’s Senator “books” his return

One of the longest-serving members of Queen’s University Senate, Dr Brum Henderson, will be returning to the campus for the launch of his memoirs on Tuesday (14 October).

Dr Henderson served on the University’s governing body for 21 years, retiring in 2001.

“Brum – A Life in Television”, published by Appletree Press, charts Dr Henderson’s career in Ulster Television, of which he was the first Managing Director, from the company’s birth in 1959 until his retirement as Chairman in 1990. It also chronicles his early childhood and school and student days.

Among those taking part in the book’s launch will be Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir George Bain who said: “Brum’s service to the University, and to higher education in general, was quite remarkable. He was not only a member of our Senate but also served on the governing body of the then Ulster Polytechnic, the Court of the then New University of Ulster and the Appointments Committee of Trinity College Dublin.

“For this reason, we were delighted to award him an honorary degree last year.”

Dr Henderson said: “Queen’s was a major part of my life, as was third-level education itself for more than 30 years, and I am very grateful that the University has agreed to be the venue for the launch of my memoirs.”


For further information contact:

Anne Langford, Tel 028 9033 5310

Note for Editors:

The launch of “Brum – A Life in Television” will take place in the Great Hall, Queen’s University on Tuesday 14 October at 5.30pm. Media facilities will be available.

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TruCorp gives trainee medics a head start

The reactions of the Airsim device are virtually identical to those of a human patient.
The reactions of the Airsim device are virtually identical to those of a human patient.

A revolutionary new training tool developed by a Belfast company for paramedics, hospital anaesthetists and other healthcare professionals is on display this week at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Anaesthetists in San Francisco.

Known as Airsim, the device resembles a human head and throat, and experts say it is the only simulator in which the reactions of the airway are virtually identical to those of a human patient.

Airsim has been developed by a new company called TruCorp, a spinout from the Department of Anaesthetics at Queen’s University. The materials, such as a polymer compound which has the tactile qualities of the human airway, were sourced locally, while the design and tooling to manufacture the simulator were created by the Northern Ireland Technology Centre at Queen‘s.

Start-up funding for TruCorp was provided by: QUBIS Ltd, the Queen’s University business incubator unit; the University Challenge Fund, which also supports the commercialisation of university research; the American company Medical Education Technologies Inc (METI), the world leader in top-level simulators; and the TruCorp team itself.

The business has jumped from the research and development phase to regular production and distribution in the space of a few months. Two prototypes were shown at the Euroanaesthesia 2003 exhibition in Glasgow in June, and the first batch of 25 was shipped to customers in Australia, Canada, Germany, the USA, and the UK in late August. The devices currently sell at around £1,000 a piece.

At present the simulators are being manufactured by a company in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

Professor Howard Fee and Dr Jim Murray of the Queen’s University School of Medicine identified a requirement for medical simulation products driven by a growth in competency-based training, where the emphasis is on proving that specific skills have been acquired and can be applied appropriately. Medical and nursing education therefore needed anatomically realistic components to stand alone for specific skills training, or to be inserted into complete mannequins.

“The model was based on earlier developmental work undertaken by TruCorp on behalf of METI in Florida, who commissioned a realistic airway for incorporation into their advanced human patient simulator,” said Jim Murray.

Chief Executive Colin Foster added: “The market reaction to the basic concept model shown in Glasgow was overwhelming. There was considerable user pressure for immediate availability. Practitioners and distributors were requesting supplies of the model without any of the advanced design features that were planned.

“It was evident that the market would not wait for a prolonged development programme, and so it was decided to move into a manufacturing and supply phase as quickly as possible. In parallel with exploiting the immediate opportunity, TruCorp will be developing additional skills assessment products for training in a range of medical procedures,” Colin Foster said.

Notes for editors:

TruCorp Ltd is a newly established company with a specific mission to research and develop systems for medical skills training and competency assessment. The company consists of: Professor Howard Fee and Dr Jim Murray of the Department of Anaesthetics and Intensive Care at Queen’s University Belfast, and Colin Foster of Fenestella Investments Ltd. They can be contacted c/o QUBIS Ltd, Lanyon North, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN; Tel 028 9068 2321, email info@qubis.co.uk

The Annual Meeting of the American Society of Anaesthetists takes place 11-15 October 2003 in San Francisco.

For further information, contact: Robert Baxter, Communications Office, Tel 028 9033 5323

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New study to explore psychological effects of ‘the Troubles’

Researchers in the School of Psychology at Queen’s University have been awarded a major grant of over €170,000 to carry out research work on the extent and effects of conflict experience on people from Northern Ireland and the border counties.

Dr Orla Muldoon
Dr Orla Muldoon
The funding award has been made to Dr Orla Muldoon of the School of Psychology at Queen’s University, who will liaise closely on the project with cross-border co-applicant Dr John Horgan of the Department of Applied Psychology in University College Cork (UCC). The research is funded by the Cross-Border Consortium under the Peace II Programme and part-financed by the UK and Irish Governments.

Work on the project begins this month and will continue for two years. “With a novel programme of research this project is aimed at establishing the extent and effects of conflict experience on the social and psychological well-being of a representative sample of the population from Northern Ireland and the border counties in the Irish Republic, ” explained Dr Muldoon. “We will examine the extent of troubles-related experience in this sample, and its relationship with demographic factors such as gender, social disadvantage and age. We will also consider the relationship between these experiences and psychological health and attitudinal factors such as tolerance and prejudice. In particular the research aims to examine the role that social identity may play in moderating the impact of conflict on psychological well-being and social attitudes. In this way, the research has the potential to inform health care provision as well as cross-community and cross-border work that aims to foster peace and reconciliation.”

The project builds on a number of earlier studies that have been carried out by Queen’s Psychology researchers that explored the impact of the troubles on adolescents, students and children in Northern Ireland. “The difference with this new project is that we will have an opportunity to test our earlier findings on a representative sample of adults – not only in Northern Ireland, but also in the border counties of the Irish Republic,” said Dr Muldoon.

The team of five academic researchers, three at Queen’s and two at UCC, will be working alongside professionals from other areas. A group of mental health and community relations practitioners will act as advisors to the project.

Data for the project will be collected by telephone surveys to be carried out by a specialist service provider under the direction of Dr Muldoon’s team.

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For more information contact: Dr Orla Muldoon, 028 9027 4283 o.muldoon@qub.ac.uk or Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 9033 5320

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Queen’s agrees microchip research project with leading high-tech company Xilinx

The School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast has struck a major deal to collaborate on a significant new research project with one of the world’s leading high-technology companies, Xilinx Inc. The top-rate research team within the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering will work with the company that is at the forefront of exciting high-level IT developments to develop new concepts involving intelligent computer chips.

The School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Queen’s will carry out collaborative research, experimentation and development with Xilinx at a new Programmable Systems Laboratory set up at the University, established with the multinational corporation’s support. Xilinx will fund high-level research activity while also donating advanced technologies.

The research area is Programmable Logic where new intelligent computer chips, whose function can be rapidly changed through electrical reprogramming, are used to perform updated programmes, blurring the distinction between hardware and software. The significance of this fast-growing semi-conductor area is to counteract the seemingly built-in obsolescence of our domestic and industrial equipment. The high-level research project has been named PIPPIN (Programmable IC Platforms for Programmable IP Networks).

Xilinx has an advanced international research & development, design and operations centre in Dublin, where the company’s European headquarters is also located. Engineers at the Dublin centre and the company’s corporate headquarters in California will work closely with the Queen’s University team. Xilinx will provide the development environment for the university’s new concepts. This will include availability of high-end programmable devices, software and design tools to enable research on implementation techniques and applications.

The new Programmable Systems Laboratory at Queen’s is the brainchild of Professors Roger Woods and Alan Marshall who approached Xilinx with their ideas.

“The evolution of new telecommunications networks hinges on the level of future programmability which can be ingrained into electronic systems prior to their actual establishment," said Professor Woods. "Our goal is to create network systems that can change themselves after installation in order to meet differing requirements. The key to this inherent flexibility lies in programmable logic development and the creation of highly powerful and scalable ‘System on Chip’ products. Using Xilinx technologies, we will create demonstration platforms for networks that are highly adaptable to future market trends. It is envisaged that, in some instances, changes of function within the network could become ‘intelligent’ as the system evolves by itself to meet the long-term dynamics of demand in the type and volume of traffic on the network.

“Xilinx’ programmable devices are extremely powerful and can be reconfigured individually within the systems in which they are placed, either on site or remotely. They are ideally placed to be at the vanguard of future telecommunications industry developments,” said Professor Woods.

Commenting on the joint venture, Ivo Bolsens, Chief Technology Officer at Xilinx said: “The School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Queen’s represents a centre of excellence in programmable networks and reconfigurable hardware. The combination of both areas of study in one research institution provided compelling reasons for this collaboration.” He added, “Our advanced semiconductor and software design techniques and Queen’s University’s academic expertise will equip the new laboratory with powerful experimentation capabilities. This effort aligns with the overall goal of Xilinx Research Labs to develop scalable solutions and design tools for low to high-end networking applications.”

The hardware circuitry in Xilinx advanced components, which are commonly used in today’s communications systems, can be changed even after they have been installed in electronic equipment at a customer’s premises. This means that electronic equipment manufacturers can bring products to market faster, add new features later, improve performance after deployment and provide general maintenance from a remote location.

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Notes:
1. In the past twelve months, Xilinx invested over US$ 220 million in the research & development of new technology. The company holds over 800 patents from its inventions.

Xilinx Research Laboratories conducts applied research in programmable platforms, tools and applications. Its mission is to develop technological solutions that create new business opportunities or significantly advance current business. With various locations throughout the world, researchers strive to set the highest standard for successful industrial research laboratory. Xilinx, Inc. (NASDAQ: XLNX) is the worldwide leader of programmable logic solutions. Additional information about Xilinx is available at www.xilinx.com.

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Halloween Gershwin Gala

Barry Douglas
Barry Douglas

Internationally acclaimed, Belfast-born pianist Barry Douglas is to give a special performance to celebrate the music of American composer George Gershwin on Friday 31 October.

He will be appearing with his orchestras Camerata Ireland and Camerata Jazz in the Whitla Hall of Queen’s University, and will be joined by Taiwanese-American Cho-Liang Lin, one of today’s foremost violin virtuosos.

The gala event is being organised by the Queen’s University of Belfast Foundation which is currently raising funds for a new library. All proceeds from the concert will go towards the New Library Appeal.

In the first half of the concert, Barry Douglas will conduct the Camerata Ireland chamber orchestra and Cho-Liang Lin in well-known pieces from the classical repertoire. The second half is entirely devoted to Gershwin and the centrepiece will be the well loved Rhapsody in Blue. Camerata Jazz has been specially formed for this evening to play the original 1924 Paul Whiteman big-band arrangement of the piece, which is being performed in Belfast for the first time.

Included in the Camerata Jazz line-up are top session musicians who have worked with many of the world’s leading artists: Paul Eshelby (trumpet), Musical Director of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and member of the BBC Big Band; Claire McInerney (saxophone) of the BBC Big Band and the Syd Lawrence Orchestra; Martin Williams (saxophone) of the BBC Big Band and well-known arranger and composer; Mitch Dalton (guitar) has played with all the big pop names, including Robbie Williams, and in every James Bond film.

The Gershwin Gala will be in the Sir William Whitla Hall on Friday 31 October at 7.45pm. For tickets, contact Festival Box Office (028) 9027 2626

For further information, contact:

Norma Sinte (028) 9033 5187 or Julie Forster (028) 9027 3201

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Trip of a life-time for three Queen’s midwives

Three midwives from the Queen’s University School of Nursing & Midwifery recently returned from the trip of a life-time to West Africa where they worked with local people in the Sekondhi region as part of the Ghana International Health Mission (GIHM). While they were there they helped launch the Bill Gates Malaria Partnership programme that aims to eradicate Malaria by training local people in its prevention, detection and treatment. One local mother in the Sekondhi region of Ghana who learnt how to breast feed her twin babies successfully with the help of the visit team of midwives from Queen’s University.
One local mother in the Sekondhi region of Ghana who learnt how to breast feed her twin babies successfully with the help of the visit team of midwives from Queen’s University.

Una Lynch, Jenny McNeill and Dale Spence travelled out to join colleagues from three American Universities as the second Queen’s public health and midwifery team to participate in this project.

Professor Jean Orr Head of the School of Nursing & Midwifery is supportive of all staff who carry out this type of voluntary work:
“I firmly believe that as nurses, midwives and health visitors we have a responsibility and a duty to establish links of solidarity with colleagues in the so-called developing world. As globalisation gains momentum the disparity between the countries of the North and the South is widening. This phenomenon must not be ignored and each one of us should proactively seek opportunities to keep the plight of the most vulnerable citizens in our global community firmly on the agenda. That is not to say that the benefits of such initiatives are exclusively on the part of our southern partners: the gains in terms of personal and professional development for us are enormous.”

Three midwives from the Queen’s University School, of Nursing & Midwivery - Una Lynch, Jenny McNeill and Dale Spence - took the opportunity to learn to play African drums during their recent trip to Ghana working with the Ghana International Health Mission.
Three midwives from the Queen’s University School, of Nursing & Midwivery - Una Lynch, Jenny McNeill and Dale Spence - took the opportunity to learn to play African drums during their recent trip to Ghana working with the Ghana International Health Mission.
The Republic of Ghana is located on the middle of the Guinea Coast of West Africa, with a population of 18.8 million – almost half of whom are under the age of 18 – and a predominantly agrarian economy. It is estimated that 3-4% of the adult population of Ghana is living with HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis, malaria and the six childhood killer diseases remain high on the health agenda there.

“Our primary focus on the trip was maternal and child health,” said Una Lynch lecturer in public health. “Most women in Ghana have their babies alone at home. Jenny and Dale spent time working with traditional birth attendants in the area, while I worked with community health workers and local nurses involved in maternal and child health clinics. One immediate and positive result of our educational work was when we were able to show a mother of six-week old twins how she could successfully breast feed both her babies. When she had first come to our clinic, one of here babies was suffering from malnutrition because she believed she wouldn’t have enough milk for two.”

The Queen’s women saw approximately 100 people each day, presenting with a wide variety of conditions, mostly related to the poor environmental and social context in which they lived. Jenny McNeill added, “As part of the GIHM team, we were happy to adopt a flexible approach and were actively involved in the work of the generic health clinic for men, women and children of all ages. The drugs and equipment in the clinic were a combination of locally bought products and donations brought by the team: including donations that we brought over from Queen’s and the Mater Hospital Trust.”

Malaria is the main cause of death in Ghana and the country has been chosen as one of four to participate in a World Health Organisation malaria eradication programme funded under the (Bill) Gates Malaria Partnership. The three Queen’s midwives were delighted to have participated in the launch and the initial stages of this multifaceted initiative. Dale Spence explained; “This initiative adopts a bottom up approach to tackling the malaria problem - local people are trained in malaria, prevention, detection and treatment. It was good to have a chance to make such a positive contribution to the health education of the people we met on our trip.”

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For further information contact: Una Lynch 9027 2377 u.lynch@qub.ac.uk

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Flag making fun at African Centre

Four master African flagmakers, just arrived in Belfast from Ghana at the invitation of the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s, will be running a day of lively flag making workshops at the Northern Ireland African Cultural Centre on Saturday 4 October.

At a workshop on Thursday 2 October at the Cultra Folk and Transport Museum, Baba Issaka, one of the visiting Ghanaian flagmakers, invited to Northern Ireland by The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s, works on a design with members of the Patchwork Guild, comparing techniques. The flagmakers will carry out around 20 workshops with community and school groups around Northern Ireland in the run up to the opening of their Belfast Festival at Queen’s exhibition at The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s on 22 October. At a workshop on Thursday 2 October at the Cultra Folk and Transport Museum, Baba Issaka, one of the visiting Ghanaian flagmakers, invited to Northern Ireland by The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s, works on a design with members of the Patchwork Guild, comparing techniques. The flagmakers will carry out around 20 workshops with community and school groups around Northern Ireland in the run up to the opening of their Belfast Festival at Queen’s exhibition at The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s on 22 October.

In what promises to be a colourful event, the Ghanaians will be assisting community groups in making a series of flags during the day. Taking part will be representatives from the Northern Ireland African Centre, the Chinese Welfare Association and the Indian Community Centre. To the beat of African music playing in the background to aid artistic inspiration, participants will also be nourished with tasty African food and drink. Energy permitting, there’ll also be a chance for them to take part in an African drum-making workshop.

The flagmakers are in town to carry out a full programme of engagements with community groups and schools around Northern Ireland during October, in the run-up to the opening of their exhibition - ‘Talking in Colour: African Flags of the Fante’ – in The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s University from 22 October.

Atta Gyamfi, who is accompanying the three flagmakers from the Fante region of southern Ghana (Akwesi Assemtim of Kromantze, Baba Issaka of Agona Swedru and his apprentice, Charles Owusu), is fascinated by all that he is seeing on his first trip outside Africa. “It’s all so exciting for us - and Belfast and the Northern Ireland countryside look so very beautiful. Our flags are influenced by old European heraldry and emblems and it is thrilling for us to recognise some familiar elements in the coats of arms and other signs and symbols that we are seeing.”

Gerry McCormac, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Community and Communications at Queen’s University, who plans to visit the event and welcome the flagmakers, said: “I’m delighted to have the chance to see the colourful work being produced by local members of our community with a little expert help from our four guests! This multicultural event is part of a diverse programme of activities being supported under the Queen’s in the Community initiative. The flags being designed whet the appetite for the forthcoming exhibition of African Fante Flags to begin later this month as part of the 41st Belfast Festival at Queen’s – and the work is certainly a vibrant example of this year’s Festival theme of ‘colours of the world’.”

Ends

Notes:

  1. There will an opportunity for media to visit the workshop at 2pm on Saturday 4 October, when Professor Gerry McCormac will address all flagmakers. The workshops are taking part at the Northern Ireland African Centre, Upper Crescent, Belfast.
  2. The outreach programme of workshops arranged for the Ghanaian flagmakers by Queen’s University is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Lottery Fund, Belfast City Council and Creativity Seed Fund, with support from Ulster Weavers Ltd in providing linen.


For further information, contact: Shan McAnena, Curator of Art 90 335383 or Clare Leeman, 077897 56621

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