04-2004 Press Releases

30/04/2004: Classical premiers making the news
29/04/2004: Queen's team uncovers Bronze Age artefacts
28/04/2004: New opportunities for writers at Queen's
27/04/2004: Queen's dental student scoops top prize
26/04/2004: Sonorities Festival at Queen's off to a flying start!
26/04/2004: More new nurses on the way!
23/04/2004: Queen's commitment to students with disabilities rewarded
23/04/2004: International award for Mann's 'Incoherent Empire'
23/04/2004: DARD chooses Queen's for new agriculture school
22/04/2004: World-famous composer accepts honorary degree
22/04/2004: 'Net child pornography under spotlight at psychology conference
21/04/2004: Queen's means business at national conference
21/04/2004: Queen's fertility researchers win top awards
20/04/2004: Writers on the wall at Queen's
19/04/2004: Supersonic boost for Northern Ireland
15/04/2004: SuperWASP begins search for new planets 
08/04/2004: Awards for Queen's top MBA graduates
08/04/2004: Welcome for funding proposal
07/04/2004: Top American cancer experts visit Belfast
06/04/2004: Us and them?
05/04/2004: Stockhausen and sonic sounds for 2004 Sonorities
05/04/2004: New research into sight condition affecting premature babies
02/04/2004: BBC 'Any Questions?' comes to Queen's University
01/04/2004: Queen's 'springs' into lifelong learning
01/04/2004: Making connections with Architecture
Classical premiers making the news

A spectacular season of performances of new and popular classical music compositions by acclaimed Queen's University composer Piers Hellawell starts this weekend in concert halls and festivals around the UK, including three world premiers.

Piers Hellawell joined the Queen's School of Music in 1981, aged 24, as Composer in Residence and he continues to teach there as Professor in Composition. His works have been commissioned, broadcast and performed all over the world.

Starting at the Wigmore Hall in London on Friday evening (30 April), Hellawell's popular work, The Hilliard Songbook was performed by the Hilliard Ensemble, one of the world's finest vocal chamber groups, for its 30th Anniversary celebration performance. Piers Hellawell has worked frequently with the ensemble following a period as Resident Composer at the Hilliard Festival in 1995.

Following this, on Sunday 2 May, the prestigious Brighton Festival is to host the world premier of Hellawell's Cors de Chasse. Co- commissioned by the Festival and the Philharmonia Orchestra, this work will launch the Festival’s opening orchestral concert in the Brighton Dome, conducted by resident Ulster Orchestra conductor Thierry Fischer. The double concerto has been written for 'the world's finest trumpet player' Hakan Hardenberger and rising trombone star Jonas Bylund. This same team will repeat the work in Bedford and Leicester on 5 and 6 June.

Speaking before he left Belfast for rehearsals with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Professor Hellawell reported his delight at learning the Brighton premier has been selected for prominent coverage in the music magazine 'Classical Music Fortnightly. "It is so hard for new classical works to make news, even within the musical world! I hope that the combination of great artists and a great orchestra performing in Brighton will be the focus for serious attention, and I was delighted that 'Classical Music Fortnightly' endorsed this as a big occasion."

After the Brighton Festival, Hellawell will embark as narrator on the first UK tour of his cantata The Pear Tree of Nicostratus, starting in Cambridge on 11 May. Another Hilliard/Hellawell venture, this work is a racy setting of Boccaccio's outrageous tale of lust and deception.

In July, another world premier of Hellawell's most recent work Landscape with Portraits will take place at the Cheltenham Festival of Music (4 July).

A hotbed of creative activity, the School of Music at Queen's is currently running the vibrant Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music and last week celebrated the opening of the £4.5 million new Sonic Arts Research Centre. < /P>

A further Hellawell premier – Two Little Piano Pieces – will be performed on home ground in Queen's on 6 May.

Acknowledging the support of the School of Music's staff and students for his work Professor Hellawell said:

"I see major events like these as the nucleus of a network of study and support in our School that joins teaching to high-profile research activity. Large-scale works are created not in a vacuum but with the support of colleagues, and within the teaching environment that nurtures our students. I try to inform them of my work, so that there is a communal sense of ownership when the School is represented in a public forum. Everything we do in the Queen's School of Music, from new music to research on manuscripts, is part of a managed programme."

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 For further information, contact: Giles Easterbrook 020 8660 4766 email maecenasContemp@aol.com for full details on forthcoming Hellawell performances; or Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 07980 013362. Brighton Festival information at: www.brighton-festival.org.uk

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Queen's team uncovers Bronze Age artefacts

Artefacts dating back around 4,000 years have been uncovered by archaeologists in Londonderry.

The team, led by John O'Neill from Queen's University, was working on a Bronze Age lake settlement at Ballyarnet, when they found large quantities of decorated pottery, flint arrowheads and scrapers, hammerstones, fishing weights and grinding stones.

According to Mr O'Neill, the investigation, which was carried out earlier this month, revealed that the substantial lake settlement may have only been occupied during a relatively short period of time.

"The settlement, which dates from 1700-1500 BC, was over 20 metres in diameter and is located close to the edge of the lake, within fenlands. It is situated on top of 4.5 metres of peat and was buried by later peat formation, providing a sealed time capsule, unlike many excavations where artefacts from different periods can become intermixed by later activity," said Mr O'Neill.

He also revealed that initial construction saw the deposition of layers wood and upright posts, and subsequent occupation saw the use of various hearths and stone surfaces.

"Many of the finds suggest that it is a high status site," he added.

The excavation was funded by Environment and Heritage Service (Department of the Environment, NI) and took place with permission of the land owners, Derry City Council.

The excavation crew was drawn from volunteers from the United States, students from Exeter University under Dr. Bruce Bradley and staff from Queen's.

Note to Editors: The excavation was directed by John O'Neill, from the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork, which is based in Queen's School of Archaeology and Palaeoecology. The Bronze Age lasted from 2300-600 BC.

For further information contact: John O'Neill on 07930 993469.

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New opportunities for writers at Queen's

Queen's University Belfast is offering aspiring writers the chance to work with leading professionals in the fields of poetry, prose and drama on the University's MA in Creative Writing.

Running for four years, the MA has already made a major contribution to the literary scene in Northern Ireland and further afield, with many of its students going on to achieve great success. Earlier this year current student Sinead NiCoitir won the First Fiction Prize in the prestigious Hennessey Awards, and just this week came confirmation that former student Deirdre Cartmill's first collection of poetry is to be published later this year by Lagan Press.

The course has in fact established itself as such a successful training ground for new writers that the Dublin-based Lisa Richards Agency, one of the most important literary agencies in Ireland, has set up a special annual bursary to support the work of one Creative Writing student at Queen's.

The MA in Creative Writing builds on Queen's University's existing reputation as a centre of excellence in literature. Queen's has always been at the heart of the literary community in Northern Ireland. Graduates include Nobel-prize winner Seamus Heaney, as well as Paul Muldoon, Ciaran Carson, Medbh McGuckian, Stewart Parker, Bernard McLaverty, and many more. This outstanding literary heritage has recently been marked by the establishment of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, an international centre for Creative Writing and Research, under the directorship of award-winning poet Ciaran Carson. The MA in Creative Writing is now based in the Heaney Centre.

Three leading Northern Irish writers teach the MA course: novelist Glenn Patterson, poet Medbh McGuckian, and playwright Daragh Carville. The external examiner is Poet Laureate Andrew Motion.

The association with the Lisa Richards Agency is something of a coup for Queen's. Every year the Agency awards £1000 to one student to help with their writing life at the university. This kind of connection between the academic world and the professional one is vitally important, says Daragh Carville. "As well as the creative work that the students undertake, we're very keen to emphasise the professional demands of writing. Students need to learn how to present their work, they need to learn about the importance of developing good relationships with publishers and editors and agents and so on. They need to understand that there is a collaborative element to writing of all kinds. There's no point just sitting in a garret working away at something no-one's ever going to read. You need to get the work out there."

Carville goes on to explain a bit about the philosophy of the MA at Queen's. "The course offers would-be writers the chance to really focus on their writing, and to work alongside professionals from various fields. You don't necessarily have to have a traditional academic background - we're much more interested in the writing itself. The ultimate idea is that the students will come out of the course ready to start work as professional writers."

Application forms for the MA in Creative Writing are available now from Queen's University Belfast. For further details go to www.qub.ac.uk/en/teaching/postgraduate/creativema.htm 

For further media information, contact: Daragh Carville, The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, 028 9097 1070

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Queen's dental student scoops top prize
Queen's University dental student, Justin Barnes, who won the prestigious Hatton Award
Queen's University dental student, Justin Barnes, who won the prestigious Hatton Award

A Queen's University dental student has scooped a prestigious international award for his work on wound healing.

Justin Barnes (23), who is a final year student in the School of Dentistry, won the Hatton Award for undergraduate students at the recent Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) in Honolulu.

Justin previously won the Divisional prize for the Irish Division of IADR and was representing this division in the competition. He presented his research on "preferential healing in the oral mucosa" to a panel of judges and beat competitors from all the other divisions of IADR.

He had carried out his studies on wound healing as part of his Intercalated BSc in Biological Sciences under the supervision of Dr Chris Irwin, senior lecturer and consultant in restorative dentistry.

Dr Irwin said: "The Hatton Award is the highest prize for young investigators in dental research. For Justin to win this award is an exceptional achievement, beating competitors from all international divisions of IADR.

"From recollection Justin is the first student from Queen's to win this award. We are both delighted by and very proud of his success."

A Hatton Award represents the most prestigious award bestowed upon a student researcher. Students from around the world present their research at regional and national competitions for the chance to participate in the Hatton competition.

For further information, contact: Dr Chris Irwin, School of Dentistry, (028) 9063 4262

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More new nurses on the way!

At a time when Northern Ireland's healthcare system is under intense scrutiny, the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen's University is delighted to be able to host the Nursing Jobs Fair in the Whitla Hall later this week.

The annual event, on Wednesday 28 April, is an opportunity for final year nursing students from Queen's to meet up with front-line nursing staff from across Northern Ireland and discuss with them the varied career options that are available.

Hundreds of final year Queen's students will be meeting representatives from over 30 of Northern Ireland’s hospital and community Trusts and some of the larger independent sector employers. Competition is keen amongst the Trusts to attract these soon to qualify students, and their value is such that many of the organisations will interview on the day, four months before they even complete the course.

Queen's is the leading provider of nursing and midwifery education in Northern Ireland, offering undergraduate nurse education in adult, mental health, children's and learning disability nursing. The School of Nursing and Midwifery is one of the largest in the University, with around 3,500 full and part-time students.

Professor Jean Orr, Head of School, said: "We are delighted to host this popular event at Queen's, bringing together the Province's future healthcare professionals with their prospective employers.

"Queen's as the leading provider of nurse education in Northern Ireland is proud of the role it plays in educating the nurses who will be the mainstay of the healthcare system for years to come. The fact that every Trust will be in attendance is testimony to the value that they place on our students."

Eleanor Hayes, Director of Nursing at the Belfast City Hospital, said: "We always appreciate this annual event to meet with nursing students from Queen's and to have the opportunity to discuss recruitment and further development opportunities within the Trust.

"The Belfast City Hospital Trust successfully recruited a significant number of students last year at the Queen's Jobs Fair and looks forward to working again this year in partnership with the University to attract new nursing recruits to the organisation."

Notes to editors: The Jobs Fair will take place in the Sir William Whitla Hall between 10.30am and 3pm on Wednesday 28 April. Media facilities will be available.

For further information, contact: Mr Colin Spratt, School of Nursing and Midwifery, (028) 9033 5709

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Sonorities Festival at Queen's off to a flying start!

The 23rd Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music at Queen's University got off to a flying start at the weekend with three dramatic concerts from Karlheinz Stockhausen, one of the world’s most significant and influential composers.

A dazzling array of events that champion the best in new music across the international arena is set to keep the standards high in Belfast as the Festival continues until 1 May.

At lunch-time on Monday (1.15pm, 26 April) the Wired Ensemble, a local group of disabled and able-bodied musicians who work as tutors and students with the Drake Music Project Northern Ireland, will use live electronics in the Whitla Hall to manipulate guitar and violin in their performance, and will also be joined by violinist Darragh Morgan. On Monday evening at SARC, one of the world’s foremost solo percussionists Pedro Carneiro will première a number of new works, including two by SARC composers Pedro Rebelo and Ricardo Climent that use ground-breaking ‘accelerometer’ resonating sound wave techniques in conga drums.

Wednesday promises to be another busy day. There will be a lunch-time performance (1.15 in SARC) by composer Denis Smalley of the world première of a piece entitled Resounding. Especially commissioned by Sonorities, it is guaranteed to set the new performance space ringing. That evening in a very different musical direction, percussion trio, The Electronic Hammer, will bring to Festival the latest in percussion computer music compositions.

The second Festival weekend (Friday 30 April and Saturday 1 May) is set to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sonic Arts Network - the UK's main organisation for promoting work at the cutting edge of music and technology – and features the work of leading UK composers over that time. Highlights to look forward to include The Sonic Arts Network 25th year Retrospective Concert, presenting a spectacular of milestone pieces and ‘Cut and Splice’. Curated jointly by Sonic Arts Network and Radio 3, ‘Cut and Splice’ brings an evening of the latest in electronic music and sound art. It is described in the programme as ‘the sonic equivalent of particle accelerators smashing atoms to reveal truth, strangeness and charm’! Contact the BBC Booking Line 08700 100 125 for a ticket to this free BBC recorded event.

Sonorities Festival Chair and Director of the new Sonic Arts Research Centre Professor Michael Alcorn says there’s something for all contemporary music fans to enjoy in this year’s Festival. "Premières of new work always form a major part of our Festival programme and this year breaks all records. There are more than twenty world premières, including several Sonorities commissions, and numerous UK and Irish premières. It is extremely exciting to know that Northern Irish audiences can be the first in the world to hear this impressive collection of new compositions."

The 2004 Festival is celebrating the opening of the new Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) at Queen's. Belfast - and indeed the world – has a unique new performance venue in the SARC Sonic Laboratory Concert Hall.

The first-ever public concert took place in the new Concert Hall on Saturday 24 April when John Chowning, the renown Professor of new music from Stanford University in California, performed his landmark composition from the 1970s, Stria, followed by a selection of new work from SARC ‘s own composers including Rachel Holstead.

"The new space lets audiences experience sound projection and diffusion as never before!" enthused Michael Alcorn. “People coming to Sonorities events at SARC can look forward to walking out onto a suspended, acoustically transparent floor to experience sound in the centre of a cube, with loudspeakers strategically located around, above and below the audience area. Our first public visitors over the weekend have reported just how impressed they have been with the new facilities – as was Professor Stockhausen who toured the Centre before unveiling a plaque to mark its official opening!”

For full details on the exciting Sonorities programme, check out the festival web site at www.qub.ac.uk/sonorities , contact the festival box office on 028 9097 4829, or email sarc@qub.ac.uk

For further information, contact: Professor Michael Alcorn or Pearl Young, SARC, 028 9097 4829 emailsarc@qub.ac.uk ; or Dolores Vischer, Communications Office 07980 013362

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Queen's commitment to students with disabilities rewarded

 

Queen's University's pioneering work in supporting students with disabilities has won a major local award.

The University has emerged as one of the winners of the first-ever Employers' Forum on Disability (NI) Employer Recognition Awards. Queen's was joint winner with BT NI in the Best Customer Services Award category.

Congratulating the University's Disability Services team, Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir George Bain said that Queen's views disability provision as a University-wide responsibility to ensure that students with disabilities have the same experience of Queen's as other students.

He said: "More than 400 students have taken up the offer of support from our Disability Services which is made available to all students declaring a disability at registration and throughout their time at Queen's.

"Our wide portfolio of support provision is tailored to the needs of each individual student with a disability, and includes course materials and lecture notes in alternative formats, the improvement of physical access to buildings and flexible scheduling.

"This award recognises the valuable work which has already been carried out and the University's commitment to continuing to enhance the Queen's experience for students with disabilities."

Queen's Director of Student Services Russell Rowley paid tribute to the work of colleagues in Disability Services and throughout the University.

"Disability Services is honoured and privileged to receive this award on behalf of the University. It acknowledges the high level of student support which is available as a result of collaboration between Disability Services, Estates, Information Services, Academic Registry and the academic staff, in particular the network of disability advisers in the University's Faculties and Schools."

The Employers' Forum on Disability (NI) is a network of employers – drawn from the public, private, and voluntary sectors – working to promote training and employment opportunities and accessibility for people with disabilities as employees and customers.

The Employer Recognition Awards recognise Northern Ireland employers who are leading the way in valuing employees and customers with disabilities.

For further information contact:

Linda Maguire, Tel 028 9097 3225
Anne Langford, Tel: 028 9033 5310

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International award for Mann's 'Incoherent Empire'
Mike Tomlinson (right) Head of the School of Sociology and Social Policy at Queen's University congratulates colleague Professor Michael Mann, author of the award-winning book, Incoherent Empire.
Mike Tomlinson (right) Head of the School of Sociology and Social Policy at Queen’s University congratulates colleague Professor Michael Mann, author of the award-winning book, Incoherent Empire.

A book written in response to recent American foreign policy in Iraq by Professor Michael Mann of the School of Sociology and Social Policy at Queen's University, Incoherent Empire, is to receive a prestigious international award.

The Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Germany has announced Professor Mann's book as the winner of its 2003 annual book prize awarded for the most significant contribution to the field of contemporary politics.

The Foundation, committed to promoting social democracy, was founded in 1925 as a political legacy of Germany's first democratically elected president. The book prize has been awarded each year since 1982 in remembrance of the Nazi book-burning in Berlin in May 1933.

Keeping illustrious company, Professor Mann follows in the footsteps of previous award winners who include Helmut Schmidt, Mikhail Gorbachev, Vaclav Havel and Heinrich August Winkler.

Holding the part-time position of Research Professor within the School of Sociology and Social Policy at Queen's University since 2002, Professor Mann is also currently Professor of Sociology at the University of California in Los Angeles. Head of the Queen's School, Mike Tomlinson said the University was proud to have Michael Mann on its staff.

"Professor Mann is an internationally respected sociologist, renowned for his painstaking scholarship. His special areas of research interest include globalisation and the nation state, fascism and the holocaust and ethnic and political violence. We are delighted - but not at all surprised - that this highly-informed and influential book has won further international recognition."

Incoherent Empire was written over a six-month period in late 2002 and early 2003 as the invasion of Iraq began. Publicly voicing his criticism of the war in the US media and in the book, Michael Mann said: "The American invasion of Iraq and the current state of the war against terrorism are disasters. What I say is that American imperialism is incoherent. My book is not so much about American policy being barbaric or uncivilised. It’s about it being incoherent – it simply cannot work".

Professor Mann was among the first to point to the problems that the US would encounter in restoring peace to Iraq after the conflict ended.

"In my work I argue that to exercise real power, you need a combination of four elements: economic, ideological and political, as well as military power. The US was deluded into thinking that it could achieve its goals by largely military means. Though with formidable military power, even this is now being stretched. But the real weaknesses are political and idealogical. In the age of nation states and nationalism, the US lacks the local allies and the legitimacy to restructure Iraq or to effectively combat terrorism."

The Friedrich Ebert Foundation Prize will be awarded in Berlin on May 13. Professor Mann who will give a speech at the award ceremony said, "I have been very pleased with the impact that this book has made. If it can do any little bit to influence the path of Government in the United States or any other country, and perhaps prevent future foolish wars, I will be delighted. In terms of the award, I am honoured to be among the company of such previous eminent recipients."

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For further information, contact: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 028 9097 5320

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DARD chooses Queen's for new agriculture school

 

Queen's University today hailed a new era for agriculture education in Northern Ireland. Queen's said it was delighted it had been chosen as the university to create a new School of Agri-Food and Land Use.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir George Bain said the decision to award the new School to Queen's was a vote of confidence in the University. It recognised its long tradition in agriculture education and was a vindication of Queen's policy of benchmarking its performance against international standards in teaching and research.

He said: "Queen's expertise across all disciplines makes it the ideal location for this new School. If Northern Ireland agriculture is to succeed in a global marketplace, the agri-food industry needs to draw on excellence in areas as diverse as chemical engineering, biomedical sciences, biochemistry, and management and economics.

"This University can deliver that breadth of knowledge to the new School. It also brings a tradition of excellence in this area which stretches back almost 80 years. Agriculture at Queen's is currently rated second in the UK."

Sir George was speaking after the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) backed the University's bid to be Northern Ireland's primary provider of higher-level education in agriculture and food science. The bidding process followed the O'Hare report, published two years ago, which recommended changes in the way education and research in agriculture and food science was carried out.

Sir George said: "We welcome the opportunity to demonstrate Queen's credentials in this area. Farming and the food industry account for more than 8 per cent of Northern Ireland's employment, while 40 per cent of its population live in rural areas. These are fields of study that are of great importance to our society, and the overall economy, now and for many years to come.

"Queen's new School will give the agri-food industry a competitive edge as we meet the challenges posed by European enlargement and a global marketplace.

"DARD has acknowledged that Queen's expertise is an invaluable asset to our region. Combined with relevant knowledge elsewhere in the University, the new School represents a solid basis to equip new generations for the challenges facing the sector in the years ahead.

"We will be able to help entrepreneurs identify and exploit high value-added, niche areas where profitable opportunities lie."

The new School will be based in purpose-designed accommodation in the David Keir Building on the main University site in Belfast. Sir George said: "We will now begin the process of recruiting a number of new, international academics who will further cement the proven connection between cutting-edge university research and regional economic prosperity."

He said the University was looking forward to working with DARD, the new non-departmental public body that is to carry out agri-food research, the new College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, further education colleges, the food industry, farmers and all the other stakeholders in the areas of agriculture, food processing and rural development.

"It is our intention to involve stakeholders fully in the curriculum nad research through new advisory boards," Sir George said.

David Dobbin, Group Chief Executive of Northern Ireland's leading agri-food business United Dairy Farmers, said that Queen's had played a major role in the international success of the Northern Ireland food industry. "The globalisation of markets affects the food industry more than most, and it is essential at this time that we position ourselves as far up the value chain as possible. Through its many fields of research, Queen's can help the industry in its quest for innovative products and new markets."

 

Notes for editors: In March 2003, in response to the O'Hare Review of agri-food education and R & D in Northern Ireland, the minister responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development announced that the current provision of education and R & D in the School of Agriculture and Food Science at Queen's would be transferred, by a competitive process, to one of the two universities, with funding ring-fenced for an initial period of three years. After comprehensive consultation with stakeholders, Queen's submitted its bid in late February 2004.

The new School will be funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for the first three years, aftedr which responsibility will be transferred to the Department for Employment and Learning. Staff in the new School will be Queen's employees. The current School of Agriculture and Food Science, whose degrees are awarded by Queen's, is funded by DARD which is also the employer of staff.

For further information, contact: Robert Baxter, Communications Office, Tel 028 9097 5323

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'Net child pornography under spotlight at psychology conference

Child pornography on the Internet, the Atkins diet and cyber-cheating are just some of the subjects which will be discussed at the annual meeting of the Northern Ireland British Psychological Society in Portrush tomorrow (April 23).

Over 100 delegates will attend the two day conference at the Comfort Hotel and more than 60 papers, posters and symposia will be given.

Invited speakers include the new BPS president Professor Ken Brown and Dr. John Kremer, from Queen’s University, who is the NIBPS assembly officer. Professor Max Taylor, of University College Cork, will also present a keynote paper on "Child Pornography on the Internet".

Conference topics will also include:

  • Drug culture in young people
  • Stress in the catering and airline industries
  • Informal resolutions of police complaints in NI
  • The under representation of women in NI politics
  • The impact of student debt on health and academic performance

Note to Editors: Media are invited to attend the conference and associated social events. A press officer will be available throughout the weekend to deal with your queries.

For further information, contact: Dr Donncha Hanna, Press Officer, (028) 9033 5549 (work); 07779 330401 (mobile). E-mail: donncha.hana@qub.ac.uk

Or Anne Kerr, Branch Administrator, (028) 9027 4129 E-mail: a.kerr@qub.ac.uk

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World-famous composer accepts honorary degree

Queen's University Belfast has conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Music on the world-famous composer Karlheinz Stockhausen for his outstanding contribution to the field of contemporary music.

Professor Stockhausen accepted the honorary degree at a special graduation ceremony today at the University. His connection with Northern Ireland and with Queen's in particular is through the University's new £4.5 million Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC). Guest of honour at the opening of the new SARC building, Professor Stockhausen has toured the new facility where some of the innovative design features, such as the experimental sound diffusion system, owe much to the ideas explored in his works since the 1950s.

Born in 1928 near Cologne in Germany into a musical family, Stockhausen studied piano at the National Conservatory of Music and musicology at the National University of Cologne. Later he studied phonetics, and information and communication theory at the University of Bonn. To date, he has written more than 300 compositions including works for multiple orchestras, seven full-scale operas and he also works with computers, technology and live electronics.

In his citation, Professor Michael Alcorn Director of SARC said that Stockhausen's earliest musical pieces, dating from the start of the 1950s, were recognised immediately as the products of a mature and inspired musical mind, and that in pioneering numerous new musical genres he has spoken to audiences of several generations and to lovers of widely differing musical genres, including those who are part of today's dance-music and electronic music scenes.

"Stockhausen is arguably the world's most famous living composer. He has been at the forefront of the musical avant garde since the 1950s. He was the first composer to work with electronically generated sounds in the 1950s and devised synthesis techniques which are now common-place on today’s synthesisers. Terms such as ‘variable music’, ‘intuitive music’. ‘live electronic music’, ‘park music’, ‘scenic music’, and ‘octophonic music’ have become established in the vocabulary of musical style largely as a result of his diverse and challenging output.

"Since 1977 his musical activities have been dominated by work on what can only be described as the largest scale project in the history of music: the opera cycle Licht (a series of seven operas). Written for solo voices, solo instruments, solo dancers /choirs, orchestras, ballet and mimes / electronic and concrete music – and lasting around 29 hours - it is a monumental musical achievement.

"Premières of his works have taken place at prestigious Opera Houses including La Scala in Milan and Leipzig Opera House, with numerous other performances of concert versions of the pieces at venues around the world. Belfast is honoured to be the location of the world première this Sunday (25 April) of his latest work Mittwochs-Gruss".

Stockhausen's musical achievements throughout his career have been widely recognised by national and international organisations. His honours include membership of the Royal Swedish Academy, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the European Academy of Science, Arts and Letters, the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Prix Ars Electronica in Austria, the UNESCO Picasso Medal, triple winner of the Edison Prize in Holland, as well as numerous awards from music critics and record companies for his work.

Professor Alcorn emphasised that Stockhausen has given much back to the musical community not only through his compositions, but also through his teaching and writing. He was the founder and artistic director of the Cologne Courses for New Music, was Professor of Composition at the National Conservatory of Music and more recently established the Stockhausen Courses in Kuerten. He has written and published 10 volumes of texts about his music.

"In his work Stockhausen has continually pushed back the boundaries of musical technique, expression and human experience. For his truly outstanding contribution to the field of music, it is right and fitting that Queen’s University Belfast honours Karlheinz Stockhausen on this special visit to Northern Ireland," concluded Michael Alcorn.

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 Notes for Editors: The £4.5m Sonic Arts Research Centre was set up after Queen’s University won funding for its creation, along with three other projects, under the first phase of Northern Ireland’s Support Programme for University Research (SPUR) initiative. The funding was provided on a matching £ for £ basis with the Government and an American Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, providing up to £20m each.

For further information, contact: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 028 9097 5320 or 07980 013362; or Professor Michael Alcorn, 028 9097 4829

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Queen's fertility researchers win top awards
Queen's University researchers Dr David Glenn and Dr Carmel McVicar who won a total of three prizes at the recent British Fertility Society annual conference in Cheltenham for their work on male fertility.
Queen's University researchers Dr David Glenn and Dr Carmel McVicar who won a total of three prizes at the recent British Fertility Society annual conference in Cheltenham for their work on male fertility.
A team of Queen's researchers, whose work on fertility hit the headlines recently, have collected a number of top awards. The team from the Reproductive Medicine Research Group, led by Dr Sheena Lewis, scooped three awards at the British Fertility Society's annual meeting in Cheltenham. The winner of the Best Young Clinician prize went to Dr David Glenn for his work on how Viagra affects sperm function in vitro, while Dr Carmel McVicar, who presented her work on how vasectomies may not be as reversible as was once thought, won two awards – the Best Young Scientist prize and the Fertility Society of Australia Exchange prize. Commenting on their achievements, Dr Lewis said:"We are delighted with their success. It shows the importance that these issues are given nationally and they are also recognition of the quality of our research here at Queen's." For further information, contact: Dr Sheena Lewis, (028) 9063 3987 or 0780 1951894 Email: s.e.lewis@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's means business at national conference

 

Queen's University's success in transforming its cutting-edge research into wealth-creating businesses will be highlighted at a major national conference in Belfast later this week.

Around 150 senior figures from business and academia in the United Kingdom and Ireland will meet in the Hilton Hotel for the AURIL (Association for University Research and Industry Links) Spring Conference on Thursday and Friday.

The event, which is being hosted by Queen's and sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Invest NI and Murgitroyd & Company, will include a presentation by Niki Cleal, Project Manager, Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration, HM Treasury who is responsible for implementing the Review.

Also taking part will be speakers from the Office of Science and Technology, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the CBI and Rolls Royce.

The largest knowledge transfer organisation in Europe, AURIL is a national network of professionals dedicated to the development of partnerships between higher education and industry to support innovation and competitiveness.

Its Executive Director, Dr Philip Graham, who is also Intellectual Property Rights Manager at Queen's, said the organisation has a key role to play in boosting economic development.

He said: "Our universities in the UK and Ireland carry out a great deal of world-class research but we need to match that with world-class knowledge transfer professionals who can deliver and compete globally.

"There is no point having the product if you have not got the capabilities to either sell it or negotiate long term partnerships. Through our continual professional development programme, AURIL aims to ensure that our members develop these abilities to the highest level.

"The fact that Queen's was asked to host this conference is recognition of the University's very strong research relationship with multi-national and local companies and we look forward to sharing our experience with colleagues from throughout the UK and Ireland."

In all, 43 spin-out businesses have emanated from Queen's research. The companies have created jobs for more than 600 people and have an annual turnover of over £40 million. Around 95 per cent of their products and services are exported outside Northern Ireland.

Queen's also works with local business through initiatives such as the Northern Ireland Technology Centre, a practical experience centre dedicated to technology transfer; its award-winning environmental research centre, QUESTOR and the Polymer Processing Centre, which provides technological expertise to support the plastics industry.

Meanwhile, programmes such as the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (formerly the Teaching Company Scheme) place high-level graduates in businesses across Northern Ireland. Queen's is one of the most active participating universities in this scheme in the UK.

For further information contact:

Dr Philip Graham, Tel: 028 9097 2589 or 077111 26638
Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

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Writers on the wall at Queen's

A major BBC NI exhibition featuring almost 70 literary luminaries goes on display at Queen's University tonight (Wednesday).

The exhibition in the University's Visitors' Centre profiles the work of a range of poets, writers and critics whose works have been adapted by BBC NI for broadcast to both local and national audiences.

Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Community and Communications Professor Gerry McCormac said: "This exhibition celebrates a particular aspect of BBC Northern Ireland's contribution to our society – its encouragement of poets, playwrights, novelists and critics.

"It represents the key figures who have brought national and international attention to this place – the men and women whose words have helped define who and what we are.

"Queen's is particularly proud that many of these writers have strong links with this institution. The University is known throughout the world for its writers and, in particular, its poets. That is a tradition we are keen to build on. Earlier this year we launched the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry under the leadership of Ciaran Carson, who is among those featured in this display. Others, including Daragh Carville and Glenn Patterson, teach on our MA in creative writing.

"The force of this exhibition is the way in which it provides a roll call of achievement, and brings together disparate voices who, together, represent Northern Ireland's cultural and literary legacy.”

BBC National Governor for Northern Ireland Professor Fabian Monds said: "This exhibition celebrates the diverse and abundant talents of local writers who have had an association with the BBC.

"It profiles the work of poets, playwrights, novelists and critics, and acknowledges their contribution to broadcasting the wider cultural and community life over almost 80 years of programme-making by the BBC in Northern Ireland."

The exhibition, which will be officially opened by Anna Carragher, Controller, BBC Northern Ireland, will run until 12 June.

For further information contact:

Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

Note for editors:

The exhibition opens in Queen's Visitors' Centre at 6pm on Wednesday 21 April. Media facilities will be available.

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Supersonic boost for Northern Ireland

A major new Queen's University research centre which is helping Northern Ireland lead the world in the development of music technology will be officially opened on Wednesday.

The £4.5 million Sonic Arts Research Centre, with a 50-strong research team which unites internationally recognised experts in the fields of music, electronic engineering and computer science, is the only one of its type in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

And its new building in Cloreen Park is also the site of Belfast's newest and most futuristic performance venue - the Sonic Laboratory Concert Hall in which audiences can experience three-dimensional sound.

The Centre's opening will be marked by a series of events, including a reception and performance on Wednesday night and the conferment on Thursday of an honorary degree on Professor Karlheinz Stockhausen, one of the most influential composers of the last 50 years.

The programme for this year's Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music at Queen's, which starts on Friday, has also been themed to celebrate the opening, with highlights including a Stockhausen weekend featuring three concerts of the composer's electronic works.

The keynote speaker at Wednesday's reception will be Professor John Chowning, whose work led to the development of the renowned Centre for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University in the United States.

Professor Chowning said: "The opening of the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen's University in Belfast marks the fulfilment of an ideal for both composers and researchers in the auditory sciences and engineering that has persisted for half a century.

"While there are many well-equipped laboratories around the world dedicated to music creation and auditory research and which use highly sophisticated digital devices and software, there is none until now that includes a large three-dimensional, mutable acoustic performance/research space, an essential component for the advancement of related audio technology and musical art.

"The Sonic Arts Research Centre is already recognized internationally as a premier facility and will be a magnet for the very best researchers and artists worldwide."

The Centre was set up after Queen's won funding for its creation, along with three other projects, under the first phase of Northern Ireland's Support Programme for University Research (SPUR) initiative. The funding was provided on a matching £ for £ basis with the Government and an American Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, providing up to £20m each.

Already SARC is making a major contribution in the crucial development of the creative industries in Northern Ireland. Its pioneering work has attracted the attention of researchers and industry around the world. Among the exciting partnerships it has formed are a major project with world-leading Californian company, Digital Theatre Systems, to explore new surround-sound techniques and the forging of links with international gaming companies who are keen to develop new ideas in gaming and audio.

 The Centre's Director, Professor Michael Alcorn, said: "Sonic art, including computer music, electronic music and electroacoustic music, has been the most significant development in Western Music in the last 50 years.

"The creative ideas which we explore in this music often leads to novel research in other areas which in turn may have significant commercial potential.

"It is no longer sufficient to be focused purely on technological developments in research work – the creative ideas and challenges provide some of the best research opportunities in the music and audio fields."

Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir George Bain said: "The Centre’s work mirrors the level of global interest in the synergy between technology and creativity. The research councils are now targeting funding to accelerate collaborative research in these areas – areas in which SARC is already an international exemplar.

"The breath-taking speed at which the Centre has consolidated its academic reputation is mirrored by the pace at which its remarkable building has been developed.

"Its commitment to innovation and excellence exemplify our research mission at Queen's."

For further information contact:

Professor Michael Alcorn, Tel 028 9097 4829
Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

Notes for editors:

The official opening of the Centre will be marked by a reception and short performance in the Sonic Laboratory at 6pm on Wednesday 21 April, followed by a reception in the Great Hall at Queen's at 7.30pm. Media facilities will be available at both events.

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SuperWASP begins search for new planets

Belfast astronomers are coordinating the most ambitious project on earth to look for planets outside our solar system.

SuperWASP - the wide-angle search for planets - is being commissioned on Friday 16 April by a consortium of astronomers at an observatory on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands. The programme consists of a network of cameras located at key points around the world, which will accurately measure the brightness of 50 million stars every night.

Dr Don Pollacco of the Astrophysics and Planetary Science Division at Queen's University, who built the ground-breaking prototype WASP camera in Belfast, is the principal investigator of the multinational project. The SuperWASP instrument, costing approximately £400,000, was later developed with funding from Queen's, the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council - the UK’s strategic science investment agency - and the Open University.

A critical component of SuperWASP – its CCD cameras which can operate in conditions of very low light – were manufactured by Andor Technology in Belfast, one of the earliest Queen's University spin-out companies.

The instrument, which is now entering its operational phase, will eventually be capable of running under robotic control. It is housed in a customised building at Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma, and is operated by the Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics.

"While the construction and initial commissioning phases of the facility have taken only nine months, SuperWASP represents the culmination of many years work from astronomers within the WASP consortium," said Dr Pollacco.

"SuperWASP has a novel optical design comprising up to eight scientific cameras, each resembling in operation a household digital camera, and collectively attached to a conventional telescope mount. Its field of view is some 2,000 times greater than a conventional astronomical telescope.

"Data from SuperWASP will lead to exciting progress in many areas of astronomy, ranging from the discovery of planets around nearby stars to the early detection of other classes of variable objects such as supernovae in distant galaxies," Dr Pollacco went on.

"In autumn last year, the first test data showed the instrument’s performance to exceed initial expectations.

"Only about 100 extra-solar planets are currently known, and many questions about their formation and evolution remain unanswered due to the lack of observational data. This situation is expected to improve dramatically as SuperWASP produces scientific results.

"SuperWASP is the most ambitious project of its kind anywhere in the world. Its extremely wide field of view, combined with its ability to measure brightness very precisely, allows it to view large areas of the sky and accurately monitor the brightness of hundreds of thousands of stars.

"One night's observing with SuperWASP will generate a vast amount of data, up to 60 GB – about the size of a typical modern computer hard disk. This data is then processed using sophisticated software and stored in a public database hosted by the Leicester Database and Archive Service of the University of Leicester."

Notes for editors: The members of the consortium are Queen's University Belfast, University of Cambridge, University of Keele, University of Leicester, Open University, University of St Andrews, the Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics, and the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes in La Palma.

Pictures of the SuperWASP facility and some of its astronomical first-light images are available at http://www.superwasp.org/firstlight.html

The history of the project over the last 10 years, including the discovery of the Sodium Tail of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997, can be found at http://www.superwasp.org/history.html

Other Web Links: The SuperWASP project home page: http://www.superwasp.org

The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING): http://www.ing.iac.es

The Leicester Database and Archive Service (LEDAS): http://ledas-www.star.le.ac.uk

The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC): http://www.pparc.ac.uk

Transit of Venus http://www.vt-2004.org

The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) is the UK’s strategic science investment agency. It funds research, education and public understanding in four broad areas of science - particle physics, astronomy, cosmology and space science.

PPARC is government funded and provides research grants and studentships to scientists in British universities, gives researchers access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN, the European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory. It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility.

For further information, contact: Dr Alan Fitzsimmons, Department of Pure & Applied Physics, Tel (028) 9027 3142; a.fitzsimmons@qub.ac.uk

Robert Baxter, Communications Office, Tel (028) 9097 5323; r.baxter@qub.ac.uk

Julia Maddock, Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council; Tel 01793 442094; (mobile) 7901514975; julia.maddock@pparc.ac.uk

 

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Awards for Queen's top MBA graduates
At a recent award ceremony at Queen's for MBA graduates are (l-r): Billy Pollock, Chartered Management Institute; Dr Frances Hill Director of the Executive MBA Programme; James Bradley Head of the School of Management and Economics; Michael Shaw, winner of the 'Best MBA Dissertation' award; David James, BT; and Paul Donaghy, winner of the 'Best Overall MBA Student' award
At a recent award ceremony at Queen's for MBA graduates are (l-r): Billy Pollock, Chartered Management Institute; Dr Frances Hill Director of the Executive MBA Programme; James Bradley Head of the School of Management and Economics; Michael Shaw, winner of the 'Best MBA Dissertation' award; David James, BT; and Paul Donaghy, winner of the 'Best Overall MBA Student' award

Two recent MBA graduates from the Queen's University School of Management have been awarded prizes for the quality of their work during the MBA Programme.

Paul Donaghy from Dungannon was named the best overall student on the Queen's Executive part-time MBA programme, winning the BT sponsored award. Michael Shaw from Belfast collected the Chartered Management Institute award for the best dissertation.

Speaking at an award ceremony at Queen's, Dr Frances Hill Director of the Executive MBA Programme acknowledged the hard work and achievements of the two prize-winners. She said: "I am delighted with the excellent performances of both Paul and Michael. The part-time Executive MBA Programme is rigorous and demanding so their achievements should not be under-estimated. Northern Ireland organizations in both the private and public sectors require managers who can engage competently in strategic decision-making and creative problem-solving and perform effectively in leadership roles. We are confident that all our MBA graduates are well-equipped to undertake these tasks."

Now in its sixth year, the Queen's part-time Executive MBA Programme runs over two years starting each September. The Programme is acclaimed by external examiners for its academic rigor, and proved to be a significant contributing factor to the high 4th position in which the School was placed in 2003 by the Times Higher Education Supplement out of 90 Business Schools.

Professionals studying part-time at Queen's for the MBA continue with their careers while developing skills and competencies that can be directly applied to work-based situations.

Paul Donaghy, a Pharmacist from Dungannon, described his own experience of the MBA: "The Queen's programme requires a lot of commitment and is not for the faint hearted, but there again, neither is the business world!

"Any MBA should provide a detailed knowledge of all of the subjects related to business management. However, the Queen's MBA is distinctive on several fronts that bear direct relevance to the business environment.

"The small programme intake provides an ideal setting for teaching staff to demonstrate the extent to which the different disciplines are integrated, an important element of an MBA programme. On a personal level, QUB's unique research emphasis has been invaluable in the implementation of my own business interests. In a relatively short period of time QUB has provided me with the tools necessary to initiate, develop and manage various types of businesses.”

Michael Shaw, who was made a Director at Kirk McClure Morton while studying for the MBA, said that his MBA dissertation had impacted upon his organisation's strategic thinking, proving invaluable in allowing the firm to push forward a new management initiative.

"The title of my Dissertation was 'Knowledge Management in Kirk McClure Morton: Establishing the Key Drivers for its Success'. Research has shown that the construction industry has yet to embrace Knowledge Management, although it is beginning to feature more heavily in Consulting Engineering practices. We are at present looking at how we disseminate and store our knowledge and the results of the Dissertation are being used to assist this.”

End

For further information contact: Communications Office, 028 9097 3087

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Welcome for funding proposal

Queen's University today welcomed the Government's proposals for Higher Education funding in Northern Ireland.

The University said: "Today's announcement recognises that higher education is under-funded and will ensure that Northern Ireland does not fall behind competitors in the rest of the United Kingdom."

It said Northern Ireland students would benefit from the abolition of upfront fees.

"The principle of wider access to University is better protected by the introduction of a system which is free at the point of entry, free during the period of study and free until the graduate can afford to pay.

"Variable fees are a crucial element of the package. Fixed fees remove flexibility, and that is not in the interests of students or the wider community.

"Future students will benefit from the new proposals because, unlike the current system, repayment of loans will be based on what they earn, not on what they owe."

Queen's has a worldwide reputation in teaching and research. It is crucial additional funding is made available to secure and enhance this. Queen's research is a key economic driver in Northern Ireland, and the whole community would suffer.

For further information, contact: Robert Baxter, Communications Office, Tel (028) 9097 5323

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Top American cancer experts visit Belfast

A senior delegation including the Chief Executive, Chairman and Chief Medical Officer from the American Cancer Society (ACS) visited Northern Ireland's Regional Cancer Centre based at Belfast City Hospital today as it reached the final phase of construction.

They have come to see first hand the developments on cancer care that have been happening through out Northern Ireland and to examine ways in which the ACS can partner and accelerate the further development of these programmes.

The £60 million state-of-the-art Centre at BCH, which broke ground in July 2002 and is scheduled to open its doors to patients in early 2006, will concentrate expertise and research in cancer treatments.

The Belfast-based facility, already positioned as one of Europe's leading Cancer Centres, is linked with the world's leading National Cancer Institute in the United States through the All-Ireland Cancer Consortium.

Launched in 1999, the NCI-All Ireland Cancer Consortium established a new co-operative approach to cancer research, control and prevention among the governments of Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the United States. The initiative has led to significant improvements in care for cancer patients in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as unprecedented clinical trials carried out in conjunction with America's National Cancer Institute (Bethesda, Maryland).

Alongside the development of the clinical centre will be the development of a new £20m Cancer Research Centre by Queen's University Belfast that will lead to the development of the first Comprehensive Cancer Centre in these Islands.

As a result of these exciting developments the delegation from the American Cancer Society have come to Northern Ireland with the aim of identifying new opportunities to expand upon the groundbreaking cancer control partnership that forged the All-Ireland Cancer Consortium.

The ACS delegation was shown around the facility by Professor Patrick Johnston, director of the Centre for Cancer Research and the Trust’s Chief Executive, Mr Quentin Coey.

Speaking at the event Professor Johnston said: "This new centre is an indicator of how far we have come in developing a Cancer Centre for Northern Ireland, it is worthy of our patients, who will benefit from it, and the hundreds of dedicated and motivated staff who will deliver its full potential. Properly supported, this Centre is capable of providing services of world-class standard.

"3,500 people die from cancer each year in Northern Ireland. Many lives could be saved by improvements in diagnosis and treatment.

"Top priorities in the design of this Centre have been to provide capacity to deal with demand, and the best technology for diagnosis and treatment of cancer. This combination will allow advanced modern treatment, improving the targeting of tumours and reducing side effects. We will also be able to develop new forms of treatment which can be very useful in certain types of tumour, but which are currently not available."

Commenting on the developments at Belfast City Hospital and Queen's the ACS Chief Executive, John Seffrin said: "The All-Ireland Cancer Consortium is without precedent in terms of the partnerships it has fostered throughout the island of Ireland and internationally and has become a role model for international partnership in cancer care and cancer research.

"Cancer patients and their caregivers are at the very heart of this consortium. The American Cancer Society and its partners in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are committed to building on the important progress that has already been made by expanding this unique partnership that embraces the private, public and governmental sectors. Cancer knows no geographic or political boundaries, neither does it respect any age.

"Cancer, as intolerable a disease as it is, presents a perfect opportunity for all of us to work collaboratively so that others might live. The All-Ireland Cancer Consortium is a shining example of that spirit of partnership to which the ACS now pledges a full measure of its support."

Notes to Editors:

  • ACS is the largest cancer charity in the world. It raises and spends over 1 billion $US per year on various cancer programmes.
  • The Regional Centre will house eight linear accelerators, which provide radiotherapy treatment for cancer patients. Six of these machines will be new and another two will be transferred from Belvoir Park Hospital. There will be capacity to house up to a total of ten linear accelerators should they be needed in the future.
  • The Centre will also be equipped with an MRI scanner and two CT scanners. Space will be available for an additional MRI scanner as well as a third CT scanner in order to meet future requirements. Additional space will also be available for a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scanner. 
  •  The new Centre will have 84 beds in total and will be linked via a corridor to the Oncology and Haematology Day Hospital on the first floor of the Belfast City Hospital Tower. 
  •  A framework for cancer services in the UK was outlined in 1995 in the Calman Hine Report. These recommendations were adapted for Northern Ireland in the Campbell Report. It suggested a structure of one Regional Cancer Centre, based at Belfast City Hospital and the Royal Group of Hospitals and four Cancer Units based at Altnagelvin, Antrim, Craigavon and the Ulster Hospital. The Belfast City will also act as a Cancer Unit, providing oncology services to the local population in and around Belfast.

For further information please contact: Belfast City Hospital and the New Cancer Centre, Claire Trainor/Maria McCann, McCann Public Relations, Tel: (028) 9066 6322, Mobile: 07739 631704

or American Cancer Society, Meave Governey, Heneghan Public Relations,  Tel: 00353 (0) 1 660 7395 Mobile: 00353 (0) 86 8057884

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Us and them?

Marking community relations week, a new report launched today by the Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive (ARK) presents data on the views of 16-year-olds in Northern Ireland on community relations.

The subject of community relations has been much researched and debated in Northern Ireland, and has been a particular focus of interest during community relations week. Throughout Northern Ireland's history, relations between the Protestant and Catholic communities have been constantly shifting.

The new Us and Them report has been written by Paula Devine and Dirk Schubotz of the Institute of Governance at Queen's University, as part of the joint ARK project between Queen's University Belfast and University of Ulster. Data in the report is drawn from the 2003 Young Life and Times survey.

The key points to emerge from the survey on the views of 16-year-olds are that:            

· Religious and national identity are both seen as being important. 
· Although many respondents said they do not feel favourable about the other religious community, very few feel overtly negative.
· The main influence on attitudes to community relations was the respondents' family.
· Nine out of ten respondents go to segregated schools and two-thirds (66%) live in segregated areas. These respondents tend to have fewer close friends who are of a different religion.
· A small majority of respondents (52%) experienced cross-community contact outside school.
· Respondents would like to see more integration within neighbourhoods and schools, and especially within workplaces.
· Few respondents (15%) feel that relations between Catholics and Protestants will get worse in five years’ time, and 36% believe they will get better.

 Dirk Schubotz, one of the authors of the report, commented that: "The 2003 Young Life and Times survey provides an interesting snapshot of young people's attitudes to community relations issues in Northern Ireland. In addition, within a rapidly changing social and political environment, it also provides a baseline against which attitudes can be compared in the future. As one respondent said: 'The young people of today are the generation of tomorrow, so their opinions and lives should be taken more seriously.'"

 The report was officially launched on Tuesday 6 April at 4pm in NICVA, Duncairn Gardens, Belfast. The audience included respondents to the survey.

The Young Life and Times survey is a joint project of the two Northern Ireland universities. The full report can be found on the ARK website at www.ark.ac.uk/publications

Ends

Notes for editors:
1. The Young Life and Times Survey is carried out annually and records the attitudes and experiences of 16 year olds in Northern Ireland. In 2003, 902 young people aged 16 completed the survey in one of three ways: online, by self-completion questionnaire or by phone.
2. Young Life and Times is a joint project between Queen's University Belfast and University of Ulster. Full details and results from the Young Life and Times survey can be found on the survey website at www.ark.ac.uk/ylt
3. The survey has been funded by the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland 2000-2004, Measure 2:1 – Reconciliation for Sustainable Peace.

For further information contact: Paula Devine, Research Director, ARK/Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research, Queen's University Belfast Tel: 028 9097 3034 Email: p.devine@qub.ac.uk or, Dirk Schubotz, ARK/Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research Tel: 028 9097 3947 Email: d.schubotz@qub.ac.uk

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New research into sight condition affecting premature babies

Queen's University Belfast is set to carry out new research into a sight-threatening condition which can affect both people with diabetes and premature babies.

The three-year PhD studentship will be funded by a £60,000 grant from blindness research charity Fight for Sight.

The blood vessels in the retina can sometimes grow uncontrollably as a side-effect of diabetes or of exposure to high levels of oxygen in premature infants. They can then bleed and stimulate the production of scar tissue which can, in turn, affect sight. The new research aims to prevent this happening.

Dr Denise McDonald, lecturer in Ophthalmology at Queen’s, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us. We’re very grateful to the charity for this grant which will allow us to carry out some very important research.”

Fight for Sight is currently funding ten PhD studentships across the UK and is expected to announce two more grants shortly.

Fight for Sight trustee Professor Desmond Archer said: “The projects we are currently funding centred on some of the most important causes of blindness in the UK. Fight for Sight is delighted to be able to fund this study.”

Note to editors: Fight for Sight is the UK's leading charity in the battle against blindness, funding first-class research into the prevention and treatment of eye disease and injury. For more information visit www.fightforsight.org.uk

For further information, contact: Dr Denise McDonald, (028) 9063 2503 or email:d.mcdonald@qub.ac.uk

or Catherine Cooper or Julie Buckler on 020 7608 4000 or comms@fightforsight.org.uk

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Stockhausen and sonic sounds for 2004 Sonorities

 The 23rd Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music at Queen's University is set to bring to Belfast between 23 April and 1 May a dazzling array of events that champion the best in new music across the international arena.

With a long tradition of building its annual programme around particular themes, the 2004 Festival is celebrating the opening of the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) at Queen's and also comprises two special themed weekends, with a sequence of high-profile events in between.

The highlight of the Festival, and the theme of the weekend 23 –25 April, is the visit to Belfast by Karlheinz Stockhausen, undoubtedly one of the most significant and influential composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Speaking of his delight to be presenting his work at the Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music, Karlheinz Stockhausen said: "The pieces that have been chosen for these three concerts reflect my lifelong belief in the potential of harnessing technology for the purpose of creative expression. I am pleased to include in the programme the world premiere of one of my latest multi-channel electronic compositions, Mittwochs-Gruss [on Sunday 25 April at 5.30pm]. I know that Sonorities has a distinguished tradition of presenting and commissioning electroacoustic as well as instrumental works, and I am pleased to be able to contribute to that tradition with my work."

 The second Festival weekend (Friday 30 April and Saturday 1 May) celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Sonic Arts Network, the UK's main organisation for promoting work at the cutting edge of music and technology, with concerts featuring the work of leading UK composers over that time. Sonorities Festival Chair and Director of the new Sonic Arts Research Centre Professor Michael Alcorn enthusiastically encourages as many people as possible to come and enjoy the Festival. "Premieres of new work always form a major part of our Festival programme and this year breaks all records. There are more than twenty world premieres, including several Sonorities commissions, and numerous UK and Irish premieres. It is extremely exciting to know that Northern Irish audiences can be the first in the world to hear this impressive collection of new compositions. This year too, our featured artists are equally impressive."

 Belfast - and indeed the world – has a unique new performance venue in the Sonic Laboratory Concert Hall opening at SARC that will be used for the first time for many of the Sonorities programme concerts. "It will let audiences experience sound projection and diffusion as never before!" Michael Alcorn said. Audiences going to the new hall can look forward to walking out onto a suspended, acoustically transparent floor to experience sound in the centre of a cube, with loudspeakers strategically located around, above and below the audience area.

 For full details on the exciting Sonorities programme, contact the festival box office on 028 9097 4829, or email sarc@qub.ac.uk

For further information, contact: Professor Michael Alcorn or Pearl Young, SARC, 028 9097 4829; or Dolores Vischer, Communications Office 028 9097 5320

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BBC 'Any Questions?' comes to Queen's University

The popular BBC Radio 4 discussion programme 'Any Questions?' is to be broadcast from Queen's University Belfast on Friday 23 April.

First aired in 1948, the programme has maintained its popular format in which a panel of four well-known public figures answer questions from an audience.

The live programme, chaired by veteran BBC presenter Jonathan Dimbleby, will be broadcast across the UK from the Elmwood Hall on University Road at 8pm.

Panel members will include Ulster Unionist Party leader and former First Minister David Trimble, as well as Social Democratic and Labour Party leader and former Deputy First minister Mark Durkan.

A number of tickets are available to the public on a first-come-first served basis. Anyone interested in applying should contact Jennifer McMaster in the Communications Office at Queen's on 9097 5332, or email j.mcmaster@qub.ac.uk

For further information, contact: Jennifer McMaster, Communications Office, Tel (028) 9097 5332

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Making connections with Architecture

Architecture students from Queen's University are proving a big 'draw' for 300 primary school pupils as they join forces to learn more about design.

As part of a pilot initiative entitled "Connections", the School of Architecture, in collaboration with Dr Judy Appleby, of the UCE Birmingham School of Architecture and Landscape, has teamed up with six Belfast primary schools to help youngsters explore the links between architectural design and a number of curriculum subjects.

The project has been granted £11,400 from the Arts Council for Northern Ireland.

Project co-ordinator, Brendan Carabine, from the School of Architecture, said the initiative forms part of the Design and Communication studio project work at stage two of the BSc (Hons) in Architecture.

"A total of 74 students work in teams with 10 classes of primary six and seven pupils who will 'learn by doing' in a series of practical workshops.

"The project should increase awareness of built environment issues among teachers and schoolchildren by making connections between architecture and Geography, History, Mathematics, Science and Arts and Design at key stage two in the National Curriculum," he explained.

During the workshops pupils will be able to create architectural drawings, models and structures, which will help their team work skills, as well as build confidence and encourage some of them to think about design-related careers.

"The architecture students also benefit by developing their creative ideas and knowledge and build confidence and experience through explaining design concepts to children in language they can understand," he said.

To mark the culmination of the project students and pupils will unite for a grand finale in the Whitla Hall on Friday 2 April. During the event the school children will get the chance to prepare posters for displays, with the help of volunteers from the Royal Society of Ulster Architects.

"The event will bring diverse groups of children from different communities across the city into a single environment to learn from each other and offers an exciting opportunity to be involved in university life," said Mr Carabine.

Teacher Mary McDonagh, from St Bride's Primary, said the project has been very beneficial for both the children and the students.

 "The children have developed new skills by working with the students and you can see that the students themselves have been pleasantly surprised by the standard of the children’s work. It has just been fantastic.

"It just seems so natural that the methods of architectural education with hands-on model making and creativity would fit in with primary school teaching and it has been a great success," she said.

Note to Editors:

The Connections outreach project has been running successfully in Birmingham for the past 10 years. This is the first time it has been delivered at Queen's.

The schools taking part are: Cranmore Integrated Primary, Finaghy Primary, Forge Integrated Primary, Holy Rosary Primary, St Bride's Primary and Stranmillis Primary.

The grand finale will be held in the Sir William Whitla Hall at Queen's on Friday 2 April from 9.20am to 11.30am. Media opportunities are available around 11.30am.

For further information, contact: Brendan Carabine, School of Architecture, (028) 9097 4214, email: b.carabine@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's 'springs' into lifelong learning

Courses on subjects ranging from alternative therapies to writing your memoirs are among those on offer at Queen's University's Institute of Lifelong Learning this spring.

The Institute's spring programme features a wide choice of study options, including courses in computing, media studies and drama, music, languages, literature, philosophy and religion, personal development and leisure skills.

They include the chance to find out about digital photography, learn about fashion styling and colour co-ordination, understand stockmarket investment or take a trip back in time to discover Belfast's long and colourful past.

In all, more than 100 courses offer a range of opportunities to help people with their personal growth or their career development, to satisfy the need for learning for its own sake or for social and recreational purposes.

The Institute's Director, Paul Nolan, said: "This programme is designed to open up the resources of the University to the local community and everyone is welcome. The term after Easter is a short one which means that it is ideal for people who want to try an introduction to learning a new subject or skill."

Further information is available by contacting the Institute of Lifelong Learning, Queen's University on 028 9027 3323/4 or 028 9033 5058.

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Viagra may affect fertility

Researchers at Queen's University Belfast have revealed that men who take Viagra when they are hoping to start a family could be affecting their fertility.

A group at the University's Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology have shown that, while Viagra enhances sperm motility, it also seems to speed up the "acrosome reaction", which normally occurs only when the sperm reaches the egg.

The acrosome reaction enables the sperm to fertilise the egg. It releases digestive enzymes that break down the egg's protective outer layer, allowing the sperm to penetrate more easily.

Dr David Glenn, Professor Neil McClure and Dr Sheena Lewis split 45 samples of semen, and treated half with Viagra, while the other half were used as control. Up to 79 per cent more sperm were fully "reacted" in the Viagra samples.

If the acrosome enzymes are released too early, as seen in this study when Viagra is present, sperm are rendered infertile. This is backed up by studies on mice showing that, in the presence of Viagra, significantly fewer eggs are fertilised, and fewer of the resulting embryos develop to the "blastocyst" stage at around five days.

Dr David Glenn, who presented the work at the Annual British Fertility Society Meeting in Cheltenham, commented: "Nearly half of licensed fertility units in the UK currently use Viagra to assist patient semen production. Our study raises questions about the drug’s use in assisted reproduction."

Notes for Editors: The British Fertility Society is a national multidisciplinary organisation representing professionals practising in the field of reproductive medicine. www.fertility.org.uk

For further information, contact: Robert Baxter, Communications Office, Tel (028) 9097 5323

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