06-2009 Press Releases

01/07/2009: Blue-tiful night out
25/06/2009: Government 'Not Doing Enough For Older People'? Research Report
23/06/2009: Queen's sets sights on global 100 University challenge
22/06/2009: Queen's hosts major autism conference
19/06/2009: New supplement may help slow sight loss in elderly
19/06/2009: Blue Plaque for Queen's academic and administrator
18/06/2009: Pupils perform Sharing Education Programme showcase
15/06/2009: 'Triple crown' for Queen's in University Boat Race
11/06/2009: River rivals gear up for university boat race
11/06/2009: Pantridge portrait to be unveiled by rugby legend
10/06/2009: Queen's honours India's 'People's President' QTV News Story
10/06/2009: Queen's scientist searches for life in the galaxy
09/06/2009: Shaken, Not Stirred - Bond Season at QFT
09/06/2009: Queen's scoops enterprise awards
09/06/2009: Queen's astronomers propose new supernovae interpretation
05/06/2009: Queen's to the rescue at Commonwealth Games
04/06/2009: Older people in Northern Ireland do not have appropriate access to legal advice
04/06/2009: One in four nursing home residents carries MRSA
02/06/2009: Children's rights under the spotlight at Queen's

£4m partnership aims to benefit local economy
Invest NI's Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, Tracy Meharg, ETRI Senior Vice President Dr Myung-Joon Kim and ECIT Director Professor John McCanny have announced details of a £4m data security deal.
Invest NI's Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, Tracy Meharg, ETRI Senior Vice President Dr Myung-Joon Kim and ECIT Director Professor John McCanny have announced details of a £4m data security deal.

Queen's University Belfast has announced details of a new £4 million deal with South Korea in the area of information and data security.

The agreement, which will be used to fund work in areas including network security, data security and intelligent video analysis, is between South Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) and Queen’s Institute of Electronics, Communications and Technology (ECIT), based in the Northern Ireland Science Park.

ETRI is South Korea’s largest government-funded ICT research centre and under the new partnership both ETRI and ECIT will contribute around £500,000 a year over four years, totalling £4 million.

In addition to collaborative research and development projects undertaken by staff at both institutions, other planned activities will include the exchange of information, publications and personnel.

ECIT Director Professor John McCanny said he is delighted the Invest Northern Ireland initiative has culminated in a formal partnership with a premier international research institute: “The agreement to collaborate with ETRI reflects the quality of our work here at ECIT in a number of key technology areas, all of which have major commercial potential.

“This is a very significant partnership which will ensure that the quality of our research continues to be of the highest international standard. It will provide opportunities to lever Korean financial investment and it will also allow us to share models for achieving technology transfer and commercialisation.”

Invest NI’s Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, Tracy Meharg added: “Northern Ireland’s universities have a world-renowned reputation for the high quality of their research capability. The signing of a memorandum of understanding between ECIT in Queen’s and ETRI of South Korea creates a platform to drive increased international collaboration and commercialisation of our research base for the benefit of the local economy.”

ETRI's Senior Vice President Dr Myung-Joon Kim said:  "The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding represents a major opportunity for collaboration between Queen's and ETRI.

“By combining the strengths of both institutions, it will bring about significant synergies that will ensure our collaborative leadership in Information Security Technology from research activities through to commercialisation.”

The new £4 million deal comes just months after it was announced that Queen’s is to become the United Kingdom’s lead centre for developing the technology to counter malicious ‘cyber-attacks’ after a £25 million funding boost.

The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) will create the security infrastructure needed to safeguard the trustworthiness of information stored electronically, both at home and in the workplace. Funding has been provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (£6.95m), the Technology Strategy Board (£2.5m), industry partners (£7m) and Queen’s (£8.8m).

Further information on ECIT can be found at www.ecit.qub.ac.uk while information on ETRI can be found at www.etri.re.kr/eng

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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£4m partnership aims to benefit local economy
Invest NI's Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, Tracy Meharg, ETRI Senior Vice President Dr Myung-Joon Kim and ECIT Director Professor John McCanny have announced details of a £4m data security deal.
Invest NI's Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, Tracy Meharg, ETRI Senior Vice President Dr Myung-Joon Kim and ECIT Director Professor John McCanny have announced details of a £4m data security deal.

Queen's University Belfast has announced details of a new £4 million deal with South Korea in the area of information and data security.

The agreement, which will be used to fund work in areas including network security, data security and intelligent video analysis, is between South Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) and Queen’s Institute of Electronics, Communications and Technology (ECIT), based in the Northern Ireland Science Park.

ETRI is South Korea’s largest government-funded ICT research centre and under the new partnership both ETRI and ECIT will contribute around £500,000 a year over four years, totalling £4 million.

In addition to collaborative research and development projects undertaken by staff at both institutions, other planned activities will include the exchange of information, publications and personnel.

ECIT Director Professor John McCanny said he is delighted the Invest Northern Ireland initiative has culminated in a formal partnership with a premier international research institute: “The agreement to collaborate with ETRI reflects the quality of our work here at ECIT in a number of key technology areas, all of which have major commercial potential.

“This is a very significant partnership which will ensure that the quality of our research continues to be of the highest international standard. It will provide opportunities to lever Korean financial investment and it will also allow us to share models for achieving technology transfer and commercialisation.”

Invest NI’s Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, Tracy Meharg added: “Northern Ireland’s universities have a world-renowned reputation for the high quality of their research capability. The signing of a memorandum of understanding between ECIT in Queen’s and ETRI of South Korea creates a platform to drive increased international collaboration and commercialisation of our research base for the benefit of the local economy.”

ETRI's Senior Vice President Dr Myung-Joon Kim said:  "The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding represents a major opportunity for collaboration between Queen's and ETRI.

“By combining the strengths of both institutions, it will bring about significant synergies that will ensure our collaborative leadership in Information Security Technology from research activities through to commercialisation.”

The new £4 million deal comes just months after it was announced that Queen’s is to become the United Kingdom’s lead centre for developing the technology to counter malicious ‘cyber-attacks’ after a £25 million funding boost.

The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) will create the security infrastructure needed to safeguard the trustworthiness of information stored electronically, both at home and in the workplace. Funding has been provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (£6.95m), the Technology Strategy Board (£2.5m), industry partners (£7m) and Queen’s (£8.8m).

Further information on ECIT can be found at www.ecit.qub.ac.uk while information on ETRI can be found at www.etri.re.kr/eng

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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Queen's study confirms teenagers are experimenting with cocaine
Some teenagers in Northern Ireland have taken cocaine at least once before the age of 16, according to a new Queen's report

A study by Queen’s University Belfast has confirmed that some Northern Ireland teenagers are experimenting with cocaine.

Research conducted by the Institute of Child Care Research at Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work has found that 7.5% of young people who took part in the Belfast Youth Development Survey had tried cocaine at least once by the age of 16.

The survey involves 4,000 teenagers in 43 schools in Northern Ireland, who have taken part in the study each year since entering post-primary education. Funded by the Health and Social Care Research and Development, Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland, it is one of the largest schools-based surveys of its kind in the UK or Ireland.

Dr Patrick McCrystal, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute or Child Care Research, said: "A small number of those who took part in the survey told us they had tried cocaine at least once. Of those who had taken cocaine, only one in ten used it on a weekly basis. This indicates that while some teenagers have experimented with the drug, few continue to use it regularly.

“While cocaine has only recently emerged on to the Northern Ireland drug scene, this study suggests that it may be making its way into the adolescent drug scene quite quickly. It also indicates that the profile of cocaine users may be changing.

“In the 1990’s the typical cocaine user was single, in their twenties, well-educated, and in a well-paid professional job. In this study, however, more than half of those who had experimented with the drug were females, and one third had experienced social deprivation. They were more likely to live within a disrupted family with just one parent, have poor levels of communication with parents or guardians, and have low levels of motivation to do well at school. Most of those who had taken cocaine also regularly got drunk, smoked tobacco daily, and used cannabis on a weekly basis. Two thirds had also used inhalants.

“This study shows that young people are able to get hold of cocaine for their own personal use. Older friends were the most popular source for obtaining the drug, followed by a dealer and friends of the same age. When we began this study, outside in the street or at a party were the most popular places for taking cocaine. By the end of the study period the most common place was at a friend’s house, where just under half of those who had taken cocaine reported doing so.

“These findings highlight the need to educate young people about the risks and health and social implications of cocaine use while they are still in compulsory education and under the age of 16. Children and young people must be empowered to refuse an offer of drugs. If and when the opportunity to experiment with cocaine presents itself, they must be well-equipped with the knowledge to make informed decisions on drug use.

“The study also highlights the need for a well-planned strategy to monitor trends of illicit drug use among young people, to help inform policy to deal with its impact. If the age of first use of cocaine is becoming younger, or the levels of cocaine use are increasing, the number of users who are likely to develop problems and place demands on drug treatment centres will increase in the future. This is something that health, social care, and education policy makers should take note of."

Dr McCrystal’s research paper, A Profile of Adolescent Cocaine Use in Northern Ireland, has been published in The International Journal of Drug Policy (Volume 20, Issue 4, July 2009) and can be found online at www.elsevier.com

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk , 07814 415 451.


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Local politicians quizzed by American law students
L-R Professor Colin Harvey, Head of Queen's University School of Law, Professor William Treanor, Dean of Fordham University School of Law, Queen's University Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie, The Hon Mr Justice Declan Morgan, incoming Lord Chief Justice, and The Hon Mr Justice Donnell Deeny, Judge in Residence, Queen's University Law School.
L-R Professor Colin Harvey, Head of Queen's University School of Law, Professor William Treanor, Dean of Fordham University School of Law, Queen's University Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie, The Hon Mr Justice Declan Morgan, incoming Lord Chief Justice, and The Hon Mr Justice Donnell Deeny, Judge in Residence, Queen's University Law School.

Students from one of America's leading law schools have quizzed local politicians about governing in a post-conflict society, the education system, and inequality in Northern Ireland during a special meeting at Stormont.

Over 50 students and staff from Fordham Law School in New York are on a two-week summer school visit to Queen’s University Belfast, before moving on to University College Dublin (UCD).

Last week (Thursday 25 June) they attended a special reception at Queen’s where they were welcomed by Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie, Head of Queen’s School of Law, Professor Colin Harvey, and the future Lord Chief Justice for Northern Ireland, Sir Declan Morgan.

The evening brought together leaders in the legal community, including justices of the High Court and public officials such as the Chief Executive of the Equality Commission, Evelyn Collins.

Professor Colin Harvey, Head of Queen’s School of Law, said: "I am delighted to welcome the academics and students from Fordham Law School on their ninth annual visit to Queen’s.

“The politicians’ panel at Stormont provided them with the opportunity to question MLAs about the democratic arrangements here and how they are working in practice.  Parliament Buildings is a perfect setting for the event. The success of this part of the programme depends on the co-operation of our local politicians and their support is much appreciated by the School of Law.

“During their visit to Queen’s, Fordham students are learning about Northern Ireland’s experience in conflict resolution, and study subjects such as human rights law, alternative dispute resolution, and technology and human rights. This is an excellent opportunity for them to gain a unique insight into the rule of law in a post-conflict society and we are pleased to be able to share our expertise and experience with them.

“Like Queen’s, Fordham Law School has been educating some of the brightest legal minds for over a century. Fordham is a leading force in legal education in the United States, and I hope that the close relationship with Queen’s will continue into the future."

Professor Bill Treanor, Dean of Fordham Law School, said: "This is the ninth year of the programme, which since its inception in 2001 has sent almost 400 students to Queen’s, many of whom will become leaders of the American bar and business.  Queen’s University and UCD are two of the most prominent law schools in the UK and Ireland, and indeed Europe.

"This summer school is an excellent opportunity for our students to experience life in the new Northern Ireland and interact with internationally renowned academics, local legal professionals and politicians. This is an ideal environment for Fordham students to learn from Northern Ireland’s experience of conflict resolution."

For more information on Queen’s School of Law please visit www.law.qub.ac.uk 

For more information on Fordham Law School please visit www.fordham.edu 

For further information please contact: Emma Blee, Press & PR Unit, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 2576, press.office@qub.ac.uk

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Unique achievement for Queen's astrophysicists

Scientists at Queen's have achieved the rare honour of having four papers published in esteemed journals Science and Nature in the short space of three months.

The highly specialised publications are considered to be two of the most difficult journals to have research published in and acceptance rates are often as low as ten per cent.

Professor Tom Millar, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Queen's said: “To make a scientific discovery that is important enough and has broad enough implications to justify submission to Science or Nature is rare.

"To have four papers published in three months is quite spectacular. But you don’t achieve this only by good fortune, there is months of hard work in making such findings.”

In March, a team led by Professor Mihalis Mathioudakis and Dr David Jess detected giant twisting waves near the surface of the Sun and the discovery was published in respected journal Science.

During the same month, Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, Dr Henry Hsieh and postgraduate student Sam Duddy published a letter to Nature reporting the first detailed observations of an asteroid in space that had collided with Earth.

In April Professor Stephen Smartt and Dr Justyn Maund of the University of Copenhagen confirmed the type of stars that explode as supernovae and the report was published in Science.

Another supernovae discovery by Professor Smartt’s team has since been accepted by Nature. The report highlights a strange explosion that defies current thought and may challenge accepted ideas of some physical explosion mechanisms.

All of the scientists work in Queen's Astrophysics Research Centre. More information on the work of the centre can be found by visiting http://star.pst.qub.ac.uk/

For further information please contact: Emma Blee, Press & PR Unit, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 2576, press.office@qub.ac.uk

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Government 'Not Doing Enough For Older People'– Research Report

Three out of four people  (76%) surveyed in Northern Ireland feel that the Government is not doing enough for older people, according to the a new report from the 2008 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey of 1200 adults  published today.
Among the other headline findings from the survey are: 

  • Almost one in three people (31per cent) surveyed believes that a friend or family member was treated with less dignity and respect by people in the health and social care professions because of their age.
  • Four out of five people (81per cent) surveyed agreed with the statement that “What older people need is an independent body outside government that champions the needs and rights of older people”.
  • Over half the people surveyed (55 per cent) said that older people were not adequately represented by Northern Ireland’s politicians.

The Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey is run by ARK, a joint research initiative between Queen’s and the University of Ulster.

Paula Devine, Coordinator of the Life and Times Survey, based in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s, said: “Growing older is something that affects us all, at a personal, family and policy level.  It is important, therefore, to have research that highlights how things have changed, or not, in our society over the past five years. 

“The Life and Times survey results will provide evidence for those involved in developing policies affecting older people, such as employment practice or the provision of health care.”

Researcher Ann Marie Gray, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Ulster said:  “The survey of attitudes to age and ageing in Northern Ireland shows a mixed picture.  While the population as a whole feel that things may be slightly better for older people, there is a growing sense that institutions and professions discriminate against older people.

“But it is not all bad news. There is some indication that the perception of how older people are treated has changed in the past five years since the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey last looked at this topic.

“Since 2003 there has been a fall of 9% in the number of those who feel that older people are treated with less respect because of their age with 27% of the population now thinking this is the case.

“Interestingly, it is older people themselves who are most likely to think that things have changed for the better in terms of how they are treated generally.”

However, other findings from the survey paint a more pessimistic picture, said Dr Gray.

“There is a stronger perception of instances of discrimination across all of the areas surveyed than there was in 2003. 

“Topping the list of where people feel that friends or family members have been treated with less dignity and respect is health and social care professionals, with nearly a third of people saying that this was the case.  But it is in employment practices where people feel discrimination against older people has increased most since 2003 with 1 in 5 people believing that a family member or friend had been treated badly by an employer because of their age.   

“What is striking in these findings about unfairness against older people is the clear disparity between the views of people aged under 65 and those who are older. The proportion of older people reporting these “problems remains small compared to the numbers of those in the younger age groups and especially 44-59 year olds, the ‘angry generation’, who are the group most likely to perceive discrimination and inequality.”

Dr Gray said: “It is possible that some of the increase in unfairness and discrimination against older people may be due to greater awareness of ageism and more sensitivity to the issues.  That society seems to have more positive views about how older people are respected and treated generally is a welcome development but clearly much remains to be done. 

“The strong view that older people have not been adequately represented also poses significant challenges for policy makers and politicians in Northern Ireland.”

The Atlantic Philanthropies funded the NILT research on age and ageing.
These, and other results from the 2008 Northern Ireland Life Times Survey, can be found at www.ark.ac.uk

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Queen's sets sights on global 100 University challenge
Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson
Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson
Queen's University today set itself the challenge of becoming a global top 100 university over the next five years.

Launching its 2009 Academic Plan, Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: “Queen’s has established itself as one of the UK’s 20 leading research-intensive universities; our teaching is recognised as outstanding, and we have built one of the finest campuses of any UK institution. We can’t stop there.

“We have an obligation to build on those foundations for the sake of our staff, students and the community we serve.

“The Programme for Government has set the economy centre stage in Northern Ireland and acknowledges the vital contribution of Queen’s to its delivery. We have some of the finest graduates in the world and one of the most impressive records in creating companies and jobs from our research activity.

“We believe that Northern Ireland needs to be internationally competitive and Queen’s has an important role to play.”

Speaking after the Academic Plan was endorsed by the University’s governing body, the Vice-Chancellor said: “The countries which perform best economically are those which invest most in higher education and which lead the world in teaching which is informed by the most up-to-date research.

“The 2009 Academic Plan builds on the independent 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, identifying those areas where we can compete globally. To deliver our potential, we need to have the right people, doing the right things; that’s what this plan is about.

“All 20 of our academic Schools have been involved in putting this plan together, and together we have identified where we need to invest. Balancing competing priorities is difficult, and we have faced hard choices. But the process has been thorough.”

He said the plan was designed to be cost neutral, with investment in priority areas being resourced through savings elsewhere. The realignment of resources within some academic Schools will ensure teaching and learning are high quality, cost effective and sustainable.

To make this possible, Senate has approved the introduction of a voluntary severance package which will be offered to 103 staff. The scheme had been put together following discussions with the trades unions. He said: “Money released will be reinvested in jobs which are more closely aligned to the University’s current academic needs.”

Professor Gregson said the University had to be responsive to the needs of its stakeholders, including prospective students. “This requires some changes in staffing levels across the University, and a managed moratorium and an enhanced voluntary severance scheme will be used to facilitate the necessary changes.”

Addressing specific changes, the Vice-Chancellor said: “Although we will no longer be offering a joint honours degree in German, Queen’s students who wish to learn the language will be able to do so in our state-of-the-art Language Centre in the new Library at Queen’s.

“In other areas - Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology; Politics International Studies and Philosophy; Electronic, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics - we will be refocusing our activities and introducing new programmes which meet current and future student demand.”

Over the course of the plan a number of major initiatives will be launched. These include the development of a multi-million pound Executive Education Centre in Belfast enhancing continuous professional development provision and making a direct impact on the development of core skills in the Northern Ireland economy, and the establishment of a Junior Academy of Music building on the international reputation of the University’s School of Music and Sonic Arts. The School of English is developing a Masters degree in Practice and Applied Broadcast Journalism delivered through a collaborative partnership with the BBC.

A wide range of new undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are also being launched, including a new degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics; the provision of 10 MA bursaries in Legislative Studies and Practice, in association with the Northern Ireland Assembly; new programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level in Education; and substantial increases to the postgraduate intake in Psychology.

There will also be further investment in drug research, harnessing the capabilities of Chemistry, Pharmacy, Biological Sciences, and Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences.

Professor Gregson said: “These initiatives, along with the opening in September of our world-leading new library, demonstrate the commitment Queen’s has to delivery at the highest level.

“We are delivering a £300 million capital programme which is transforming the campus. We could not achieve this without rigorous academic planning and prudent management of our resources.

“When I see what we have accomplished over the past decade, I know there is no limit to what we can achieve over this next one. But to do so, we must use our resources wisely - particularly given the current economic climate and the pressures on public finances over the coming years.”

Professor Gregson said: “This journey will provide Northern Ireland with a world-class University that underpins economic, social and cultural growth within the region.”

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

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Queen's hosts major autism conference

The importance of early treatment and education for people with autism will be the focus of a conference this week (Friday 26 and Saturday 27 June 2009).

Queen’s University, in collaboration with charity Parents' Education as Autism Therapists (PEAT) and the University of Ulster, will host the fourth Facing Autism Ireland Conference at the Europa Hotel in Belfast.

The conference Effectively Educating for Life will explore the importance of early diagnosis, intervention, and effective education for children with autism, and how it should continue across different age spans.

Dr Karola Dillenburger, from the School of Education at Queen’s, said: "An estimated 15,000 people in Northern Ireland have Autism Spectrum Disorder. This includes approximately 3,000 school-age children. It is thought that more than 300 children born every year will later be diagnosed with the condition. The provision of evidence-based treatment for these children, however, is severely lacking.

“The key to effective treatment for those with autism is to diagnose the condition as early as possible and provide treatment based on Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). For the past four decades, ABA has provided a framework for effective treatment across the world, yet it is not routinely available in Northern Ireland.

“ABA analyses the behaviour of autistic children and adults, so that intervention treatments can be tailored to their individual needs. Through ABA, the decision-making strategies that are inherent in the science of behaviour can help break down the barriers that isolate those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder from the rest of the world, and allow them reach their full potential.

"We are proud to host this important event at a time that has seen many changes in the awareness and treatment of autism. The conference aims to highlight the challenges faced by those with autism, their parents and carers, and the importance of early intervention and lifelong education.

“Parents and families of those diagnosed with autism, teachers, health professionals, social workers, speech and language therapists and anyone who works with children or adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder will benefit from this event. To find out more visit www.peatni.org"

Helen Byrne, a mother of two boys with autism, said: "It is fantastic that the top people in ABA and autism are coming to Northern Ireland. It is important for parents and carers to be educated about interventions so they can make an informed choice to help their children. My boys have benefited so much from ABA."

Dr Mickey Keenan, from the University of Ulster, welcomed the conference saying: "Parents and professionals will have an opportunity to learn why the American Academy of Pediatrics has lauded the effectiveness of ABA based interventions."

Many of the finest minds in ABA and autism will speak at the conference, including Professor Gina Green from San Diego, who was awarded an honorary doctorate from Queen’s in 2005; Professor Bobby Newman from New York, who helped set up the first ABA programmes in Northern Ireland; Dr Bill Ahearn, Director of Research at the New England Centre in Boston; Dr Karen Wagner from Florida; and Dr Neil Martin from TreeHouse Trust in London.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk , 07814 415 451.

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New supplement may help slow sight loss in elderly
Usha Chakravarthy
Usha Chakravarthy

Queen's University Belfast academics have helped develop an antioxidant supplement which may slow down sight loss in elderly people.

The supplement may help those affected by the leading cause of blindness in the Western World, a five-year research programme has found.

Professor Usha Chakravarthy, from Queen’s Centre of Vision and Vascular Science (CVVS), co-ordinated the study, which looked at nutritional supplements for patients with early age-related macular (AMD) degeneration and found they helped sharpen vision.

Details of the findings are being presented in Belfast today (Friday) by Professor Chakravarthy and Dr Stephen Beatty, Head of Vision Research at Waterford Institute of Technology.

They co-designed the study and the antioxidant supplement was developed with the advice of Professor Ian Young from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s and scientists in eyecare companies Dr Mann Pharma and Bausch and Lomb.

AMD is an incurable eye disease which causes blurring of central vision because of its effects on the macula, the central part of the retina.

Over 400 people across Ireland took part in clinical trials investigating whether carotenoids, rich antioxidants which are found in fruit and vegetables, could prevent progression to the more serious late AMD.

When the eye disease progresses to late AMD patients are unable to read, watch television or recognise people’s faces as they only have peripheral vision, not central vision.

Professor Chakravarthy, who is also a consultant ophthalmic surgeon at the Royal Hospital in Belfast, said: “Late AMD causes severe sight loss and has a huge economic impact both in terms of the effects of sight loss itself and in terms of the expensive treatments that are needed to deal with the condition.
  
“Up to 500 people a year in Northern Ireland will lose sight in one or both eyes as a result of late AMD.

 “We wanted to carry out the study as prevention of progression to late AMD can result in a reduced financial and societal burden.”

 As the macula of the eye is very rich in antioxidants the researchers wanted to see if a supplement called CARMA (Caroteneoids and Co-antioxidants in Age-related Maculopathy) containing the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin could help slow down AMD. 

The supplement also contained vitamins C, E and Zinc, which had been used in a previous study.

The latest study showed that intake of high levels of both carotenoids preserved the macular pigments, slowing down the progression from early AMD to late AMD. In contrast, the macular pigments of participants in a placebo group declined steadily.

Dr Chakravarthy added: “These findings are important because this is the first randomised controlled clinical trial to document a beneficial effect through improved function and maintained macular pigments.

“Further research is needed to confirm these findings and to identify the numbers needed to treat to prevent 1 case from progressing from early to late AMD.”
The study was funded by Dr Mann Pharma and Bausch and Lomb and sponsored by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

For more information on CVVC go to http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentreforVisionandVascularScience/

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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Blue Plaque for Queen's academic and administrator

An Ulster History Circle plaque in memory of one of Queen's most influential administrators has been unveiled at the University.

The plaque commemorates R M (Robert Mitchell) Henry, Professor of Latin at Queen’s for 30 years, and Secretary of Academic Council from 1909 until 1936.

As an administrator R M Henry dominated almost every field of university life, especially constitutional development. In 1929 he presented the University with 1,000 volumes relating to Ireland which he augmented regularly until 1939. He was one of the founders of the Ulster Society for Irish Historical Studies and of the journal, Irish Historical Studies.

A former President of both the Classical Association of Ireland and the Classical Association of Northern Ireland, he was a strong advocate of adult education. From 1919 to 1938 he served as chairman of the Belfast (later Northern Ireland) branch of the Workers' Educational Association. As a result of his efforts Queen's Senate created the new post of lecturer and director of extra-mural studies in 1928.

He was an elder brother of the artist, Paul Henry, who is also commemorated by a blue plaque at Queen’s.

The R M Henry plaque, supported by Belfast City Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund, was unveiled by William Humphrey, Chairman of Belfast City Council’s Development Committee.

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Pupils perform Sharing Education Programme showcase

Pupils from three local schools will stage a unique drama performance tonight (Thursday 18 June) to showcase the positive impact of the Sharing Education Programme (SEP).

Created in 2007 to encourage schools to make inter-community collaboration an integral part of their everyday life, 3,500 school pupils in Northern Ireland have benefited from the £3.7m project. The programme is funded by the International Fund for Ireland and Atlantic Philanthropies and administered by Queen’s.

Tonight, pupils from St Louise’s Specialist Comprehensive College in Belfast will perform with pupils from Victoria College, Belfast and Ballyclare High School at the Youth Action venue in Belfast. 

Both of tonight’s performances have been written and produced by pupils studying for a GCSE in Drama. The performance addresses issues facing teenagers in Northern Ireland today, as well as looking at how society has changed in recent years. The pupils used this experience as a way to express their feelings about culture, community and reconciliation, while also having the opportunity to develop friendships with people they would not have met otherwise.

Speaking ahead of the performances, Professor Tony Gallagher, Head of the School of Education at Queen’s said: "Within the Sharing Education Programme our short term goals were to provide teachers and pupils with opportunities to engage with different traditions and learning cultures and to share access to academic excellence.

“Tonight at Youth Action, we will see performances which are tangible evidence of the positive impact Sharing Education is already having, thanks to the hard work of pupils, teachers and the support of parents.

“Long term, we will have created enhanced educational and personal development opportunities for everyone involved. In addition to the fostering of reconciliation and partnership, pupils are also having access to educational excellence, something of vital importance for their future and that of the wider community in Northern Ireland."

Ita McVeigh, Project Leader for Specialism in Performing Arts at St Louise’s said: "In feedback we have received, pupils are telling us of how they have made many new friendships with other young people with whom they would otherwise have little or no contact.

“We are a society still coming to terms with years of living apart but through the resources provided by SEP and the energies and commitment of our young people and their teachers, we have begun the journey towards creating new links through educational partnerships. Our pupils, in this exciting collaboration, now have increased opportunities to play their role in developing a more stable society for all of us and of course enjoy their learning along the way."

Further information on SEP can be found at www.schoolsworkingtogether.co.uk

For further information please contact: Emma Blee, Press & PR Unit, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 2576, press.office@qub.ac.uk

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Northern Ireland Graduate Recruitment Fair

Northern Ireland's annual Graduate Recruitment Fair, which offers the chance for graduating students to learn about job opportunities, training or postgraduate options, will take place at Queen’s tomorrow (Tuesday).

Organised jointly by the careers services of Queen’s University and the University of Ulster, this event is open to new and recent graduates from any UK or Irish university. 

Companies attending the Recruitment Fair represent a wide spectrum of recruiters. UK Government departments such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Northern Ireland Civil Service will be there, alongside international organisations such as the Public Works Authority from Qatar.

National recruiters include Deloitte UK and the BBC while a number of local employers will also be taking part. These include Almac, Randox and Warner Chilcott, which all represent Northern Ireland’s growing medical sector.

IT and financial services employers are also to the fore with international companies Fujitsu and SAP, and local firms Audio Processing Technology and First Derivatives attending.

For graduates considering further study, representatives from Queen’s University, the University of Ulster and the Open University will be available to discuss postgraduate study options. Edgehill College and NUI Galway are also attending the event.

Many graduates enter employment via graduate training programmes such as E2 and Intro, organised with local employers by Parity Solutions. Other training providers offering a route to employment will include Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and the cross-border Fusion programme.

The demand for graduates represented at the Fair encompasses a wide range of degree disciplines from Architecture and Civil Engineering through to Physics. As well as employers recruiting from specific degree backgrounds, many of the organisations attending are open to applications from graduates of any discipline. For full details of all the opportunities available look at www.nigradfair.org.


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'Triple crown' for Queen's in University Boat Race QTV News Story
Queen's Senior Women's VIII with Professor Peter Gregson
Queen's Senior Women's VIII with Professor Peter Gregson
Queen's Senior Men's VIII with Professor Peter Gregson
Queen's Senior Men's VIII with Professor Peter Gregson

 

Queen's has secured both Senior titles and the Novice Men's title at the 6th annual University Boat Race.

Queen's Men's Senior VIII crew won by a distance, after a six minute delay by Trinity at the beginning of the race saw the Liffeysiders penalised with a false start. Queen’s led comfortably throughout the race, and it was a lead which increased towards the finishing line as the Trinity boat clipped the tricky bend at Governor’s Bridge.

A similar fate befell Trinity’s Senior Women’s crew. Only marginally ahead for most of the 2,112 metre course, Queen’s began to pull clear as Governor’s approached. Then a run-in with the inside of the bridge cost Trinity dearly and Queen’s increased the gap between the two crews to win by a length and three quarters.

In the Men’s Novice, Queen’s rowed a strong race to win by a distance. Trinity’s Women’s Novice crew won their race by one and a half lengths.

Mark Fangen-Hall, Queen’s new rowing coach, who has also worked with Cambridge said: “I am delighted with the victories here today and it’s a testament to all the hard work and dedication of our crews that they won.  In our Senior crews, both sets of rowers have adapted to a really intensive fitness and training regime but all the 6am starts seven days a week have now been rewarded.”

The event was sponsored by the Department for Social Development and supported by Belfast City Council, Queen’s Sport and Lady Victoria Boat Club.

Further information from Lisa Mitchell, Press and PR Unit. Tel: 028 9097 5384 or email lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk

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River rivals gear up for university boat race QTV News Story
Queen's female cox Nikue Assarpour (L) and captain of the Queen's ladies senior crew Katie Leonard (R) getting ready for the boat race on Saturday where they will race against Trinity College Dublin
Queen's female cox Nikue Assarpour (L) and captain of the Queen's ladies senior crew Katie Leonard (R) getting ready for the boat race on Saturday where they will race against Trinity College Dublin

 

It will be war on the water this Saturday (13 June) as Queen’s University prepare to take on Trinity College Dublin in the sixth annual University boat race.

The 2,112 metre event along the River Lagan, modelled on the Oxford and Cambridge race, has become a firm fixture on the Northern Ireland sporting calendar. The first of four races begins at 1.45pm and finishes with the men’s senior eight at 4pm.

This year, Queen’s Senior men’s crew will be taking on last year’s winners Trinity with an invite to take part in the European University Championships in their pocket. The coveted invite was secured after numerous wins throughout the season, a fact attributable in no small way to the recent appointment of full-time rowing coach Mark Fangen-Hall by Queen’s Sport, supported by Lady Victoria Boat Club.

Speaking ahead of the race, Fangen-Hall, who guided Cambridge University towards victory in 2001 and 2005 said: “I am confident that each race will be rowed to the limit and four great races are on the cards.”

Fangen-Hall also added that despite previous success, the race between Queen’s and Trinity will be tense: “We are looking forward to the race this weekend and are well prepared. Whilst we enjoyed some early success against Trinity they have made some significant improvements so we are very aware of the threat they offer. The history of the event favours Trinity, so for that fact alone we are the underdogs.”

Successes for Queen’s Rowing this year have included victories for the men’s novice crew against Oxford University, Oxford Brookes University and the University of West England. They also grabbed the British University Rowing Champions title.

In the same month Queen’s Rowing also established itself as a recognised rowing university, alongside Oxford and Oxford Brookes, after being commended by the Umpire Committee as a “thoroughly professional outfit and a credit to their University”.

The Queen’s crew also beat UCD and Trinity in May when they competed in the final of the Irish University Championships to grab the title and help secure the Wylie Cup- presented to the University with the most wins in the Eights events.

The Lagan and Earn Head titles have also made their way back to Queen’s Boathouse this year and Queen’s was crowned fastest Irish and international crew at London’s famous head of the river and Neptune Regatta. The senior crew were also invited to train and race against the Cambridge University ahead of the Boat Race in April.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Naomi Long, says she is delighted to add her support to the teams competing in this weekend's boat race.

"It is wonderful to see the use of the River Lagan to demonstrate the vibrancy and diversity of what Belfast has to offer," she said.

"The river runs through the heart of our city and it is wonderful to see it used for events such as this which bring students, their families, supporters and various communities together". 

Viewing points are available along the River Lagan. The course runs from McConnell Weir to Queen’s Boat House, situated between Governor's Bridge and Cutter's Wharf on Lockview Road.

This year’s captains are Emma Burton, Captain, Trinity Senior Ladies from Dun Laoghaire; Peter Croke from Kinsale, Captain Trinity Senior Men; Nathan Oliver, Captain Queen's Senior Men from Armagh and Emma Burton, Captain Queen's Senior Ladies, from Letterkenny.

The event is supported by Queen’s University Belfast and the Department of Social Development.

The race takes place at the River Lagan on Saturday June 13 between 1.45pm and 4pm.

For media enquiries please contact Lisa Mitchell, Press and PR Unit. Tel: 028 9097 5384, m 0781 44 22 572 or email Lisa.Mitchell@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's honours India's 'People's President'
Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

 

Queen's University will today honour the former President of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, at a special ceremony in the University.

During his visit to Queen's, the internationally-renowned space scientist will be awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws for distinction in public service.

The event is the latest development in Queen’s ever-strengthening connections with India, with which the University has recently forged several dynamic academic partnerships.
 
Dr Kalam was President of India from 2002 to 2007. He is considered among the greatest holders of this office, topping a poll conducted by news channel CNN-IBN for India's Best President. During his term of office, he led the country’s continuing emergence as a developed nation and developed policies for sustained economic growth.

A former Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, Dr Kalam is also an award-winning aerospace engineer who played a leading role in many of India’s most recent technological breakthroughs, including the landing of India's first unmanned lunar spacecraft in November last year.

In 2007 he was awarded the prestigious King Charles II medal of the Royal Society and in April this year, he became the first Asian to receive the Hoover Medal, America's top engineering prize, for his outstanding contribution to public service.

Dr Kalam is also a gifted poet and writer, and has authored a number of inspirational books, including his autobiography, ‘Wings of Fire’, which is a household name in India and has been published in many languages, including English.

Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: “Through Dr Kalam’s outstanding abilities as a world statesman, scientist, educator and visionary, he has inspired millions in his native India and around the world.

“It is a significant honour for Queen’s to host this visit from the former leader of one of the world’s most thriving and exciting countries. A number of distinguished Indian institutions hold a special place within the Queen’s family of academic partners and Dr Kalam’s visit is a tangible example of the educational, research, business and cultural links between India and Northern Ireland.”

Sir Reg Empey, Minister for Employment and Learning, said: “The conferment of an honorary degree on Dr Abdul Kalam, a pre-eminent scientist and a widely respected former President, reflects the breadth and depth of the collaborations between Queen’s University and India. My Department strongly supports the collaborations being forged in seeking to further strengthen the vital bridge between India and Northern Ireland.”
Queen’s links with India include student exchanges between the School of English and Hyderabad University under the Prime Ministers Initiative and a research partnership with the National Institute of Immunology, Delhi which focuses on cancer biology and is supported by the Ministry of Biotechnology.

A joint international conference in New Delhi in 2007 was opened by the Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey. And the second conference in this series will be held at Queen’s in September this year.

Last year Queen’s opened the East India Water Research Centre in partnership with Bengal Engineering and Science University and India’s Institute of Environmental Management and Studies.

Queen’s has produced the world’s first low-cost technology to provide arsenic-free water to people in India and has been selected by the British Council to provide groundwater management training in regions polluted by arsenic.

As part of its Centenary celebrations last year, the University launched its Queen’s-India Lecture Series, co-ordinated by Dr Satish Kumar and supported by Lord Diljit Rana, to bring internationally renowned Indian scholars to Belfast. Dr Kalam will deliver the latest lecture in this series following the conferment of his honorary degree.

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

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Pantridge portrait to be unveiled by rugby legend
Professor Frank Pantridge
Professor Frank Pantridge

A portrait in memory of one of Queen’s most famous graduates, Professor Frank Pantridge, who developed the portable defibrillator, will be unveiled today (Thursday) at the University.

Former prisoner of war and Military Cross winner Professor Pantridge, who died in 2004, is credited with revolutionising cardiology around the world by introducing mobile coronary care.

The portrait will be unveiled by rugby legend and Queen’s graduate Dr Jack Kyle who was a friend and colleague of Professor Pantridge.

Cardiologists from around the world and members of the Frank Pantridge Portrait Fund, who secured almost 300 donations for the portrait from across the world, will join some of Professor Pantridge’s family for the event in the Canada Room at Queen’s.

The three quarter length oil on canvas portrait has been painted by Belfast-based artist Martin Wedge, a winner in the first Davy Irish Portrait awards last year.

Dr Jack Kyle said he had first met Professor Pantridge, who held a Personal Chair in Cardiology at Queen’s, as a young medical student and had come to know him well.

He said: “We stayed in touch throughout the years and I was proud to call him a friend.  I am delighted to be unveiling the portrait of such a great man with an outstanding reputation in the international field of Cardiology which opened up so many avenues in diagnosis and treatment.

“How many people can claim to have invented something that has the potential to save the life of every person in the world today?”

Funding for the artwork has been raised by the Frank Pantridge Portrait Committee. Its chair, Professor John Morison, said: “We are delighted with the portrait which commemorates Professor Pantridge’s achievements and makes a fine addition to the pieces in the Great Hall.

“Thanks to generous donations from across the world we exceeded our target for the portrait and have been able to donate money to cardiac research.”

The unveiling of the portrait takes place during a three day symposium at Queen’s running from Wednesday to Friday entitled Frank Pantridge’s Legacy.

As well as honouring him, it will review the Cardiovascular Disease Research Programme run by Queen’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, over the past 30 years.

Professor Pantridge influenced some of the early studies carried out by the department which led to a programme of research into the causes of heart disease.
 
The symposium will bring together around 60 experts from across Europe and beyond and aims to discuss past and present research and speculate on future research directions.

It includes two Memorial Lectures by Professor Desmond Julian, who will review Professor Pantridge’s legacy from a European Perspective, and Professor Richard Crampton, who was first to adopt his concepts in America.

Professor Alun Evans, a member of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration Northern Ireland Centre of Excellence for Public Health Research at Queen’s University, who is running the symposium, said:

“Frank’s contribution to cardiology was enormous and he has become known as ‘The Father of Emergency Medicine’. If you fly anywhere in the world today there is a good chance there will be a defibrillator, based on Frank’s original concept, on board.

“Anyone who was ever looked after by him invariably remembers him with fondness and gratitude.

“As he used to say himself: ‘I never felt I had done my job properly unless the patient felt better for having seen me’.”

Professor Patrick Johnston, the Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, said: “It is a very important thing for the University and the Medical School to publicly recognise the legacy that Professor Frank Pantridge has left to medical practice and its importance to us an international medical school. It is therefore an honour to celebrate the memory and the great achievements of this great cardiologist.”

For more information on Queen’s University’s art collection please visit www.naughtongallery.org

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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Queen's scientist searches for life in the galaxy

Astronomers and engineers from across Europe will be arrving at Queen's tomorrow (Thursday, 11 June) in search of new life and planets.

In 1995, astronomers found the first planet orbiting another star like the sun. Since then, over 300 new worlds have been found around other stars.

One of the leaders in this field is Professor Don Pollacco, of the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Professor Pollacco is the leading the Science Consortium in a 450M euros project on behalf of The European Space Agency (ESA) and is hoping to launch a satellite in 2017, to be called PLATO.

PLATO is not only designed to find many planets similar to our own, but for those that are near enough to us, the biggest telescopes back on earth will be able to take images of the planets directly and also determine the constitution of their atmospheres.

Scientists and engineers from all corners of Europe are being invited to Queen’s for PLATO’s one day Science meeting on Thursday.

The meeting will inform the wider community about PLATO’s current mission status and future developments. It will take the form of a small number of talks followed by a discussion session.

For more information contact Professor Don Pollacco on 028 90973512 or d.pollaco@qub.ac.uk

For further information please contact: Emma Blee, Press & PR Unit, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 2576, press.office@qub.ac.uk

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Shaken, Not Stirred – Bond Season at QFT
Sean Connery as James Bond
Sean Connery as James Bond

Celebrating the centenary of legendary producer Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli (and just in time for Father’s Day!), QFT is proud to present Shaken, Not Stirred, a season of classic James Bond 007.

Speaking about the season, Susan Picken, QFT Manager said: “James Bond 007 is one of cinema’s most iconic and enduring characters and we are thrilled to give QFT audiences the chance to see the world’s most famous spy in a way that would make ‘Q’ himself proud – remastered, in a sparkling new digital format, and back on the big screen.”

The season opens on Saturday 13 June with Dr. No, an enormous worldwide hit starring Sean Connery in the lead role. The film featured the usual Broccoli touch of exotic locations: this time Jamaica and surrounding waters, from which a bikini-clad Ursula Andress memorably emerged. 

From Russia with Love takes to the screen on Sunday 14 June. In this film Connery once again excelled and was well supported by a great cast including Robert Shaw, wonderfully menacing as a brutal killer; and Lotte Lenya as the Russian agent with the famous poison-tipped knife device in her shoe. Its huge success firmly established the 007 films as a cultural phenomenon.

An explosive cocktail of exciting action and the first Shirley Bassey theme song, Goldfinger will be shown at QFT on Sunday 21 June.  Considered by many as the quintessential Bond film and a brilliant third entry in the series, here Bond gets his Aston Martin, spars with two statuesque British beauties (Honor Blackman and Shirley Eaton) and pits his wits against a memorable villain, Auric Goldfinger.

Australian actor George Lazenby steps into Bond’s shoes in the action-packed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service which takes to screen on Sunday 28 June. The film sees Ernst Stavro Blofeld plans to blackmail the western world with the threat of bacteriological sabotage of the world food supply.

Tickets for Shaken, Not Stirred, the James Bond Season at QFT, are on sale now from www.queensfilmtheatre.com

For further information, please contact Sarah Hughes, QFT Press and Marketing Officer, tel. 90971398, email s.hughes@qub.ac.uk or visit www.queensfilmtheatre.com

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Queen's scoops enterprise awards
Queen's SIFE students celebrate their success. L-R Vincent Murray, Joseph McMullan, Lisa Collins, Gordon Douglas (Acting Chief Executive of Queen's Students' Union) former Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Tom Hartley, Susan Kearney and John Boyle
Queen's SIFE students celebrate their success. L-R Vincent Murray, Joseph McMullan, Lisa Collins, Gordon Douglas (Acting Chief Executive of Queen's Students' Union) former Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Tom Hartley, Susan Kearney and John Boyle

Enterprising staff and students from Queen’s University have been recognised twice at the Students in Free Enterprise national awards in London.

Queen’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) initiative was named Rookie Champion 2009 after only eight months of existence, and staff members Denise Murtagh from Dungannon and Aisling Harkin from Letterkenny were named SIFE UK Advisors of the Year.

SIFE is a global network of business executives, academic leaders and university students dedicated to nurturing students’ entrepreneurial skills in a way that benefits their careers and the wider community.

Guided by university and business advisers, SIFE teams share their entrepreneurial skills and knowledge with groups or individuals in their local community - such as low income families, charities or the homeless - to help them develop sustainable business ideas.

Lisa Collins from Omagh is a Masters History student and Chairperson of SIFE at Queen’s. She said: "Whilst SIFE at Queen’s has only been in existence for eight months, we have taken on a number of challenging and rewarding projects that have made a real difference to communities in Northern Ireland and as far afield as Uganda. We are delighted to have been named SIFE Rookie Champions 2009 and I am sure our success will continue well into the future.

“As our motto says, SIFE students have ‘a head for business, a heart for the world’. In the last eight months we have developed projects in Uganda to help provide education for orphaned children and support women working in the pig farming industry. Locally, we work with primary school children to foster peace and reconciliation, and within Queen’s we support the management of the University’s Money+ financial education programme. Supported by Queen’s Students’ Union and the Northern Ireland Centre for Entrepreneurship, SIFE projects have made a valuable, positive impact on communities at home and further afield.

“Much of SIFE’s success is due to the guidance and leadership provided by our University Advisers Aisling and Denise, who have been named SIFE UK Advisers of the Year - an award they thoroughly deserve."

Denise Murtagh, award-winning SIFE Adviser and Co-ordinator of Enterprise SU at Queen’s, said:  "SIFE is just one part of Queen’s enterprise ecosystem. Enterprise education is now embedded into the degree pathways in all disciplines, with around 2,000 students awarded certificates for their work each year in developing the entrepreneurial and employability skills that will help them make their mark on society.

“The University has also created Enterprise SU, a new enterprise centre which is the first of its kind in the UK, providing information on enterprise and employability opportunities. University’s commitment to encouraging entrepreneurship was highlighted last year when it was shortlisted for Entrepreneurial University of the Year in the national Times Higher Education Awards."

For more information on SIFE at Queen’s visit www.qubsife.com

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk , 07814 415 451.

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Queen's astronomers propose new supernovae interpretation
Stefano Valenti
Stefano Valenti

In a controversial new paper in the journal Nature, astronomers from Queen's University Belfast have proposed a new physical interpretation of a supernova discovered on 7 November 2008.

A group of researchers, led by Dr. Stefano Valenti from Queen's University Belfast, found a weak explosion that is unusual in many ways, and several lines of evidence suggest it could be from a massive star.

This goes against mainstream thinking in the astrophysics community which believes that this supernova come from old white dwarf stars (low-mass stars) in binary systems.

The supernova in question SN2008ha was a faint explosion that contained no hydrogen.

In their paper however, Valenti and his colleagues propose that the peculiar spectrum and faint luminosity of the supernovae in question, SN2008ha, more closely resembles those supernovae associated with the death of massive stars when their core collapses. 

The key difference with the other faint explosion of massive stars was the lack of hydrogen which is usually detected in underluminous Supernovae. 

Dr Valenti said "SN2008ha is the most extreme example of a group of supernovae that show similar properties.  Up until now the community had thought that they were from the explosion of white dwarfs, which we call type Ia supernovae. Those are the ones that have been used to measure the geometry of the distant Universe and infer the existence of dark energy.  But we think SN2008ha doesn't quite fit this picture and appears physically related to massive stars."

Professor Stephen Smartt, from Queen’s, added: "This is still quite controversial, we have put this idea forward and it certainly needs to be taken seriously.

“The implications are quite important. If this is a massive star explosion then it is the first one that might fit the theoretical models of massive stars that lose their outer layers through their huge luminosity pressure and then, perhaps, collapse to black holes with a whimper".

Dr Valenti's team is keen to use new deep, time resolved surveys of the Universe to find more of these and test their ideas.  One such experiment is the first of the Pan-STARRS telescopes that has started surveying the sky in the last month.

The supernova in question was found in the galaxy UGC12682 in the constellation Pegasus by American school girl Caroline Moore, a member of the Puckett Observatory Supernova Search team.

It was immediately recognised by professional astronomers as quite unique, as it was one of the faintest explosions of its type ever discovered, with an energy approximately 50 times smaller than usual. This is the equivalent of converting several earth masses completely into energy.

More information on the work of the scientists at Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre can be found at http://star.pst.qub.ac.uk/

For media inquiries please contact Lisa Mitchell, Press and PR Unit. Tel: 00 44 (0)28 90 97 5384 or email lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's to the rescue at Commonwealth Games
Lifesavers: Queen's University students Chris Abbott from Saintfield, Catherine Hanna from Ballymena and Ciaran Moynagh from South Belfast
Lifesavers: Queen's University students Chris Abbott from Saintfield, Catherine Hanna from Ballymena and Ciaran Moynagh from South Belfast

Students from Queen's University will represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Lifesaving Championships next week.

Ciaran Moynagh from South Belfast, Catherine Hanna from Ballymena and Chris Abbott from Saintfield will travel to the championships in Canada as part of the National life saving team.

The competition which takes place from June 10 to June 14 is recognised as a Commonwealth Games event and is part of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

This is the third time Northern Ireland has competed at the Commonwealth Games and their impressive collection of medals includes two gold, two silver and two bronze medals. The Queen’s team have high hopes that they will secure a hat trick this year.

Team member Ciaran Moynagh said: “We are all very excited about competing in an event of this level with major contenders such as Australia and Canada.

“The training has been intense and coming from a competitive swimming background we have had to learn many technical skills for this sport.”

The students study a variety of disciplines at Queen's and as well as committing to a rigorous training programme alongside their studies, they also organised a number of fund-raising events so that they could compete.

"Balancing university work and the many commitments of training has been hard, but definitely worthwhile. We are excited to take on the challenge and it would be a dream to come home with medals," said Ciaran.

The life saving team was developed within the university’s Swimming and Waterpolo Club and they have already been very successful.

The team came second in the lifesaving section of this year’s All-Ireland Swimming and Life Saving Intervarsity Competition and members Catherine Hanna and Ciaran Moynagh were elected as the Chairperson and Life Saving Representative for the Irish University Swimming and Waterpolo Association.

They also competed in the Royal Life Saving Society Ulster Championships held in the Lagan Valley Leisureplex this year. They excelled with the females being placed second and third overall and the males ranked within the top six.

For media enquiries please contact: Emma Blee, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 2576, press.office@qub.ac.uk

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Older people in Northern Ireland do not have appropriate access to legal advice

Research from the Changing Ageing Partnership (CAP) has found that older people in Northern Ireland have limited access to information about legal services. This is despite the fact that older people have a greater need for legal advice on issues such as substitute decisions, making wills, care agreements and matters relating to health.

The research is the first of its kind to explore the legal needs of older people. It was carried out for CAP by Dr Subhajit Basu from Queen’s School of Law, Mr Joe Duffy from the University’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work and Ms Helen Davey who was employed as research assistant for the study.

Joe Duffy said: "The legal system must accept that older people are often not getting the service they deserve, at a price that they can afford. This situation must change.

"The research highlights the factors that prevent older people accessing legal information. They are generally reluctant to engage with the legal system and enforce their rights through the legal processes. They expressed distrust and scepticism towards lawyers and the legal system, particularly regarding the cost of legal services. Their reluctance to complain about the issues that affect them means older people often seek to manage problems on their own, rather than seeking expert guidance."

The research makes a number of recommendations to help older people access important legal information. It recommends improved communication between health and social care professionals and the legal profession to raise awareness of older people’s legal needs, particularly during critical times in their lives, like following the diagnosis of an illness such as dementia.

Joe Duffy continued "It is also important that our future legal professionals are educated as to the needs of older people. Undergraduate legal education should therefore include a particular focus on the legal requirements of older members of our community, which should also see older people directly participating in the law curriculum.

"We also recommend the development of an online service providing legal advice for older people, and the use of jargon-free language by the legal profession in all of its communication with older people."

Dr Subhajit Basu said: "Not enough work is being done to increase older people’s awareness of the use of the internet as a legal tool. We need to therefore support older people by helping them develop the skills needed to access and use valuable online resources. However, social policy goals of empowering older people will be increasingly difficult to realise without the improvement in access to legal services more generally."

The researchers, Dr Subhajit Basu , Mr Joe Duffy and Ms Helen Davey will present further findings and recommendations from the research at NICVA, 61 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast on Thursday 4 June at 1.15pm.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk , 07814 415 451.

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One in four nursing home residents carries MRSA

MRSA is a major problem in nursing homes with one in four residents carrying the bacteria, a study by Queen’s University Belfast and Antrim Area Hospital has found.

Its authors say that the findings, which have been published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, highlight the need for infection control strategies to be given a higher priority in nursing homes.

The study, funded by Health and Social Care Research and Development, Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland, thought to be the largest of its kind studying MRSA in private nursing homes in the UK, took nose swabs from 1,111 residents and 553 staff in 45 nursing homes in the former Northern Board area of Northern Ireland.

Twenty-four per cent of residents and 7 per cent of staff were found to be colonised with MRSA, meaning they were carrying the bacteria but not necessarily showing signs of infection or illness.

Residents in 42 of the homes were colonised with MRSA, with recorded rates in individual nursing homes ranging from zero to 73 per cent.

Staff in 28 of the homes carried the bacteria with prevalence rates ranging from zero to 28 per cent.

Dr Paddy Kearney, Consultant Medical Microbiologist with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, said: “We decided to carry out the study after noticing an apparent increase in recent years in the number of patients who had MRSA when they were admitted to hospital from nursing homes.

“In hospitals routine checks are carried out to identify those most at risk of MRSA colonisation (carrying it on their skin and/or nose) and infection control policies are put in place but this is not always feasible in private nursing homes.”

Dr Michael Tunney, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy, from Queen’s University’s School of Pharmacy, said: “This is the first study which has reported prevalence of MRSA among staff in nursing homes in the UK and found that staff need to be more aware of the potential problem MRSA can be in this setting.

Professor Carmel Hughes, a Director of Research in the School of Pharmacy, added: “In order to combat this problem, two approaches could be considered: improved education and training of staff, and removing MRSA from people who are colonised with it, using suitable creams and washes.

“Further studies looking at these approaches need to be carried out.”

For media enquiries relating to Queen’s University contact Andrea Clements, press officer on (0)28 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362, a.clements@qub.ac.uk

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Children's rights under the spotlight at Queen's
Issues affecting children's lives will be discussed at Queen's this week

The issues affecting the lives, opportunities and experiences of children will be under the spotlight at a unique conference at Queen's University tomorrow (Tuesday 2 and Wednesday 3 June).

The inaugural postgraduate conference on The Child will bring together over 100 postgraduate researchers from universities throughout Ireland and the UK to share new research on the issues affecting children and young people.

Professor Phil Scraton, who runs the Childhood, Transition and Social Justice Initiative at Queen’s, said: "With over 70 speakers, the overwhelming and diverse response to this conference shows the rich range of innovative child-centred research being conducted across Ireland.

“It comes at a time when the treatment of children by adults in families, in communities and in institutions is under scrutiny.  Also at a time when the UK Government has been heavily criticised by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child for demonising and punishing children unduly, and for its failure to provide adequate and appropriate resources for its most disadvantaged children.

“Healthcare, trauma, bereavement, foster care, disability, bullying, criminalisation, access to education, learning difficulties, discrimination and children’s rights are some of the key areas covered at the conference."

Director of the Queen’s Research Forum for the Child, Dr Laura Lundy said: "Research on issues relating to children and young people is a priority at Queen's. In 2005 we set up the Research Forum for the Child, involving 100 researchers across the University.

“The Forum is committed to developing high quality research with the intention it will influence policy, public debate and, most importantly, the quality of children's lives. Our work is rooted in the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which establishes the basic human rights to which children everywhere are entitled.

“The research carried out at Queen's can have a lasting, positive impact on the lives of children in Northern Ireland and around the world. This conference provides the perfect opportunity to highlight the challenges currently faced by children and young people."

For more information on The Child conference or Queen’s University’s Research Forum for the Child visit www.qub.ac.uk/sites/TheResearchForumForTheChild

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk , 07814 415 451.



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