09-2010 Press Releases

24/09/2010: UNICEF selects Queen’s team to improve peace education in Macedonia
23/09/2010: Belfast’s ‘Hidden History’ revealed
23/09/2010: Six of the best reinforce Queen’s role as gender equality leader
23/09/2010: Queen’s means business with new leadership programme
22/09/2010: Life as a Stranger – new report on daily lives of migrants in Craigavon
22/09/2010: Queen's 'hotshots' use wood power to scoop global prize
21/09/2010: Queen’s University historian reveals secret history of MI6
21/09/2010: New study indicates children and parents want science assessment for 11 year olds
20/09/2010: FIRST LEGO League: Inspiring Innovation in the Next Generation
20/09/2010: Ethics of ‘designer babies’ centre stage at Queen's
17/09/2010: Fun in any language!
16/09/2010: Winner of Seamus Heaney Prize for First Collection announced
14/09/2010: Health Psychologists say they could save NHS £millions in Northern Ireland
13/09/2010: Tamara Drewe star to visit QFT
13/09/2010: Ulster Bank Festival giveaway hits right note with community groups
09/09/2010: Winner of inaugural Seamus Heaney Prize for a First Collection to be announced
07/09/2010: McCartan and Queen’s GAA launch Golf Classic
06/09/2010: QFT Learning launches Schools and Colleges programme
03/09/2010: Celebrate the unique art of Italian film-making at QFT
01/092010: ‘Ear’ for music creates unique performance

Mary Robinson delivers climate justice address at Queen’s
Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey MLA is welcomed to Queen's for the IAP conference by Vice-Chancellor Professor Gregson.
Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey MLA is welcomed to Queen's for the IAP conference by Vice-Chancellor Professor Gregson.
Keynote speaker Dr Mary Robinson (centre) pictured with IAP members.
Keynote speaker Dr Mary Robinson (centre) pictured with IAP members.

Former Irish President Dr Mary Robinson is giving a major speech on international development, social justice and climate change at Queen’s today.

Dr Robinson is speaking at the Irish African Partnership for Research Capacity Building workshop which is being hosted by the University.

The three-day conference was opened yesterday by the Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey MLA. It brings together over 100 senior academics and researchers from the island of Ireland, South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda to discuss how universities in Ireland and Africa can work together to tackle poverty in Africa through projects in health, education, gender, environment and ICT.

Speaking about the Irish-African Partnership, which organised the conference, Minister Empey said: “The Irish-African Partnership demonstrates an excellent example of the collaboration between our Northern Ireland universities and our counterparts in the Republic of Ireland.  The opportunity to share experiences and resources to the benefit of others in such a unique way is extremely commendable and will undoubtedly have long term benefits for all concerned."

Over the past three years ‘work packages’ from the IAP have included a Foresight Report on priority needs in health and education in the four participating African countries over the next decade, the development of a new Irish-African Web Portal (www.irishafricanpartnership.ie) to showcase development research and information through a digital repository and research register and a number of new research networks.

In today’s address Dr Robinson is calling for political leaders around the world, and women leaders in particular, to insist that climate and development challenges are addressed in tandem. She said: “This means, for example, integrating national Millennium Development Goals and Poverty Reduction Strategies with the national-level climate change adaptation plans of action being put in place in countries around the globe –- a process that happens all too infrequently today.”

Other speakers at the event include Tom Arnold, Chief Executive of Concern Worldwide, who will speak on hunger and food security; Myles Wickstead, the former head of Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa; Dick Spring, the former Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs; Professor Brian O’Connell, Vice Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape in South Africa; and Professor Yunus Mgaya, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

Speakers and delegates were welcomed to the conference by Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s Professor Peter Gregson, and Professor Frank Kee, IAP executive committee member and Director of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration Centre of Excellence for Public Health in Northern Ireland.

Further information on the IAP is available online at http://www.irishafricanpartnership.ie/

Media inquiries to Andy Pollak, Centre for Cross Border Studies/Universities Ireland. Tel. 00 44 (0) 28-3751-1550. Mobile  0044(0)771-5042122    email: a.pollak@qub.ac.uk


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Queen’s student named UK Graduate of the Year
Kathy Ruddy, UK Graduate of the Year in Social Sciences and Humanities
Kathy Ruddy, UK Graduate of the Year in Social Sciences and Humanities
Professor Carol McGuinness, School of Psychology and Graduate of the Year Kathy Ruddy
Professor Carol McGuinness, School of Psychology and Graduate of the Year Kathy Ruddy

Queen’s PhD student Kathy Ruddy has been named UK Graduate of the Year in Social Sciences and Humanities at The British Graduate 100 Awards in London.

The Graduate 100 Awards promote Britain’s highest achieving graduates and undergraduates across all academic areas. Over 13,000 students were nominated by universities across the United Kingdom before being shortlisted to the top 100 graduates. Star of the BBC’s Dragons Den programme, James Caan, welcomed guests to the event.

From Pomeroy in Co Tyrone, Kathy graduated from Queen’s with a first class honours degree in Psychology in July, obtaining the top mark in the class for her final year thesis on the way. She is now continuing her studies at the University with a PhD in motor control and stroke rehabilitation.

Kathy said: “I was really surprised to be informed two hours before the event that I was the award winner in my category, and that I had to prepare a short acceptance speech to make on stage. I am delighted not just for myself and my family but also for my lecturers in the School of Psychology at Queen’s who supported me throughout my course.

“In addition to my trophy, I received a keepsake book from the event, in which PM David Cameron has written a few words of support on the inside cover. It was a very special night and I know the memory will help inspire me further during my PhD studies at Queen’s.”

Kathy was also selected to present an award to PricewaterhouseCoopers, who were voted the company ‘where most graduates want to work’ by this year’s social sciences and humanities students.

Professor Carol McGuinness, Director of Education in the School of Psychology said: “Kathy is an outstanding student and her academic record across her undergraduate years speaks for itself.  She has shown commitment and motivation for her studies in psychology through participating in a summer research studentship at the end of her second year and a wide range of volunteering activities. 

“Graduate 100 provides a positive message to all Queen’s students that we are doing all we can to promote graduate excellence and keep our graduates at the forefront of employers’ minds. Queen's School of Psychology is delighted that she has been recognised in this UK wide competition and look forward to her continued success as a postgraduate research student in the School.”  

Further information on the School of Psychology at Queen’s is available online at http://www.psych.qub.ac.uk//

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5384 or email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk
 

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Pan-STARRS discovers first potentially hazardous asteroid
2010 ST3 (circled in green) taken by PS1 on the night of 16 September 2010
2010 ST3 (circled in green) taken by PS1 on the night of 16 September 2010
Prof Alan Fitzsimmons pictured by Max Alexander for the Explorers of the Universe exhibition.
Prof Alan Fitzsimmons pictured by Max Alexander for the Explorers of the Universe exhibition.

A major sky survey involving scientists from Queen’s has discovered an asteroid that will come within four million miles of Earth in mid-October.
 
The University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS PS1 telescope on Haleakala discovered the asteroid in images acquired on 16 September, when it was about 20 million miles away.  The object is about 150 feet in diameter.
 
It is the first ‘potentially hazardous object’ (PHO) to be discovered by the Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) survey and has been given the designation 2010 ST3.
 
Astronomers from Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre are involved in the Pan-STARRS survey which is generating the largest ever multi-colour survey of the cosmos.
 
The Pan-STARRS camera known as GPC1 is the world’s largest with 1400 megapixels, about 150 times as many pixels as the average camera. Built by the University of Hawaii, it is enabling scientists to assess wide areas of sky at a level of detail previously impossible.
 
Dr Robert Jedicke, a University of Hawaii member of the PS1 Scientific Consortium (PS1SC), who is working on the asteroid data from the telescope said: “Although this particular object won’t hit Earth in the immediate future, its discovery shows that Pan-STARRS is now the most sensitive system dedicated to discovering potentially dangerous asteroids. This object was discovered when it was too far away to be detected by other asteroid surveys.
 
“There is a very slight possibility that ST3 will hit Earth in 2098, so it is definitely worth watching”, Jedicke added. Objects the size of 2010 ST3 usually break up in Earth’s atmosphere, but the resulting blast wave on the surface can still devastate an area covering hundreds of square miles.
 
Most of the largest PHOs have already been catalogued, but scientists suspect that there are many more under a mile across that have not yet been discovered. These could cause devastation on a regional scale if they ever hit our planet. Such impacts are estimated to occur once every few thousand years.
 
Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at Queen’s who studies Near-Earth Asteroids and comets, said: “While PS1 has already seen tens of thousands of harmless normal asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, years of hard work are paying off with the first potentially hazardous asteroids now being found. Pan-STARRS will be an important part of the jigsaw in assessing and cataloguing the risk from asteroids in the coming years.”
 
Dr Pedro Lacerda from Queen’s ARC added: “Any sizable object that looks like it may come close to Earth within the next 100 years or so will be labeled ‘potentially hazardous’ and carefully monitored. NASA experts believe that, given several years warning, it should be possible to organize a space mission to deflect any asteroid that is discovered to be on a collision course with Earth.”
 
Dr Timothy Spahr, director of the Minor Planet Center (MPC), said: “I congratulate the Pan-STARRS project on this discovery. It is proof that the PS1 telescope, with its Gigapixel Camera and its sophisticated computerized system for detecting moving objects, is capable of finding potentially dangerous objects that no one else has found.”

The Pan-STARRS Project is being led by the Institute for Astronomy, of the University of Hawaii and exploits the unique combination of superb observing sites and technical and scientific expertise available in Hawaii.  Funding for the development of the observing system has been provided by the US Air Force.
 
 
Further information on Pan-STARRS can be found online at http://pan-starrs.ifa.hawaii.edu/public/

 
Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Communications Office, Queen’s University Belfast. Tel: 00 44 (0)28 90 97 5384 or email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk
 

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UNICEF selects Queen’s team to improve peace education in Macedonia
Professor Joanne Hughes from the Education in Divided Societies Research Cluster
Professor Joanne Hughes from the Education in Divided Societies Research Cluster

UNICEF has selected a team from Queen’s University Belfast to help improve peace and tolerance education in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Fifteen senior educationalists from the country will visit Queen’s next week (26 September until 2 October). The visit marks the beginning of a two year project, during which academics from Queen’s Education in Divided Societies Research Cluster will help develop new approaches to promoting cultural diversity in Macedonian schools.

During their trip, the group will meet with representatives from across Northern Ireland’s education sector, and visit schools involved in community relations and diversity work.

The partnership is part of a UNICEF programme to enhance inter-ethnic community dialogue in Macedonia, with a view to helping the country gain EU membership. Queen’s beat competition from organisiations across the world to deliver the project.

Later this year, Queen’s researchers will travel to Macedonia to provide training in the development of policies for peace and tolerance education.

The Queen’s team is led by Professor Joanne Hughes from the School of Education. She said: “We are delighted to work with UNICEF and the Macedonian Ministry of Education and Science on this important project.

“The fact that Queen’s has been selected to deliver this project is international recognition of the research excellence and expertise within the School of Education. It is a clear example of the potential of academic research to make a real difference to the lives of people in a region that, like our own, faces challenges in delivering a better future for young people.

“Given our experience in post-conflict Northern Ireland, we have unique expertise in researching and understanding the role of education in divided societies, and the potential for schools to contribute to community cohesion.

“The modern, liberal, democratic state – with its many different religious and cultural interests - presents challenges for politicians and policy makers. Our own education system has been the subject of policies and practices aimed at reconciliation between the Catholic and Protestant communities, and Queen’s researchers have played an important role in supporting and informing these policies. In the coming months we will share our experience and expertise with our Macedonian visitors to help inform the many important decisions that they have to make on the future of education in their country.”

During their stay in Northern Ireland, the group will visit a number of schools involved in community relations and diversity work, including schools involved in the Sharing Education Programme – a Queen’s led project which promotes reconciliation by facilitating collaboration and sharing between specialist schools in Northern Ireland.

They will also meet with representatives from across the education sector, including the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, the Department of Education, the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, the Transferors Representative Council, and Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta (CnaG), the representative body for Irish-medium education in Northern Ireland.

For more information on the Education in Divided Societies Research Cluster at Queen’s School of Education visit http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofEducation/Research/ResearchClusters/EducationinDividedSocieties/

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

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Belfast’s ‘Hidden History’ revealed
The Lanyon Building at Queen’s in 1920
The Lanyon Building at Queen’s in 1920

Previously unseen research on four centuries of Belfast’s history is being revealed this week at Queen’s University.

Belfast: The Urban Experience 1613 – 1939 will see a line up of leading historians and speakers explore the city’s hidden history on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 September.

The first major conference looking at Belfast’s history across four centuries, distinguished speakers include Dr Paul O’Leary (Aberystwyth), Professors Sean Connolly and Liam Kennedy and Belfast author Glenn Patterson (Queen’s).

Over 30 sessions will focus on Belfast as an urban place in the British Isles, unique for the ways it has combined diverse identities and experiences. The research will focus on the city’s rich past before the modern Troubles. 

The event is the result of collaboration between Queen’s University’s School of History and Anthropology, The Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s, and the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Northumbria University.

Dr Olwen Purdue, conference co-organiser said: "People coming along to the conference, even those who are very familiar with Belfast, will leave with a real and exciting sense of discovery. Leading scholars are taking the stage beside emerging researchers from a variety of disciplines to explore Belfast’s fascinating and multi-faceted history, a history that has been too often overshadowed by the prevailing narrative of conflict.

"This weekend’s conference coincides with the start of preparations for 2013, the 400th anniversary of Belfast’s first charter, and demonstrates the great interest in the city which has developed locally and further afield. Indeed, one of our conference speakers, Professor Sean Connolly, is leading a team at Queen’s to write Belfast 400 – the most comprehensive account to date of Belfast’s urban history."

The Right Honourable, the Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Pat Convery who will welcome delegates before Friday evening’s keynote address added: “This is an important conference for Belfast because it explores previously unknown research on a diverse range of fascinating topics such as the importance of the city’s merchants in the eighteenth century, how advertising impacted on our urbanisation,  the nature of philanthropy in late Georgian Belfast, how the great ‘flu epidemic of 1918-19 ; inward and outward migration; and the politics of city governance.  ‘Belfast: The Urban Experience’ has the potential to provide us really valuable knowledge and insights as we work to make Belfast a better place to live in, to work in, and to visit.”

Open to the public, the conference’s Keynote Address by Dr Paul O’Leary, University of Aberystwyth, will take place in Room G10N on the ground floor of Queen’s University’s Lanyon building (Lanyon North) at 5.30pm on Friday 24 September.  

For further information, please contact Dr Olwen Purdue, Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University Belfast. Email o.purdue@qub.ac.uk or telephone 028 9097 1298 / 3386.

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Six of the best reinforce Queen’s role as gender equality leader
Professor David Cleland, Head of the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, with School Manager Tara McCollum and Dr Su Taylor, School SWAN Champion, receive the School’s Silver Award.
Professor David Cleland, Head of the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, with School Manager Tara McCollum and Dr Su Taylor, School SWAN Champion, receive the School’s Silver Award.

Queen's University’s standing as a UK pioneer in advancing women in the male-dominated fields of science, engineering and technology has been further enhanced.

Six of the University’s academic Schools have received Athena SWAN awards for excellence in science, engineering and technology employment in higher education – the highest number of any institution in the UK. The awards were presented at a prestigious ceremony in London.

Silver awards were presented to the Schools of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology; Chemistry and Chemical Engineering; Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering; and Psychology. These follow the presentation of a Silver Award to the School of Biological Sciences last year. Two further Schools – Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Nursing and Midwifery – were awarded Bronze.

The Athena SWAN Charter Awards reward excellence in, and commitment to, the career progression of women in science, engineering and technology (SET) departments. The Athena SWAN Charter, funded by the Equality Challenge Unit and the UKRC, aims to encourage institutions to recruit, retain and promote female scientists, engineers and technologists in higher education and research.

Welcoming the news, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: "Queen's is committed to advancing the role of women throughout the University and particularly in areas such as engineering, science and technology.

“These awards recognise the practical steps taken both at an institutional level and at individual School level within the University to encourage women’s full participation in science, engineering and technology. The initiatives undertaken over the past few years have resulted in a very significant enhancement of our equal opportunities culture in these subjects, and I look forward to further progress, building on this considerable achievement, in the coming year. I warmly congratulate everyone involved.”

Professor Barbara McDermott received the award on behalf of the University at a ceremony held in the Royal Society. She paid tribute to the work of the Queen’s Gender Initiative and Equal Opportunities Unit in upholding the principles of the SWAN charter.

She added: “The scale of the awards made to Queen’s attracted widespread admiration from quite a number of delegates from other award-winning universities and further recognised the enormous commitment and enthusiasm of School Champions and Heads of Schools within the University.”

Director of Queen’s Gender Initiative Professor Yvonne Galligan said: “Universities are today more aware of the importance of attracting and retaining talented women in the sciences, engineering and technology.

“The Athena SWAN awards recognise that Queen’s has created a workplace environment where the careers of women scientists are valued as much as those of men. As a result, more women are choosing to undertake postgraduate research in science subjects in Queen’s, and to follow academic scientific careers afterwards. I look forward to expanding SWAN initiatives to advance and promote women in science, engineering and technology, and across the University.”

Queen’s was also one of only eight universities to receive an institutional Athena SWAN award.

Since it was founded in 2000, Queen's Gender Initiative has produced a stream of tangible results in relation to flexible working, enhanced childcare provision, the establishment of a central maternity fund, mentoring schemes for female staff and change in cultural attitudes.

Media inquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit. Tel: 028 9097 5031 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s means business with new leadership programme
Participants in the new Critical Leadership Programme
Participants in the new Critical Leadership Programme

Queen’s University Management School’s Leadership Institute has launched a Critical Leadership Programme to help local businesses enhance their performance.
 
Delivered in conjunction with Goldblatt McGuigan, the programme is designed to energise thinking and enhance leaders’ confidence and helps participants improve their financial and business skills.
 
A high calibre of applicants from the private and public sectors are taking part in the first four-day programme which runs over an eight week period.
 
Denise Falls, Business Development Manager at Queen’s University Management School said: “Offering real value for money, the course builds on, and exploits, the distinctive research expertise in Queen’s Management School and across the University. In what has become an increasingly competitive market, it is vital that business leaders can develop their leadership skills and apply them to their own business.
 
“The course, delivered by experienced practitioners from international institutions and consultancies, helps individuals develop a coherent vision, strategy and structure, and most importantly, delivers the skills necessary to drive better financial and business performance.”

The Leadership Institute developed by QUMS has been established to provide a focus for leadership research, education and practice in NI.
 
Those interested in applying for the next Critical Leadership Programme running in 2011 can contact exec.ed@qub.ac.uk or tel: 028 9097 3310 for more information.

Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: 028 9097 3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Life as a Stranger – new report on daily lives of migrants in Craigavon
Dr Ruth McAreavey pictured at the launch of Life as a Stranger
Dr Ruth McAreavey pictured at the launch of Life as a Stranger

A new research study has reported on the experiences of local migrant workers in accessing and using local statutory services in Craigavon. Co. Armagh.

The report includes accounts from members of a Polish women’s group in Craigavon and tells of the challenges they face when accessing local services like health, social security and education. Cultural misunderstandings, shortages of language interpreters, gaps in service delivery; are just some of the issues identified in the report.

The report was the result of a partnership involving Queen’s, Southern Health & Social Care Trust, PEACE III Challenge of Change and Craigavon Intercultural Programme. The research was funded by the Nuffield Foundation and conducted by Dr Ruth McAreavey, from the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering at Queen’s University.

Dr. Ruth McAreavey presented the main findings of the ‘Life as a Stranger’ report to an audience including the Deputy Mayor of Craigavon Councillor, Kieran Corr and Mr. Jerome Mullan, Honorary Polish Consulate.

Dr. McAreavey said that local conditions greatly affect the way in which migrants are welcomed into a community and that local organizations provide an important point of support for recent newcomers. This includes offering basic advice on accessing services; identifying employment opportunities; completing paperwork (such as work permits); providing access to social networks and delivering English language classes. One participant in the research said: “I think the language barrier is a very important one to overcome because it unlocks the social contacts for you. So those people with the language barrier are very isolated.”

The ‘Life as a Stranger’ report will be used to identify key issues such as gaps and requirements in the services provided and to highlight ways of tailoring/developing services for migrant communities in the area in the future.

Mr Ian Sutherland, Assistant Director of Mental Health, Southern Trust welcomed the publication of this report saying: “Little was known about the daily experiences of migrant people living locally but this report gives us a valuable insight into the challenges they face when they come to access our services. This report challenges all local organizations delivering services to local people, to be aware of the challenges these people face and to challenge ourselves to find ways of making it easier for them to access vital services.”

Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: 028 9097 5384 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's 'hotshots' use wood power to scoop global prize
Vincent Murray (left) and David Crudden with the Ecosy heater
Vincent Murray (left) and David Crudden with the Ecosy heater

Three ‘hotshot’ graduate engineers from Queen’s have won first prize in a global entrepreneurship competition.
 
Vincent Murray from Ballygowan, David Crudden from south Belfast, and Colm Connolly from Clones in Co. Monaghan, who developed an innovative patio heater aimed at reducing harmful carbon emissions, scooped the $25,000 prize in the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Business Challenge in Virginia in the United States. 

Collectively known as My Ecosy, the trio, who graduated from Queen’s with degrees in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering this summer, impressed the judges with their Ecosy heater, which is fuelled by renewable wood pellets.
 
The product provides users with reduced operation costs, increased product mobility and a significantly lower carbon output when compared to current gas or electric patio heaters. The initial proof of concept prototype was created by a previous team of students and was further developed and enhanced by this group of students as their final year project.
 
Vincent Murray, who is also Queen’s Student of the Year 2010, said: “We knew we had a good product and a strong business case, but we were up against teams from across the world, and the standard of competition was really high, so we were both delighted and rather shocked when we won.”
 
The VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Business Concept Challenge, which celebrates the energy and ingenuity of university students, is just the latest accolade for the team.
 
Earlier this year the team won the top prize in Queen’s annual ‘What’s the Big Idea?’ competition, before going on to win the Royal Academy of Engineering Innovation Hothouse Award for Northern Ireland and Scotland.
 
Vincent said: “Winning the ‘What’s the Big Idea?’ competition really spurred us on and gave us the confidence to believe in our product and business plan. It can sometimes be daunting for a group of non-business students to take on a cash flow forecast or to devise a marketing strategy, but with support from staff at Queen’s we were able to do so.”
 
Professor Robert Fleck, Head of Queen’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering said: “I congratulate the group on developing this new product. It required plenty of hard work, and their success is testament to the standard of both engineering and entrepreneurial education at Queen’s.”
 
The team received sponsorship to participate in the business challenge from VT KnowledgeWorks, Allegheny Brokerage Company Inc. and Queen’s.
 
For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, on 028 9097 5310, Mob 07815 871 997,
a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s University historian reveals secret history of MI6
Keith Jeffery, author of the official history of MI6
Keith Jeffery, author of the official history of MI6
The first, and only, official history of the Secret Intelligence Service, written by a Queen’s University academic, will be published today (Tuesday 21 September).

Professor Keith Jeffery from Queen’s School of History and Anthropology is the historian behind MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service, 1909–1949.

Having spent five years with full and unprecedented access to the agency’s secret archives in London, Professor Jeffery’s book will be launched in London today. He will be at a special event at Queen’s on Thursday 23 September to celebrate its publication.

The 800 page book is the authoritative account of the best-known intelligence organisation in the world. Packed with fascinating stories about the extraordinary people who served in MI6 during two world wars and the beginnings of the Cold War, it is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of espionage and international relations in the first half of the twentieth century.

Professor Jeffery said: “Being granted free access to one of Britain’s most secret archives was a huge honour for me. Writing this history was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the work of a crucial component in the modern British state.

“For years people have been fascinated with the mysterious world of the secret service but, for most of us, our knowledge of spies and espionage is limited to what we have seen in the movies.

“The real story is much better than James Bond. It deals with real people in real situations, whose stories I have been able to tell in greater detail, and with greater accuracy, than ever before.

“This book is the authoritative account of MI6’s people, development, operations and its central place in the British government during the first forty years of its existence. It gives a unique insight into the role and significance of intelligence in the modern world.”

Queen’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson, said: “I congratulate Keith on this seminal work. It is a huge accolade for Queen’s that one of our academics was selected to write a history of such high national importance. Keith’s selection by MI6 to complete this groundbreaking piece of work reflects his unrivalled reputation as one of the UK’s leading historians, and Queen’s as a world leader in History.”

At the Queen’s University event on Thursday, Professor Jeffery will be joined by historian, journalist and Whitehall commentator Professor Peter Hennessy. Professor Hennessy will share his thoughts on the much awaited book, which follows the Secret Intelligence Service’s operations all over the world.

It also highlights the agency’s activities in Ireland, where it tracked Irish republicans during the First World War and tried, rather unsuccessfully, to keep tabs on De Valera’s government in Dublin from the late 1930’s.

Among the stories recounted by Professor Jeffery is that of Queen’s graduate and former Unionist MP, Harford Montgomery Hyde, who worked for Sir William Stephenson, the Service’s Chief in New York, during the Second World War.

MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service, 1909–1949 is available from The Bookshop at Queen’s. For more information on Queen’s School of History and Anthropology visit www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofHistoryandAnthropology  

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office +44 (0)28 9097 3087/3091or comms.office@qub.ac.uk  

Inquiries and interview bids on Tuesday 21 September should be directed to Paul Sykes at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on +44 (0)20 7008 0912, mobile: +44 (0)7786 694 931 or p.sykes@fco.gov.uk  

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New study indicates children and parents want science assessment for 11 year olds
At a time when new transfer arrangements mean children in Northern Ireland will no longer be formally assessed in science at age 11, researchers at Queen’s University have found overwhelming support for science assessment in primary schools in England and Wales.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Queen’s School of Education on behalf of the Wellcome Trust, is the first study to look at the attitudes and concerns of children and parents on the way science is assessed in primary schools in England and Wales.

It is hoped the findings will be used to inform the debate about the best way to conduct assessments in science and around statutory national curriculum testing, or SATs, in other subjects. SATs in England and Wales have been shrouded in controversy, and have been accused of driving a ‘teach to test’ culture in schools to the detriment of pupils’ enjoyment. In 2009, it was announced that science SATs in primary schools in England and Wales were to be scrapped.

Dr Colette Murphy, who led the study, believes it has clear implications for the ongoing transfer debate in Northern Ireland. Under the new transfer arrangements, 11 year olds here will no longer be formally assessed in science.

Dr Murphy said: “This report couldn’t have come at a better time. Adults may have the responsibility of making the decisions, but it is the children who live with the consequences.

“As the debate continues as to the best way to assess 11 year olds in Northern Ireland, it is vital that we give children the opportunity to express their views and listen to their responses. We have to make sure that children’s voices are taken into consideration by the policy makers who decide their future. By including the children’s perspective, we can make better decisions regarding the way children are assessed.

“In relation to Northern Ireland, the study suggests that formal assessment of science in primary school, although not purely by pen-and-paper tests in which children recall facts, should be an important part of primary children’s education so that children can be better prepared to become active and informed citizens.”

Around 1000 school children in England and Wales took part in the survey, which was designed with the involvement of children themselves in collaboration with researchers from Queen’s. Groups of children also helped analyse and interpret the results, helping the researchers to get to grips with the issues surrounding this subject from the child’s perspective.

According to the findings, the vast majority of children surveyed found science assessment useful and liked to know how well they were performing. Most preferred the use of end-of-topic testing, however, and investigations to assess their performance, rather than SATs testing.

When asked how assessment could be improved in schools, the children suggested that more variety in the way they are tested, with a greater emphasis on investigative work, would put the fun back into the subject and help them to learn more. Some also suggested that children should be given choice in the type and timing of their science assessment.

Professor Derek Bell, Head of Education at the Wellcome Trust, emphasised: “What is striking about this report is not that younger children like science, but that they value assessment and the importance of feedback in helping them with their learning. We need to respect these views and find ways to nurture their natural curiosity whilst helping them, and their parents, to understand how well they are performing. As we have seen from other reports, an undue focus on testing and grades too often kills off children’s enthusiasm for the subject.”

The research was carried out by Dr Colette Murphy, Professor Laura Lundy, Ms Lesley McEvoy and Dr Karen Kerr. All four are members of the Queen’s University interdisciplinary Research Forum for the Child, which aims to promote high quality, interdisciplinary research that provides a better understanding of the issues that affect children and young people, in order to improve their life chances and experiences.

For more information on Queen’s University Research Forum for the Child visit www.qub.ac.uk/sites/TheResearchForumForTheChild/ For more information on the Wellcome Trust visit www.wellcome.ac.uk  

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 3087/3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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FIRST LEGO League: Inspiring Innovation in the Next Generation
Last year’s winners Ballyclare High School.
Last year’s winners Ballyclare High School.
The FIRST LEGO League (FLL), the world’s biggest interactive robotics challenge for children is to take place in Northern Ireland for the third consecutive year.
 
In 2010, pupils from 18 schools in NI will join over 90,000 budding young scientists across the globe as they bid to design, build and program a winning robot that must perform a series of set tasks linked to a research presentation. The regional tournaments will take place on 1 December at W5 at the Odyssey.
 
The LEGO League is being brought to Northern Ireland by a partnership of The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Queens University Belfast, SAP Research Center Belfast (SAP), University of Ulster and W5.
 
The League was designed to introduce children aged 10-16 to the fun of solving real-world problems by applying maths, science, and technology. The partners are hoping LEGO League in Northern Ireland will help develop the next generation of innovators and achieve the government's target to increase the number of undergraduate students involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects by 25 per cent by 2015.
 
Each year a theme is chosen for the challenge based on current, real-world issues. In 2010 FLL teams will learn about the inspiring world of biomedical engineering through the theme ‘Body Forward.’ Participants will discover innovative ways of repairing injuries, of overcoming genetic predispositions, and of maximizing the body’s potential.
 
In Northern Ireland, IET, Queen’s University – Widening Participation Unit and School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, SAP, University of Ulster and W5 have teamed up with leaders in the field of industry, including ESB International, FG Wilson (Engineering) Ltd, NIE, Randox Laboratories Ltd, Schrader Electronics Ltd, academia and education, to spearhead this initiative to engage post-primary schools with real world issues using robotics.
 
Guided by a team coach and assisted by mentors from the sponsoring companies, each team of up to ten pupils, will research and produce a solution to the theme, present their findings and build an autonomous robot using engineering concepts, all in a sports-like competition atmosphere.
 
The winning team will be invited to take part in the UK and Ireland final on 22 January 2011 and may go through to the World Festival in St Louis, United States in April 2011 and other International FLL tournaments.
 
Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5384 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Ethics of ‘designer babies’ centre stage at Queen's
Medicine and Drama students rehearse together for 'PERFECT'
Medicine and Drama students rehearse together for 'PERFECT'

The debate around ‘designer babies’ will be centre stage at Queen’s this week as the University takes a new approach to medical education.

Trainee doctors and drama students are coming together, along with a theatre director, a choreographer and a medical ethicist to explore the ethics of reproduction.
 
The result is PERFECT, a unique performance in the University’s Brian Friel Theatre (22- 24 September at 6.30pm and 8.30pm).
 
The performance brings together students and staff from Queen’s School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences and the University’s Centre for Excellence in the Creative and Performing Arts. It builds upon the success of last year’s project, Dead Man Talking, which focused on the issue of body donation to medical science. The project was awarded an Award of Excellence for Innovation from the Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s.
 
Dr Melissa McCullough, Lecturer in Medical Law and Ethics at the Centre for Medical Education at Queen’s, will present the project’s outcomes at the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities conference in San Diego next month. She said: “This is an extremely innovative and successful approach to medical education. We are taking medical students out of a clinical setting and putting them on the stage. This is a new forum in which students can explore medical ethics and express scientific and ethical arguments through performance art.
 
“PERFECT will explore the ethics of reproduction, and the controversial idea of using genetic engineering to artificially select the genetic makeup of embryos. It will look at the reasons why parents may choose to have a so-called ‘designer baby’, the public image of this practice, and the experience of doctors and researchers who work in this field.
 
“Tomorrow’s doctors need to be more than just medics. They must be good managers and excellent team players, with an ability to adapt quickly to any situation. From team work and public speaking, to working within a completely different discipline and adjusting to a new environment, this project has helped our medical students develop a range of skills they will need for a successful career in medicine.”
 
Anna Newell from the Centre of Excellence in the Creative and Performing Arts at Queen’s will direct the performance. She said: “Many of the medical students involved in the project haven’t been on stage since they left primary school. This has thrown them out of their comfort zone and encouraged them to look at medicine and medical ethics from a new perspective. All those involved – twelve students from Medicine and five from Drama Studies – have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
 
“This project has brought science and art together in a new way at Queen’s. It is the latest in a series of initiatives by the Centre to develop more inter-disciplinarity across the creative and performing arts at the University and increase interaction with professional arts practitioners.
 
“Our drama students have been excellent role models for the medical students in relation to professionalism, teamwork and creativity. The student mix has been integral to the project’s success.
 
“I would encourage anyone with an interest in either medicine or the arts to come along to the performance. Tickets are free and can be reserved through Juliana Licinic on 028 9097 5034 or at j.licinic@qub.ac.uk.”
 
PERFECT will run at the Brian Friel Theatre, 20 University Square, Belfast from Wednesday 22 until Friday 24 September at 6.30pm and 830pm.

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

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Fun in any language!
Wendy Phipps from The Northern Ireland Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (NICILT) at Queen’s and Brenda Davis from the University’s Language Centre, prepare to celebrate European Day of Languages.
Wendy Phipps from The Northern Ireland Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (NICILT) at Queen’s and Brenda Davis from the University’s Language Centre, prepare to celebrate European Day of Languages.
With more languages being spoken in Northern Ireland than ever before, Queen’s University is calling for anyone with exciting ideas for language learning to help celebrate European Day of Languages on 26 September.

Bengali lessons in Botanic, the Greek alphabet in Dunclug, and a Latin American quiz in the Odyssey are among the highlights planned to mark the day.

Since it was first celebrated in Northern Ireland in 2002, European Day of Languages has become an important day for schools, colleges and other organisations who host special language events to celebrate the occasion.

The Northern Ireland Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (NICILT), based in Queen’s University’s School of Education, is responsible for co-ordinating and promoting the day in Northern Ireland.

NICILT Executive Officer, Wendy Phipps, wants to hear from anyone with exciting ideas for fun ways to celebrate language learning. She said: “There are over 6,000 languages spoken in the world, and behind each and every one of them lies a rich and diverse culture. That’s what the European Day of Languages and NICILT aim to celebrate - by showing people across Europe how important languages are, and what fun can be had learning them.

“Sunday 26 September is the all important day, but many of this year’s celebrations are taking place on Friday 24 or Monday 27 September. We have been celebrating European Day of Languages in Northern Ireland for nine years, and every year it gets bigger and better.

“I would encourage anyone with an interest in languages to get involved in the day. If there is nothing planned in your area, why not arrange your own celebration to get people in your community excited about languages. From competitions, food tastings and music, to parties, plays and dancing, there are so many ways to celebrate European Day of Languages, and we would like to hear all about your plans.

“Events taking place later this week include a joint celebration Botanic Primary School and Stranmillis University College, where international students from from Hungary, Hong Kong, Spain, France, Germany and Austria will visit the primary school and use songs and games to teach pupils their native language. Parents who are foreign language speakers will also share their knowledge of languages, such as Bengali, which is spoken in South Asia.
“Dunclug College in Ballymena will teach classes the Greek alphabet, while pupils at St Patrick’s Primary School in Donaghmore will sample the language and food of Lithuania, Poland and Portugal. The Northern Ireland Latin American Society will host a table quiz in La Tasca in the Odyssey complex, with all questions in Spanish and English.

“Here at Queen’s, the University’s Language Centre is planning a colourful display in the McClay Library. Advisors, jugglers and stilt walkers will be on hand to entertain staff and students and provide information on the many part-time language courses available.”

For more information visit www.qub.ac.uk/edu/nicilt or contact Wendy Phipps on 028 9097 5955.
 
Media inquiries to Queen's University Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 3087 / 3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk  

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Winner of Seamus Heaney Prize for First Collection announced
Winner Sian Hughes (centre), Rosemary Kelly, ACNI and Belfast poet Michael Longley. Arts Council photograph by Brian Morrison.
Winner Sian Hughes (centre), Rosemary Kelly, ACNI and Belfast poet Michael Longley. Arts Council photograph by Brian Morrison.

Poet Sian Hughes has been announced as the inaugural winner of the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for a Best First Collection.

Created by the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s to help publicise new poetry, Sian received her £1,000 prize at a special reception hosted by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Sian Hughes picked up the prize for her debut poetry collection The Missing, published by Salt.  The Cheshire-born poet was selected by competition judges, Ciaran Carson, Michael Longley and Sinead Morrissey, who singled out her work for particular praise from a competitive shortlist of new British and Irish poets.

She said:  “It's hard to believe that writing down these very small texts and trying to make them as clear and honest as I can, could somehow turn me into a real poet. I still think of poetry as something unobtainable, like sneaking into the school stock cupboard and reading the sixth form copies of Seamus Heaney when I was supposed to be in the playground getting cold instead.  Nothing has taken away that feeling of musical lift-off, of words going beyond their normal limits.  This prize means that now my writing no longer only belongs to me, it also belongs in a small corner of that secret world in the stock cupboard. That's overwhelming.”

The reception marked the opening of the British and Irish Contemporary Poetry Conference. Hosted by Queen’s University Belfast’s Seamus Heaney Centre for the first time, it draws together poets and academics from across the UK and Ireland.

Professor Edward Larrissy, Head of the School of English at Queen's said: “The Seamus Heaney Centre is grateful for the support of the Arts Council and delighted to be working in partnership with it yet again. Together we continue to support that dynamic relationship between the creative and the critical, which is such a notable aspect of the distinguished and still developing tradition of poetry in and around Queen’s University Belfast.”

Rosemary Kelly, OBE, Chairman of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “Sian Hughes is a worthy first winner of the Seamus Heaney Centre poetry prize and we are looking forward to seeing more from her in the future. The Arts Council and Queen’s University are working together to support a number of projects to develop excellence in creative writing by supporting new writers. As hosts of tonight’s reception, it is a great honour to welcome so many esteemed poets and academics here  to mark the beginning of the conference and what promises to be an enthralling programme of events.”

Sian Hughes lives near Banbury, Oxfordshire with her two young children and works for the Oxford and Cherwell Valley College running Access courses for adults. In 2006 she won the Arvon International Poetry Competition with The Send Off, an elegy for her third child.  Her first collection is The Missing.

Belfast poet Michael Longley chaired the panel for the Seamus Heaney Centre poetry prize. Commenting on the competition and winning poet Sian Hughes, he said: “The entries were a good cross section of Irish and British poetry. They were serious and introspective, formerly alert and interested in shape and form. This is a great morale boost for the winner.”

The Contemporary British and Irish Poetry Conference is taking place at Queen’s from the 15 to 17 September.

Members of the public are being invited to attend evening poetry readings during the event where they can hear from leading lights such as Christopher Ricks, one of the greatest living commentators on contemporary poetry, Michael Schmidt, Christopher Reid, Peter McDonald, Carol Rumens and Gerry Dawe.

Anyone interested in attending the poetry readings should contact Gerry Hellawell at Queen’s on 028 9097 1070 or email g.hellawell@qub.ac.uk for more information.

Media inquiries to comms.office@qub.ac.uk or tel 00 44 (0)28 9097 3087

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Health Psychologists say they could save NHS £millions in Northern Ireland
Health Minister Michael McGimpsey (Centre) pictured with Dr Martin Dempster (L) and Dr Noleen McCorry (R) from Queen's at the launch of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology annual conference at the University today.
Health Minister Michael McGimpsey (Centre) pictured with Dr Martin Dempster (L) and Dr Noleen McCorry (R) from Queen's at the launch of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology annual conference at the University today.

Northern Ireland’s health service could save millions of pounds per year if it was to employ Health Psychologists on a similar basis to its counterparts across the United Kingdom.

Currently in Northern Ireland, Health Psychologists are not employed as an integral part of the health service.

The claim has been made by Dr Martin Dempster from Queen’s, ahead of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology annual conference which opens at the University tomorrow (Wednesday 15 September).

Just last month it was revealed 176,000 medical appointments in Northern Ireland were cancelled by patients on the day they were due to attend, and that excessive alcohol consumption in the region is costing the health service approximately £800 million per year.

Explaining how Health Psychologists could help address these issues, Dr Dempster from Queen’s School of Psychology said:  “We know from our counterparts across the UK, that if the health trusts in Northern Ireland were to employ Health Psychologists to promote and maintain healthy behaviours, we would see significant cost savings and perhaps more importantly significant improvements in people’s health and lifestyle here.

“In his latest report the Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland tells us that 60 per cent of adults are overweight or obese, which increases the risk of coronary heart disease, cancer and Type 2 Diabetes. The solution appears to be obvious in that we need to adopt healthier lifestyles, but this is often easier said than done. This is where Health Psychologists can help. Health Psychologists use their knowledge of psychology to help people change their behaviours with the aim of improving or maintaining their physical health.

“We know such interventions work, and at a time when further cuts are on the horizon, the health service here really needs to start utilising Health Psychologists in a meaningful and effective way.”

The conference is taking place as a recent report by Cancer Research UK reveals that half of all cancers could be prevented by changes to lifestyle behaviours.

Health Psychologists attending the conference will be speaking about the latest research on a variety of areas including the uptake and maintenance of healthy lifestyles, improving adherence to medication, and self-management of chronic illnesses such as asthma.

The British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference runs from 15 to 17 September at Queen’s. Further information is available online at  http://www.bps.org.uk/dhp2010/dhp2010_home.cfm

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Communications Office. Tel: 00 44 (0)28 90 97 5384 or email Lisa.McElroy@qub.ac.uk

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Tamara Drewe star to visit QFT

Actress, singer and champion of Derry/Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013, Bronagh Gallagher, will visit QFT on Monday 20 September to introduce her new film, Tamara Drew. She will also take part in an on-stage interview about her life and career.

Susan Picken, Head of QFT said: “Tamara Drewe marks Bronagh Gallagher's second collaboration with director Stephen Frears and provides an excellent opportunity for QFT audiences to hear her speak about her career, the directors and actors she has worked with and her hopes for Derry~Londonderry’s winning bid to be the first ever UK City of Culture in 2013.”
 
Bronagh has worked with some of the most respected directors in film, including Sir Alan Parker (The Commitments), Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), George Lucas (Star Wars: the Phantom Menace), Stephen Frears and Michael Winterbottom. Her co-stars have included John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Robert Downey Jr. and Julia Roberts.
 
In addition to a prolific stage and screen career, Bronagh has written, recorded and released an album featuring collaborations with Brian Eno and is one of the few actresses to have featured on an Irish postage stamp.
 
Tickets for the Tamara Drewe screening (6.30pm), followed by In Conversation with Bronagh Gallagher on Monday 20 September at QFT are £3 and can be booked online at www.queensfilmtheatre.com 

For media inquiries, please contact: Sarah Hughes, Press and Marketing Officer, 028 9097 1398, 07905 276 399, s.hughes@qub.ac.uk

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Ulster Bank Festival giveaway hits right note with community groups
Richard Gaston, Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s; Mike Bamber, Chief Executive, Ulster Bank Retail Markets and Claire McCartney, Belfast Talent.
Richard Gaston, Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s; Mike Bamber, Chief Executive, Ulster Bank Retail Markets and Claire McCartney, Belfast Talent.
Ulster Bank has launched a major online initiative giving community groups the chance to get free tickets to some of the most entertaining international productions at this year’s Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s.
 
Building on the success of last year’s Ulster Bank ticket giveaway, the website www.ulsterbank.com/arts invites community groups and charities to apply for a thousand free tickets for six of the finest shows at the award-winning, 16-day Festival.
 
Featuring everything from show-stopping theatre to dance and music, top-billed shows included in this year’s Ulster Bank Community Ticket Scheme are the National Theatre of Scotland’s infamous army regiment drama Black Watch, the acrobatic and exhilarating Circa, gritty teenage play FML, household favourites Dublin Gospel Choir, proto-feminist play Trilogy and magical theatre, dance and illusion with Leon and the Place Between.
 
The Community Ticket Scheme first launched in 2009, when 1,000 free tickets were given to 63 community groups region-wide.
 
Graeme Farrow, Festival Director of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s, said the Community Ticket Scheme is a great opportunity for groups to get involved in this year’s festival: “From Gospel and dance to theatrical drama and magical enchantment, the community ticket scheme gives people of all ages the chance to experience some fantastic productions and enjoy a memorable night out courtesy of festival supporter Ulster Bank.
 
“With winners of the Oliver Awards and other top-tier productions, this year’s applicants have a world-class selection of shows to pick from. Proto-feminist play Trilogy will be enjoyed by woman’s groups across the region while teenage play FML is a great choice for young people and their parents and for younger children Leon and the Place between is not to be missed. Whatever you are interested in – I guarantee there is something to be enjoyed by everyone.”
 
Mike Bamber, Chief Executive of Ulster Bank, Retail Markets, said arts, culture and entertainment are for everybody: “Inclusivity is an essential ingredient in any arts event otherwise it can become inaccessible. I am very proud that Ulster Bank is repeating last year’s hugely successful ticket give-away by making 1,000 tickets to top quality concerts and plays available to community groups throughout Northern Ireland.”
 
Transport will be provided to and from the venue for those successful applicants who live outside a 20 mile radius of Belfast city centre. To register your interest log on to www.ulsterbank.com/arts. Tickets will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications close on Friday 17 September.

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Winner of inaugural Seamus Heaney Prize for a First Collection to be announced

The winner of the inaugural Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for a First Collection is to be announced next week during Northern Ireland’s biggest ever poetry event.

Created by the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s to help publicise new poetry, the winner will be announced during the Contemporary British and Irish Poetry Conference being hosted by the University from the 15 to 17 September.

The winner will be presented with the £1,000 prize at a special reception hosted by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland attended by competition judges, Ciaran Carson, Michael Longley and Sinead Morrissey.

Those shortlisted for the Prize are Anne Berkeley, The Men from Praga (published by Salt); Sian Hughes, The Missing (published by Salt); Lorraine Mariner; Furniture (published by Picador); Tom Mathews, The Owl and the Pussycat (published by Dedalus); Andrew Philip, The Ambulance Box (published by Salt).

Seamus Heaney is delighted to be supporting the prize. He said: “Positive responses to a first collection are important in a poet’s publishing history. It is an honour to have my name associated with the prize and the outstanding work being done by the Poetry Centre which sponsors it.”

Belfast poet and Chair of the judging panel Michael Longley is looking forward to announcing the winner of the poetry prize. He said the judges did not reach the decision easily: “The entries were a good cross section of Irish and British poetry. They were serious and introspective, formerly alert and interested in shape and form. This is a great morale boost for the winner.”

The conference at Queen’s will be one of the largest gatherings of well-known poets and critics anywhere in the world this year.

Members of the public are being invited to attend evening poetry readings during the conference where they can hear from leading lights such as Christopher Ricks, one of the greatest living commentators on contemporary poetry, Michael Schmidt, Christopher Reid, Peter McDonald, Carol Rumens and Gerry Dawe. Also, Northern Irish poets Michael Longley, Ciaran Carson, Medbh McGuckian, Sinead Morrissey, Frank Ormsby and Leontia Flynn will be reading at one of the evening events.

Supported by the Arts Council for Northern Ireland, the conference will open with a lecture from Christopher Ricks. Scotland’s Don Patterson will also be among the famous visiting poets at the event.
Anyone interested in attending the poetry readings should contact Gerry Hellawell at Queen’s on 028 9097 1070 or email g.hellawell@qub.ac.uk for more information.

Tickets are available at £5 (£3 concession).

Further information is available online

Media inquiries to the Communications Office at Queen’s on, +44 (0)28 9097 5292 or j.rance@qub.ac.uk

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McCartan and Queen’s GAA launch Golf Classic
L to R: Down GAA manager James McCartan, Ciaran Teague (McAleer & Teague); Down’s Sean O’Neill, Prof James McElnay (Queen’s) and Conor O’Kane (Queen’s).
L to R: Down GAA manager James McCartan, Ciaran Teague (McAleer & Teague); Down’s Sean O’Neill, Prof James McElnay (Queen’s) and Conor O’Kane (Queen’s).

Down manager James McCartan joined Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduates, Professor James McElnay, and fellow Queen’s GAA legend and former intercounty star, Sean O’Neill, at Queen’s University today to launch the Inaugural McAleer & Teague sponsored Golf Classic, which will take place at Rockmount on Friday 1 October.

The Golf Classic will mark the 20th Anniversary Year of the formation of Queen’s University Gaelic Football Past Members’ Union (PMU), and will be sponsored by Tyrone-based building and civil engineering specialists McAleer & Teague.

Queen’s GFC PMU was formed under the chairmanship of the late Paddy O’Hara in 1990.  The PMU was established to foster continued friendship among alumni of the club, while supporting initatives and ongoing development of the present Gaelic Football club.

While he is busy preparing for the forthcoming All-Ireland clash with Cork, James McCartan took time from his busy schedule to help launch the Golf Classic.  McCartan is a former Sigerson Cup winning player and manager with the University.

The Golf Classic will be a team event made up of four players per team.  The entry fee per team is £200 that includes green fees and a meal.

To enter a team, please contact the Past Members Union - Mr John Devaney (07793 130 417 or jackdevaney@yahoo.co.uk) or Karl Oakes (k.oakes@qub.ac.uk).

Tee times shall be allocated upon receipt of payment on a first come first served basis. The tee has been booked from 11.00am until 3.00pm.

Among the prizes will be the O’Hara Cup, named in honour of Paddy O’Hara.

John Devaney, Queen’s GAA PMU Chairman, said: “The Past Members’ Union has been an important source of support for the Queen’s club, while hosting a variety of events for past players.  So many of our members are golf enthusiasts, so we would intend that this event would not only be an appropriate way of celebrating 20 Years, but may also become an annual event.  We are delighted also that McAleer and Teague will be supporting this event.”

Queen’s Past Members Union are also in the process of organising a reunion for the Sigerson/Ryan Cup teams of 1990, 1992, 1999 and 2000.  This event will take place at the university on Saturday, 4th December.  Details will be available soon.

Media inquiries to John Devaney, + 44 (0) 7793130417. Email    jackdevaney@yahoo.co.uk

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QFT Learning launches Schools and Colleges programme

Teachers from all over Northern Ireland will be taking a trip to the movies for the launch of QFT Learning’s Schools and Colleges Programme on Tuesday 7 September.
 
Presented in association with Northern Ireland Screen, Film Education and the 20th Coca-Cola Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival for Young People, the QFT Learning programme offers a range of screenings, talks, study guides and special events for primary and post-primary school pupils, which support specific areas of the curriculum.
 
Speaking in advance of the programme launch, Marion Campbell, QFT Learning Officer said: “Many of the adults who enjoy films at QFT today would have first visited us when they were at school.   As the moving image becomes more embedded in the school curriculum – in subjects from English and History to Geography and Politics – it is more important than ever to start children’s exposure to world cinema at a young age.
 
“The QFT Learning programme offers pupils of all ages the chance to see, discuss and learn from stories from other cultures, which enhance what they are already learning at school. It also offers teachers resources and support in using film as a learning tool.”
 
The School’s Out section of the QFT Learning programme features a range of free screenings for primary and post-primary school pupils. It also incorporates free screenings during National Schools' Film Week which enables thousands of school children from all over Northern Ireland to access moving image education events each year.
 
Throughout the forthcoming school year, primary school pupils can look forward to special enhanced screenings of the Roald Dahl classics Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda, while post-primary school pupils can see William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Psycho, La Haine and The Edukators.
 
QFT Learning has also teamed up with the Ulster Museum to offer two interactive presentations from the Northern Ireland Screen Digital Film Archive (DFA). Primary school pupils can watch footage from the Victorian era in Belfast then have a tour the Victorian exhibits at the Ulster Museum, try on Victorian clothes, see inside a scale model of a Victorian Terrace, and see lots of artifacts from this fascinating era. Post-primary pupils can avail of an illustrated DFA presentation on WWI and the Anglo-Irish War, followed by a trip to the museum for tour of the Plantation to Power Sharing gallery and the Troubles Gallery.
 
One of the most innovative new elements of the QFT Learning programme is the Takeover Film Festival (Friday 29 – Sunday 31 October), which will be programmed and delivered by a group of young people aged 15 years and over. Presented in association with trans, Cinemagic and the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s and supported by the Belfast City Council and Community Relations Council, participants in Takeover will learn skills in film programming, marketing, graphic and web design, press liaison and event management. For further information on this event, please visit www.takeoverfilmfestival.com
 
In addition to the programme of events above, QFT Learning can arrange other educational screenings for large school groups, and offer subtitles or audio description on selected screenings for the visually or sensory impaired, by prior arrangement.
 
For further information on all QFT Learning events and to see a copy of the full programme, please visit www.queensfilmtheatre.com/learning or contact Marion Campbell, QFT Learning Officer at m.campbell@qub.ac.uk, tel. 028 90971396.
 
For further information, please contact Sarah Hughes, QFT Press and Marketing Officer 028 9097 1398, s.hughes@qub.ac.uk

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Celebrate the unique art of Italian film-making at QFT

To celebrate the best of Italian film and the unique art of Italian film-making, Peroni Nastro Azzurro has partnered with award-winning Italian film director Gabriele Muccino to create an Italian ‘film academy.’  From Friday 17-Sunday 19 September, the Peroni Nastro Azzurro Accademia del Film visits Belfast for a three day celebration of the uniqueness of Italian film-making in conjunction with Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT) and Northern Ireland  Screen.
 
Throughout the three day Accademia event Belfast film enthusiasts will have the unique chance to immerse themselves in the world of Italian film gaining an insight into the craftsmanship and principles at its core. The Accademia will focus on how Italian film making makes the ordinary extraordinary and will comprise a series of masterclasses hosted by leading names in the Northern Ireland film industry.  Each masterclass will investigate the founding principles that make Italian film-making unique including heritage, passion, and natural style.
 
Susan Picken, Head of QFT said: “Whether in cinema, food, fashion or beer, Italian produce is a stamp of quality worldwide.  Peroni Nastro Azzurro as a brand embodies the values of craftsmanship and passion – values that are also intrinsic in the unique art of Italian film-making. We are delighted to be working with the Peroni Nastro Azzurro Accademia del Film to celebrate this unique craft and style of Italian cinema and to promote it to Northern Ireland audiences.”
 
The Peroni Nastro Azzurro Accademia del Film Belfast event is supported by Arts & Business Reach investment programme which is funded by ACNI and opens with a special viewing of a bespoke short film directed by Gabriele Muccino.  During the creation of this film a group of up and coming film-makers were given the exclusive opportunity to learn the core principles of Italian film making directly from Muccino himself.  The bespoke film exemplifies the passion and attention to detail that Italian film-makers put into their craft and will be screened at QFT and at a number of exclusive events throughout the UK, each of which will deliver an immersion into the uniqueness of Italian film.
 
The masterclass sessions at the Peroni Nastro Azzurro Accademia del film are complimentary and open to all - from film enthusiasts and those in the film industry to individuals who are simply intrigued to find out a bit more about the fascinating world of Italian film.  To reserve your place, contact Stuart Campbell with the name of your preferred masterclass(es) at s.h.campbell@qub.ac.uk
 
For further information on the Peroni Nastro Azzurro “Accademia del film”, please visit www.peroniitaly.com or   www.queensfilmtheatre.com

Further information from Cathy Law 07876 358 842

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‘Ear’ for music creates unique performance

Stelarc’s ‘avatar’ in Second Life

A famed body artist with a cell-cultivated ear implant in his arm, an avatar orchestra, and a Queen’s musician, have joined forces for a unique musical performance being staged in both the real and virtual worlds.

Dr Franziska Schroeder, a lecturer in Queen’s School of Music and Sonic Arts, will be joined by famed body artist Stelarc, internationally acclaimed composer and performer Pauline Oliveros, and The Avatar Orchestra Metaverse, for the Rotating Brains/Beating Heart performance in London.

The performance, which includes a saxophone performance by Dr Schroeder, The Avatar Orchestra Metaverse performing in 3D virtual world Second Life, and digitally created large floating body organs, will provide a spectacular opening for the Conference on Digital Resources in the Humanities and Arts, which will take place at Brunel University in London from 5-8 September.

Dr Schroeder said: “The Second Life performance features giant body organs, including semi-transparent brains and a beating heart floating in a virtual space. Stelarc and Pauline Oliveros’ own Second Life characters, or ‘avatars’, will perform alongside The Avatar Orchestra Metaverse, travelling inside the digitally created organs, which will emit sound and light to create beautiful sound and stunning visuals. Some of the sounds that will be heard include foetal heart beats, circulation systems, brain wave frequencies.

“The Second Life images will be projected on to a screen in Brunel’s theatre, where I will be playing on stage alongside electronic musician Martin Parker. Conference delegates from around the world will be able to watch real life and Second Life performers come together and interact with each other, resulting in a truly unique and highly choreographed performance.”

The Conference on Digital Resources in the Humanities and Arts features over one hundred dramatic installations, performances and presentations. They all centre on the human body and are performed partly in virtual space and partly in real life.

Themed on ‘Sensual Technologies’, the conference focuses on the use of Second Life, Artificial Intelligence and extreme technology in arts and performance. It aims to explore the limits of what is technologically possible, both from a physical performance and digital engineering perspective.

As well as performing in Rotating Brains/Beating Heart, Stelarc will also deliver a key note speech on ‘Liminal Desires: From Third Life to Real Life’.

For more information on the conference visit www.drha2010.org.uk For more information on Queen’s School of Music and Sonic Arts visit www.mu.qub.ac.uk

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

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