10-2009 Press Releases

30/10/2009: Stark warning for UK automobile sector
bin
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22/10/2009: A tale of art in two cities - Belfast and Sarajevo
22/10/2009: Queen’s serves up “Celebrity come dine with me”
21/10/2009: Queen’s and Lifestart offer free support to parents
21/10/2009: Future leaders at Queen's
20/10/2009: Queen's University named Entrepreneurial University of the Year
19/10/2009: Diabetics among those set to benefit from €7m US-Ireland research links

19/10/2009: Starting school at four ‘damages children’ says education expert
16/10/2009: News in Brief: Queen’s researchers ‘Show Me The Mummy’
16/10/2009 News in Brief: Free ‘gait analysis’ on offer at PEC
16/10/2009: Call for Entries: 2010 Davy Portrait Awards

14/10/2009: Queen's astronomers framed
14/10/2009: Increased success a ‘virtual’ certainty for rugby players
12/10/2009: United States Secretary of State visits Queen’s
08/10/2009: Spotlight on Geraldine Hughes at the Brian Friel Theatre
07/10/2009: Eddie Irvine gears up to help Queen’s students
06/10/2009: Ruby returners shine at Queen’s reunion
06/10/2009: New technology detects chemical weapons in seconds
02/10/2009: QFT presents National Theatre Live – All’s Well That Ends Well
01/10/2009: Queen's team scoops top Biotech prize in 25K awards
01/10/2009: Countdown to the Biggest Festival in Northern Ireland

Stark warning for UK automobile sector

Findings from the largest ever study of the sustainability of car manufacturing of 17 of the world’s leading car companies have just been published by a leading European research team.
 
Key findings from the study entitled Sustainable Value in Automobile Manufacturing highlight: 

  • How Asian car manufacturers are outperforming their North American, and many of their European competitors, in using their economic, environmental and social resources more efficiently
  • How General Motors’ poor financial performance is accompanied by the worst sustainability performance recorded.
  • Leading manufacturers including Porsche, KIA or Chinese manufacturers are still not producing sufficient sustainability performance data.

The unique report, which covers the period between 1999 and 2007, has been created by researchers at Queen’s Management School in Belfast, alongside colleagues from the Euromed Management School Marseille, and the Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment (IZT) in Berlin.
 
It provides a full account of the societal impacts of car production, including issues such as the volume of greenhouse gas emissions from production facilities and the number of work accidents recorded by a company. It also looks at how efficiently car manufacturers used key natural resources compared with their industry peers and how much profit or loss was generated with these resources.
 
The ratio of sustainable value to sales is calculated in the report so that different companies can be directly compared irrespective of their size. Sustainable value includes not just the use of economic capital but also environmental and social resources. It is the first value-based method for assessing corporate sustainability performance.
 
In the report Asian car manufacturers including Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan, Honda, and to a lesser extent, Suzuki have all out-performed their North American competitors. In stark contract to the Asian manufacturers, both North American carmakers Ford and General Motors (GM) lie well into negative territory, with GM showing the most striking downside trend.
 
There is a mixed picture among European manufacturers. While BMW tops the ranking of all 17 manufacturers in most of the years assessed, other European carmakers PSA (Peugeot, Citroën), Renault, Volkswagen and DaimlerChrysler/Daimler AG only occasionally keep pace with the industry leaders. FIAT Auto consistently falls behind throughout the entire review period.
 
Professor Frank Figge from Queen’s Management School, one of the authors of the study, said: “Economic crisis, energy crisis, climate crisis and recent global developments have affected the automobile industry like few other sectors. Never before has it been as important for car manufacturers to employ their economic, environmental and social resources wisely – and efficiently.
 
“However, while issues such as fleet consumption and CO2 emissions have been firmly put on the public agenda, the equally considerable environmental impact of the production phase of car manufacturing has as yet been largely ignored. The survey attempts to close this gap.”
 
The study also shows the improvement potential that a car giant like General Motors has in  how it could improve its long-term performance. GM achieved a sustainable value of minus €9.87 billion, in comparison with BMW, which having used all the resources considered necessary to create value doubled its sustainable value to €2.8 billion from 1999 to 2007.
 
Ralf Barkemeyer from Queen’s Management School said: “The study shows that in 2005 GM had by far the worst negative Sustainable Value within the industry which is mainly the result of a dramatic profits slump in 2005. But GM‘s value contributions from carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sodium oxide emissions as well as waste generation are very negative during the period 1999 to 2007. Its sodium oxide value contributions show the worst level of resource efficiency in the entire study.
 
“The example of several of the other car manufacturers shows that there is a multi billion euro potential for a company like GM to improve both its environmental and social and its financial performance simultaneously.”
 
But accessing sustainability data for the whole sector remains a problem. Ralf Barkemeyer added: “While Tata could be assessed for the first time in 2007 – and narrowly beats the benchmark in this year – other car manufacturers such as Porsche, KIA or Chinese manufacturers do still not provide sufficient data. Likewise, Daihatsu could not be included in the assessment in the year 2007 due to its insufficient sustainability reporting”.
 
Professor Figge added: “The bottom line is that this study reveals big differences in sustainability performance in automobile manufacturing. This shows that the production process itself bears considerable room for improvement in terms of sustainability performance. We hope car manufacturers and governments worldwide will take note of this important study.”
 
Both study and extensive information on the Sustainable Value approach are available at www.sustainablevalue.com.

Media inquiries to Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit. Tel +44 (0)28 90 97 5391 or email a.clements@qub.ac.uk

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Cornershop to play Belfast Festival at Queen's
Cornershop
Cornershop

Cornershop are to play a special gig in the Spiegeltent this October as part of The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's.

Festival Director, Graeme Farrow released details of the coup for Belfast: “We’re delighted to announce British band, Cornershop will now play Belfast on Tuesday, 27 October.  With hits including ‘Brim Full of Asha’, Cornershop have recently released their fresh new album to rave reviews.

“They are brilliant live and the Spiegeltent show will be something special.  Cornershop will replace the planned gig by Seth Lakeman who unfortunately had to rearrange his dates.”

Graeme also confirmed the Richard Hawley show had been rescheduled: “Richard Hawley was required by the BBC to appear at the Electric Proms in London on the original planned date of the Festival show, so we’ve rescheduled it for 2 December and all tickets are valid for the new date. The music line-up for the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is an eclectic mix with jazz, blues, traditional, rock, folk and Bollywood!  Add to that dance, drama and comedy - there are 70 events from which to choose.”

Tickets for Cornershop and all Festival shows can be booked on www.belfastfestival.com.

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is funded by Queen’s University, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

Press enquiries:  Joan Grenville, 07808 138525, joan@grenvilleni.com

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Enterprising lecturer scoops national award
David Gibson
David Gibson

An enterprising senior lecturer from Queen's University Management School has received national acclaim at the first ever enterprise educators awards.

David Gibson, from Broughshane in Co.Antrim, has become one of the first people to win the `educator highly commended´ award from the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship (NCGE) and Enterprise Educators UK (EEUK) at its recent annual award ceremony, which celebrates excellence within enterprise education.

His prestigious commendation recognises him as “a trail-blazer” for entrepreneurial education.  Among his achievements is developing an enterprise for life education model which is embedded across the entire curriculum at Queen’s. It has also been adopted by universities in China, India, Canada, Sri Lanka and throughout the UK and was recognised as a best practice model by the EEC.

David said: "Being recognised as a 'highly commended enterprise educator' is very rewarding to me as enterprise has been the major focus of my career in higher education and I am very grateful to the NCGE and EEUK for their support. What is more important is being able to help students to be more enterprising in these uncertain times.”

Alison Price, Director of Educator Development for the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship, said: “David has been highly commended for his impressive work within entrepreneurship education. He is a trailblazer, both for his institution and for this key international agenda, and this award recognises his significant achievements in providing enterprise education for all. 

“We are delighted to recognise David’s work both within Queen’s but also to support others working in this important agenda.”

David is a Senior NICENT (Northern Ireland Centre for Entrepreneurship) Teaching Fellow based in Queen’s University Management School.

The only recipient of a National Teaching Fellowship Award for enterprise education by the Higher Education Academy in the UK, he is the author of a leading book on enterprise competencies called The E Factor, which is now used in over 100 universities, including Cambridge, where it is a core text. It is aimed at helping all those involved in the learning and teaching of student business or social enterprise.

David has recently been appointed a Visiting Professor at Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration in Latvia and has been asked to apply his enterprise model in the Baltic States. He will also represent Europe in a major enterprise conference in Calcutta, India.

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Almost half of children in P7 use social networking sites

Almost half of P7 children who took part in a survey by Queen's and the University of Ulster use social networking sites like Bebo, Facebook and MySpace.

48 per cent of the 3,657 Primary 7 pupils (10-11 year olds) who took part in the Kids’ Life and Times Survey had used these websites, despite the sites themselves indicating they are not suitable for children below the age of 13.

The survey is carried out annually by ARK, a joint research initiative by Queen’s and the University of Ulster, and documents children’s opinions on a wide range of social issues, from experiences of school and bullying to their favourite TV programmes.

The key findings from the questions on technology use are:

  • 48 per cent of respondents had used social networking sites like Bebo, Facebook or MySpace,   although these sites indicate that P7 children are too young to use them. 29 per cent of the children who responded said they use these sites ‘a lot’.
  • 46 per cent play multi-player online games, with boys more likely to do so than girls. Boys also spend much more time playing these games than girls do.
  • More boys (41 per cent) than girls (31 per cent) said their friends include people they talk to online but don’t meet face-to-face.
  • 13 per cent of respondents have experienced bullying either online or by text.
  • Most respondents (87 per cent) said their parents or their teachers had talked to them about internet safety, with more girls (90 per cent) than boys (83 per cent) saying that they had done so.
  • 93 per cent of P7 children who responded to the survey had their own mobile phone.
  • 98 per cent said their family had at least one computer or laptop and of these, 94 per cent said these computers had an internet connection. 

Dr Katrina Lloyd from Queen’s said: “The public and the media often debate topical and controversial issues relating to children but we rarely ask the children themselves what they think about these things. The Kids’ Life and Times Survey gives children the opportunity to express their views on the issues that affect them.

“With so many children accessing social networking sites and playing online games, it is imperative that children are taught about online safety to protect them from the very real dangers that are present in the ‘virtual’ world.”

 Dr Paula Devine from Queen’s said: “The results from the Kids’ Life and Times Survey indicate that P7 children in Northern Ireland have widespread access to and use of technology such as mobile phones and computers.

“There is no doubt children in Northern Ireland, like their counterparts elsewhere, have adopted these technologies wholeheartedly to communicate with the outside world and with each other.

“While these technologies bring benefits for all of us, there are unforeseen dangers that can affect children in particular, such as health problems like obesity, while unsupervised access to the internet can leave children vulnerable to sexual predators and ‘cyber’ bullying.”

The Net Generation, findings from the Kids’ Life and Times Survey, are available online at http://www.ark.ac.uk/publications/updates/

The Kids’ Life and Times Survey was funded by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

For media inquiries please contact Anne-Marie Watson at Queen’s University’s Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 5320 or a.watson@qub.ac.uk

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SPACE staff win national innovation award

Staff from the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering (SPACE), have won the Construct Award 2009 for Innovation and Adoption.

Together with local firms Macrete Ireland, WDR and RT Taggart, and Lagan, the SPACE team received the prize for the design, development and construction of three ‘FlexiArch’ bridges built for Newtownabbey Council.

The awards were held in the Emirates Stadium in London, and the team is the first from Northern Ireland to win the title and prize money of £5,000. The judges commended the team for their “innovation, beneficial impact on the construction industry, practicality, suitability for replication, economy and value for money, simplicity and sustainability.”

The FlexiArch was patented after 10 years of research at Queen’s and five years R&D at Macrete and causes no disruption to river banks or the watercourse during its installation. It is now in place in the Bleach Green viaduct in Newtownabbey and several other locations across the UK and Ireland.

Professor Adrian Long from Queen’s said: “It would not have been possible to have got this far without our link with Macrete. That involvement has allowed the project to progress quickly. The support of WDR and RT Taggart, Lagan, and Newtownabbey Council was also invaluable. The FlexiArch has huge potential and we are already receiving inquiries from across the globe.”

The research and development of the bridge has also been supported by Invest Northern Ireland, the Knowledge Transfer Partnership, DRD Roads Service (NI) the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Leverhulme Trust.

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Press and PR Unit. Tel: 028 90 97 5384

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‘Pretty deadly’ floral exhibits take root in Naughton Gallery
Pretty Deadly exhibition at the Naughton Gallery

A flower show with a difference is currently on display in the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s University.
 
Pretty Deadly, which is running as part of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s, features the art of Michael Brennand-Wood, internationally regarded as one of the most innovative artists working with, and integrating, textiles with other media.
 
The exhibition includes recent work inspired by traditions of floral imagery and created through a fusion of computerised machine embroidery, acrylic paint, wood, glass and collage. The pieces are colourful and dramatic, and challenge the traditional use and design of embroidery, lace, patterning and floral textiles.
 
Brennand-Wood has been the recipient of several major international awards and his work can be seen in major public, corporate and private collections worldwide, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Recent projects include new works for the Yorkshire Cancer Centre in Leeds and Colston Hall, Bristol and he is currently developing an idea for a major piece of public art for the new Library at Queen’s.
 
Curated by Dr Joseph McBrinn, Lecturer in History of Design and the Applied Arts, University of Ulster, Pretty Deadly brings together, for the first time, several major pieces of his work, many created during the past five years.
 
The exhibition runs until 8 November 2009.

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

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A tale of art in two cities - Belfast and Sarajevo

The role of the arts in conflict transformation in Belfast and Sarajevo will be explored at Queen’s University Belfast next week (26-30 October 2009).

The Belfast/Sarajevo Initiative for the Creative and Performing Arts at Queen’s will welcome some of Sarajevo’s best known artists. They will discuss their work and the role of the arts in documenting and remembering the conflict that raged in the Bosnian city in the early 1990s.

The event has been organised by three of the University’s postgraduate Drama students. Conference organiser Michelle Young from Co. Tyrone said: “While Belfast and Sarajevo have endured terrible conflicts, both cities have emerged from these conflicts to become major centres for culture and arts. This conference does not attempt to compare the Bosnian War to the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’. Rather, we aim to look at how art in all its forms – from photography, to theatre, to film – can document a conflict, record the conflict-transformation process, and help remember the past.

“Members of the public can get a unique insight from artists who were on the ground during the height of the conflicts in Belfast and Sarajevo, and who have followed the peace-building processes in Bosnia and Northern Ireland.”

Postgraduate student Niall Rea from Belfast said: “Bosnian photographer Andrej Djerkovic, whose work during and since the Siege of Sarajevo earned him international critical acclaim, and Newry-born artist Sean Hillen, creator of photomontages from the ‘Troubles’ and of the Omagh memorial sculpture, will discuss their art and its role in commemorating the past. Some of Andrej’s work will be on display at the Brian Friel Theatre at Queen’s from 28-31 October.

Merita Zekovic, from the former Yugoslavia, is studying for a PhD in Cultural Exchange between Belfast and Sarajevo. She said: “Visionary director Haris Pasovic will share his thoughts on the survival, role and responsibility of theatre during and after conflict. Pasovic is responsible for some of the most iconic theatrical events in the former Yugoslavia, including a spectacular production of Romeo and Juliet in front of the parliament building in Sarajevo in 2002.

“Some of the most exciting artists working in both cities at the moment will discuss the latest developments in post-conflict arts. We will have contributions from local playwright Owen McCafferty and Bosnian writer Elma Tataragic, writer and producer of award-winning film, Snow.”

Professor Anna McMullan, Chair of Drama at Queen’s, said: “This event will not only help us better understand the important role of the arts in conflict transformation – it will also strengthen links between Queen’s and the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo, and between the vibrant arts communities in both cities.”

The conference is supported by the Centre for Excellence in the Creative and Performing Arts at Queen’s. To find out more and to book your place at any of the public events visit the News page at www.qub.ac.uk/drama or email myoung13@qub.ac.uk

For media inquiries please contact Anne-Marie Watson at the Press and PR Unit on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5320, 00 44 (0)7814 415 451 or a.watson@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s serves up “Celebrity come dine with me”
William Crawley
The BBC’s William Crawley, who will host the ‘Out to Lunch’ series

The chance to “come dine” with Belfast singer-songwriter Brian Kennedy, Nobel prize winning poet Seamus Heaney and veteran politician Dr Ian Paisley is being served up in the latest ‘Out to Lunch’ series at Queen’s University.
 
Diners can hear musician and author Brian Kennedy in conversation with BBC presenter William Crawley on Wednesday 25 November, while enjoying lunch in the magnificent surroundings of the University’s Great Hall.
 
Seamus Heaney will be in the chair in the Whitla Hall on Wednesday 2 December, while author Brian Keenan will be the guest at a special Christmas lunch in the Great Hall on Wednesday 9 December.
 
Dr Paisley will be lunching with William Crawley on Wednesday 20 January, and the series continues with Queen’s Professors Richard English and Keith Jeffery and poet Cathal O Searcaigh on 10 and 24 February.
 
The current ‘Out to Lunch’ series follows the sell-out success of last year’s programme. Welcome Centre Manager Lynn Corken, who organises the events, said: “We are delighted with this year’s line-up of speakers which should appeal to a very wide audience. Given the popularity of the last series, we would advise people to buy their tickets as early as possible.”
 
Tickets, priced from £25 to £40, can be obtained (in advance only) from Queen’s Welcome Centre, Lanyon Building, telephone 028 9097 5252 or email queens.welcomecentre@qub.ac.uk. Each event takes place from 12.30 to 2.30pm.
 
For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5310, Mob 07891 871997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s and Lifestart offer free support to parents

Dr Helga Sneddon and her son Tom are encouraging parents to take part in the Lifestart Study.
Parents of babies have until December to access free parenting advice and support through a study being conducted by Queen’s University Belfast on behalf of the Lifestart Foundation.

Researchers are looking for parents with babies under 12 months to take part in the Lifestart Study - one of the largest studies of families and parenting ever undertaken on the island of Ireland.
 
The aim of the Lifestart Study is to evaluate the Lifestart Home Based Parenting Programme. Those who participate will receive free feedback on their child’s development. Over 400 families have already taken part in the study. The researchers are particularly calling on parents in Derry, Dungiven, Enniskillen, Strabane, Limavady, Lifford, Letterkenny, Newtowncunningham, Inishowen, Donegal Town, Ballymunn (Dublin), Sligo, Offaly and Kildare to take part.
 
The study is being carried out jointly by the Institute of Child Care Research at Queen’s and the University’s Centre for Effective Education. Dr Helga Sneddon from the Institute of Child Care Research said: "The Lifestart programme aims to support families, with children aged from birth to five, through the ups and downs of parenting by helping them learn and understand more about their child’s development on a month by month basis.
 
“Of the 500 families we are seeking to take part in this research, 250 of them will be entered into the Lifestart programme. This will allow us to find out more about their experiences of parenting compared to those who are not involved in the Lifestart programme.
 
“The Lifestart Study will evaluate how well the Lifestart Home Based Parenting Programme works for parents and children. Rather than making assumptions about what we think parents need, we are giving them the opportunity to share directly with us their experiences and the type of support they find useful in their role as parents.
 
“Those families who volunteer to take part in The Lifestart Study will be visited by us in their homes during their child’s first year, again when the child is two, and finally when the child is five years old. Throughout this time, we will talk with mums and dads about their parenting experiences and be able to provide some useful free feedback to them on their child’s development.   We’ve had lots of comments from parents about how much they have enjoyed taking part in the study and getting feedback on their baby’s development.
 
“Participating in the study will help us improve early years parenting support and identify gaps in the services available to parents throughout Ireland. Anyone who is interested in taking part should contact us for more information before the start of December. From Northern Ireland freephone 0800 0855031 or text 07870 509677, from the Republic of Ireland freephone 1800 818 688 or text 08583 48617; or email lifestartstudy@qub.ac.uk
 
Pauline McClenaghan, Executive Director of the Lifestart Foundation, said: "This evaluation is very important to Lifestart and to local parents. We believe that the Lifestart Programme is a very useful resource for parents in that it provides them with information and tools to support their child’s learning and development. We at Lifestart are delighted that our programme has been chosen for this study."
 
The Lifestart Study is funded by Lifestart with support from Atlantic Philanthropies.

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Future leaders at Queen's

Future leaders: Pictured with Robert Swan are (L to R) Judy Black, Caron Malone, Karen Creighton, Richard Stewart

Four students from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science have made it into the final of the npower Future Leaders Challenge.
 
Teams from universities across the UK entered the competition by sending in a short film describing their plans for a local green project around their university and wider community. The Queen’s students aim to encourage first year students to eat their evening meal together one night a week to reduce energy use from cooking various meals.
 
The winning team - whose project is judged to have the most impact - will win a trip of a lifetime to Antarctica where they will get to experience effects of global warning first hand.
 
The four finalist students from Queen’s joined the other nine teams this weekend at an outdoors activity weekend in the Lake District. The course was specially designed to help develop team building skills, environmental knowledge and other key skills that will enable them to deliver their project.
 
The weekend was attended by Antarctic adventurer Robert Swan, whose company, 2041, will be taking the winning team to Antarctica. Robert talked to the university students about the affect climate change is having on the South Pole and how a series of small actions and projects - like the one being undertaken by the Queen's students - can make a real impact on the environment.
       
Judy Black said: "The weekend was fantastic. After being chest deep in bog and a mountain-top rescue due to a dodgy knee, we still came out laughing. We're now really inspired to start our project - the Enviro-chefs! We'll be encouraging first years to do a carbon cutting diet by cooking and eating an evening meal together once a week, to get to know each other and save energy."

Clare McDougall, npower’s head of education programmes said: "The npower Future Leaders Challenge has been developed to find the next generation of Robert Swans: young people with drive and passion, committed to learning about climate change and discovering new solutions to tackle its harmful effects. A team of Future Leaders will take part in an Antarctic expedition in March 2010, lead by polar explorer Robert Swan OBE."
 
The university teams will be working on their projects for the next two months, before the winning team is announced on 18 December 2009. 

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Queen’s University named Entrepreneurial University of the Year
The Times Higher Education Awards
Queen's representatives at the Times Higher Education Awards in London

Queen’s University Belfast has been named as the Times Higher Education Entrepreneurial University of the Year at the sector’s biggest awards in London.
 
The University was awarded the top prize at a glittering ceremony in the Grosvenor House Hotel hosted by Clive Anderson.
 
Professor Gerry McCormac, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Planning and External Relations at Queen’s accepted the award from Paul Hannon, Director of Research and Education at award sponsors the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship (NCGE). Presenting the award Hannon said: “Queen's University is simply an excellent example of what we were looking for from an entrepreneurial university - strong leadership and vision, real student engagement, innovative faculty and clear evidence of the impact they have made in their local environment."
 
Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: “This award is excellent news for Queen’s and excellent news for Northern Ireland. I congratulate all those involved in this success.

“This award recognises the University’s ongoing work in ensuring that tomorrow’s business leaders have the necessary skills to promote economic growth, which is vital for Northern Ireland’s future prosperity in an increasingly competitive world.

“Indeed, this message was reinforced last week during US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s historic visit to Queen’s, at which I pledged the University’s total commitment to continuing to support economic development in Northern Ireland.
 
“Building on the entrepreneurship programmes in the University, it is the students themselves that have created an environment in which enterprise has flourished.”
 
Ian Robertson, Chief Executive of NCGE said: “At Queen’s entrepreneurship is evident and embedded in every part of the University, from its leadership through to its teaching and student impact. It demonstrates excellence in all areas: strong leadership, tremendous engagement with students in a diversity of learning opportunities and a clear tangible impact on staff, business and the local community.”
 
In their citation, the judges highlighted various aspects of Queen’s success in entrepreneurship including the success of its spinout businesses through QUBIS, a company which commercialises the University's research and development activities. It has helped Queen’s become the number one higher education institution in the UK in terms of turnover, generating a combined total of £102 million in 2009. The University’s Knowledge Transfer Unit which facilitates partnerships between academic groups and companies who need access to skills and knowledge in order to innovate was also highlighted. It is currently the UK’s leading participant in Knowledge Transfer Partnership.

The University’s commitment to enterprise can also be seen in its pioneering model of entrepreneurship education within the curriculum which is now embedded in 116 pathways, reaching 11,000 students across the University. This has led to over 500 students directly engaging in business activity.

The University also offers Enterprise SU, a unique centre in UK universities which promotes enterprise opportunities for students in the Students’ Union. It has already been recognised both locally and nationally for its excellence.

Entrepreneurship also underpins Queen’s aim to become a global Top 100 University.  The University last year hosted the International Roundtable for Entrepreneurship Education and has developed alliances with institutions in India, China and Malaysia, as well as world renowned entrepreneurial institutions such as Stanford University, MIT and Babson College.

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Press and PR Unit. Tel: 028 90 97 5384. Email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk

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Diabetics among those set to benefit from €7m US-Ireland research links

The largest international effort ever undertaken to identify the genetic causes of diabetic kidney disease could see a drop in the number of diabetics who need life-saving dialysis or kidney transplants.

The research endeavour is currently underway between Queen’s University Belfast and research institutions in Dublin and America.

It is one of four projects just announced which have been awarded a total of €7 million from the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership. The Partnership brings together expertise from academic institutes in the United States, Ireland and Northern Ireland and was established to create innovations leading to economic development, improvements in health promotion and disease prevention.

The three other projects at Queen’s will help predict the impact of future climate change, provide warnings about contamination of drinking water and seafood and investigate energy efficiency devices.

The largest project focuses on Diabetic Nephropathy, the leading cause of end-stage kidney disease in the world. Known as the GENIE project (Genome-wide Association Studies of Diabetic Nephropathy), it will generate more than four billion pieces of information which should help unravel why some people with diabetes get kidney failure as a complication while others are spared.

The identification of genes conferring risk or protection will allow preventative measures to be concentrated on those most vulnerable, and will also provide targets for the development of novel treatments. Collaborating with Queen’s on the venture are Belfast Health & Social Care Trust, University College Dublin and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In a second project, scientists at Queen's, the National University of Ireland in Galway and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, are working together to develop a sensor to measure greenhouse gases absorbed by the ocean. This will improve the ability to measure carbon dioxide and help predict climate changes for key policymakers.

Focusing on economic development opportunities for telecommunications, medical, security and automotive sectors, the third project is investigating the development of energy efficient transistor devices by researching alternative materials to silicon which consume less power.

The fourth partnership concentrates on protecting public health by designing a more rapid and effective way to measure hazardous, naturally occurring toxic substances in drinking water and seafood. This technology will allow authorities to provide early warning of contamination so they can prevent harm to humans and animals.

The funding was announced at an event in Dublin attended by US Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney, Employment and Learning Minister Sir Reg Empey and Minister for Labour Affairs in Ireland Dara Calleary.

Professor Tom Millar Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Queen’s University who attended the event, said: “This funding will help our researchers collaborate on projects which have the capacity to change the world in areas as diverse as health, environmental sustainability and nanotechnology.

“Queen’s is committed to supporting economic development in Northern Ireland and through these links we can compete better on the international stage.

“The US peer review system is the most rigorous in the world and less than ten per cent of proposals are accepted so it is a clear that the high quality of research at Queen’s has been recognised.”

Sir Reg Empey said: "The US-Ireland R&D Partnership is a groundbreaking agreement that will help to stimulate higher levels of innovation in Northern Ireland and accelerate both economic development and leading edge medical research.

"By collaborating, we are pooling our respective research expertise and leveraging additional investment to support projects that will benefit each of our jurisdictions and make a significant contribution to the wellbeing of all our people.”

The US-Ireland R&D Partnership is led by a steering group comprised of senior representatives from each jurisdiction. InterTradeIreland provides the secretariat on the island of Ireland for the Steering Group and coordinates on strategic issues with the US secretariat which is currently in the office of the Deputy Secretary for Health and Human Services.
 
Costs in the Republic of Ireland are covered by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). In Northern Ireland, funding for the nanotechnology and sensors projects is provided by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL), with Invest NI offering travel grants for pre-proposal consortium building. The remaining health-related priority areas (cystic fibrosis and diabetes) are covered by Health and Social Care R&D and the Public Health Agency in partnership with the UK Medical Research Council. 

Further information on the US-Ireland R&D partnerships is available at http://www.usirelandresearch.com/home.html

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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Starting school at four ‘damages children’ says education expert
Sue Palmer
Sue Palmer

Starting school at four years old can cause lasting damage to children. That’s according to a well-known education expert who will share her views at a public event at Queen’s University Belfast on Monday 19 October 2009.

Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood and 21st Century Boys, will speak at a seminar organised by the School of Education at Queen’s in conjunction with ARK. 
 
The School Starting Age – Too Much Too Soon for Four Year Olds? will begin at 12pm in the Great Hall at Queen’s. Admission is free and members of the audience will have the opportunity to put their questions to the speakers.
 
Ms Palmer argues that formal education at four years old often does more harm than good. She said: “Many children just aren’t ready developmentally to start formal learning so young. Starting too early damages the chances of success for those children.
 
“If they come from disadvantaged homes, early failure can easily lock them into a pathway of academic under-achievement at school, which has long-term repercussions for their self-confidence and for their eventual job prospects.”
 
Northern Ireland is the only country in Europe where children are required to commence formal education at primary school level at four years old. In the rest of the UK, children can delay entry until five years, while in most European countries, the starting age is six or even seven years.
 
Ms Palmer’s concerns are shared by another speaker at the seminar, Mark Langhammer, who is Northern Ireland Director of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.
 
He said: “Many of our members have personal experience of the problems associated with requiring children to start school at four. At a minimum, there should be greater flexibility in the school starting age.”
 
The seminar will also hear from an education expert whose own research in Scotland has concluded that there appears to be no optimum age for starting school.
 
Professor Peter Tymms, who is based at the School of Education at the University of Durham, conducted a major study on the issue for the Scottish Government which found a child’s starting age made little or no difference to their subsequent academic performance.
 
Professor Joanne Hughes from the School of Education at Queen’s said: “We hope this event will stimulate debate on the important issue of when children should start school. There has been a great deal of focus on what happens when children transfer from primary to post-primary school. While this is important, we also know the early years of a child’s schooling are crucial – and the issue of the most appropriate starting age deserves greater attention than it has received to date.”
 
Further information on the School of Education at Queen’s can be found by visiting www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofEducation/

For media inquiries please contact Anne-Marie Watson at the Press and PR Unit at Queen’s University on 028 9097 5320 or 07814415451.
 

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Queen’s researchers ‘Show Me The Mummy’
A likeness of the face of Takabuti is to be revealed in the programme
A likeness of the face of Takabuti is to be revealed in the programme

Staff from the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology will appear in a special television documentary on Monday evening (19 October). The programme at 9.00pm on BBC One pieces together the history of the mummy Takabuti.

An Egyptian mummy, Takabuti has always been one of the Ulster Museum’s most popular exhibits. Now as she prepares to go on display again in the reopened museum, Dr Eileen Murphy, an Osteoarchaeologist and John Meneely, Senior Technician from Queen’s have joined forces with experts from University of Manchester and Dundee University to trace her history and recreate her face using the latest scientific technology.  Dr Paula Reimer and staff from the University’s CHRONO Centre were also involved in the programme, undertaking radiocarbon dating and isotope analysis of Takabuti’s remains.

In the programme entitled Show me the Mummy: The Face of Takabuti, the research team travel as far as the deserts of Cairo and Luxor in Egypt to discover where Takabuti lived, what life was really like for her during the Egyptian 25th Dynasty, how she came to be in Belfast and, perhaps most intriguingly, what this famous lady would have looked like in life.

The documentary programme reveals everything from Takabuti’s age and diet to why her hair seems to be blonde in colour. It shows us where she lived and where she was brought to pass on into the afterlife.

The mummy will be the centrepiece of a new display exploring life and death in ancient Egypt in the Ulster Museum when it reopens on 22 October 2009. This display will feature the recreated head of Takabuti as revealed in the documentary.

Further information on the work of the Queen’s staff featured in the programme can be found at http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/gap/

Media inquiries to Press and PR Unit. Tel 028 90 97 3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Free ‘gait analysis’ on offer at PEC

Queen's Sport and the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon will be hosting a 'free gait analysis' evening on Monday 19 October 2009, 5.00pm -9.00pm in the PEC. Members will be able to get free expert advice on running equipment, training and programming.

Exclusive offers will also be available along with the chance to win free trainers and running equipment in association with Up and Running and New Balance. Those attending will also receive a ten per cent discount on entry to the Belfast Marathon.

Further information on the event is available by contacting Queen’s Sport reception on 028 9068 1126 or by emailing sport@qub.ac.uk

Media inquiries to Press and PR Unit. Tel 028 90 97 3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Call for Entries: 2010 Davy Portrait Awards
Davy Portrait Awards
Davy Portrait Awards

The Davy Portrait Awards is calling for entries for its 2010 competition, following the success of the inaugural awards last year.

The finest entries will be showcased in an exhibition at the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s in February 2010, before moving to Farmleigh House in Dublin next May. The deadline for submissions is 30 October 2009.

The Awards are open to artists based in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland working in traditional and non-digital media. Irish artists based outside Ireland are also eligible to apply. The Davy Portrait Award is worth £10,000/€11,750 and will be awarded by the judges at a
prizegiving ceremony in Belfast in February 2010.

The work will be selected anonymously from an open submission by a judging panel comprising of Rosie Broadley, Associate Curator of Contemporary Collections at the National Portrait Gallery in London and Brenda McParland, a renowned International Curator and Arts Management Professional in Contemporary Visual Arts.  

Last year’s inaugural Davy Portrait Awards attracted over 330 entries with the main prize awarded to artist Joe Dunne for ‘Portrait of Cara’ of his teenage daughter. 

Additional information and entry forms are available on the Davy Portrait Awards website:  www.davyportraitawards.com  For more information on the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s visit www.naughtongallery.org

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Queen's astronomers framed
Professor Alan Fitzsimmons
Professor Alan Fitzsimmons
Professor Don Pollacco
Professor Don Pollacco

A team of renowned planet and star hunters from Queen’s have been honoured by having their portraits displayed in an exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall this month.

Marking the 400th anniversary of when Galileo first turned a telescope to the heavens, the Explorers of the Universe exhibition portrays all aspects of astronomy in the UK. It has been commissioned by The Royal Astronomical Society and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Professors Stephen Smartt (Holywood), Don Pollacco (Ballynahinch) and Alan Fitzsimmons (Newtownabbey), from Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre, have all been included in the exhibition which has created a unique photographic record of ‘today's Galileos’.

The portraits, taken by renowned photographer Max Alexander, range from academic research and observation to the stargazing public and capture the journey of discovery on which both scientists and the public are travelling.

Queen’s Professor Don Pollacco is photographed at the SuperWASP planet-finding facility at 9,000ft on the island of La Palma. He is the primary designer and one of the lead scientists in this effort, which has already discovered over 30 planets orbiting other stars. He said: "Max is a real perfectionist, it took ages to get the light right for the shot.”

Professor Stephen Smartt is internationally renowned for his investigations into what type of stars explode as Supernovae. He said of his picture: “One day I would like to see a Supernova as bright as the flash pictured in this photograph. There's a possibility that if one of the most massive and nearest stars in our galaxy exploded, it would look something like this. I'm not holding my breath, it could be anytime in the next 10,000 years, so meanwhile we have to look at more distant galaxies to find these explosions."

The comets and asteroids that Professor Alan Fitzsimmons studies are all orbiting our Sun similar to a celestial Merry-Go-Round - a factor which clearly provided the inspiration for his portrait which was shot in Leicester Square, London. He said: “Sitting on a fairground horse was different to my normal job of using some of the world’s largest telescopes for research. It was certainly an interesting experience to be a model for a morning. I just struck a pose, there was nothing to it.”

Well-known Queen member and astronomer Brian May is also be exhibiting his own steroscopic imagery for the duration of the exhibition.

The exhibition is in the Royal Albert Hall, London until November 2nd and admission is free. More details on the event can be found at www.royalalberthall.com/ while more information on the work of the Queen’s astronomers is available at http://star.pst.qub.ac.uk/

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Press and PR Unit. Tel: 028 90 97 5384

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Increased success a ‘virtual’ certainty for rugby players
Testing the new training programme
Testing the new training programme
Rugby players worldwide could benefit from a new virtual reality training programme created at Queen’s Belfast.
 
Team members from Ulster Rugby have been working with researchers in the School of Psychology at Queen’s on a range of virtual training scenarios that test expert players’ perceptual skills.
 
Lead researcher in the project is Dr Cathy Craig, a Senior Lecturer in Visual Perception who has previously collaborated with Adidas and top professional world class goal-keepers to study perception of curved free-kicks in football. She said: “Immersing players in an interactive virtual reality provides an exciting new way of exploring and understanding human behaviour.
 
“The advantages of this technology are that unlike playing a video game on a normal desktop computer, the rugby player or athlete is totally immersed in a realistic simulated environment. By presenting stereoscopic images in a head mounted display and tracking head movements, the user’s viewpoint is automatically updated giving a 360 degree virtual experience. This means that the user becomes totally absorbed in their virtual environment encouraging them to interact as they would in the real world.”
 
The players are fitted with a ‘backpack’ of sensors and don a helmet-like visor known as a head mounted display through which a series of 360 degree virtual scenarios are displayed.
 
Also involved in the project are PhD students Gareth Watson from Queen’s and Sébastien Brault from the M2S lab, University of Rennes 2. Gareth Watson added: “Our research is concerned with identifying the key events that influence decisions made by players on the pitch. By controlling the events presented to the players, we can see how the visual information available to the participants at any moment in time influences the player’s decision about when and how to act”.

For the researchers this type of research provides valuable insight into expertise and how visual information is used in the decision making process.
 
So far Ulster rugby players have taken part in two studies. Jeremy Davidson, Forwards Coach with Ulster Rugby said: “Working alongside the researchers in Psychology at Queen’s has provided us with a very useful visual coaching tool that can be used to develop a player’s peripheral vision. This is a vital aspect of a player’s game and we are looking forward to it improving decision making for our players in a real match setting.”
 
Anyone wishing to view players using the equipment can log onto http://www.qub.ac.uk/virtualreality/projects/ulsterrugbyvideo.aspx 
 
 Further information on the School of Psychology at Queen’s can be found at http://www.psych.qub.ac.uk//

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United States Secretary of State visits Queen’s

QTV Icon New stories

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has visited Queen's University Belfast as part of a two-day visit to the UK and Ireland. This is Mrs Clinton's fifth visit to Queen's but her first as US Secretary of State.
 
During the visit, Mrs Clinton addressed a meeting of influential business leaders from the US and UK and also took time out to address Queen’s students and staff in the University’s Great Hall.
 
Speaking about the historic visit the University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson, said: “The University is honoured to welcome Hillary Rodham Clinton back to Queen's. As First Lady, she made a considerable contribution to the search for peace in Northern Ireland. Her commitment to this place has never wavered, and now, as Secretary of State, she returns with a focus on economic development to underpin the emergence of a strong and competitive Northern Ireland.
 
 “Queen’s is proud of its connections with the United States – our researchers are collaborating on projects which have the capacity to change the world in areas as diverse as health, environmental sustainability and electronics. American staff and students help to create a cosmopolitan campus at Queen’s, and many Northern Irish students have honed their leadership skills during internships in the United States, including posts in Congress and the White House.
 
 “Today I have pledged Queen’s total commitment to supporting economic development in Northern Ireland, and we will work with the US administration, the Northern Ireland Executive, and business on both sides of the Atlantic, to raise aspirations, create wealth and improve the quality of life for all our people.”

 
Media enquiries to the Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 3091 / 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk .
 

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Spotlight on Geraldine Hughes at the Brian Friel Theatre
Geraldine Hughes
Geraldine Hughes
Belfast-born actress Geraldine Hughes is to star in her award-winning play Belfast Blues at the Brian Friel Theatre, Queen’s University.
 
The Queen’s honorary graduate and star of blockbuster movies Rocky Balboa and Gran Torino will take to the stage in her acclaimed one-woman show from Wednesday 16 until Sunday 20 December. The run will open with a special performance for an invited audience on Tuesday 15 December.
 
Belfast Blues is an autobiographical performance, told from Hughes’ perspective as a little girl growing up during the height of the ‘Troubles’ in 1980s Belfast. Playwright and performer Hughes depicts over 20 characters in the award-winning performance, which has played to rave reviews in London, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
 
Geraldine said: “I am delighted to bring Belfast Blues to the Brian Friel Theatre at Queen’s. Belfast is my hometown, so it is always a treat to perform here. But I am particularly excited about taking to the stage in this fantastic theatre, which is fast becoming one of Northern Ireland’s leading theatre venues.
 
“I have long admired Brien Friel’s work, and I have performed in some of his best known plays, including Translations on Broadway, so it is a real honour to bring my own play to the theatre that bears his name.”
 
Professor David Johnston, Head of the School of Languages, Literatures and Performing Arts at Queen’s, said: “We are delighted that Geraldine has chosen to bring Belfast Blues to the Brian Friel Theatre. She is one of Northern Ireland’s leading actresses, and this play chronicles her path from her home in Belfast’s Divis flats to the bright lights of Broadway, and a successful career that many of our students aspire to.
 
“This performance will attract theatre-goers from around Northern Ireland, and will reinforce the Brian Friel Theatre’s growing reputation as one of the north’s leading arts venues.
 
“Queen’s is thriving centre for drama research and education, and its strong links with professional theatre are the envy of its peers. With world-class facilities like the Brian Friel Theatre, I am sure we will continue to attract professional actors, directors and playwrights like Geraldine in the future.”
 
Tickets for Belfast Blues are priced £10 (£8 concession) and are available after 6pm from the QFT Box Office at 20 University Square or on 028 9097 1097.

For media inquiries please contact Anne-Marie Watson at the Press and PR Unit at Queen’s University on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5320 or email a.watson@qub.ac.uk
 
 

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Eddie Irvine gears up to help Queen’s students QTV
The Queen's Formula Racing team with their new patron Eddie Irvine.
The Queen's Formula Racing team with their new patron Eddie Irvine.

QTV Icon New Watch the QTV news story

Queen’s University has announced Eddie Irvine as Patron of its Queen’s Formula Racing team. The new role will see the former Formula One star meet regularly with the team and join them during track testing of their cars.

Formula Racing is made up of students undertaking a Masters degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s. Each year they enter the Formula Student competition at Silverstone. The biggest European competition of its kind, it involves over 2,000 students from 105 universities across 23 countries. It challenges students to design, build, develop, market and compete as a team with a small single-seater racing car.

This year Queen’s won two National Instruments Awards for Best Use of Data Acquisition and their 1(200) car finished third in its class, beating dozens of other cars.

Speaking of his new role, Eddie Irvine said: “Some of these students are going to end up in Formula One. Mark Gillen, one of the best people I’ve ever worked with during my time in Formula One was a Queen’s graduate. So, it really is the people from here who will help Formula One to continue.

“The best teams are the ones with the best engineers. The technical people are actually in many respects more important than the drivers, because without a good car you simply won’t win. Great engineering graduates are vital to Formula One and it's great to be working with the students at Queen’s.”

Already this year two recent Queen’s graduates Bernie Collins from Maguiresbridge, Co. Fermanagh and Edward Thompson from Hillsborough, Co. Down have been signed up by McLaren. It is hoped Eddie Irvine’s involvement will continue to help many more secure a career in the sport.

Professor Robert Fleck, Head of the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s said: “Queen’s has a proud history of supplying graduates to Formula One. Having Eddie Irvine as Patron of Queen’s Formula Racing, will help highlight the exciting possibilities that a career in mechanical and manufacturing engineering can open up. Eddie is a very successful driver who has competed at the highest level and he understands the degree of engineering work involved in building a successful car. I know his involvement with Queen’s Formula Racing will be an inspiration to those students already at Queen’s and those thinking of coming to study engineering.”

Queen’s Formula Racing team member Chris McKeown from Garvagh added: “We have had a very successful year so far, and the news that Eddie has agreed to be our Patron is the icing on the cake. The wealth of advice and knowledge he will be able to give Queen’s Formula Racing will really serve to motivate the team, not to mention make us the envy of all our peers. Perhaps we can persuade Eddie to take up an engineering degree here at Queen’s and then we will have our driver sorted for next year.”

Anyone interested in watching an interview with Eddie Irvine and the Queen’s Formula Racing team can log on to News at www.qub.ac.uk/qtv

Further information on studying engineering at Queen’s can be found by logging on to their website.

Media inquiries to Press and PR Unit. Tel 028 9097 3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Ruby returners shine at Queen’s reunion

Around 70 Queen's ‘ruby returners’ will renew their acquaintance with their Alma Mater this weekend.
 
The two-day Ruby Jubilee Reunion, for Queen’s graduates from the classes of 1967 to 1970, will include a series of events this Friday and Saturday.
 
The reunion is part of a series of events organised by the Development and Alumni Relations Office to enable Queen’s graduates to see many of the University’s new developments, including the magnificent new library and the refurbished Students’ Union, for themselves.
 
The event has been arranged with the support of a group of distinguished volunteers including Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore, Captain Bill Hagan, Lady Brenda McLaughlin, Geoffrey Ruddock, Alan McKelvey, Mervyn Millar, Gordon Burnison, Anna Carragher and Sir Nigel Hamilton.
 
Planned activities will include a debate, tours of the campus, entertainment by Queen’s music students, and a dinner and hop, with dancing to the sounds of The Group. In addition, a Ross Wilson portrait of Hugh Bevan, Permanent Secretary of the Students’ Union from 1966 to 1987, will be presented to the University at Saturday’s dinner.
 
1969 graduate Alan McKelvey, a member of the organising committee, said: “I can’t believe it was 40 years ago since I graduated from Queen's.  I know it’s a cliché but it does seem like yesterday.
 
“I am hoping that everyone will take this opportunity to catch up and reminisce about what life was like at the tail end of the swinging Sixties and to marvel at the changes on campus. It will be a great weekend and I am really looking forward to it.”
 
A limited number of places are still available.  Anyone wishing to book or to request further information should contact Jacqui McCormick at Queen’s University on 028 9097 5378 or e-mail j.w.mccormick@qub.ac.uk

For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford , Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5310, Mob 07815 871997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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New technology detects chemical weapons in seconds
Dr Steven Bell
Dr Steven Bell

Scientists at Queen's University Belfast are developing new sensors to detect chemical agents and illegal drugs which will help in the fight against the threat of terrorist attacks.
 
The devices will use special gel pads to ‘swipe’ an individual or crime scene to gather a sample which is then analysed by a scanning instrument that can detect the presence of chemicals within seconds. This will allow better, faster decisions to be made in response to terrorist threats.
 
The scanning instrument will use Raman Spectroscopy which involves shining a laser beam onto the suspected sample and measuring the energy of light that scatters from it to determine what chemical compound is present. It is so sophisticated it can measure particles of a miniscule scale making detection faster and more accurate.
 
Normally this type of spectroscopy is not sensitive enough to detect low concentrations of chemicals, so here the sample is mixed with nanoscale silver particles which amplify the signals of compounds allowing even the smallest trace to be detected.
 
Dr Steven Bell from the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s, along with Prof David Jones and Dr Colin McCoy from the School of Pharmacy, is leading the research. Dr Bell said: “Although we are still in the middle of the project we have finished much of the preliminary work and are now at the exciting stage where we put the various strands together to produce the integrated sensor device. For the future, we hope to be able to capitalise on this research and expand the range of chemicals and drugs which these sensors are able to detect.”
 
It is hoped the new sensors will also be the basis for developing ‘breathalyzer’ instruments that could be of particular use for roadside drugs testing in much the same way as the police take breathalyzer samples to detect alcohol.
 
At present, police officers are only able to use a Field Impairment Test to determine if a person is driving under the influence of drugs. The accuracy of this method has been questioned because of concerns that it is easy to cheat.
 
To ensure the technology is relevant, senior staff members from Forensic Science Northern Ireland (FSNI ) will give significant input into the operational aspects of the technology and give feedback as to how it might be used in practice by the wider user community.
 
Stan Brown, Chief Executive of FSNI said: “We consider the work being carried out by researchers at Queen’s University extremely important and potentially very useful in driving forward the effectiveness, efficiency and speed of forensic science practice.
 
“The combination of leading edge research and hands-on experience of FSNI’s practitioners has already proven very fruitful and is likely to lead to significant developments in forensic methodologies across a range of specialisms.”
 
In the future this technology could have a number of important applications and according to Dr Bell: “There are numerous areas, from medical diagnostics to environmental monitoring, where the ability to use simple field tests to detect traces of important indicator compounds would be invaluable.”

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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QFT presents National Theatre Live – All’s Well That Ends Well

In a very special last-minute addition to the programme, QFT is delighted to present the National Theatre on Sunday 4th October in a unique screening of All’s Well That Ends Well, “Marianne Elliott's wondrous revival... a fairytale for grown-ups.” (The Guardian).

Set against a background of sexism, snobbery and a battle between the generations, Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well turns fairytale logic on its head. It is a wondrous, bittersweet story, but ultimately a touching romantic drama about a troubled young man's struggle to decide between the two women in his life.

All’s Well That Ends Well is the second play in the pilot season of NT Live, the National’s new cinema initiative which launched in June. It will be the first play broadcast from the largest of the National’s three theatres, the Olivier, with its fan-shaped auditorium and open stage.

Susan Picken, Head of QFT said: “Following on from NT Live’s international sell-out screenings of Phèdre with Helen Mirren, this is an exciting opportunity for Belfast audiences to see a top theatre production direct from London in an innovative and accessible new way. NT Live is planning a series of similar broadcasts over the coming months - this is just the beginning!”

In the play, the feisty but lowly Helena falls in love with Bertram, a haughty count. To gain his hand she is set a string of impossible tasks. Even if accomplished, they can hardly guarantee his love. He refuses to bed her and yet says he’ll only be hers if she bears his child; and he lusts after another. Nevertheless, our heroine, whether wisely or no, refuses to give him up.

The cast is led by Oliver Ford Davies (as the King of France), Clare Higgins (the Countess of Rossillion), Conleth Hill (Parolles), George Rainsford (Bertram) and Michelle Terry (Helena).

Tickets for All's Well That Ends Well are £10 and can be booked online at www.queensfilmtheatre.com. Due to technical constraints, the QFT broadcast of All’s Well That Ends Well will be a recording of the live performance filmed on 1st October. Future performances in the series will be broadcast live from London.

For further information, please contact Sarah Hughes, QFT Press and Marketing Officer, 028 90971398 or email s.hughes@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s team scoops top Biotech prize in 25K awards
(L-R) Invas Tech team members Victoria Kyle and Dr Alvin Lee with Claude Caplan from IP Pragmatics, category award sponsor.
(L-R) Invas Tech team members Victoria Kyle and Dr Alvin Lee with Claude Caplan from IP Pragmatics, category award sponsor.
A Queen’s University team has been named the winner in the Northern Ireland Science Park Connect’s £25K Awards Biotech category.

Invas Tech team members Dr Alvin Lee, from Hong Kong and Victoria Kyle, from Ballymena, won £2,500 in the competition by inventing a tool which can measure how fast cancer cells spread. The equipment has the potential to diagnose patients with invasive cancer therefore increasing patients’ chance of survival. Compared with other tools used in cancer research it is relatively inexpensive to make.

Three of the other top ten finalists, Beatbearing Designs, D-Stone and AstroDiagnostics, were also student and staff teams from Queen’s University.

The overall winner of the competition, Tactility Factory, was co-founded by former University of Ulster lecturer Professor Ruth Morrow, now working at Queen’s. Tacility Factory’s patented technology is designed to combine textile design with hard building materials such as concrete.

The judging panel included Sinclair Stockman, ex-Chief Scientist of BT, and Damien Callaghan of Intel Capital. Steve Orr, Director of NISP Connect, said that the awards had uncovered local talent with innovative ideas and inspiring ambitions.

He added: “The aim of the awards is to discover intellectual property concepts which can offer measureable impact on not only the local but global economy and that is exactly what we have achieved with the winners, Tactility Factory, and all the other finalists.

“It really is a case of ‘watch this space’ with all these finalists and I would wish them every success in the future.”

In the Hi-Tech category Queen’s had two finalists. PhD student Peter Bennett from Stevenage in England, made the final after designing the Beatbearing - an electronic musical instrument that uses ball bearings to create different drum patterns. It was created in the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen’s and is the result of two years of cutting-edge research and work.

Dr Eugene Brennan from Garvagh who is based at ECIT, the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology at Queen’s, worked under the name of D-Stone and designed a process to prevent damage to harvesting machinery by using millimetre wave radar to detect stones and metal that might otherwise enter the machinery. The technology also has potential military applications in mine sweeping.

In the Biotech category AstroDiagnostics was a finalist. Dr Victoria Smyth and Heather Jewhurst from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s worked with Dr Daniel Todd from AFBI, the Agri-Food and BioSciences Institute, to develop a molecular diagnostic test for chicken astrovirus, an infectious disease which affects the digestive tract of commercial poultry resulting in economic loss. The test can determine the nature and extent of the disease caused by the virus.    

NISP Connect is a collaboration between Northern Ireland Science Park, Queen’s University and the University of Ulster. It is an independent, non-profit organisation fostering entrepreneurship by accelerating the growth of promising technologies and early stage companies. Its core purpose is to connect people, technology and capital to drive innovation in Northern Ireland.

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Countdown to the Biggest Festival in Northern Ireland

With more than 20,000 tickets sold, box office sales nearing £300,000 and many shows already sold out, organisers of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s are urging audiences to book now to avoid disappointment.

This year there has been an increase in the number of festival fans travelling from around the globe, including the Czech Republic, USA, Latvia, France, Germany and Holland.

The sold out signs are already up for several nights of Macbeth; Who is That Bloodied Man? at Clarendon Dock as well as Noam Chomsky, Michael Mansfield, Colm Tóibín, Tim Minchin, Josh Ritter and Ian Rankin.

There are very few tickets left for the Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley celebration, few for any comedy events, the Black Dyke Band and Ludovico Einaudi among others. The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s runs from the 16th-31st of October and tickets can be booked via www.belfastfestival.com or calling the box office on 028 90971197. 

Festival Director, Graeme Farrow added, “There has been a great response to the programme and I truly believe that this is the most exciting Festival line-up for years. The best thing about the Festival though is that it always holds the prospect of discovery. The real gems are often hidden. I witnessed the premiere of Rafael Bonachela’s new dance piece in London last week. He’s the man behind the moves of Kylie Minogue and Tina Turner among others! The audience was on its feet and they’re a hard lot to please.  Since the programme was released, we’ve also added a pumping concert by Cornershop.

Step off the beaten track and try something new on for size because you will not be disappointed. In particular, there’s a wealth of Polish work to enjoy, representing the absolute cream of what that country has to offer.”

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is funded by Queen’s University, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

Press enquiries:  Joan Grenville, 07808 138 525, joan@grenvilleni.com or Emma Blee 028 9097 1339, e.blee@qub.ac.uk

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