08-2010 Press Releases

ESB Independent Energy awards Queen’s engineering scholars

Sir Reg Empey, Minister; Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie, Queen’s; Stuart Kerr, Paula Dunlop, David Beckett and Susan Kinane, ESB

Three Queen’s engineering students have been named the inaugural recipients of energy supplier ESB Independent Energy (ESBIE) Scholarship awards.

The partnership sees ESBIE providing scholarships to students from the MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering programme at Queen’s on an annual basis.

Paula Dunlop from Belfast, David Beckett from Newtownabbey and Stuart Kerr from Waringstown were presented with scholarships for 2010/11 by the Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey. 

The package includes financial support, ongoing mentoring and practical experience through summer and corporate placements at ESB International’s many energy sites throughout Europe.

Commenting on the initiative, Susan Kinane, Managing Director, ESBIE, said: “I’d like to congratulate Paula, David and Stuart on becoming the inaugural ESBIE scholars.  I hope they find the financial, and more importantly, the practical support provided as part of the scholarship, beneficial to their personal and career development. 

“As a company ESBIE is committed to supporting the business market here in Northern Ireland, not only through our competitive and tailored energy services but also by bringing our experience to bear in areas such as the renewable sector.

“Our partnership with Queen’s is a reflection of that commitment by helping support the quality of students that enter into the workplace here. 

“Queen’s has a proven track record in developing an excellent calibre of students and we see this as a mutually beneficial partnership.  The financial and mentoring support we provide, as well as access to our various engineering operations, including emerging businesses in the sustainable sector, will, we believe, be a great aid in the development of the students.”

Queen’s ranks in the top ten in the UK for Electrical and Electronic Engineering in University League Tables and is also a member of the prestigious UK Power Academy which comprises the top seven Universities in the UK for Electrical Power Engineering. 

Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Queen’s currently has one of the highest employment rates for any degree, with over 90 per cent of graduates employed in a graduate level job within six months of completing their degree. 

Dr Tim Littler, who oversees the management of scholarships within the School, said: “The scholarship partnership with ESBIE promises to deliver significant benefits for Electrical and Engineering Students at Queen’s through a multi-faceted support package, an annual bursary and book allowance, comprehensive placement training, industrial mentoring and the prospect of a professional career with ESBIE after graduation.

“The joint scheme has been founded on a strong technical synergy between the two partners which embraces ESBIE innovation and global developments and the international reputation for high quality teaching and research at Queen’s University.”

Media inquiries to Gemma O’Donnell, Queen’s University. Tel: 028 90 97 4618 or email g.odonnell@qub.ac.uk

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No lounge for local lizards as living room vanishes

A new ecological network is urgently needed in Northern Ireland to ensure the continued survival of its precious lizard population, according to researchers at Queen’s.
 
Lizards are found in coastal areas, heath and boglands around Northern Ireland, but a Queen’s study, published in international journal Amphibia-Reptilia, has found their natural habitats may have been replaced through agricultural intensification.
 
“The fact that Northern Ireland has a lizard population will be news to many people. But most people are surprised and delighted when they spot them,” according to Dr Neil Reid, Manager of Quercus, Queen’s centre for biodiversity and conservation science.
 
“Unless we act quickly to establish a new ecological network that will preserve the connectivity of remaining heath and boglands, these reptiles could disappear from our landscape altogether.”
 
Often associated with hotter countries, lizards in Northern Ireland can be seen in upland places such as the Sperrins, the Mourne Mountains, Antrim Plateau, Slieve Beagh (Fivemiletown) and West Fermanagh, and in lowland sites such as Peatlands Park in County Armagh. They can also be seen in coastal habitats such as sand dunes at Murlough National Nature Reserve in County Down or the Magilligan-Umbra-Downhill complex in County Londonderry.
 
Aodan Farren, the PhD student who led the study added: “We must now move to increase awareness of the lizard population in Northern Ireland and protect their habitats, which are continuing to be altered by conversion to agriculture, planting of forests (afforestation), development of links golf courses, invasive species and infrastructure development.”
 
Explaining what to look for when trying to spot a lizard, Dr Reid said: “The lizards which are found in Northern Ireland are usually 12 centimetres (5 in) long, excluding the tail, which can be almost twice as long as the body. The colour and patterning of this species is remarkably variable with the main colour being typically mid-brown, but it can be also grey, olive brown or black. 
 
The study also pointed to the need for a Northern Ireland Lizard Survey to help gather more information on the reptiles.
 
Further information on Quercus can be found online at www.quercus.ac.uk

Media inquiries to comms.office@qub.ac.uk    0044 (0) 28 9097 3091

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‘Astronomical’ opportunity on offer at Queen’s

Prof Stephen Smartt from Queen’s, Chair of the Pan-STARRS Science Council

A rare chance to hear from two of the world’s leading astronomers is on offer at Queen’s next week.

Queen’s and the Irish Astronomical Association are inviting astronomy and science enthusiasts to attend The Great Cosmic Puzzle on Tuesday, 31 August; a free evening event featuring world-famous astrophysicists Professor Christopher Stubbs and Professor Carlos Frenk.

Chair of Physics at Harvard University, Professor Stubbs was part of the original team that discovered as our Universe is expanding it is also accelerating, suggesting the existence of mysterious dark energy.
Professor Frenk, Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University, specialises in investigating how the Universe we see today could have formed from the Big Bang.

The renowned speakers are among an international group of scientists attending Queen’s to discuss a new project which is creating the largest ever image of the Universe.

The consortium, which features Queen’s astrophysicists, is using a new Hawaiian-based telescope known as Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) or PS1, which is equipped with the world’s most powerful digital camera, to gather detailed images of almost three-quarters of the night sky.

The project will enable scientists to assess wide areas of sky at a level of detail never seen before. Powerful computers will process the data from the telescope, which is expected to generate enough information over the three-year project to fill the equivalent of several thousand PCs.

During their week in Belfast, the consortium will be welcomed to Belfast at a special reception in Belfast City Hall, hosted by Lord Mayor, Cllr Pat Convery. Speaking about their visit, he said: “Queen’s ability to bring such renowned scientists to Belfast highlights our city’s capacity to compete at the highest level in global science. I am delighted to welcome such a stellar cast to the city and have no doubt that the discoveries made through this exciting project will continue to have a significant impact on our understanding of the Universe.”

Also known as PS1, the Pan-Starrs telescope, which took more than a decade to develop, will pinpoint new supernovae – stellar explosions – as well as near-earth asteroids. It is also able to track fast-moving objects and exploding stars across most of the sky, and will enable scientists to better understand the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy - the material that is thought to account for much of the mass of the universe but has never been proven to exist.

The Great Cosmic Puzzle is a joint Public Outreach venture by Queen’s University and the Irish Astronomical Association. It takes place at 7.15pm on Tuesday, 31 August in the Larmour Lecture Theatre at Queen’s. Admission is free but pre-booking is required. Tickets are available by telephoning the Physics Reception 028 9097 3941 or 028 90 97 3219 or email the Irish Astronomical Association iaaastro@gmail.com
 
Further information on the event is available online at http://star.pst.qub.ac.uk/ps/cosmicpuzzle.html

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Press and PR Unit. Tel: 00 44 (0)28 90 97 5384 or email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk

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Paisley, O’Connell and Craig under spotlight with Queen’s Open Learning

June Clawson from the School of Education launches the new Open Learning programme

The chance to delve into the lives of some of the island of Ireland’s most historic figures is now on offer at Queen’s.

Ian Paisley, Daniel O’Connell and James Craig will be under the spotlight during the University’s new Open Learning programme. The Irish Biographies courses are among 300 on offer to everyone.

From painting to public speaking, walking to wine appreciation, counselling to ceili dancing, and astronomy to assertiveness, Open Learning at Queen’s offers everyone the chance to try something new and enjoy learning in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. The latest round of courses begins at the end of September and online registration is open now at www.qub.ac.uk/edu/ol

Dr Tess Maginess, Senior Teaching Fellow and Open Learning Co-ordinator at Queen’s School of Education, said: “Open Learning is the perfect opportunity to pursue an old interest or try something completely new. The courses are open to everyone over the age of 16, and you don’t need any ‘ologies’ or qualifications to enrol.

“Alongside old favourites, we have a huge selection of new courses this year including three Irish Biographies courses will explore the lives and times of some of Ireland’s most notable political figures.

“We will explore the path taken by Ian Paisley and his conversion from ‘Dr No’ to ‘Rev Yes’, Daniel O’Connell and his role in securing Catholic Emancipation, and James Craig’s political legacy and his resistance to Home Rule.

“There are also courses on those who shaped history outside Ireland, including Hitler, Mussolini, JFK and Ronald Reagan.

“This year, we also have two very special courses kindly supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The Blackbird Bookclub, in association with the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry and the Bookshop at Queen’s, features guest writers including Sinead Morrissey, Polly Devlin, and Chris Marsh. And Celebrating Contemporary Northern Irish Arts, co-hosted by the Crescent Arts Centre, will mix talks by leading artists, such as Rita Duffy, with gallery visits and seminars on a range of art forms including architecture, crafts and photography.

“Aspiring authors can overcome writer’s block and put pen to paper with courses in creative, travel or nature writing. If you are feeling inspired to pen your own account of your life experiences, the Writing a Memoir course with Malachi O’Doherty will help you on your way.

“Escape the autumn chill and find a bargain holiday with Travel on the Internet, and make sure your know your rights when it comes to online purchases with What effect has IT law on our daily lives?

“Learn about the real Pirates of the Caribbean with Dead Men Tell No Tales, which explores the history of piracy in the Americas, or Explore the ancient stories of Cú Chullainn, Deirdre and Luch with a course in Irish Mythology.

“If you have ever wondered how the bible was written and translated, and how it can be best understood, try The Bible: FAQ’s, or find out more about the humanist outlook in Living Without Gods.

“Brush up on your language skills with courses in French, Spanish, Italian, German, Irish, Chinese or even Swahili. And get ahead in life with our range of personal development courses, covering everything from time management, public speaking and interview skills, to life coaching, assertiveness and anger management.”

Dr Maginess concluded: “With online registration at www.qub.ac.uk/edu/ol  it has never been easier to sign up for our classes. Many courses fill up quickly, so we would encourage people to enrol early, online or by post. Visit our website or telephone 028 9097 3323 / 3539 for more information.”

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke at Queen’s University Press and PR Unit on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5320 or anne-marie.clarke@qub.ac.uk

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Count down to the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's 2010 gets under way

Festival Director Graeme Farrow (centre) with some of the performers appearing in this year's Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's
Ireland’s biggest arts festival targets 50,000 visitors and 36 citywide venues in global arts celebration.
 
The countdown to Ireland’s largest arts festival – the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s – is officially under way.
 
Unveiled today (Monday 23 August) the Festival programme is bursting at its proverbial seams with the best of international and local music, theatre, dance, visual art and spoken word in a packed 16-day programme which kicks off on October 15.
 
Taking place at a record 36 venues across the city, the festival will see a school sports hall in North Belfast transformed into the battlefields of Iraq and the tranquil Botanic Gardens turned into a mystical, magical garden. With traditional venues from the Ulster Hall, the Waterfront, Grand Opera House and the Great Hall at Queen’s to a barge on the Lagan, Clonard Monastery and May Street Church, this year’s festival will be the liveliest and the most diverse in its 48th year history further bolstering its reputation as one of the premiere arts events on these islands. 
 
As the festival has grown in size, stature and popularity so too has the line-up – and this year promises to be the biggest yet as organisers look to pull in up to 50,000 visitors from around the world with its top tier attractions.
 
With round-the-clock entertainment, there really is no better time to take in the city.  Featuring more than 60 show-stopping acts the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s welcomes back world-class comic Michael Palin, sees local legend Paul Brady perform alongside the Ulster Orchestra in his orchestral debut, as Therapy? showcase their seminal Troublegum album in full, army regiment drama Black Watch and renowned Australian circus performers Circa will astonish adults and young people alike with their rigorous and exhilarating routines.
 
The festival, which last year drew more than 40,000 people to the city, is supported by Ulster Bank, Queen’s University Belfast, Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Belfast City Council and receives both public funding and Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
 
Festival Director, Graeme Farrow, said this year’s line-up would secure Belfast and Northern Ireland’s place as a world-class destination for arts entertainment.
 
“We thought that last year’s programme would be hard to beat, but I’m delighted to say that we have managed to do just that. With a hectic schedule that is bursting with the most talented artists from every area of the arts world, there’s never been a better time to get involved.
 
“In a major coup, we will be presenting smash hits from both the National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal National Theatre with Alan Bennett’s sensational The Habit of Art and Black Watch in the same programme. We’re tackling big issues with Black Watch, FML and Trilogy, all of which have enjoyed phenomenal success elsewhere. How will Belfast react? We’ll also celebrate the anniversaries of artists as diverse as Chopin; John Lennon; Mahler; Tagore; minimalist composer Terry Riley; Therapy?; jazz legend Kenny Wheeler and rock star Ian Dury while welcoming winners of the Grammys, Turner prize and South Bank Awards.
 
“Whatever you are in to - this year’s festival has it all. Early booking is not just preferable, it is essential!” Graeme added.
 
Ulster Bank’s Chief Executive of Retail Markets, Mike Bamber says that the bank’s ongoing commitment to the festival reflects the close and valuable relationship between business and the arts.
 
“The arts are as much part of the economic fabric of society as they are of our cultural identity and development.  Ulster Bank is proud to partner the ever-evolving Belfast Festival at Queen’s which makes an essential contribution to the cultural landscape of Northern Ireland. 
 
“The festival is achieving deserved international recognition for its scale and the excellence of its content and has helped to raise the global reputation of the city and the province.”
 
Theatre-lovers can also look forward to the world premiere of Colin Bateman’s first play, National Anthem, gritty teenage play FML from Belgium’s legendary CAMPO outfit featuring some of our own young people andacclaimed proto-feminist play Trilogy. Choreographic superstar Russell Maliphant showcases his latest work and you can even participate in an ancient foot washing ceremony courtesy of Adrian Howell!
 
Music fans will be treated to special appearances by US singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter, Afrobeat star Tony Allen, French soundtrack composer Yann Tiersen of Amélie fame, and Polish conductor Antoni Wit will give a rare performance of Mahler’s Symphony No.5.
 
Fred Astaire’s daughter Ava Astaire McKenzie will host a musical tribute night to him featuring original film orchestrations and musical numbers. The award-winning, Belfast-born composer Brian Irvine showcases his new chamber opera based in a bingo hall - Postcards from Dumbworld. Traditional Irish acts such as De Dannan and Anúna along with the Dublin Gospel Choir are also a firm feature.
 
An impressive selection of talks with established writers, politicians and performers are a key part of the programme and include an audience with Jenni Murray, Peter Hain on Nelson Mandela, Paddy Ashdown, Roddy Doyle and Joseph O’Connor.
 
Commenting on the diversity of the programme, Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Queen’s University said: “The content and subjects portrayed address topics such as the feminism, teenage life and the war on terror.  There is hard hitting drama, invigorating music, spectacular dance and a series of exquisite talks and tours.  The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s truly has something for everybody.”
 
Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival has established itself as a highlight of our cultural calendar, annually attracting tens of thousands of visitors from across the city and beyond to attend a wide range of arts events.  As a platform for showcasing the best local and international acts, the Festival provides an excellent example of the major contribution that the arts make to our social, creative and economic life.” 
 
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Pat Convery, hailed the Festival as being a highlight in the city’s arts and entertainment calendar.
 
“Thanks to excellent initiatives such as this, Belfast’s status as a thriving cultural centre of excellence is being secured locally, nationally and internationally,” he said.
 
This year’s festival runs from the October 15-October 30. For more information on the festival programme or to book tickets, log on to www.belfastfestival.com or contact the festival box office Monday-Friday, 9.00am-6.00pm and Saturday, 10.00am-2.00pm on 028 9097 1197.

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Government needs to do more to support positive attitudes to ageing
Volunteers Johnny Rushe and Paddy Sweeney plant and harvest vegetables in an allotment in Annie Johnston’s garden in Cookstown.
Volunteers Johnny Rushe and Paddy Sweeney plant and harvest vegetables in an allotment in Annie Johnston’s garden in Cookstown.

More needs to be done to ensure older people in rural areas are not seen merely as the recipients of services, but are recognised for their significant contribution to life in Northern Ireland.

Based on research carried out in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Greenland, Sweden and Finland, Dr Katy Radford from Queen’s University’s Older People for Older People project, and the Age Sector Platform, are calling for the Government to do more to support positive attitudes to ageing in Northern Ireland. The call comes ahead of an event in Stormont today (Monday 23 August), celebrating the contribution made to society by older people in rural areas.

The event recognises the involvement of older people in setting up social economy businesses, which direct profits into their local communities to address social inclusion, health and wellbeing issues.
Projects being recognised at the event include:

  • An Allotments to Feed All scheme in Cookstown, where volunteers aged between 55 and 85, have taken over a local restaurant from where they run a lunch club and a meals on wheels service, using vegetables they have grown in the gardens of older people no longer able to manage the sites themselves.
  • Cuan FM – a community radio station staffed by and for older people in the Ards Peninsula area. The station offers programming for older people on health, wellbeing and safety, education, arts and money matters. It also plays local reminiscences by older people that are broadcast through the night, as well as music from the 1940’s and 50’s.
  • A group in Markethill who are setting up a drop-in centre and café for victims and survivors of the conflict, enabling befriender volunteers to reach out to other, older members of the community experiencing social isolation because of age, ill health or poor access to transport.

Those attending and endorsing the call to Government at today’s event at Stormont include representatives from, Age NI, The Commission for Victims and Survivors, Reminiscing Network Northern Ireland, the Rural Development Council, Volunteer Now, Fold Housing Association and the Age Sector Platform, which represents over 30 older people’s forums and networks.

Speaking on their behalf, Dr Katy Radford from Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, who administers the O4O scheme in Northern Ireland, said: “Older people make a significant contribution to life in Northern Ireland. We urge the Government to commit to developing policies which actively support positive attitudes to ageing and older people’s participation in society, as well as to promote the notion that older people are not merely the recipients of services.

“Northern Ireland has an ageing population. There are more people living here over the age of 50 than under the age of 19 and, in the next twenty years, the number of over 50’s will increase by more than 30 per cent, bringing with it an increase in service delivery needs. But there are challenges in providing these services, particularly at a time of increasing pressure on public spending.

“O4O empowers older people to use their energy and skills to help themselves and each other to remain in rural communities, rather than having to move. The projects, which have received business mentoring, are specifically supported by O4O to promote health, wellbeing, participation and inclusion, and to enable older people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.

“Increasingly, older people in rural areas are finding that isolation is something they can counteract through volunteering. Through O4O, Queen’s is empowering older people to address the problem of isolation and make valuable contributions to society. This project is an important aspect of Queen’s community outreach work. It is having a clear positive impact on the lives of older people across Northern Ireland, not least in promoting good relations and community interaction.”

Ms Phil Evans, Vice Chair of Age Sector Platform, said: “As an organisation representing 30 older people’s forums and networks in Northern Ireland, we call on Government to recognise that older people should not be considered as vulnerable, passive recipients of services any longer in strategy and policy. Rather, they should be congratulated, supported and appreciated for the diversity of their abilities and their willingness to actively provide resources to support themselves and their peers.

“This event highlights the valuable contribution that older people make in rural communities, running successful projects and developing businesses that provide social and cultural, as well as economic benefits.”

The event at Stormont is organised by O4O – an EU funded project which aims to help older people help themselves, particularly those living in remote, peripheral areas of Europe. Queen’s is O4O’s lead partner in Northern Ireland, where it supports projects in Cookstown, the Ards Peninsula and Markethill. 
For more information about O4O in Northern Ireland visit www.o4os.eu/northern-ireland.asp

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke at Queen’s University Press and PR Unit on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5320, 00 44 (0)7814415451 or anne-marie.clarke@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s helps Ireland row into world championship medals

Rowers from Queen’s University Belfast have helped Ireland win bronze at the World University Rowing Championships in Szeged, Hungary.

The medal is the first ever to be won by an Irish eight at a world rowing final. Six of the Ireland Men’s Eight crew are from the Belfast University, alongside Queen’s cox Andrew Tubman. Head Rowing Coach at Queen’s Mark Fangen-Hall also trained the bronze-winning crew. The remaining two crew members are from University College Dublin.

The third place is another feather in the cap for the men from Queen’s Rowing who earlier this year became the only team from the UK and Ireland to make the semi-final of the world’s largest rowing event, The Henley Royal Regatta.

In all 29 countries were represented in the championships at Szeged, including crews from top-rowing nations Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, China and GB. In the final, the Irish crew pulled ahead of France, but narrowly missed out to Estonia who took silver. Great Britain’s crew claimed the gold.

The competition, which brings together the world’s best student rowers, is a key event in the world rowing calendar and acts as a building block to competing at Olympic level.

Mark Fangen-Hall said: “In contention for medals were many favourites including GB and France, but our lads rowed beyond the limit in soaring temperatures to claim a placing. It is rare to see such controlled commitment over such an extended period of time. They more than deserve their medal.”

Congratulating the rowers, Isabel Jennings, Director of Student Plus at Queen’s said: “This victory illustrates what can be achieved when talent and determination are matched by investment in coaching and facilities. Sport is an integral part of the student experience at Queen’s. I am delighted to see that our continued investment in sport is helping our talented students get the results they deserve and is making Queen’s a destination of choice for the best sporting talent around.”

The successful Ireland crew in Hungary consisted of:

  • Bow Dave Neale (Trinity)
  • 2 Jonathan Mitchell (Coleraine)
  • 3 Eoin MacDomhnaill  (Dublin)
  • 4 Colin Williamson (Banbridge)
  • 5 Finbar Manning (Trinity)
  • 6 Abdulrahman Mohamed (Armagh)
  • 7 March Butler (Belfast)
  • Stroke James Graham (Belfast) 
  • Cox Andrew Tubman (Belfast)
  • Head Coach, Mark Fangen-Hall (Queen’s).
  • Team Manager (non-travelling): Robert Baker from Rowing Ireland.

Next on the agenda for Fangen-Hall and the students from Queen’s is the European Rowing Championships in Amsterdam from the 19th to the 21st of August where the crew will be representing British Universities.

More information on Queen’s Rowing is available online at http://qub.webbelief.com/

For media inquires, please contact Judith Rance, Press and PR Unit, 028 9097 5292, j.rance@qub.ac.uk

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Global Mediation expertise on offer at Queen’s
Some of the world’s most experienced mediators are to deliver a new professional mediation course at Queen’s University Belfast.

The course, which offers the option of qualifying with a postgraduate diploma or masters degree, is the first professional course of its kind in the UK and Ireland to focus on mediation as a peace-building tool.

In partnership with Mediation Northern Ireland, the PgD/Masters in Work-Based Learning (Mediation Studies), draws on the unique experiences of practitioners who have developed models of practice in Northern Ireland for use locally and in other conflicts internationally.

The launch of the course comes as the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) begins its consultation on the Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration, which encourages dialogue between and within all sections of the community.

Peter O’Reilly, Director of Mediation NI, said: “During the conflict here and the peace process that followed, Northern Ireland developed a huge amount of skill and practical knowledge of mediation - helping people to have the difficult conversations that were needed to move our society forward.

“Northern Ireland’s mediators are often asked to share their expertise with others around the globe, but despite their unrivalled skills and experience, many do not have an academic background in mediation.

“This course gives skilled mediators the opportunity to fill that gap in their CV, advance their theoretical knowledge of mediation and gain an academic qualification. It will bring together a community of mediators from Northern Ireland and further afield, who can learn from each other and apply that learning to their work.

“This course is open to all experienced mediators who want to develop their theoretical knowledge of mediation, for community cohesion and peace-building, and apply this knowledge to their day-to-day work.

“The course will begin in September 2010 and couldn’t be more timely, given the recent launch of OFMDFM’s Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration. Local mediation capabilities will be key to delivering the changes described in this document. This course will make a contribution to developing the knowledge and skills necessary to facilitate that process.”

Elda Nikolou-Walker, Senior Teaching Fellow in Work-Based Learning at Queen’s School of Education, said: “The course will be delivered by experienced and practising mediators from Mediation NI, alongside work-based learning specialists from Queen’s, and will focus on mediation processes in Northern Ireland and around the world.

“The work-based element requires learners to take the theory they have learned and apply it to their paid, unpaid or voluntary mediation work. Underpinning academic theory with practical experience, this course will ultimately make its students more employable.

“The course is open to all experienced mediators, whether or not they hold an existing degree, and the teaching format makes the course accessible to international students and those who work full-time.”

The course begins in September and enrolment closes on 1September.

For more information on the PgD/Masters in Work-Based Learning (Mediation Studies) visit the Courses by Subject section online at www.qub.ac.uk/edu  

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke at Queen’s University Press and PR Unit on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5320 or anne-marie.clarke@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s advises A-level students

The Admissions and Access Service at Queen's has issued advice to students who will receive their A-level results this week.
 
Head of the Service Jennifer Dwyer said: “We are well aware that this can be an anxious time for A-level students and their families. It is in everyone’s interest to ensure that they make the right choice and it’s important that they have as much knowledge as possible to make informed decisions.”

The University receives A-level and AS-level results directly from UCAS and candidates do not need to communicate their results to the University.  Students will be contacted if any results appear to be missing.  Those who did not take an examination listed on their application should let the University know, prior to results day, if possible.
 
Decisions made by Queen's, the University of Ulster, and Stranmillis University College are posted on a website hosted by Queen's on the morning of Thursday 19 August and updated twice each day.  The address is www.qub.ac.uk/ucas-decisions.  This also carries the most comprehensive details and is the simplest way to find out about the status of an application and Clearing vacancies. Details are also published on the UCAS website at www.ucas.com
 
Applicants who achieve the exact grades or points specified in their conditional offer should have their place confirmed through UCAS following the publication of results.  These applicants do not need to telephone the university or college.  The only official notification is sent by UCAS.  If accepted, students should respond to the appropriate university as soon as possible following the instructions given in the AS12 letter they will receive.
 
Students who do better than expected can, through the Adjustment process, hold their offer while they look for an alternative course. It is likely to be difficult, however, to find a vacancy on a high demand course. Full details are available on the UCAS website (www.ucas.com/students/nextsteps .
 
Students who average out or narrowly miss the grades required may still be accepted for their original choice. This will depend on vacancies being available, and it may be a few days before this can be confirmed. As has already been reported, some Universities may not be able to exercise as much flexibility in the interpretation of offers as in previous years, though this will very much be dependent on the competition for places on individual courses.

Queen’s has provided all students holding offers with an Enquiry Form which should be returned to the University as soon as possible if they want to be considered for an alternative course, in the event that they are unsuccessful for their original choice. .  Assuming Queen’s can help, a changed course offer would be made. This is simpler than going through Clearing.
 
Any student unable to gain admission to either their firm or insurance choice and who is not offered an acceptable alternative course will be eligible to participate in the Clearing process. Details of Clearing vacancies appear in the national press, on www.ucas.com and on university websites. Students must be pro-active, as Clearing vacancies are likely to disappear very quickly.
 
Alternatively, some students may decide to repeat one or more subjects and reapply for 2011 entry. Any student considering this option should check with the institution concerned about receiving an offer as a repeat candidate, and remember the entry requirements may be different.
 
Jennifer Dwyer added: “It is crucial to make decisions sensibly at this time of year and not to accept alternative courses, or Adjustment or Clearing places without careful consideration. There are many people who can help.  Students unsure about which option to pursue should discuss their situation carefully with their parents, their school or college or the Careers Service of the Department for Employment and Learning.
 
Queen’s will be operating advice lines following publication of results to ensure that students receive the guidance they need. These will operate as follows: Thursday and Friday 19 and 20 August from 9.30am to 6.00pm; Saturday 21 August from 10.00am to 4.00pm and Monday and Tuesday, 23 and 24 August from 9.30am to 5.00pm. The number to call is 028 9097 3838. Further details and FAQs are also available on www.qub.ac.uk/ucas-decisions
 
In addition, a personal advice session will be held on Monday 23 August in the Whitla Hall from 2.00pm to 5.00pm. A separate session for Medical/Dental applicants will also take place in the Larmour Lecture Theatre (Physics Building) at 2.30pm on the same day.
 
For media inquiries please contact: Anne Langford, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, Mob: 07815 871 997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Meningitis research breakthrough could save children’s lives
Professor Mike Shields
Professor Mike Shields

Researchers at Queen’s and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust have developed a groundbreaking test for meningitis which could help save lives.

A rapid diagnostic test for meningococcal bacteria that can produce results within an hour has been developed by scientists from Queen’s Centre for Infection and Immunity and the Trust. The speed of this new test is a vital factor in the treatment of young children with meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia who become very ill over a short period.

This research has been supported by the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).

Professor Mike Shields, of Queen’s and the Belfast Trust, explained: “The first symptoms of meningococcal infections are the same as a simple viral infection, making it difficult to diagnose in the early stages. Parents often use the ‘tumbler test’ on their children’s bodies, but the non-blanching rash that is associated with a positive outcome of this test is a late sign and is not always present in children who have meningitis.

“Currently doctors will admit and treat with antibiotics any child that they suspect of having meningococcal disease while they await the traditional test results that take between 24 and 48 hours. Some children are not diagnosed in the early stages while others are admitted and treated ‘just in case’ when they don’t actually have the disease.

“With the development of a small piece of equipment, which resembles a portable home printer, a sample of blood or a secretion such as saliva, can be tested quickly by the machine. This produces a colour reading that determines if the patient has meningitis or not.”

Alongside saving lives, early detection can potentially improve outcomes for meningitis patients who are often left with life-altering conditions such as deafness and cerebral palsy.

The machine is now being trialled in the A&E Department of the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. 

Professor Shields explained how the breakthrough is a great example of research benefitting patients.
“There is no other rapid test that can confirm the diagnosis in such a short time. The current tests are expensive and take up to two days to obtain. Speedy identification of the cause of infection can enable doctors to make life-saving decisions about the treatment of patients. If we have the results within an hour we will be able to start the appropriate course of treatment right away.”

The new test is very different to standard culture based detection methods that have been used up until now.

Professor Shields: “In recent years molecular diagnostic tests, that use the DNA finger print from ‘bugs’ for diagnosis, have been developed, but they still require the specimen sample to be transported to the laboratory and takes a considerable time to get the result back to the doctor. This means that doctors have to make clinical decisions before results are available.

“The new test called ‘loop mediated isothermal amplification’ also utilises a molecular method to detect genes that are common to all strains on the meningococcus. The real advantage of the new LAMP test is that it has the potential to be a simple bedside test that is rapid, cheap, easy to use and doesn’t require laboratory trained staff.”

Currently there are 1,200 to 1,500 laboratory confirmed cases of meningococcal disease in the UK each year and it is thought that actual numbers could be higher.

The medical team behind this breakthrough was recognised for its work in June of this year when they won an Elevations Diagnostics idea of the year award, organised by HSC innovators, a panel of experts from industry, healthcare and business support organisations.

Media inquiries to Donna McCullough 0044 (0) 28 9097 5391 or 07980 013 362

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Coming up roses at Queen’s

Queen’s is coming up roses – thanks to Students’ Union President Gareth McGreevy and recent graduate Frances Rafferty.

Frances, from north Belfast, is a finalist in the global Rose of Tralee Festival next week, while Gareth, from Downpatrick, has been selected as an escort for the event.

The Belfast Rose, who will take up a teaching post at Strangford Integrated College in September, graduated from Queen’s last month with a Masters in Personal and Civic Education.

Frances said: “I was born and bred in Belfast and I am so honoured to represent the city. It is steeped in culture and its people are wonderful, and I’ll do my very best to make them proud of me.”

She is a volunteer with her family in the Share Holiday Village in County Fermanagh where the able- bodied and disabled take part in outdoor activities. She is also involved in Belfast Royal Academy’s Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, for which she is a qualified leader taking groups of children up the Mourne Mountains and Antrim Hills.

Gareth was chosen as the Belfast Centre escort after a gruelling selection process, including a bootcamp in Ballinasloe, County Galway where, among other things, he had to overcome his fear of water for a kayaking task.

A Law graduate, Gareth McGreevy harbours ambitions to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest. He has directed several shows and plays and teaches many instruments. He has won several Scór titles and runs his own magazine, The Verdict, which won Society Publication of The Year at the Irish Smedia Awards.

He said: “The Rose of Tralee is something I have grown up with in our house and we watched it every year without fail. I had always wanted to be one of those escorts and this year I went for it.

“One of the most fulfilling elements of the experience is that it enables participants to give something back to society. This year the Escort selected charity is Turning the Tide of Suicide, so I’ve been busy fundraising for that. A recent coffee morning held at Queen’s raised £1,600.  It is especially poignant for me as the suicide rate is especially high among young males in their early 20s – those who are around my own age. I am delighted to be able to support this charity and to represent Northern Ireland.” 

The Rose of Tralee Festival starts on Friday 20 August. The winner will be crowned live on RTÉ 1 television on Tuesday 24 August.

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

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Queen’s academic named as one of world’s top enterprise educators

David Gibson from Queen’s University Management School has been named as one of the top three enterprise educators in the world by the United States Association of Business Educators. He is the first person in Europe to receive the award.

David, from Broughshane, has been recognised for his work in introducing the ‘E-factor’ into courses at Queen’s, the UK’s Entrepreneurial University of the Year. His work has seen him introduce a model of enterprise teaching into courses not traditionally associated with entrepreneurship, including nursing and the arts.

The award recognises the value of his model. It has already been adopted by the European Training Foundation to enhance the employability of graduates right across the EU by providing them with enterprise, business and entrepreneurial skills.

David said: “Queen’s commitment to enterprise can be seen in our pioneering model of entrepreneurship education within the curriculum. It 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.

“I like to emphasise that being entrepreneurial is not necessarily about making millions; instead it is about having a mindset which is geared towards making a contribution, and the skills to turn opportunity into reality.

“At Queen’s we believe it is vitally important to give students an injection of the E-factor to give them the edge in the highly competitive jobs market. There is a need to nurture the enterprising behaviour and employability of students at all levels, not only to encourage small business start-ups but also to develop a culture of enterprise and innovation.

 “It is important that students take a pro-active approach to gaining employment. This may mean putting together a portfolio of their work to show off their skills. It’s all about having the right attitude, showing a bit of creativity and cracking the art of personal branding.”

The award comes as David’s latest book The Streetwise Guide to Being Enterprising has just been published in paperback. Published by Oak Tree Press, the book identifies a generic set of skills designed to enable students to achieve success in business or their career. It has already been adopted by the UK Association of University Careers Services as a reference guide for information on enterprise and employability for graduates in today’s market.
 
The StreetWise Guide to Being Enterprising is based on David’s work with graduates and small businesses in helping them to achieve ‘Enterprise for Life’ skills. It is available from The Bookshop at Queen’s and from www.oaktreepress.com.
 
Further information on Queen’s University Management School is available online at www.qub.ac.uk/mgt/
Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Press and PR Unit. Tel: 00 44 (0)28 90 97 5384 or email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk 

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£7.5M 'global engine' of future technology opens at Queen's
L to R: Professor Robert Boman, Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and Dr Ken Allen, Seagate Technology.
L to R: Professor Robert Boman, Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and Dr Ken Allen, Seagate Technology.

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A new £7.5 million international research hub, which will bring major advances in computer hard drives, new and improved sensors and a host of advanced coatings, has opened at Queen’s University Belfast.

In partnership with Seagate Technology, the global leader in data storage solutions, new levels of information and data storage will be just one of the groundbreaking potential applications that will be created in new research hub ANSIN. By attracting a wide variety of international companies to ANSIN, it is expected that advances in new medical sensors, security devices and many other areas will also be made possible.

Seagate has provided £7.5 million worth of equipment to ANSIN which is based in the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s. Unparalleled in third-level physics education in the United Kingdom, the ANSIN facility is one of the top ten industry-linked university research centres in the world.

In ANSIN, researchers will work on new advanced materials from the micron scale, about fifty times smaller than the width of a human hair, all the way down to layers of materials just a few atoms thick.

Explaining how work at ANSIN will impact positively on people’s daily lives, Professor Robert Bowman, Director of Queen’s Centre for Nanostructured Media said: “Twenty-five years ago my music collection filled many shelves, now I’ve maybe one hundred times more music and it fits in my pocket. The science, technology and manufacturing required to make that happen has been revolutionary.

“Before the end of the decade you will have the ability to carry a vast digital library of text, images, music and HD movies with you in the same way. To make that possible will again require revolutionary developments of advanced materials and their exploitation in as yet unimagined ways. This is all only possible by understanding and exploiting fundamental physics and materials science questions. This is what we are aiming to do at ANSIN.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have Seagate as a founding partner in ANSIN, for not only are they supporting our first major project, but most significantly they want to see other partners who join ANSIN use the equipment they have provided. We hope that new partners will bring their ideas into ANSIN and that by co-operatively working with other partners in the hub, new inventions will arise and products can be improved.”

Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson added: “I am delighted and proud that a global leader such as Seagate has chosen Queen’s as the location for ANSIN, an industry-university collaborative research centre which will create real technological advances for many business sectors. Other companies will be encouraged to join ANSIN and interact to support their own particular needs.

“ANSIN builds on Queen’s internationally recognised research strength in advanced materials, with special reference to nano-structured media, to promote an ecosystem for the creation, transfer and exploitation of knowledge. This new facility will encourage further investment by indigenous companies and multi-national corporates in Northern Ireland.”

ANSIN was first raised as a concept following discussions between Queen’s, Invest NI and Seagate, following Invest NI’s £12.7 million offer of support for a £58 million research and development investment by Seagate in its Springtown campus. Seagate have also committed to a £1.7 million collaborative research project at Queen’s which is funding ten research posts at the University.

Dr. Kenneth Allen, Seagate's Vice-President of development, said the joint project with Queen's would not only contribute directly to Seagate's R&D learning but would also provide an ongoing flow of highly skilled engineers into local industry. He added: "ANSIN provides a unique opportunity to make a difference for Northern Ireland and for Seagate in the long term. By establishing this initiative, we hope to provide the spark which leads to a stronger base of magnetic and nanotechnology capability in these islands.”

Seagate is also providing £250,000 to fund business development activities that will encourage other companies to participate in ANSIN.

Dr Allen said: "The economic growth that's generated by these research fields will happen somewhere. From our way of thinking it might as well be in Northern Ireland. We look forward to broadening our strategic partnership with Queen's and Invest NI. We are also keen to encourage other corporate and academic entities to find out more about ANSIN - how it can help their business or university, and ways in which they can get involved in helping make it a global success."

Further information on ANSIN is available online at www.ansin.eu  

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Senior Press Officer, 028 9097 5384 or email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s scientists take a step closer to discovering life-bearing planets

Professor Don Pollacco

The discovery of new life-bearing planets is a step closer as the result of a new space mission involving physicists from Queen’s.


Known as PLATO (Planetary Transits and Oscillations of Stars), the mission is designed to seek out planets far beyond earth’s solar system, orbiting stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.
 
PLATO is one of three missions to share in a £3.65million development grant from the UK Space Agency. In June 2011, The European Space Agency will choose two of the three missions to build and launch into orbit between 2017 and 2020.
 
Planet hunter Professor Don Pollacco, from Queen’s School of Maths and Physics, is Principal Investigator of the international PLATO Science Consortium. He said: “The discovery of life-bearing planets is one of the major scientific and philosophical challenges of our time and at Queen’s we have been active in this area for many years. Already our SuperWASP experiment, using ground-based telescopes, has discovered 43 ‘exo-planets’ so far.
 
“We envisage that the new PLATO spacecraft would be launched between 2017 and 2020, on a Russian Soyuz Fregat rocket. We hope it will be powerful enough to detect rocky planets in the habitable zones of sun-like stars, those regions around a star where liquid water can exist. In other words, it could find new earths.
 
“Using a suite of space telescopes on a single spacecraft, PLATO would detect these planets by picking up a brief and tiny dimming of light as they pass in front of their stars, blocking their brightness.
 
“The mission would focus on solar systems close enough to be scanned for bio-signatures, or signs of life by later missions and ground-based telescopes.”
 
If selected for full development, the UK, together with other ESA member states, will design PLATO’s scientific instruments and finance its development, while ESA would commission the spacecraft to be built in European industry.
 
Second only to the United States in space science, the UK's thriving space sector contributes £6.5bn a year to the UK economy and supports 68,000 jobs.
 
The International PLATO Science Consortium involves seven UK institutions (Queen’s University Belfast, Queen Mary University of London, University College London, University of Leicester, Open University, University of Cambridge and Warwick University).
 
Further information on Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre is available online at http://star.pst.qub.ac.uk/

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Press and PR Unit on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5320 or email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk
 

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ESB Independent Energy awards Queen’s engineering scholars

Sir Reg Empey, Minister; Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie, Queen’s; Stuart Kerr, Paula Dunlop, David Beckett and Susan Kinane, ESB

Three Queen’s engineering students have been named the inaugural recipients of energy supplier ESB Independent Energy (ESBIE) Scholarship awards.

The partnership sees ESBIE providing scholarships to students from the MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering programme at Queen’s on an annual basis.

Paula Dunlop from Belfast, David Beckett from Newtownabbey and Stuart Kerr from Waringstown were presented with scholarships for 2010/11 by the Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey. 

The package includes financial support, ongoing mentoring and practical experience through summer and corporate placements at ESB International’s many energy sites throughout Europe.

Commenting on the initiative, Susan Kinane, Managing Director, ESBIE, said: “I’d like to congratulate Paula, David and Stuart on becoming the inaugural ESBIE scholars.  I hope they find the financial, and more importantly, the practical support provided as part of the scholarship, beneficial to their personal and career development. 

“As a company ESBIE is committed to supporting the business market here in Northern Ireland, not only through our competitive and tailored energy services but also by bringing our experience to bear in areas such as the renewable sector.

“Our partnership with Queen’s is a reflection of that commitment by helping support the quality of students that enter into the workplace here. 

“Queen’s has a proven track record in developing an excellent calibre of students and we see this as a mutually beneficial partnership.  The financial and mentoring support we provide, as well as access to our various engineering operations, including emerging businesses in the sustainable sector, will, we believe, be a great aid in the development of the students.”

Queen’s ranks in the top ten in the UK for Electrical and Electronic Engineering in University League Tables and is also a member of the prestigious UK Power Academy which comprises the top seven Universities in the UK for Electrical Power Engineering. 

Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Queen’s currently has one of the highest employment rates for any degree, with over 90 per cent of graduates employed in a graduate level job within six months of completing their degree. 

Dr Tim Littler, who oversees the management of scholarships within the School, said: “The scholarship partnership with ESBIE promises to deliver significant benefits for Electrical and Engineering Students at Queen’s through a multi-faceted support package, an annual bursary and book allowance, comprehensive placement training, industrial mentoring and the prospect of a professional career with ESBIE after graduation.

“The joint scheme has been founded on a strong technical synergy between the two partners which embraces ESBIE innovation and global developments and the international reputation for high quality teaching and research at Queen’s University.”

Media inquiries to Gemma O’Donnell, Queen’s University. Tel: 028 90 97 4618 or email g.odonnell@qub.ac.uk

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No lounge for local lizards as living room vanishes

A new ecological network is urgently needed in Northern Ireland to ensure the continued survival of its precious lizard population, according to researchers at Queen’s.
 
Lizards are found in coastal areas, heath and boglands around Northern Ireland, but a Queen’s study, published in international journal Amphibia-Reptilia, has found their natural habitats may have been replaced through agricultural intensification.
 
“The fact that Northern Ireland has a lizard population will be news to many people. But most people are surprised and delighted when they spot them,” according to Dr Neil Reid, Manager of Quercus, Queen’s centre for biodiversity and conservation science.
 
“Unless we act quickly to establish a new ecological network that will preserve the connectivity of remaining heath and boglands, these reptiles could disappear from our landscape altogether.”
 
Often associated with hotter countries, lizards in Northern Ireland can be seen in upland places such as the Sperrins, the Mourne Mountains, Antrim Plateau, Slieve Beagh (Fivemiletown) and West Fermanagh, and in lowland sites such as Peatlands Park in County Armagh. They can also be seen in coastal habitats such as sand dunes at Murlough National Nature Reserve in County Down or the Magilligan-Umbra-Downhill complex in County Londonderry.
 
Aodan Farren, the PhD student who led the study added: “We must now move to increase awareness of the lizard population in Northern Ireland and protect their habitats, which are continuing to be altered by conversion to agriculture, planting of forests (afforestation), development of links golf courses, invasive species and infrastructure development.”
 
Explaining what to look for when trying to spot a lizard, Dr Reid said: “The lizards which are found in Northern Ireland are usually 12 centimetres (5 in) long, excluding the tail, which can be almost twice as long as the body. The colour and patterning of this species is remarkably variable with the main colour being typically mid-brown, but it can be also grey, olive brown or black. 
 
The study also pointed to the need for a Northern Ireland Lizard Survey to help gather more information on the reptiles.
 
Further information on Quercus can be found online at www.quercus.ac.uk

Media inquiries to comms.office@qub.ac.uk    0044 (0) 28 9097 3091

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27/08/2010: ESB Independent Energy awards Queen’s engineering scholars
26/08/2010: No lounge for local lizards as living room vanishes
25/08/2010: ‘Astronomical’ opportunity on offer at Queen’s
24/08/2010: Paisley, O’Connell and Craig under spotlight with Queen’s Open Learning
23/08/2010: Count down to the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's 2010 gets under way
23/08/2010: Government needs to do more to support positive attitudes to ageing
18/08/2010: Queen’s helps Ireland row into world championship medals
18/08/2010: Global Mediation expertise on offer at Queen’s
17/08/2010: Queen’s advises A-level students
16/08/2010: Meningitis research breakthrough could save children’s lives
11/08/2010: Coming up roses at Queen’s
05/08/2010: Queen’s academic named as one of world’s top enterprise educators
03/08/2010: £7.5M 'global engine' of future technology opens at Queen's
03/08/2010: Queen’s scientists take a step closer to discovering life-bearing planets
27/08/2010: ESB Independent Energy awards Queen’s engineering scholars
26/08/2010: No lounge for local lizards as living room vanishes