02-2008 Press Releases

28/02/2008: World expert on climate change to deliver Crossland Lecture
27/02/2008: New gene discovery could help schizophrenics
26/02/2008: Queen's talk to provide an insight into the effects of 9/11
26/02/2008: Schoolgirls speak up in all-Ireland final at Queen's
25/02/2008: An evening of poetry and music at Queen's
25/02/2008: 'Sink your Drink, Sink your Studies' warns Queen's Students' Union
25/02/2008: Queen's look into vision loss illness
20/02/2008: Nursing Doctorate a European First
21/02/2008: Crossing the border - new book investigates the transformation of north-south relationships
20/02/2008: Award-winning author provides insight into 'Michael Collins and Political Leadership'
20/02/2008: Young people optimistic about community relations in Northern Ireland
19/02/2008: Universities unite to battle Alzheimer's
15/02/2008: Life begins at 40 and 50 and 60...
12/02/2007: Northern Ireland has twice the level of 'Persistent' Poverty
12/02/2008: Kick-off for talented Queen's rugby players
11/02/2008: Queen's research grants reach £60 million high
11/02/2008: Adventurer set to inspire local business leaders
08/02/2008: New Sponsor for Belfast Festival at Queen's as Ulster Bank Signs up to Three-Year Agreement
06/02/2008: Johnny Ball 'reveals all' in Queen's Centenary Lecture
07/02/2008: Queen's University celebrates Presidents' Day with leading US historian
07/02/2008: Pupils to meet 'ghostly' scientist at Queen's
05/02/2008: Blair and Ahern to be honoured by Queen's
06/02/2008: Medics to benefit from E-Technology training
06/02/2008: Feed the birds: Winter feeding makes for better breeding
05/02/2008: Queen's students join debate on terrorism and international security
01/02/2008: Study highlights factors influencing suicide risk in Northern Ireland

World expert on climate change to deliver Crossland Lecture

World expert Dr Bernard Bulkin will discuss the global challenges of climate change in a keynote public lecture at Queen’s University tonight.

The Commissioner for Climate Change, Energy and Transport at the UK Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), Dr Bulkin will tackle the climate change issues with specific reference to tidal, wind and nuclear power.

Entitled ‘Solving Impossible Problems’, the talk is the 7th Annual Sir Bernard Crossland Lecture. Named after one of Northern Ireland’s leading engineers, Sir Bernard Crossland, Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s, the Lecture was launched by the Northern Region of Engineers Ireland to promote manufacturing industry in Northern Ireland.
 
Bernard Bulkin was an academic scientist in New York for 18 years before joining Standard Oil in 1985. Following its acquisition by BP, he moved to London where he held positions of increasing responsibility including Director of Manufacturing and Supply, Chief Technology Officer, Vice President Environmental Affairs, and Chief Scientist. He retired from BP in 2003.

The SDC is the Government's independent watchdog on sustainable development, reporting to the Prime Minister, the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales and the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. Through advocacy, advice and appraisal, the SDC puts sustainable development at the heart of Government policy.

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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New gene discovery could help schizophrenics

A Queen’s academic is part of an international team which has discovered a gene that increases the risk of developing schizophrenia.

Over 1,000 people in Northern Ireland have been involved in the study carried out by Dr Tony O’Neill from the School of Medicine and Dentistry and two professors from Virginia Commonwealth University.

A mental disorder which is known to have a strong genetic component, schizophrenia is associated with disturbed thinking and hallucinations.
It typically starts in late adolescence, and can have a devastating effect on sufferers and carers.

The discovery of the gene, MEGF10, which is associated with severe schizophrenia, could be a step in the right direction towards helping those affected.

The study found abnormally high levels of the gene in a region of the brain previously shown to be linked to the condition by Dr O’Neill and his colleagues.

Dr O’Neill, from the Department of Psychiatry at Queen’s, said: “This further finding helps piece together the complex picture underlying risk to schizophrenia and offers the hope of more successful interventions in the future.

“We are beginning to understand how difficulties with the developing brain can compromise important brain systems leading to the bewildering and distressful symptoms of schizophrenia. It is a really exciting time for psychiatric research.”

The new genetic link is highlighted in the March edition of the international journal Biological Psychiatry.

The study is the latest in a series of publications resulting from a 20 year collaboration between Queen’s and Virginia Commonwealth University.

The group was the first to identify Dysbindin, the first risk gene for schizophrenia. That finding was described as the most important in psychiatry for 20 years and was replicated in many other populations.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362, a.clements@qub.ac.uk Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209.

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Queen's talk to provide an insight into the effects of 9/11

A leading US academic will visit Queen’s University later this week to provide an insight into the American public’s perceptions of and reactions to their country’s terrorism and counter-terrorism policies.

Dr George Shambaugh from Georgetown University in Washington, with which Queen’s has formed close links in recent years, will deliver the annual Frank Wright Memorial Lecture on Thursday 28 February. The lecture is hosted by Queen’s School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy.

During his talk, Dr Shambaugh will explore the common view that 9/11 changed everything for Americans and created an atmosphere of fear and pessimism about the future. According to Dr Shambaugh, these characteristics are only reflected in a very small proportion of the population, and he adds that the vast majority of Americans went on with their lives and report little or no physical or psychological impacts related to 9/11.

Dr Shambaugh’s lecture, Conventional Wisdom .v. Popular Pragmatism: A portrait of America in Turbulent Times’ will take place on Thursday 28 February 2008 at 5pm in Room G07 at the Peter Froggatt Centre at Queen’s University.


Further information from Communications Office, Queen’s University, 02890 973091, comms.office@qub.ac.uk.

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Schoolgirls speak up in all-Ireland final at Queen's

A team from Victoria College Belfast will aim to demonstrate their winning way with words in the all-Ireland final of a schoolgirls’ public speaking competition at Queen’s University on Saturday.

The annual event, organised by the Irish Federation of University Women, is being hosted by Queen's Women Graduates as part of the University’s Centenary celebrations.

The Victoria team will compete against representatives from Loreto Abbey, Dalkey; Our Lady's School, Templeogue and Colaiste Einde, Galway - the winners of heats throughout Ireland.
 
The best speakers from each heat will also compete against each other. This year they represent Friends’ School in Lisburn, Sion Hill in Blackrock, Loreto College in Crumlin, Dublin and Seamount College in Kinvara, Co. Galway.
 
Hilary Bracefield, President of Queen’s Women Graduates, part of Queen’s Graduates Association, said: “The main aim of this competition is to encourage confidence and ability in public speaking among girls aged between 12 and 15.

“The contestants are asked to prepare information on a range of topics such as communication and technology, employment and careers, health and fitness and the environment, and to deliver a three-minute speech on one of these subjects on the day. Based on the girls’ performances in the heats, I have no doubt that the audience of friends and families will be treated to a series of informative, persuasive and entertaining speeches.”


For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Corporate Affairs, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, Mob: 07815 871 997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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An evening of poetry and music at Queen's

Members of the public are invited to attend an evening of poetry and music at Queen’s University later this week in honour of Anestis Evangelou, one of the most important Greek poets of the late 20th century.

Those who come along to the event will be treated to poetry readings by Anestis Evangelou’s widow, Mrs Dina Evangelou, amongst others, and a music recital by his daughter, Klio Blonz, who is an internationally renowned flautist.

Dr Anthony Hirst from the Institute of Byzantine Studies at Queen’s School of History and Anthropology, which is hosting the event, said: “We are delighted to welcome Mrs Evangelou and her daughter to Queen’s to help us celebrate the work of such an important poet.

“The Institute of Byzantine Studies at Queen’s has three research students working in the field of modern Greek literature. One of these students, Anastasia Psoni, actually knew Anestis Evangelou personally and comes from his home city of Thessaloniki, which has given Greece some of its greatest artists, writers, poets and thinkers.

“This is the latest in a number of events organised by the Institute under the banner of 'The Lagan Muses' to celebrate Greek literature and culture.”

The poetry readings and music recital will take place in the Harty Room at Queen’s School of Music at 7.30pm on Friday 29 February 2008.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, +44 (0)28 9097 5320 a.watson@qub.ac.uk


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'Sink your Drink, Sink your Studies' warns Queen's Students' Union
Student leaders Steffan Rafferty, Sarah McCaffrey and John Roger launch the Students' Union's responsible drinking campaign
Student leaders Steffan Rafferty, Sarah McCaffrey and John Roger launch the Students' Union's responsible drinking campaign

A major initiative to promote a sensible attitude towards alcohol among students has been launched by Queen’s Students’ Union.

The Responsible Drinking Campaign, entitled, “Sink your Drink, Sink your Studies” highlights the negative effects that alcohol can have on students’ health and studies.

“Students don’t tend to think of the longer-term effects that alcohol can have on their lives,” said John Roger, Students’ Union President.

“A night out ending in anti-social behaviour can lead to a student facing University disciplinary action or worse, with the potential to ruin their career. This isn’t normally something that’s thought about when heading out for a quiet drink with your friends. We’ve also seen a sharp rise in alcohol-related illness over the last decade or so, and the effects that alcohol can have on students’ health is of great concern to us.”

Steffan Rafferty, Vice-President, Clubs and Services, said: “We’re trying to get across the message that your degree is worth more than a good night out. Students do a lot of good work in the community through Clubs and Societies and this can often be eroded through the behaviour of a minority of students.”

Sarah McCaffrey, Deputy President of the Students’ Union, added: “We’re particularly concerned with the rise of binge drinking among female students. It’s surprising that it only takes 14 units of alcohol in one week for a girl to technically be binge drinking.”

The poster campaign will highlight how heavy drinking can affect students’ health and studies. Bottle-openers and beer mats will also promote the Responsible Drinking message. Student Officers in the Students’ Union will be speaking directly to student groups to encourage responsible drinking.

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Queen's look into vision loss illness

Queen’s University scientists have determined how much the risk of a type of vision loss in over 65s is due to gene variation and smoking.

The leading cause of vision loss in the elderly occurs when the central region of the retina, the macula, deteriorates. This is known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD.

Now, Queen’s Professor Anne Hughes and her team in Medical Genetics and Vision Sciences at the Royal Victoria Hospital have reported the risk of AMD in old age can be predicted from a combination of genes and smoking levels.

Professor Hughes said: “The macula is the tissue at the back of the eye that converts light into electrical messages and sends them into the brain. AMD destroys the central vision that is needed for reading and driving, leaving only dim, blurred images or a black hole at the centre of vision.

“In our study of 401 AMD patients and 266 people with good vision, we found it is possible to predict an individual’s risk of developing AMD. We asked each person about their smoking status and catalogued inherited sequence variations within their DNA. We also examined groups of genetic variants known as haplotypes which are present on chromosomes.

“Our research confirmed the two most important gene regions that affect AMD risk. Until we learn more about how these genes act, it will be difficult to prevent the degeneration of the macula. What is clear in the meantime though, is that those at high genetic risk of AMD should try to control their smoking.”

Professor Hughes added: “Our plans for the future include identifying additional AMD genes and explaining the pathways that are important for maintaining healthy eyes. Then it may become possible to prevent AMD or delay its onset.

“The results of this research provide physicians with a way to identify those at the highest genetic risk of developing AMD. They can then step up their efforts to persuade these people to avoid smoking, thereby more than halving their risk of becoming blind.

“In the future, when effective long term treatments for AMD become available, the risk scoring system could also help doctors decide which of their elderly patients should be monitored most intensively for the early signs of AMD. They can then be treated before their vision is irreversibly damaged.”


For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 2576, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Nursing Doctorate a European First

Queen’s is leading the way in advanced nursing education as the first university in Europe to offer a course which is set to become an international gold standard qualification.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) aims to equip the future leaders of nursing with the skills they need to make a dynamic contribution to healthcare, as advanced clinicians, managers or educationalists.

It marks a major change in the high-level training and education of nurses as it focuses on action as well as knowledge.

It is the emphasis on changing and challenging practice that makes the DNP different from the traditional nursing doctorate.

As part of their dissertation those taking the course will have to introduce an innovative new nursing practice and research its effectiveness. This is so that students can prove their ability to perform at a high level immediately.

Professor Jean Orr, the Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s, said she was proud that the university was pioneering nursing education in Europe.

“Uniquely, Queen’s DNP involves a blend of American innovation and European rigour.
“The DNP is currently being pioneered in the USA, where it is planned that it will become the requisite degree for advanced nursing practice by 2015.
“Possession of a DNP will consequently become the international gold standard qualification for advanced nursing practice in the near future.“

The course, which starts in September, can be completed full time over three years or five years part time.

Applications for the course can be made online at
http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofNursingandMidwifery/

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


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Crossing the border - new book investigates the transformation of north-south relationships

The first comprehensive overview of cross-border relationships in Ireland has found that people’s acceptance of cross-border co-operation is likely to depend on the benefits it offers to people, both north and south, rather than the historical baggage of emotions associated with the border.

Crossing the Border: New Relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a new book which assesses the development of cross-border relationships, the opportunities they present, and the obstacles that continue to limit north-south collaboration, was officially launched by An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD today (Thursday 21 February 2008) at Newman House, Dublin.

Mr Ahern said “Tracing the development of co-operation, from the earlier part of the twentieth century when North and South developed along very different paths; through the Troubles and the establishment of a lasting peace under the Good Friday Agreement, this book is an invaluable tool for anyone interested in this area.”

The book is based on a major collaborative project between Queen’s University Belfast and University College Dublin (UCD) which involved up to 40 researchers from Ireland and abroad, including economists, geographers, historians, political scientists, social anthropologists and sociologists.

Professor Liam O’Dowd, from the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s, co-authored the book. Professor O’Dowd said: “Cross-border relationships have played a central, but often understated, role in the peace process, and they are now demonstrating the potential to benefit all the communities on the island of Ireland.

“A number of challenges remain, however, and these must be overcome if cross-border co-operation is to reach its full potential. The heavy reliance of cross-border co-operation on external funding and the problems of institutional inertia and apathy on both sides of the border could make it difficult to sustain the progress that has already been made.

“Popular acceptance of cross-border co-operation in the future is more likely to depend on the mutual benefits it delivers to people on either side than on the historical baggage of emotions and feelings long associated with ‘the border’.”

Professor John Coakley of UCD, the other co-editor, pointed out that although cross-border cooperation is now taken for granted, it was not always so. “In fact”, he suggested, “for much of the twentieth century, relations across the border were so frosty that the term ‘cold war’ might not have been an exaggeration.”

The Good Friday agreement, he added, had been able to build on a range of cross-border projects that had been proceeding on a modest scale, though in an uncoordinated way: “In retrospect, what is surprising is not the level of co-operation that now exists, but rather the resistance to such co-operation in the past. And we should not take it for granted that this resistance came entirely from the northern side of the border.”

For Media Enquiries please contact:  Anne-Marie Watson, Press Officer, Queen’s University, Belfast, T: 00 44 (0)28 9097 5320  M: 00 44 (0)7814 415 451, a.watson@qub.ac.uk

For more information please contact:  Dominic Martella, External Communications Manager University College Dublin, T: +353 +1 716 Ends1681   M: +353 +87 2959 118

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Award-winning author provides insight into 'Michael Collins and Political Leadership'

Members of the public are invited to listen to award-winning author, Professor Peter Hart, provide a unique insight into Michael Collins and his political leadership during a public talk at Queen’s University tomorrow (Thursday 21 February).

Professor Peter Hart, author of The IRA and Its Enemies and Mick: The Real Michael Collins, will be speaking at the Elmwood Lecture Theatre, Elmwood Avenue, Queen’s University Belfast, at 5pm on Thursday 21 February.

Professor Hart said: “If ever there was a classic revolutionary leader, surely it was Michael Collins.  Charismatic, dynamic and committed to his cause, Collins ran the IRA's successful intelligence war and Dail Eireann's vital Department of Finance; he helped negotiate the Treaty with Britain, and finally ran Ireland's first independent government and army.

"But what kind of leader was Michael Collins?  How did he become so powerful and successful?  And what does that say about the revolutionary movement, or Irish nationalism?

"This talk will explore the political leadership of this extraordinary and complex figure.”

Professor Hart’s talk is being hosted by the newly-formed Irish Studies International Research Initiative at Queen’s School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk.

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Young people optimistic about community relations in Northern Ireland

In the year that young people across Northern Ireland witnessed the restoration of the Assembly and Executive, their optimism about the future of community relations here increased significantly, from 48% in 2006 to 61% in 2007, according to the findings of a major survey published by Queen’s University.

The results of the 2007 Young Life and Times Survey offer a fascinating insight into what 16 year olds across Northern Ireland really think about social issues ranging from politics and children’s rights to drinking alcohol and losing weight. The survey is carried out annually by ARK, a joint initiative between Queen’s University and the University of Ulster.

Young Life and Times Director, Dr Dirk Schubotz from the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s said: “In the year when the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive were re-established, it is particularly noticeable that young people’s optimism about community relations has substantially increased.

“The proportion of 16 year olds saying that relations between Catholics and Protestants are better now than they were five years ago has risen from 48% in 2006 to 61% in 2007. Almost half of respondents (48%) believe that community relations will continue to improve over the next five years, compared with 41% in 2006. Over eight in ten (81%), however, felt that religion will always make a difference to how people in Northern Ireland feel about each other.

“The 627 young people who responded to the survey were also asked about their experiences of activities that can damage their health. Three quarters of them (75%) had drunk alcohol, almost half (45%) had smoked tobacco and 17% had taken illegal drugs.

“The results also revealed that many girls feel under pressure from the media to lose weight. Worryingly, over one third of girls who completed the survey (35%) said they had felt under pressure to lose weight, even though they didn’t want to. Whereas respondents identified friends and peers as the main source of pressure to drink, smoke, take drugs or have sex, the media was cited as the main source of pressure to lose weight.

“The results of the Young Life and Times Survey have given us an interesting insight into the issues faced by Northern Ireland’s first post-conflict generation. It is interesting that just over one third of the 16 year olds who responded felt that the government protects the rights of young people adequately (30%) or very well (7%), and four in ten (39%) felt that they could change the way things are run if they got involved in politics.

“Too often, the opinions of young people are ignored, particularly in relation to issues that directly affect them. The Young Life and Times Survey invites 16 year olds to tell us about their views on a range of social issues, and the 2007 survey covers more subject areas than any of our previous studies. It is important that the views of young people are taken into consideration by the people who make the decisions that ultimately affect their lives.”

The Young Life and Times survey team will release more detailed information on the findings relating to cross-community contact, family life and responsibilities of 16 year olds and experiences of smoking, drinking, drug use and sexual intercourse later in the year.

For more information on Young Life and Times please visit www.ark.ac.uk/ylt

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, +44 (0)7814 415451 a.watson@qub.ac.uk

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Universities unite to battle Alzheimer's
From left North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, Dr Janet Johnston from the Division of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Queen's , Dr Marie Janson, Alzheimer's Research Trust Director of Development and Dr Christain Holscher, Senior Lecturer in Neurosciences at the University of Ulster, Coleraine
From left North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, Dr Janet Johnston from the Division of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Queen's , Dr Marie Janson, Alzheimer's Research Trust Director of Development and Dr Christain Holscher, Senior Lecturer in Neurosciences at the University of Ulster, Coleraine

Northern Ireland’s first centre for the Alzheimer’s Research Trust Network, a partnership between Queen’s and the University of Ulster, will be officially launched today by Lady Sylvia Hermon.

The North Down MP, whose husband, former RUC Chief Constable Sir John Hermon, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2002, welcomed the new centre saying: “”Alzheimer’s is such a dreadfully cruel disease. It steals a person’s memory, it steals the personality and steals human dignity.

“We owe Alzheimer’s sufferers and carers the very best of research to not only deal with its symptoms but find a cure to prevent it in the first place.”

The Alzheimer’s Research Trust is providing £95,000 to fund the Northern Ireland Network centre for an initial four and a half year period. As the number of people with dementia is set to double within a generation this centre aims to support research into the disease.

There are currently 16,000 people with dementia in Northern Ireland, a figure projected to increase to 20,500 by 2017 and to over 47,000 by 2051. The cost of care for Alzheimer’s is more than for cancer, heart disease and stroke combined, but the amount of funding for Alzheimer’s is only a small fraction of any one of those conditions.

The new Network will include 15 researchers based across both universities with an interest in the underlying causes or novel treatments for Alzheimer’s. The Network also includes research clinicians who specialise in Geriatric Medicine and run local memory clinics.

Dr Janet Johnston, from the Division of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Queen’s, will co-ordinate the Network along with Dr Christian Holscher, Senior Lecturer in Neurosciences at the University of Ulster, Coleraine campus.

Dr Johnston said: “I welcome this Network as a very positive development for research into Alzheimer’s disease in Northern Ireland. The establishment of the Northern Ireland Alzheimer’s Trust Network signals national recognition of our research and opens up new funding opportunities. It will help foster links between local researchers, those in the UK and our international counterparts.”

Dr Holscher from the University of Ulster added: “The new ART Network in Northern Ireland will bring together all researchers and clinicians who work on Alzheimer’s disease to unite their strength and specialisations. Considering the changing age profile of the Northern Ireland population and the important position of Alzheimer’s disease within health care policy, this new Network offers an excellent strategic position to amalgamate research, attract new funding and develop a cluster of excellence in the very important area of Alzheimer’s research.”

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust said: “We are delighted to be launching the Northern Ireland Network centre. The next big Alzheimer’s breakthrough will only come if researchers work together. Through the Network centre we hope to promote research collaborations within the Northern Ireland area as well as with our other Network centres through the UK.”

The Alzheimer’s Research Trust Network links 15 UK centres of research, each headed by an internationally distinguished research scientist. The Network centres share data and findings, pool resources when appropriate and have an annual conference to exchange ideas and results.

Further information on the Alzheimer’s Research Trust Network can be found at www.alzheimers-research.org.uk/research/currentresearch/network/

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 2576, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Life begins at 40 and 50 and 60...
Archie and Margaret Lindsay, who celebrated their 44th Valentine's Day together, with Dr John Garry from Queen's University, whose research has found that growing old is a happier experience than many of us imagine
Archie and Margaret Lindsay, who celebrated their 44th Valentine's Day together, with Dr John Garry from Queen's University, whose research has found that growing old is a happier experience than many of us imagine

Growing old is a happier experience than many of us imagine - that’s according to the findings of a study conducted at Queen’s University on behalf of the Changing Ageing Partnership (CAP).

The study, which was conducted by Dr John Garry from Queen’s University, looked at young people’s attitudes to happiness in old age and how these attitudes affect their current health-related behaviour.

Dr Garry said: “We have all heard the saying ‘life begins at 40’. But it seems that many people, particularly young people, actually associate growing old with being miserable, meaning they don’t see any benefit in preserving their health for old age.

“Young people like to enjoy themselves, but this often means behaving in ways that can damage their future health. The harmful effects of alcohol, smoking and poor diet and fitness are well known, but many young people still binge-drink, smoke, avoid eating fruit and vegetables and fail to do regular exercise.

“This study aimed to find out whether this risky behaviour is associated with young people’s estimates of happiness in old age. Are they determined to ‘live it up’ while they are young because they are convinced that as they grow older they will become more and more miserable?

“The research found that, contrary to common belief, old age does not mean a decline in happiness - older people are just as happy as younger people. Whilst many young people associate old age with doom and gloom, this is not the case.

“We also found a strong link between the belief that happiness declines with age and levels of binge drinking by young men. It seems that these young men abuse their bodies through alcohol because, as they see it, there is little point in preserving their health for a miserable old age.

“Perhaps health professionals should consider this in their efforts to tackle binge drinking amongst young men. By addressing their incorrect perception that growing old is a miserable experience, they may be encouraged to drink more responsibly and take better care of their health.”

Archie and Margaret Lindsay, who celebrated their 44th Valentine’s Day together, say they are perfectly happy in their old age. The couple attend the Newtownabbey Senior Citizens’ Forum. Mr Lindsay said: “I am surprised that so many young people think that getting older means being unhappy. My wife and I are both in our seventies and are as happy now as we were 30 years ago - and I think many of our friends would say the same. In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years!

“It’s important that young people realise that they can still enjoy life as they get older. As long as they make an effort to look after themselves, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t look forward to a happy and fulfilled old age.”

Professor Colin Harvey, Head of Queen’s School of Law, welcomed the research: “I hope this research report will go some way to challenging the negative attitudes to older people that are so prevalent in society today. This is another significant and welcome contribution to the debate from the Changing Ageing Partnership.”

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, +44 (0)7814 415451 a.watson@qub.ac.uk

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Northern Ireland has twice the level of 'persistent' poverty

A new report published by Save the Children shows that Northern Ireland has higher levels of persistent child poverty in comparison to Great Britain. Here, one in five children is living in persistent poverty – that’s double the level in the rest of the UK.

The research – Persistent Child Poverty in Northern Ireland - which was carried out by Save the Children in partnership with ARK, a joint project between Queen’s University, Belfast and the University of Ulster, found that the study of poverty over time is important to understanding how many children are affected in Northern Ireland. 

For over a quarter of children, poverty is a short-term issue - but for 21% of children in Northern Ireland, poverty is a long-term experience.

Marina Monteith, Child Poverty Researcher at Save the Children said: “Previous research has shown that Northern Ireland has similar child poverty rates to other regions in the UK in any one year.

“This new research highlights the facts that over a four-year period, a higher proportion of children in Northern Ireland experience poverty than in Great Britain and a greater percentage are likely to live in poverty for a longer period of time.”

Traditionally, researchers have given us a more ‘static’ snapshot of poverty by looking at it at a particular place and time.  However, the introduction of the Northern Ireland Household Panel (NIHPS) survey in 2001 has allowed analysts to study the duration of child poverty. 

Katrina Lloyd, Research Director at ARK at Queen’s University, said: “In the NI Household Panel Survey, the same people are followed up each year. This enables researchers to study how their circumstances change over the four year period for which data is available (2001-2004).

“Using this information, we are able to study whether child poverty is short-term or persistent - that is, being poor for at least three of the four years.

“We found that here, 21% of children were living in persistent poverty, compared to 9% in Great Britain.

“Those most affected by persistent poverty were children living in families dependent mainly on benefits as their main source of income, children living with a lone parent and children living in families with a disabled or elderly adult or a disabled child.

“Furthermore, the analysis showed that parents of children living in poverty had poorer mental health and that mental health and well-being was worst for mothers of children living in persistent poverty.”

Marina Monteith added: “The impact of living in persistent poverty is likely to be much more
serious than when experiencing poverty on a more temporary basis. 

“Persistent poverty impacts adversely on the experience of childhood and life chances are
reduced – in terms of educational opportunities as well as health and well-being. In addition,
children living in persistent poverty are living in households where parents are clearly experiencing
high levels of stress and struggling to cope”.

The research revealed today highlights the importance of understanding - not only the level of child poverty but also its depth and duration. 

Without specifically tackling the persistent element of poverty and tailoring solutions to tackle it, Save the Children and ARK say that it is unlikely that the government’s targets for the eradication of child poverty will be met.

For more information please contact Felicity Templeton at Save the Children on 07713 242412 or email felicity@utvinternet.com

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Storming the towers to learn about history

Queen’s University archaeology students will be setting fire to castle doorways this weekend in an attempt to learn more about Irish history.

Over the past 25 years there has been an academic debate into whether Irish castles from around 1350 were built for war and siege and how much for a display of power.

Now Queen’s archaeology students are going to reconstruct two doorways like those in the Irish towers, this time at the Ardnavalley Scout Centre near Shaw's Bridge. One door they will try to burn through. The other door they will try to batter down with a battering ram. Within the context of the period the students will consider the doorways to be effective defensively if they fail to break through either door within two hours.

The experiment is being carried out on Sunday February 17 coinciding with the annual conference of the Association of Young Irish Archaeologists, meeting in Queen’s.

Queen’s Archaeology lecturer, Dr Thomas McNeill  is looking forward to the experiment: “The Castles debate has been conducted mainly on the basis of a few random contemporary accounts and academic speculation. Crucial to this is the doorway. We know that all the towers had stout doors fastened by a strong wooden bar, but most did not have any one of a variety of further devices which would have added to their protection. Either the builders were not really concerned with making them as strong as they could, or else such a door was, in fact, quite adequate. It is time to bring some experimental evidence into the discussion.

“This experiment will give us hard information about the sort of houses normally used by the gentry in Ireland in the late Middle Ages. If the doors are effective then defence may have been more important than we thought, a change to our understanding of life at the time. It is excellent to see students taking the initiative to carry out practical research whatever the result, they will have learned a lot.”  

One of the Queen’s students taking part on the day is Gillian Eadie from East Belfast. She is currently in the third year of her postgraduate research for her PhD thesis, entitled ‘The Function and Classification of the Tower House’.

She said: “The doors project was borne out of work conducted by myself and a third year undergraduate student, Duncan Berryman. We are both interested in testing the defensive capabilities of the tower house and the most important aspect of this has to be the protection of the doorway, a castle is only as strong as its weakest point.

“Tower house doorways are located at ground floor level and are usually fitted with a draw bar on the inside.

“In a number of examples we also find evidence of an external iron grille called a yett. The yett sits in front of the door and therefore acts as a protection against the use of battering rams and fire. However, this seemingly efficient and cost effective feature is found only sporadically, leaving the rest of the tower houses vulnerable to these types of attack. To anyone interested in castles, this presents an obvious weakness.”

Further information from, Eugene Mc Cusker, Communications Office, Queen’s University, 028 9097 2576, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk 

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Students to savour the flavour of Psychology at Queen's

Sectarianism in Northern Ireland, masculinity and identity, foetal behaviour and suicide are among the topics to be discussed by leading psychologists at a special event at Queen’s University on Friday.

Eminent psychologists from across the UK and Ireland will discuss their ground-breaking research at the event which is targeted at university and A-level students and open to everyone with an interest in Psychology. Around 200 of tomorrow’s psychologists are expected to attend.

Speakers include Dr Rory O’Connor of the University of Stirling who will talk on adolescent and young adult suicide risk, and Professor Miles Hewstone of the University of Oxford who will speak on conflict resolution techniques in Northern Ireland.

Professor Jane Ireland of the University of Central Lancashire will discuss directions and developments in violence treatment while Professor Ros Gill of the Open University will examine the issue of masculinity and identity.

Self-awareness and attention will be the focus of the lecture by Professor Ian Robertson of Trinity College Dublin, while the experiences of babies in the womb will be highlighted by Professor Peter Hepper of Queen’s.

Attendance at the event, entitled ‘A Flavour of Psychology’, is free but those wishing to attend should register by contacting Anne Kerr at a.kerr@qub.ac.uk

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's helps push art and science closer together
Carmel Devlin and Director of Queen's Bioimaging, Professor Peter Hamilton, with one of Carmel's sci-art pieces
Carmel Devlin and Director of Queen's Bioimaging, Professor Peter Hamilton, with one of Carmel's sci-art pieces
Director of Queen's Bioimaging Unit, Professor Peter Hamilton and Carmel Devlin, displaying one of her sci-art pieces
Director of Queen's Bioimaging Unit, Professor Peter Hamilton and Carmel Devlin, displaying one of her sci-art pieces

A £2.2m Bioimaging facility at Queen’s is helping artists to explain the science of the human body.

St Mary’s student Carmel Devlin drew inspiration for her final year project while thinking about the part genetics play in making each one of us unique. The work she did led to her receiving a first class honours in her B Ed Art and Design degree.

To inform her thinking, she studied images of DNA, cells and chromosomes at the Bioimaging Unit in the Medical Biology Centre at Queen’s.

Biomaging uses advanced microscopic techniques which allow researchers to see cells and molecular processes more closely to understand how they function in health and what causes them to malfunction in disease.

The colourful images on which Carmel’s project was based were taken by Stuart Church, the unit Manager, on a microscope worth around £250,000 - the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland.

Her project used materials including metallic wire, mesh wire, angel fibre and wool fibres to construct three dimensional structures representing the images seen under the microscope.

Carmel, who is from west Belfast and is now pursuing a career as a primary school teacher, said she had been influenced by the artist Helen Storey, who is internationally renowned for her sci-art work..

“I was interested in the nature versus nurture argument and the natural links between art and science.

“The project has made me think about how the subjects could be integrated in the classroom and how images could be used in learning,” she said.

Some of Carmel’s work is on display at the Bioimaging Unit and staff both there and at St Mary’s are keen that the relationship between them develops.

Professor Peter Hamilton, Director of the unit, said: “This an example of scientific images inspiring art, but artists also have an big role in helping scientists understand the structure and function of biological and molecular components.”

Deidre Robson, who is Head of the Art Department at St Mary’s, said: “The art and science departments in St Mary’s are at the forefront of education research in collaboration between subjects and have developed a teaching methodology which integrates arts and science.

“This was recently piloted as The Leonardo Effect in schools across the British Isles with remarkable success.

“The approach is closely attuned to government initiatives in curricular development and we are presenting it to the Education Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly.”

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 9097 5391, Mob 07980 013 362, a.clements@qub.ac.uk

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Environmentally friendly flights take off from Queen's
Queen's lecturer Dr Adrian Murphy, Mr John Baxter, President of the Institution of Mechanical engineers IMechE and Dr Mark Price, Queen's
Queen's lecturer Dr Adrian Murphy, Mr John Baxter, President of the Institution of Mechanical engineers IMechE and Dr Mark Price, Queen's

Work at Queen’s in developing greener, more efficient aeroplanes has been recognised with the awarding of an international prize.

Queen’s lecturers Dr Adrian Murphy and Dr Mark Price won the Institution of Mechanical Engineers premier award for research, the Thomas Hawksley Gold Medal for their paper on aircraft design processes. Their work over the last ten years will help reduce fuel burn and emissions in new aeroplanes.

Both are members of the Aerospace research cluster within Queen’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Dr Murphy explained the thinking behind the paper saying: “Research and development is addressing many aspects both in flight and in the manufacturing and maintenance side to achieve improvements wherever possible. One such aspect is in the airframe structure, which forms a major part of the weight of the airplane, and this naturally affects fuel burn and consequently emissions. The use of advanced welding technology offers the promise of reducing both the structural weight and the manufacturing costs and environmental impact.

“By reducing the weight of any vehicle the energy and therefore the fuel required to propel it forward is reduced. The heavier an object is, the harder it is to move it. By making an airplane lighter, we need less fuel to make it move and fly, and by reducing the fuel burn we reduce the amount of emissions produced per flight.”

The paper was the culmination of almost 10 years work on developing and validating design methods for new airplane manufacturing technologies.  Friction stir welding is a new welding method introduced in 1991. The process uses a rotating probe which provides friction heat and pressure to join materials together. This process gives off no fumes, is environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

Dr Price added: “What we addressed is how to allow today’s practising engineers to take advantage of new material and manufacturing technologies in the design of the airplane structure. This is needed so that the most environmentally friendly and economical technology can be used in the next generation of greener airplanes. What the Queen’s team did was to show how this could be accommodated within existing design processes without radically changing the whole approach.”

Delighted to receive the medal Dr Murphy said: “It was great to see all our effort in building a strong laboratory infrastructure and long term collaborations with industry partners paying off with such success and recognition.”

The team continues to build on this work but are also developing new areas in this exciting field with direct funding from industry and European Framework projects.

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 2576, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Double celebration for Queen's GAA
Queen's GAA Scholarship winners (from left) Gemma Begley from Omagh, Sinead Cassidy from Garvagh, Conor Woods, Kircubbin, and Charlie Vernon, Armagh with (centre) Queen's Sport Development Officer Cathy Gallagher
Queen's GAA Scholarship winners (from left) Gemma Begley from Omagh, Sinead Cassidy from Garvagh, Conor Woods, Kircubbin, and Charlie Vernon, Armagh with (centre) Queen's Sport Development Officer Cathy Gallagher

Queen’s Gaelic Athletics Association is today celebrating on two fronts as 32 students are awarded GAA Academy Scholarships for 2007/08 and a new five-year sponsorship was agreed.

The Academy and property company TJ Developments have signed the deal - the first of its kind within the third level sector.

Queen’s University has a long history of producing some of Ireland’s top GAA players and the continued development of the Academy is aimed to keep Queen’s at the forefront of Gaelic Games.

At today’s event Business IT student Gemma Begley (Ladies Gaelic Football) will also be recognised for winning an All Star Award in 2007.

The GAA scholarship schemes for Men’s Gaelic Football and Hurling, supported by past member donations and the governing body, are named after two patrons. Sean O’Neill and Ted McConnell are among the best known sporting personalities in Ireland.
 
This year, inaugural scholarships will also be awarded to students from Ladies Gaelic Football and Camogie.

Development Manager for Student Sport, Cathy Gallagher, said the approach was all-inclusive:

“The GAA Academy has been developed to strengthen the five student Gaelic clubs. 
“Today we are honouring our top student players via the scholarship scheme, the programmes and initiatives within the Academy, covering administration, coaching, schools competitions and recreational participation. 
“Unrivalled success on the field of play last year, when Queen’s clubs claimed four titles, is being matched by the involvement of students in organising their sport within and outside the university.”  

This year’s top awards go to Antrim Senior County Star Justin Crozier and Armagh’s Charlie Vernon, both vital players for Queen’s in their Sigerson and Ryan Cup triumphs in 2007. 

Tyrone scoring machine, Gemma Begley and former All Star recipient and veteran of award ceremonies Caroline O’Hanlon have been recognised at the highest level within Ladies Gaelic Football.

The deal reaffirms Queen’s commitment to providing a united approach within Camogie, Ladies Football, Handball, Hurling and Gaelic Football under one distinct corporate brand.

TJ Developments co-founder Thomas McGeary said: “It is a great honour to be associated with an institution such as Queen’s with its great tradition in Gaelic Games.
“We hope this partnership can cement Queen’s as a leading light for promoting the GAA in Ireland through a wide range of initiatives of which we are now proud to be a part of”.

For more information contact Karl Oakes, GAA Academy Co-ordinator, on  028 9038 7688 or 07841 235 877

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 9097 5391, Mob 07980 013 362, a.clements@qub.ac.uk

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Northern Ireland has twice the level of 'Persistent' Poverty

A new report published by Save the Children shows that Northern Ireland has higher levels of persistent child poverty in comparison to Great Britain. Here, one in five children is living in persistent poverty – that’s double the level in the rest of the UK.

The research – Persistent Child Poverty in Northern Ireland - which was carried out by Save the Children in partnership with ARK, a joint project between Queen’s University, Belfast and the University of Ulster, found that the study of poverty over time is important to understanding how many children are affected in Northern Ireland. 

For over a quarter of children, poverty is a short-term issue - but for 21% of children in Northern Ireland, poverty is a long-term experience.

Marina Monteith, Child Poverty Researcher at Save the Children said: “Previous research has shown that Northern Ireland has similar child poverty rates to other regions in the UK in any one year.

“This new research highlights the facts that over a four-year period, a higher proportion of children in Northern Ireland experience poverty than in Great Britain and a greater percentage are likely to live in poverty for a longer period of time.”

Traditionally, researchers have given us a more ‘static’ snapshot of poverty by looking at it at a particular place and time.  However, the introduction of the Northern Ireland Household Panel (NIHPS) survey in 2001 has allowed analysts to study the duration of child poverty. 

Katrina Lloyd, Research Director at ARK at Queen’s University, said: “In the NI Household Panel Survey, the same people are followed up each year. This enables researchers to study how their circumstances change over the four year period for which data is available (2001-2004).

“Using this information, we are able to study whether child poverty is short-term or persistent - that is, being poor for at least three of the four years.

“We found that here, 21% of children were living in persistent poverty, compared to 9% in Great Britain.

“Those most affected by persistent poverty were children living in families dependent mainly on benefits as their main source of income, children living with a lone parent and children living in families with a disabled or elderly adult or a disabled child.

“Furthermore, the analysis showed that parents of children living in poverty had poorer mental health and that mental health and well-being was worst for mothers of children living in persistent poverty.”

Marina Monteith added: “The impact of living in persistent poverty is likely to be much more
serious than when experiencing poverty on a more temporary basis. 

“Persistent poverty impacts adversely on the experience of childhood and life chances are
reduced – in terms of educational opportunities as well as health and well-being. In addition,
children living in persistent poverty are living in households where parents are clearly experiencing
high levels of stress and struggling to cope”.

The research revealed today highlights the importance of understanding - not only the level of child poverty but also its depth and duration. 

Without specifically tackling the persistent element of poverty and tailoring solutions to tackle it, Save the Children and ARK say that it is unlikely that the government’s targets for the eradication of child poverty will be met.

For more information please contact Felicity Templeton at Save the Children on 07713 242412 or email felicity@utvinternet.com

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Kick-off for talented Queen's rugby players
Queen's rugby player Mark Robinson who has received a Queen's Rugby Academy bursary
Queen's rugby player Mark Robinson who has received a Queen's Rugby Academy bursary

Irish rugby legend Jack Kyle has presented 26 of Northern Ireland’s most talented student rugby players with Queen’s University Rugby Academy bursaries.

Kyle, after whom the Rugby Academy Bursary Fund is named, was on hand at Queen’s Sport High Performance and Lifestyle Centre to welcome the players as they received their place in the Academy. After an international career of 11 years, Kyle was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of fame in 1999.

The 26 recipients will receive free access to Queen’s sports facilities, top level coaching, sports science, physiotherapy, strength and conditioning support, clothing and a financial bonus.

Former Irish International Brian Robinson, who has joined the coaching team at Queen’s said: “It can be difficult for a university team to grow and develop as the university cycle is so short, but the invaluable services provided by Queen’s Rugby Academy really help to address such issues. New players this year, such as Chris Cochrane, Paul Karayiannis, Patrick Mc Gowan and Ian Porter have added real quality to a team that already has the likes of Ian Whitten, Michael Pyper and Michael Barker.”

Also present at the awards ceremony was Ulster rugby star David Pollock, who collected his Full Blues Certificate and Special Achievement Award for the 2006-2007 season from the University. The Omagh-born player captained Ireland’s Under 20s to a Grand Slam and Six Nations championship double in 2007.

Dr Robert Gamble from Queen’s Sport, said: “We have a world-class coaching structure at Queen’s which continues to encourage a very exciting brand of expansive rugby.

“Queen’s Rugby Academy provides added coach support through access to sports science, strength and conditioning programmes and a range of other initiatives to maximise performance. During their time at Queen’s, our players will be provided with many opportunities to develop significantly and hopefully follow in Jack Kyle’s footsteps.”

Further information on Queen’s Rugby Academy is available at www.qub.ac.uk/sport/

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 2576, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Queen's research grants reach £60 million high

Queen’s University secured research grants totalling some £60 million, including a share of a £5 million grant to explore new radiation sources and awards for pioneering medical research, during the last academic year, Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson revealed today.

In his annual report for 2006-2007, Professor Gregson described the period under review as “historic”. He said: “The year saw Queen’s academics win a record number of research grants, forge new international connections and the appointment of the 1,000th employee to one of the University’s spin-out companies. 

“Among the highlights were the opening of a new £7 million facility at the Physical Education Centre and a new-look £9 million Students’ Union, which underpin our commitment to the ‘Queen’s Experience’ for our students."

During the year, a range of new courses was introduced to reflect the move to a more responsive curriculum. The number of grants secured by Queen’s researchers rose from 540 to 878. The value of grants awarded also increased significantly in this period, from £42.5 million to around £60 million. The University invested in a number of multi-disciplinary initiatives including centres in Irish Studies and the Promotion of Effective Interventions for Children.

Queen’s also significantly enhanced its international networks, signing an historic research and education partnership with Georgetown University in Washington DC and agreeing two major link-ups with prestigious institutions in Malaysia. It also signed collaborative research partnerships with Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin to place Ireland, north and south, at the forefront of the global knowledge economy.

The Report covers one of the most significant periods in the history of Queen’s. The year under review was Queen’s first as a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s 20 leading research-intensive universities. It was also the first year of implementation of Queen’s 2006-11 Corporate Plan. 

Professor Gregson said the invitation to join the Russell Group in 2006 was one of the most motivational developments in the University’s history.

He said: “The Russell Group contains some of the best universities in the world.  Queen’s membership of this body acknowledges the University’s position as a centre of academic excellence at the heart of the community it serves. But it also gives added incentive to its aspirations to compete on equal terms with the best in the world.”

He added: “Queen’s is an institution with a unique place in the hearts of those who live in Northern Ireland. I am convinced that we will build on that further in the years ahead.”

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Adventurer set to inspire local business leaders
Steering the right course - adventurer Rona Cant is set to inspire business leaders at Queen's this week
Steering the right course - adventurer Rona Cant is set to inspire business leaders at Queen's this week

Adventurer and author Rona Cant will be aiming to inspire current and future business leaders at a management event at Queen’s University this week.

Rona, who has completed a round the world yacht race and trekked a notorious trail in Canada as well as dog sledding across the Arctic, will speak on ‘Steering the Right Course - Leadership in Action’ on Wednesday 13 February in the Great Hall.

Her corporate presentations aim to motivate audiences to achieve their potential, both individually and as part of a team, creating a ‘can do’ culture in business.

The event is being run jointly by Queen’s and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), with support from Invest NI, as part of the Management Leadership Network’s (MLN) Management Month.

Just a few years ago Rona was a middle-aged single parent, but a lifelong ambition to travel led her as a novice sailor to join the BT Global Challenge Round the World Yacht Race in 2000 - 2001.

She had to face a range of challenges from the initial training, team building and preparation for such a massive undertaking, to physical and mental challenges she and the team experienced, including a dramatic crash with one of the other yachts in New Zealand which threatened their chances of completing the race.

Richard Jay, from the School of Education at Queen’s commented: “We are very pleased to host this event in Queen’s as part of the MLN’s Management Month.

“Rona’s talk is not just aimed at those who are currently filling management roles, but also will, we hope, inspire the current generation of students to meet the challenges and opportunities that will face them when they leave us.”

Victor Jordan, Invest NI’s Director of Business Improvement Services, said: “A high level of management and leadership skills is vital to the success of the Northern Ireland economy.

“Companies with inspirational leaders can achieve increased turnover and profitability, and realise their full potential in the long term.

“Strong management skills help to motivate employees, improve planning processes and ultimately ensure higher quality outputs.”

Rona’s other adventures have included trekking one of the world’s toughest trails - the West Coast Trail in Canada - where a combination of bears, cougars and injury made the demanding trip even more treacherous; dog-sledding across the frozen Arctic wilderness in temperatures as low as minus 30c; and sailing and winning the Round Britain Challenge in March 2003.

She also helped organise and took part in the Nordkapp Expedition, dog-sledding 600 km to the northernmost tip of Europe on a trail that was thought to be impossible.

Stanley Wallace, regional manager of the CMI, said: “The purpose behind our annual association with Queen’s is to emphasise the role that both of our organisations play in developing managers and encouraging their leadership skills. 

“This year it is great to have Rona Cant on her first visit to Northern Ireland.  She has been all around the world on her expeditions and will soon be taking a leadership challenge into the Arctic, so she has some great stories to tell and inspire local managers to improve the way they work with their staff teams.”

Refreshments will be served from 6pm in the Great Hall with the lecture stating at 6.30pm. To attend the event, which is free, contact Richard Jay on r.jay@qub.ac.uk.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 9097 5391, Mob 07980 013 362, a.clements@qub.ac.uk

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Model Medical Students at Queen's
.
First Trust Bank's Gwyn Brewer captures Students Working Overseas Trust (SWOT) models Ramy El-Madany and Rachel Watson on the red carpet as they prepare for the fashion show
First Trust Bank's Gwyn Brewer captures Students Working Overseas Trust (SWOT) models Ramy El-Madany and Rachel Watson on the red carpet as they prepare for the fashion show.

Radio 1's Dr Mark Hamilton and Belfast’s Big Brother beauty Orlaith McAllister will be 'glamming it up' to host the Queen’s Medical and Dentistry students annual SWOT Fashion Show on Monday 25 February.

Organised by the fourth year Medical and Dentistry society SWOT, Students Working Overseas Trust, the fashion show is the stylish event in their year-long campaign to raise money for vital third world medical equipment.

With tickets more desirable than a Prada bag or pair of Christian Louboutin’s red heels, the event offers Belfast fashionistas the chance to experience catwalk glamour for a Primark price of only £20, which of course includes the must have goodie bag.

The show will feature a range of clothes from Oasis, Monsoon, New Look and Surf Mountain. It will also include a Fairtrade section, presenting an exclusive range from People Tree and Oxfam’s Fairtrade jewellery.

Held in the Whitla Hall at Queen’s, this year the event boasts an exclusive aftershow party in the glamorous Ollie’s at the Merchant Hotel.

Each year the society raises around £50,000 from a number of activities, including taking blood pressure in shopping centres, bag packing and carol singing. For the fashion show, which accounts for nearly half the total amount raised, the Queen’s students will be swopping their stethoscopes for stilettos and surgical gowns for ball gowns.

The money is then divided among the students who bring it with them on their degree placement to buy vital equipment to improve the standard for care of hundreds of patients. Money raised this year is planned for hospitals and medical centres in Kenya, Peru and Zimbabwe, where basic equipment, such as Vicryl, a synthetic suture thread for stitches, is a luxury.

Tickets, priced £20, are available now from Queen’s Students' Union and the Ticketmaster desk in Zavvi, previously Virgin Megastores, Royal Avenue.

For further information on the fashion show, please contact: swot_fs@hotmail.co.uk

For media enquiries please contact: Judith Rance, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5292, Mob: 07866 106 887, j.rance@qub.ac.uk

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New Sponsor for Belfast Festival at Queen's as Ulster Bank Signs up to Three-Year Agreement
Celebrating the Festival announcement are (L-R) Queen's University Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ken Brown; Cormac McCarthy, Ulster Bank Group Chief Executive; Festival Director Graeme Farrow and Arts Minister, Edwin Poots
Celebrating the Festival announcement are (L-R) Queen's University Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ken Brown; Cormac McCarthy, Ulster Bank Group Chief Executive; Festival Director Graeme Farrow and Arts Minister, Edwin Poots

Today, Friday 8 February, Ulster Bank Group announced a new three-year sponsorship deal with the biggest arts event in Northern Ireland, the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s. With an investment of over £1 million over three years, the support of the festival marks a growing commitment by Ulster Bank Group to be at the heart of the performing arts sector.

The three-year deal with the festival, which first started in 1962, secures the bank’s position as the leading organisation supporting the performing arts across the island of Ireland. Last year, Ulster Bank Group announced a €1 million partnership deal as title sponsor for the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival and also supports a number of regional events throughout the year.

Speaking at the announcement of the sponsorship, Cormac McCarthy, Ulster Bank Group Chief Executive said: 

“We are delighted to announce our sponsorship of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s and to be involved in such a prestigious event. The arts have a significant role to play in a modern economy and this festival is one of the most high profile events in the country, one which has stood out as a beacon of everything positive Northern Ireland has to offer.”

“We have adopted a long-term strategy in our overall sponsorship programme and believe that our on-going support of the performing arts to such a significant extent will not only increase visibility of Ulster Bank, but will also help to bring the festival to an even wider audience, including our customers.”

Queen's University Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ken Brown says: "Belfast Festival at Queen's is an enormous asset to the city and Northern Ireland; both culturally and economically. Today's announcement by Ulster Bank Group is a demonstration of confidence in the festival from the business sector and has helped secure its future for the next three years. We are extremely grateful for this and it will allow Queen's to continue delivering a truly international festival accessible to everyone."

Festival Director Graeme Farrow says: "This is the best news that this festival has received for many years and it represents a new dawn for us. This investment, alongside that from the Minister, will enable Belfast Festival at Queen's to make exciting and confident plans for the next three years, bringing arts and culture of the highest quality to the city and investing in the best homegrown talent. Everyone benefits from a successful festival, we look forward to receiving more visitors from overseas and to delivering events that the people of Belfast and Northern Ireland can be truly proud of."

For further information, please contact
Orla Bird / Frances McIvor: Ulster Bank Media Relations, +353 879746125 / 02890276208 or email orla.bird@ulsterbank.com or frances.mcivor@ulsterbank.com
or
Joris Minne, JPR: 028 9076 0066 or email joris.minne@jprni.com

About Ulster Bank Group 

Ulster Bank Group is part of The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group, one of the world's largest banking groups.  RBS employs 141,000 people, with more than 7,000 employed on the island of Ireland, over 6,405 of which work for Ulster Bank Group.

Ulster Bank Group, including First Active and Ulster Bank, consists of 278 branches, 52 business banking offices, over 1,000 ATMs and has more than 1.7 million customers.

For more information, visit http://www.ulsterbank.ie or http://www.ulsterbank.co.uk

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Johnny Ball 'reveals all' in Queen's Centenary Lecture
Television's best-known science communicator Johnny Ball with Niamh McGlinchey and Helen McDermott from Dominican College Fortwilliam
Television's best-known science communicator Johnny Ball with Niamh McGlinchey and Helen McDermott from Dominican College Fortwilliam

TV personality Johnny Ball will be summing up the wonders of science for local sixth-formers in a special Queen’s University Centenary event on Tuesday. 

Around 600 young people from throughout Northern Ireland will hear the celebrity science communicator deliver the Centenary Lecture for Schools in the University’s Whitla Hall.

Entitled ‘Funtastic Science’, the Lecture will take the form of an entertaining virtual tour through the history of science and technology, showcasing some of the greatest scientific achievements through the ages.

Speaking ahead of the Lecture, Johnny Ball said: “I am very excited by the possibilities which developments in science and engineering offer our world and it is vital that we continue to encourage students to study these subjects. It is particularly important for our young people to be able to make informed judgements on potentially controversial issues such as global warming and nuclear energy, and to extend the frontiers of knowledge on topics that impact on us all.

“That is why I applaud Queen’s University’s scheme to award £1,000 scholarships to all students achieving three As at A-level and enrolling on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. Initiatives like this will play a major role in attracting bright students to enrol in courses in these crucial areas.”

The Centenary Lecture for Schools is part of the University’s year-long series of celebrations to mark its 100th anniversary. From high-profile international events such as the Mitchell Conference on conflict resolution to ceremonial, cultural and social occasions, the programme marks Queen’s 100 years as an international centre of academic excellence rooted at the heart of the local community.

Johnny Ball has been popularising science and maths for 30 years, writing and presenting 23 solo TV series, including ‘Think of a Number’, ‘Think Again’ and ‘Johnny Ball Reveals All’. He was also a regular presenter on the flagship children’s programme, ‘Playschool’, for 17 years. He has won numerous awards for his work, including a BAFTA and the ITVA ‘Presenter of the Year’ Craft Award, and was nominated for a New York International Emmy Award.

The author of five educational stage musicals, Johnny Ball has been awarded honorary degrees by several universities and delivers specialist lectures and addresses to audiences throughout the United Kingdom.  His latest project is the Next Generation Learning campaign, which promotes educational technology. In 2007 he was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Medal for services in promoting engineering. 

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk .

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Johnny Ball 'reveals all' in Queen's Centenary Lecture

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Queen's University celebrates Presidents' Day with leading US historian
America's leading historian, Professor Eric Foner, alongside Professor Catherine Clinton from Queen's University
America's leading historian, Professor Eric Foner, alongside Professor Catherine Clinton from Queen's University

Against the backdrop of the ongoing race for US presidential nominations, one of America’s leading historians will deliver a public talk at Queen’s University in honour of Presidents’ Day.

Professor Eric Foner, from Columbia University in New York, will provide a unique insight into the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, the first President to deal broadly with the issue of slavery.

Entitled ‘Lincoln, Slavery and the Rights of Black Americans’, the talk will take place on 11 February and will be open to the public. Speaking about the lecture, Professor Foner said: “My talk at Queen’s will be about how Abraham Lincoln's ideas regarding slavery and race evolved during his career, and how he eventually came to accept the idea of the United States as a biracial society based on some idea of equality. 

“Lincoln is consistently ranked by historians as the greatest American President, so it is always valuable to think about his career on Presidents’ Day."

Professor Catherine Clinton from the School of History and Anthropology at Queen’s said: “Professor Foner’s visit is particularly timely, given the ongoing US Presidential campaign and the prospect that the United States could have its first ever black presidential candidate, nominated by one of the major parties.

“Eric Foner is the acknowledged leading historian of his generation and we are indeed lucky to have him inaugurate what we hope will become an annual event at Queen’s - a President's Day address.

“In a year when Americans will be determining who will be their new leader, it is especially significant to look back to the qualities that have shaped popular candidacies in the past. 

“Lincoln was an unknown quantity when he emerged as victor at the polls in 1860. He had enjoyed a fairly modest career, having served in the Illinois State Legislature, and only having served one term in Washington before his election.

“Lincoln’s reputation as an outsider, as an ‘Honest Abe’ in a sea of political insiders, contributed to his victory. We will have to wait and see if history repeats itself during the coming months.  All the Presidential candidates need to be well versed in America's history to contribute to a successful campaign. Whatever the outcome, the Presidential campaign has already been lively and historic.”

The lecture, which is jointly hosted by Queen’s School of History and Anthropology and School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, is the first in a series of five public talks at Queen’s on American history, which will be delivered by visiting experts over the coming months.

Eric Foner’s lecture will take place at 4pm on Monday 11 February 2008 in Room 121 in the Lanyon South building on Queen’s main campus.

To find out more about any of the upcoming public talks, please visit http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/History/NewsandEvents/SeminarProgrammes/AmericanHistoryColloquium/


For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk

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Pupils to meet 'ghostly' scientist at Queen's

Schoolchildren will get the chance to ‘meet’ a 300 year old scientist tomorrow (Friday, 8 February) as part of a special education project at the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s.

To mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Swedish natural scientist Carl Linnaeus, the project, organised by the Gallery’s Education and Outreach Officer, Clare Leeman, has been encouraging local children to find out more about the natural world.

The 300 year-old scientist will make a ghostly appearance, in the guise of artist and performer Mike Smith, who will lead children from the gallery to the Botanic Gardens, where he will give them a fun and informative tour of the Palm House.

The schoolchildren, from Taughmonagh Primary, Botanic Primary and Gaelscoil na Bhfal, recently took part in a workshop, led by artist Sheelagha Colclough, where they created their own flowers, using a variety of materials, including willow, cling-film, tissue paper and lots of glue.

Tomorrow, they will visit the Naughton Gallery to see the current exhibition 'A Passion for Systems' featuring the photography of Helene Schmitz, which celebrates Linnaeus’ work.

One of the most influential scientists of his time, Linnaeus’ theory of classification allowed for clear and easy descriptions of plants, animals and minerals. So straightforward was his new naming system, it is still used by scientists today.

The exhibition 'Passion for Systems' runs at the Naughton Gallery at Queen's until Saturday 16 February.

For further information on the Naughton Gallery please visit http://www.naughtongallery.org/welcome/

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, M: 07814 422 572, E: lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk

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Blair and Ahern to be honoured by Queen's

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern are to be honoured by Queen’s University.  The two political leaders, who played a major role in the Northern Ireland peace process, are to receive honorary degrees in the University's Centenary year.

Tony Blair, the youngest British Prime Minister of the 20th century when he was elected in 1997, stood down in 2007. He is now Quartet Representative, working in the Middle East on behalf of the US, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union helping the Palestinians to prepare for statehood as part of the international community’s effort to secure peace. Bertie Ahern, currently in his third term as Taoiseach, was the youngest prime minister in modern Irish history when he was first elected in 1997. Both will be awarded Doctorates of Laws for distinction in public service.

This year's honorary graduate list also includes Northern Ireland peace campaigners Reverend Harold Good, who recently won the 2007 World Methodist Peace award, and Father Alec Reid, along with Japanese peace ambassador Daisaku Ikeda.

Also to be honoured are Man Booker prize winning novelist Anne Enright and former Queen’s Pro-Chancellors Lady McLaughlin and Dr Chris Gibson.

‘Absolutely Fabulous’ star Joanna Lumley and Northern Ireland born actor James Ellis are among those who will receive degrees at this year’s summer and winter graduation ceremonies.

Also to receive honorary doctorates are Nobel prize winning chemist Professor Gerhard Ertl, distinguished historian Professor Donald Akenson, solar physicist Dame Carole Jordan and electronic composer Professor John Chowning.  Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge Professor Alison Richard; journalist and broadcaster Professor Laurie Taylor and eminent haematologist Dr Chitra Bharucha, Vice-Chairperson of the BBC Trust will also be honoured.

Several business leaders feature on the roll of honour.  Honorary degrees will be awarded to philanthropist and former Chairman of investment firm Man Group Plc Harvey McGrath; Ray O’Rourke, Chairman of construction company Laing O’Rourke; computer game entrepreneur David Perry; Director General of the Science Foundation, Ireland, Dr Frank Gannon and founder of Queen's spin-out company Kainos and Executive Director of spin-out company Meridio Ltd, Frank Graham.

Among those to be honoured at the Centenary ceremonies will be Queen’s graduate, former Chairman of the Conservative Party, the Rt Hon Brian Mawhinney, and Dr John J DeGioia, President of Georgetown University, Washington DC, with which Queen’s has significant academic links.  Dr Indira Samarasekera, President of the University of Alberta, Canada, and leading Irish academics Dr Hugh Brady, President of University College Dublin, and Dr John Hegarty, Provost of Trinity College Dublin, will also receive honorary doctorates.
 
The degrees will be awarded as follows:

LLD, Bertie Ahern TD, for distinction in public service

DLit, Professor Donald H Akenson, for distinction in History

DMedSc, Dr Chitra Bharucha, for services to medicine and for public service
  
LLD, Tony Blair, for distinction in public service

LLD, Dr Hugh Brady, for services to higher education

DMus, Professor John Chowning, for distinction as a composer and contributions to research in audio technology
  
LLD, Dr John J DeGioia, for services to higher education

DUniv, James Ellis, for services to the performing arts

DLit, Anne Enright, for distinction in literature

DSc, Professor Gerhard Ertl, for distinction in chemistry
  
DMedSc, Dr Frank Gannon, for distinction in medical science

LLD, Dr Chris Gibson, for services to the University and to business and commerce
  
DUniv, Reverend G Harold Good, for services to the community

DSc, (Econ) Frank Graham, for services to business and commerce

LLD, Dr John Hegarty, for services to higher education

DUniv, Daisaku Ikeda, for services to education and for public Service
  
DSc, Dame Carole Jordan, for distinction as a solar physicist and for services to astronomy
  
DUniv,  Joanna Lumley, for services to the performing arts

DSc, (Econ)  Harvey McGrath, for services to business and commerce

LLD, Lady McLaughlin, for services to the University and to the community
  
LLD, Rt Hon Brian Mawhinney, for distinction in public service

DSc, (Eng) Ray O’Rourke, for services to engineering and business and commerce
  
DSc, (Eng) David Perry, for distinction in computer game development and design
  
DUniv, Father Alec Reid,  for services to the community

DSSc, Professor Alison Richard, for distinction in social sciences and for services to higher education
  
DSc, (Eng) Dr Indira Samarasekera, for services to higher education and for distinction in mechanical engineering

DUniv, Professor Laurie Taylor, for contributions to the social sciences and for services to broadcasting

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk.

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Medics to benefit from E-Technology training
Queen's Deputy Director of Medical Education, Dr Kieran McGlade examines the new medical DVD for students
Queen's Deputy Director of Medical Education, Dr Kieran McGlade examines the new medical DVD for students

Medical students at Queen’s are to benefit from a new way of learning using E-Technology.

The third year students who are on placement across hospitals in Northern Ireland are now able to keep up with their studies via lectures produced on DVD.

Students have access to key learning resources at a time that fits in with shift work patterns and learning on the ward.

Entitled, Phase Three: Medical Curriculum,   the DVD contains 126 eLectures including 40 new lectures in microbiology, therapeutics, clinical chemistry and haematology. It also offers a range of supplementary learning materials such as multiple choice questions for self-assessment and case histories.

Dr Kieran Mc Glade, Deputy Director of Medical Education at Queen’s said: “With this DVD Queen’s has secured a lead in eLearning among medical schools. The new DVD is invaluable for third year medical students as they spend the majority of their time on placement. They no longer have to juggle attending lectures at Queen’s, with their work in hospitals across Northern Ireland.

“While on placement, we stress students must give priority to learning on the wards from direct patient contact, but this new DVD also enables them to access material on the issues they have encountered during their day-to-day work on the wards. We also encourage students to check on the website for live updates.”

Ryan Lavery, a third year student from Antrim said: “The new DVD has been really welcomed by my friends and I. It means I can look up lectures relating to topics I am covering that day on the ward and it allows me to go back and look over specific lectures, or parts within a lecture, at any time. It also frees up more time for me to study as I am not travelling back and forwards to lectures.”

Thirty five contributors were involved in the production of the DVD, including many from the NHS.  Dr Jackie James, Senior lecturer in Pathology was responsible for co-ordinating the Pathology lecture series of 85 lectures. Other lead contributors included Professor Mary Mc Mullin, Professor of Haematology; Dr Kathryn Ryan, and Professor Ian Young, Clinical Chemistry; Professor Denis Johnston, Therapeutics and Dr Conall Mc Caughey, Microbiology.

The lectures can also be downloaded onto an MP3 player and students can also link to other resources online and particular sites of use in their course.

Further information on studying Medicine at Queen’s can be found by visiting http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofMedicineandDentistry/

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 2576, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Feed the birds: Winter feeding makes for better breeding
Queen's birdfeeding study
Queen's birdfeeding study

Keep feeding the birds over winter: that’s the message from research by Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Exeter. Their study, published today in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, shows for the first time that extra food provided to garden birds in winter makes for a more successful breeding season in the following spring.

By providing some birds with extra food, such as peanuts, and leaving others to fend for themselves, the team was able to compare reproductive success between the two groups.

Those that were given extra food laid eggs earlier and, although the same number of chicks hatched, on average one more successfully fledged per clutch. Although it was well known that feeding birds during winter increases their survival this is the first time that the benefits to subsequent breeding have been shown.

Leading the research, Gillian Robb, from Queen’s University School of Biological Sciences, said: “Our study shows that birds that receive extra food over winter lay their eggs earlier and produce more fledglings.”

Dr Stuart Bearhop, from the University of Exeter, who supervised the research, said: “We show that extra food provided in winter helps the birds that take it, however, we are still unclear whether it has a knock-on effect on other species. Nevertheless, I will certainly be continuing to feed the birds in my garden for the rest of the winter.”

Dr Dan Chamberlain of the British Trust for Ornithology, a collaborator on the project, added: “These results demonstrate that feeding birds over winter can be vital to their breeding success. It is highly likely that the benefits of extra food continue year-round, so don’t just stock your bird feeders in winter if you want to do the best for the birds in your garden”.

Despite this, there is a continuing debate on whether we should feed birds during the spring, when natural food sources increase.

Further information from, Eugene Mc Cusker, Communications Office, Queen’s University, 028 9097 2576, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk 

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Queen's students join debate on terrorism and international security
Queen's University Professor Beverley Milton-Edwards at the security wall built by Israel in the West Bank town of Bethlehem
Queen's University Professor Beverley Milton-Edwards at the security wall built by Israel in the West Bank town of Bethlehem

Ten years on from the Good Friday Agreement, students at Queen’s University are examining terrorism and international security in the modern world, in a new Violence, Terrorism and Security Masters degree.

Following Northern Ireland’s transition from a society characterised by terrorist violence to a society experiencing peace and prosperity, local and international students are now coming to Queen’s to study violence, terrorism and international security.

Convener for the course, Professor Beverley Milton-Edwards from Queen’s said: “The issue of terrorism is now at the forefront of international politics and news agendas. The MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security at Queen’s is an exciting new course which allows students to explore the issues surrounding terrorism and violence in today’s society, and the challenges they present to international security.

“Queen’s is in a unique position to offer such a course as it is based in a community that has transformed itself after having experienced some of the worst terrorist atrocities ever seen in this part of the world. Staff in the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy include internationally renowned specialists in theories of violence, terrorism and security in Western Europe, the Middle East and around the Muslim world.

“The tragic events of 9/11 and the advent of the ongoing ‘war on terror’ have presented huge challenges to global security. With more and more people joining the debate on terrorism and violence and their effects on our society, Queen’s decided to offer this course to help equip students with a critical understanding of these important issues.”

Students undertaking the new MA can study a range of topics including violence, terrorism, international security, conflict management and globalisation. They will examine the experiences of such issues in Northern Ireland and around the world.

Professor Milton-Edwards added: “The MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security provides a perfect stepping stone to professions in a number of areas such as policy analysis, human rights, national and global security, advocacy and lobbying.  Having completed the course, students will also be well equipped to complete further research at PhD level.” 

Postgraduate student, Conor Browne, who has been studying the course since September, said: "This course is perfect for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of terrorism and security in the modern world. The topics covered in lectures are very relevant to the post 9/11 global situation.

“The School has a regular programme of lectures, events and conferences. The highlight for me was a talk by Baghdad-based New York Times journalist, Stephen Farrell, who described his experiences in Iraq. The course also serves as a perfect foundation for further research at PhD level, which is what I plan to do."

Queen’s is currently accepting applications from prospective students for September 2008, and all those enrolling on a full-time basis are eligible to apply for a funding bursary. Anyone who wants to find out more about the MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security should contact the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy on +44 (0)28 9097 5028 or email b.milton-edwards@qub.ac.uk

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk

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Study highlights factors influencing suicide risk in Northern Ireland

A new study by Queen’s University has shown differences in rates of suicide between areas in Northern Ireland are due to the types and characteristics of people living in each area and not down to differences between each location.

Led by Dr Dermot O’Reilly, the research indicated that once individual and household characteristics had been taken into account, the higher rates of suicide found in the more deprived and socially fragmented areas of Northern Ireland disappeared.

The findings, published in the February 2008 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, could mean a shift of emphasis in policy for those working in the field.

The research, which involved more than a million people in Northern Ireland is one of the largest long-term studies of suicide risk undertaken in the UK.

Its aim was to determine whether area factors are independently related to suicide risk, after taking into account individual and family/household characteristics. 

Dr O’Reilly said: “Research has confirmed that suicide risk is very strongly related to both individual and household characteristics such as age, gender, marital status and socio-economic circumstances.

“What has been less clear is whether the characteristics of the area in which you live represent an additional independent risk. The study shows that variation in suicide rates between areas in Northern Ireland is entirely explained by the differences in the characteristics of the people living in these areas. Where you live doesn’t add to that risk.”

In 2006 the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency linked the records of 1,116,748 people aged between 16-74, counted in the 2001 census, to deaths in the subsequent five years.

It was found that during this period, 566 deaths were registered as either suicide or of ‘undetermined intent’. 75.1% of deaths were of men; and 75.3% were of people aged under 55.

The report also highlighted the following key findings about suicide in Northern Ireland.

• Suicide is three times higher in men than women
• Suicide is three times higher in people under 55
• Living alone increases the risk by a third
• Unemployment or economic inactivity also greatly increase risk
• Risks lowest for those who are married or cohabiting, and higher for those who are single, widowed or divorced
• Higher rates of suicide in the more deprived areas disappear after adjustment for individual and household factors


For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 9097 5391, Mob 07980 013 362, a.clements@qub.ac.uk

Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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