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Agricultural Symposium, Thursday 1st May 2014, 6:30pm.

The Institute for Global Food Security

Title:  The Agri-Food Strategy:  Are we still Going for Growth one year on?

Guest Speakers:
  • Tony O'Neill - Agri-Food Strategy Board
  • David Wright - Irish Farmers Journal
  • Diane Dodds - MEP
  • Ian Marshall - Ulster Farmers' Union
  • Owen Brennan - Devenish Group

Chris Elliott - Queen's University Belfast.

The School of Biological Sciences, North Lecture Theatre, Medical Biology Centre, 97 Lisburn Road.

Organised by final year BSc Agricultural Technology students.
A wine reception and refreshments will be provided.

Download the Symposium flyer

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PhD Studentship in Biogenic Reef Restoration

Queen's University Belfast is offering the following 3-year funded PhD studentship in the School of Biological Sciences

Developing methods to restore habitat, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of a biogenic reef: horse mussel (Modiolus) translocation

Supervisors:  Drs Nessa O'Connor, Nate Geraldi and Neil Reid

Background:  Bivalve reefs are important for biodiversity and provide multiple ecosystem services including the enhanced production of economically important crustaceans and fishes.  Globally, enormous investment has been made in restoring reefs such as those associated with oysters.  Far less is known about the ecological importance of horse mussel (Modiolus modiolus) reefs and throughout their range these mussels have been severely degraded and even locally extirpated.  The loss is exemplified in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland where reef coverage is estimated to have been reduced by >90% between 1975 to 2009.  Strangford Lough, and specifically Modiolus reefs, is protected under the EU Habitats Directive (SAC; UK0016618) and is a Marine Conservation Zone (NI Marine Act 2013).  Restoring a viable reef is not straightforward and can be affected by multiple factors.  Testing which methods should be used to restore biogenic reefs is necessary to ensure the resources invested are used to the utmost benefit and to maximize the provision of ecosystem services.

General objectives:  This project will test the suitability of large-scale translocation of Modiolus from the Irish Sea into Strangford Lough and aims to identify; (i) optimal density of mussels and (ii) optimal size of artificially created reefs, to maximize restoration success accounting for habitat quality and associated ecosystem functioning and (iii) improve monitoring practices of biogenic reefs.

This 3-year PhD is aligned with the objectives of the current Modiolus Restoration Research Group (MRRG) Project.  The project will be based at Quercus, Northern Ireland's Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science in the School of Biological Sciences and will utilise the Queen’s University Marine Laboratory at Portaferry on Strangford Lough.  Owing to the subtidal nature of the project, candidates should possess at least a basic SCUBA qualification and be willing to train to HSE Scientific Diver standard.

This studentship attracts an annual stipend of £13,771 plus fees (full time) and is open to any suitably qualified candidate (a first degree in a suitable subject at least at an upper second class) from the UK or other EU countries.  Applicants whose first language is not English must provide documentary evidence that they can meet the required standard of English.

It is anticipated that this studentships will begin in the summer of 2014.

This project is funded by Northern Ireland Marine Division, Department of the Environment (Northern Ireland).

Applications should be made through the Postgraduate Direct Application Portal.

CLOSING DATE:  5 May 2014.  Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed shortly afterwards.


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Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Teagasc and
QUB School of Biological Sciences

Masters Opportunity

Title:  Identifying and investigating factors which improve sow performance in Irish pig herds.
 Dr Elizabeth Magowan (Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI)), Dr Peadar Lawlor (Teagasc) and Dr Niamh O'Connell (Queen's University Belfast)

Project description
Sow output in Ireland is below that of more efficient pig producing countries.  If an Irish 500 sow unit could increase output to that achieved in The Netherlands (26.5 pigs/sow/year), net profit p.a. would increase by €35,650.  However, an increase in prolificacy is often accompanied by an increase in the number of low birth weight, weak, unviable piglets.  If these piglets survive then their performance is often significantly reduced, and they can create additional herd management challenges.  As such, research is required to reduce the proportion of these low birth weight piglets and also to identify strategies to optimise their performance prior to weaning.  Such improvements will help the Irish pig herd improve sow prolificacy in a sustainable manner.

This Masters study is part of a large-scale research project being conducted between the Teagasc, Moorepark and AFBI Hillsborough research sites.  The overall aim is to identify nutritional and management practices for sows and piglets which improve output, viability and overall performance.

We are seeking a highly motivated Masters candidate with an interest in animal production science and in data manipulation and analysis.  The successful candidate will initially use existing data sources to identify farm factors promoting high sow output.  Sow nutritional work will also be conducted to investigate the effect of specific micro nutrients on sow and piglet performance.  Therefore the work programme will involve management and analysis of large datasets as well as animal work.  It should also be noted that whilst the student will be based at AFBI, Hillsborough, they will be required to travel to Teagasc Moorepark on occasion throughout the degree.  The student would be registered with Queen's University Belfast.

Applicants should have good numeracy and computer skills, and be highly motivated, intellectually inquisitive and hard-working individuals with a minimum of a first class or upper second class degree in agriculture, biological science or related subject.  Final year undergraduate students likely to achieve these degree classifications are also eligible to apply and may be awarded the MSc subject to the classification being achieved.  It is highly desirable that applicants have experience of working with large animals and a full driving licence.  Informal enquiries about the research project should be sent to Dr Elizabeth Magowan ( or Dr Peadar Lawlor (  More general, university-related queries can be sent to Dr Niamh O'Connell (

Application deadline:
30th April 2014
A CV, by way of an application for this position, should be sent to Dr Elizabeth Magowan and Dr Peadar Lawlor before the closing date above.

Funding notes
This PhD project is funded by the Irish Government under the National Development Plan 2007-2013.  This studentship is for two years and an allowance of €22,000 per annum is available.  This allowance is intended to cover both student maintenance and non-international university fees.  It may also be required for travel, although other sources of funding for travel will be investigated throughout the course of the project.

Teagasc, AFBI, QUB and NDP logos

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Queen's trio take their science to Parliament

Three young researchers from Queen's University have been selected to showcase their work at the Houses of Parliament tomorrow (Monday, 17 March) as part of the national SET (science engineering and technology) for Britain 2014 competition.

Dr Andrew Brown from Newtownbreda, Georgina Milne from East Belfast and Matt Nicholl from Londonderry, have been chosen from hundreds of applicants across the UK, to present their research in the poster competition which is judged by a panel of professional and academic experts.

The annual event gives MPs an opportunity to engage with a wide range of the country's best young researchers.

Georgina's poster focuses on her research about modelling how past climate change influences species evolution.  Speaking ahead of presenting her science in Parliament,the PhD student from Queen's School of Biological Sciences said: "This competition allows up and coming scientists to present their research on a national stage to both specialists and non-specialists alike.  This event helps build bridges between the scientific community and policy makers who are best placed to make use of new findings."

Dr Brown is a newly appointed lecturer in theoretical physics and Matt Nicholl is a second year PhD student in astrophysics.  Both are from the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen's.

Dr Brown's research concerns the theory of ultrafast electron dynamics in laser atom interactions, and his poster 'Watching electrons move- ultrafast dynamics in multielectron atoms' draws on his doctoral research.  Matt's poster discusses his recent paper in the high profile scientific journal Nature on the nature of the brightest supernovae in the Universe.

This years success for the trio follows on from the success of another two Queen's researchers who were selected for the competition last year.  Dr Gianluca Sarri, also from the School of Mathematics and Physics, and Roberto Caporali, an industrial research student in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, both participated in last year's competition.

Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said, "This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country's best young researchers.

"These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians' best opportunity to meet them and understand their work."

The event is run by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee in collaboration with the Council for the Mathematical Sciences, the Institute of Physics, The Physiological Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Society of Biology and the Society of Chemical Industry, with financial support from BP, the Clay Mathematics Institute, Essar, INEOS, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), Germains Seed Technology, Boeing, the Bank of England and the Institute of Biomedical Science.


Media inquiries to Joe Winters: Tel: 020 7470 4815, Mob: 07946 321473 Email:

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Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (Masters) 2014-15

The University has been awarded five scholarships for taught MSc Programmes (all within the School of Biological Sciences) through the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme. This is a joint initiative between the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (with funding from DFID) and Queen’s University to support students from developing Commonwealth countries who would not otherwise be able to study in the United Kingdom.

The awards are available to students taking the following one year Master's degree programmes in 2014/15:

  • MSc Leadership for Sustainable Development
  • MSc Leadership for Sustainable Rural Development
  • MSc in Advanced Food Safety

It is a two-step process: Candidates apply for admission to the Queen's course and also must complete an online application for the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship scheme via the Commission's EAS portal.

Details of the application process and criteria for the 2014 Commonwealth Shared Scholarship (DFID) awards can be found at:

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Scholarships Plus Awards up to £2,500.

Queen’s University is delighted to introduce a brand new SCHOLARSHIPS PLUS AWARD
scheme for 2014 entry.  You can choose between:

  • a tuition fee scholarship
  • a tuition fee scholarship combined with accommodation and lifestyle benefits

Scholarship awards up to £2,500 are available and apply to each year of study.   [More...]

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Fully funded MPhil Scholarship Opportunity

A one year, fully funded MPhil by Research is available within the Institute for Global Food Security.

The project is to develop a rapid biosensor based test capable of detecting a range of antibiotic residues in milk.  The project will be based in the world famous ASSET Technology Centre, David Keir Building and will be supervised by Professor Chris Elliott and Dr Katrina Campbell.

The project is due to commence October 2014.

Full training in the development of sensor based assays will be given.

Applicants must have at least a 2.1 in a Biological Science or related degree.

The Scholarship includes full fees (EU student) and a £1000 per month, tax free stipend.

For further information please contact Prof Elliott (

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The School of Biological Sciences wins Athena SWAN Gold award

The School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s has been awarded the prestigious Athena SWAN Gold award in recognition of its outstanding progress in promoting gender equality and addressing the unequal representation of women in science.  It is the first School of Biological Sciences in the UK to achieve this prestigious award, with Queen’s becoming one of only three UK universities to hold a Gold departmental award.

The Athena SWAN Charter was introduced in 2005 to advance the representation of women in science, engineering and technology and to address gender inequalities and improve career progression for female academics.  The Athena SWAN awards recognise and celebrate good practice in recruiting, retaining and promoting women.   More...

Athena SWAN awards announced (November 2012 submissions)

SWAN Committee    

Athena SWAN Gold department award application   

Athena SWAN Award submission feedback 16 x 16 MS Word icon   

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Launch of the new Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS)

Tesco Chief Executive, Philip Clarke officially launched Queen’s new Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) which will improve global food safety through the establishment of an international ‘food-fortress’ in Belfast.

An investment of over £33m from Queen’s will see the Institute play a key role in national and global efforts to provide the world’s growing population with a sustainable, safe and secure supply of high quality food. [More... ]

Tesco CEO launches the new Institute - video

Please visit the Institute for Global Food Security web site.

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