Latest News

Latest News

Queen’s University 9th in the UK for research intensity

Figures released this morning by the national Higher Education Statistics Agency have confirmed that Queen’s University has been placed joint 9th in the UK for research intensity. Queen’s returned over 95 per cent of academic staff, which was the fifth largest percentage of staff returned in the REF 2014. The University also has 14 subject areas ranked within the UK’s top 20 and 76 per cent of its research classified in the top two categories of world leading and internationally excellent. These results are part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results, also released this morning, which announced that over 75 per cent of Queen’s researchers are undertaking world-class or internationally leading research. The ‘Research Excellence Framework,’ which assesses the quality and impact of UK higher education institutions’ research, is also used to allocate £2 billion in research funding across the UK. Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston said: “This spectacular news, coming on the back of our excellent REF 2014 performance, clearly validates Queen’s as a University with world-class researchers carrying out world-class research. “To be positioned 9th in the UK is an outstanding achievement and I would pay particular tribute to the work of my academic colleagues that has enabled this excellent result. The breadth and depth and the quality of research, right across the University, has clearly been recognised at a national level and we should be rightly proud. “Whether it be in food security, education, pharmacy, health, modern languages, astrophysics, engineering, cyber security, english or history, Queen’s research impacts right across society and makes a huge contribution to both the local and global economy. By creating jobs, informing government policy, developing new treatments for many of the world’s most chronic illnesses, protecting children or creating new technology, Queen’s is having real and meaningful impact. “Queen’s University is on a journey to become a powerhouse of world-class research and this is a great platform from which to build a world-class research institution that is globally competitive.” For further information, click here. Media inquiries to Kevin Mulhern, Head of Communications and External Affairs, on 028 9097 3259/07813 015431 or k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s to lead European project in clean up of contaminated land

A new €3.7 million research project at Queen’s University Belfast is aiming to use sustainable methods to clean up contaminated land. Known as REMEDIATE, the QUESTOR Centre at Queen’s is leading the project and is working with researchers across Europe in collaboration with industrial partners, including Shell Global Solutions. Years of industrialisation or poor management practices has resulted in thousands of contaminated land sites across Europe, posing serious environmental, economic and health risks. The four-year European initiative will bring together scientists and engineers who will develop technologies to help accelerate the remediation of contaminated sites, releasing land for industrial or domestic development. The QUESTOR Centre has been awarded €3.7 million to lead the four year project, which will support 14 researchers in UK, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Italy, working with 14 industrial partners. Professor Mike Larkin, from Biological Sciences at Queen’s, is leading the project: “There are an estimated 3.5 million potentially contaminated sites in the whole of the EU, of which about half a million are expected to be actually contaminated and in need of remediation. “Until these are identified and assessed, they will continue to pose potentially serious environmental, economic, social and health risks. “This is a multidisciplinary collaboration committed to the provision of innovative research and training for more cost effective and sustainable remediation of contaminated land. “It would not have been possible for Queen’s University to lead such a project without the expertise and co-ordination of staff in the QUESTOR Centre. It demonstrates the capacity that Queen’s has to lead in important international collaborations,” he said. “Established 25 years ago QUESTOR is an industry-collaborative centre for world-leading environmental research. It is the only Centre outside the United States to be part of the NSF IUCRC (Industry-University Co-operative Research Centre) programme. It has an international standing as a Centre of Excellence for Environmental Research and makes significant contributions to the regional and national economies. In addition to coordination of the project, scientists at Queen’s will be focussed on novel methods of engineering biological clean-up process in collaboration between Biological Sciences and Civil Engineering.

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Queen’s IT students win big at Allstate NI Hackathon

On Wednesday 10 December Allstate NI announced the winners of their recent Hackathon competition which was held at Queen’s University Belfast. The challenge was to invent new or improved products or service offerings within a fixed timeframe that leverage the data collected by an insurance company the size of Allstate in the US. Allstate NI partnered with the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen's with a view to opening up the data to a group of students, have them develop ideas and ultimately produce a demonstrable product to the Allstate NI leadership team.  Thirty students in total registered for the event and were asked to initially present their thoughts to the Allstate NI team in groups. The groups were then given a week to turn their raw ideas into an initial design which was then reviewed by a panel of Allstate experts. Four groups made the final and got to work on building a demonstrable application which was presented via immersive telepresence to a global panel from Allstate on the 20th November 2014. All of the entries were of a very high standard and came with many fresh ideas which impressed the panel. However, after much deliberation, DriveXP, made up of Stephen Laide and Adam Fallon, were named the winners with their iPhone application which was able to solve a major business problem in an innovative way. On Wednesday the winning teams were invited to a celebratory event at the Allstate NI Belfast Office to collect their prizes. Upon arrival students were welcomed by Bro McFerran, Vice President and Managing Director at Allstate Northern Ireland, and treated to an array of refreshments. The groups were then presented with their prizes, a total of £3,000 worth of Apple vouchers, and then taken on a tour of Allstate NI’s new state-of-the-art Enterprise Command Centre. Russell Kane, from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen's said: “The Allstate NI Hackathon presented an exciting opportunity for the students to engage with experts in the IT industry and to experience the challenges of a real-life IT project. It has allowed the students to demonstrate their innovative as well as creative approaches to problem solving and we are excited to be a part of the Allstate NI journey.” Opal Perry, Chief Operating Officer of Allstate Technology and Operations International said: “Each group came up with innovative ideas during the course of the Hackathon and had great energy when presenting their ideas. Because of this we decided to award all four finalists with Apple vouchers to show our appreciation to them. I’d like to thank all the students for taking part and I look forward to the possibility of seeing their ideas come to life in the insurance industry.” The full list of finalists and prizes are:  DriveXP - made up of Stephen Laide and Adam Fallon who each won £750 worth of Apple vouchers IVEA - made up of Adam Whiteside, Alex Caskey, Andrew Boyd and Victoria Potts who each won £125 worth of Apple vouchers Profilers - made up of Dave Nesbitt, Aine Rice and Alex Kidston who each won £170 worth of Apple vouchers Safe Hands - made up of Iain Wilson, Hannah Smith, Mike Seeds and Jason McMahon who each won £125 worth of Apple vouchers.

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Life-changing placement prepares students for working life

From the academic halls of Queen’s University to life-changing placements in a Tanzanian hospital – three colleagues graduating from Queen’s today have had an unforgettable year of study. Dr Gillian Agnew, south Armagh, Dr Suzanne Crooks, Coleraine, and Dr Lorraine Kennedy, Tipperary, are all graduating with PhDs in Clinical Psychology. The three students took full advantage of the range of international work placements and study programmes available to Queen’s students and undertook a placement in Tanzania’s Muhimbili National Hospital. From April to September this year they worked in the hospital’s Psychiatry Department under the supervision of Dr Margaret Hogan, a clinical psychologist within the Medical Missionaries of Mary who has worked in Tanzania for decades. It was an experience they will never forget. Gillian said: “The placement facilitated by Queen’s was a great success and provided us with an amazing experience of supporting people from completely different economic cultural and religious backgrounds.” Since completing their Doctorates, all three graduates have already secured employment in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. Gillian added: “It was fantastic to learn from Dr Hogan and the other staff at Muhimbili Hospital. The skills and invaluable experience we gained have helped us prepare for the workplace and enabled us to further develop the skills we require to meet the needs of our employees and the increasingly multi-cultural needs of our service users.” Media inquiries to Queen's Communications Office comms.office@qub.ac.uk and 028 9097 3087.

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Fourth time’s a charm for full time doctor

An extraordinary student with huge commitment and ambition is among today’s graduates at Queen’s University. Dr Olga Kerr is graduating with her third postgraduate degree from Queen’s and her fourth in total – and all this while working as a full time NHS doctor and mum to three children. Olga holds a medical degree and practices full time as a Dermatology Consultant, specialising in skin cancer diagnosis and treatment, at the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. She also has a Masters in Medical Education from Queen’s and is a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) from Edinburgh University. On this occasion she is graduating with an Executive MBA with Commendation and she also jointly won the prize for best student in the leadership module. On top of her busy schedule she also looks after her three children, daughter Eva, 9, and twin boys Zak and Zavier, 4, who will join her husband to celebrate their mum’s achievements today. Olga said: “I am driven by the sheer delight of learning new things and meeting new people. I rarely sit still and I am extremely passionate about my subject area. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my MBA as I was introduced to a wide variety of students from both the public and private sector who were a delight to work with and get to know. A degree from Queen’s opens pathways to professions and I have learnt many new skills that I have taken back into my working life.” Olga joins the 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

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Talented Queen’s students prepare for dream careers

Today’s graduation ceremony at Queen’s will be particularly poignant for two talented students who have played a key role in university life and are now pursuing their dream careers. Connor Daley, from Armagh, and Eoin Deeny, from Portstewart, who are graduating with Masters degrees from the School of Law at Queen’s, have been close friends throughout their time at the university, completing their studies together and working side by side as elected Vice Presidents of Queen’s Students’ Union. Now the professional paths of these enterprising students are also following the same course. They have started graduate positions for leading global firm, Price Waterhouse Coopers, ranked number one in The Time’s top graduate employers’ list. The pair are being supported by their proud families on graduation day and join the 94 per cent of Queen’s students that enter employment or further study six months after graduating. Connor said: “I am very fortunate to have gained so many opportunities and so many friends throughout my time at Queen’s, and I am particularly proud to graduate on the same day as one of my best friends Eoin, a former election running mate and colleague at Queen’s, and now my colleague at PwC.” Eoin gained a great deal from his degree, but it his experience beyond the classroom that he will always remember. He said: “Being a student at Queen’s has been the best experience of my life. Undoubtedly the highlight has been the opportunity to represent the interests of over 23,000 students as union Vice-President alongside my good friend Connor. I can’t wait to discover what the next challenge holds.”

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Double Delight for Queen’s Couple

A talented couple graduating today have proved that a busy family life and academic achievement at Queen’s University can go hand in hand. Peter Leary, from Enniskillen, is graduating with a PhD in Irish History, and his partner Felicity Irwin, originally from London, has gained an MSc in Heritage Science. The couple have two children, Orlaith, 4, and Seamus, 2, who are proudly joining their parents for the joint graduation celebrations. The support the family received at Queen’s was a huge boost, allowing the hard working parents to focus on their studies. Peter said: “We loved living in Belfast and both of our children were able to attend the crèche at the University while we were studying. It is a great support to student parents and made life so much easier for us. “Felicity and I are very driven people and Queen’s gave us the opportunity to improve our knowledge in a place where the staff were very accommodating and friendly and the facilities were second to none.” Peter has just started a prestigious Research Fellowship, also in Irish History, at Oxford University, and he and Felicity are very grateful to Queen’s for giving them the support the needed to achieve their goals. He said: “A Queen’s degree is much more than just a qualification. We now live in Oxford and while we love it here, our family will always have fond memories of our times at Queen’s.” Peter joins the 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

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Queen’s Physical Activity Loyalty scheme launched

A Physical Activity Loyalty scheme which rewards users’ “ground miles” with incentives has been launched by researchers at the Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast led by Professor Frank Kee. The scheme developed by Queen’s University uses wireless sensing technology to monitor and reward physical activity, and has been unveiled by the Health Minister and the Chief Medical Officer in Lisburn today. Over 1,300 public sector employees who work in the Lisburn area are being given the chance to take part in this study to investigate how financial incentives influence workplace physical activity. According to a government report by Dame Carol Black in 2008, improving the wellbeing of the workforce by getting them more active will benefit not only their own health but is also likely to improve a company’s productivity and the economy as a whole. If the scheme is effective, it can be rolled out on a wider scale across Northern Ireland for both the private and public sector. Using the latest in micro-chip technology, participants only have to carry a key fob which wirelessly communicates with special sensors placed around their workplaces in Lisburn City Centre. The system monitors the “ground miles” or minutes of physical activity accumulated by each participant which can then be redeemed for rewards, incentivising behaviour change. Participants will be encouraged to meet the recommended target of 150 minutes of physical activity per week and their activity will be monitored during the study. The innovative technology underpinning the scheme was developed by researchers at the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) at Queen’s University Belfast, led by Professor William Scanlon, in collaboration with the study’s Principal Investigator, Professor Frank Kee and his team in the Centre for Public Health. The trial is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme (NIHR PHR)1,2 and the Public Health Agency, and is being run in collaboration with Lisburn City Council and South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust. Academics from Cambridge, Glasgow and Manchester Universities are partnering with Professor Kee's team to conduct a wide ranging and independent evaluation of the scheme's success. Professor Frank Kee, Director of the UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health NI at Queen’s University said: “This is an innovative study and an example of how Queen’s University can partner with the public and business sectors to improve population health, using locally developed technology. We are encouraging as many people as possible to take part in this study which we hope will have important findings for Northern Ireland as a whole.” Lisburn City Council Mayor, Councillor Andrew Ewing said that he was delighted that Lisburn had been chosen to pilot the new scheme. He said: “There is so much evidence linking our overall health and well-being to physical activity and lifestyle and I hope that this scheme will encourage more people to make changes, however small, in their lifestyles to become more fit and active. Technology is so often blamed for our increasingly sedentary lifestyle and I am delighted that on this occasion new technology should hopefully have the opposite effect and encourage us all to be more physically activate as we go about our daily business.” Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride said: “I hope that participating organisations will look favourably on this innovative and ground-breaking scheme and that further research by the Centre for Public Health at Queen's will continue to develop novel ideas to support us to change our behaviours to improve our health outcomes.” For further information please contact Queen’s Communications office on 028 9097 5320 (Mon-Wed) or 028 9097 5310 (Thurs-Fri) or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Leading IT industrialist and businessman honoured at Queen’s

One of India’s leading IT industrialists and businessmen is to be honoured at Queen’s University today (Thursday 11 December). Narayana Murthy, founder and chairman of Infosys, a global software consulting company, will be honoured for services to business and commerce. Mr Murthy founded Infosys in 1981 with six other software professionals, the company now employs over 100,000 people. He has been described by Fortune magazine as ‘one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time’ and rated by The Economist as among the ten most admired global business leaders. Honours include a CBE, the Padma Vibushan from the Indian Government and the Legion d’Honneur from France. Speaking ahead of receiving his degree, Narayana Murthy, said: “I am deeply honoured to be recognised in this way by Queen’s University Belfast. Queen’s is recognised as a UK leader in Cyber Security research and a driver of the Northern Ireland Economy and I am delighted that Infosys and Queen’s working relationship continues to go from strength to strength. To receive this recognition from such a prestigious university is a considerable honour. I very much look forward to sharing this special occasion with students who will be graduating on the same day.” In 2013, Infosys and Queen’s University’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies began a strategic research partnership to combat global cyber security threats. Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on comms.office@qub.ac.uk or 028 9097 5391.

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‘Six degrees’ of separation for Belfast family

It’s a case of keeping it in the family for Jessica Kirk today as she adds a Master’s degree in Management to the Kirk collection of honours from Queen’s University. Jessica herself graduated in Law in 2012, hot on the heels of her sisters Rebekah McCartney and Naomi McClelland, who graduated in Medicine in 2008 and 2010 respectively. Their father, FullBright scholar Dr Stephen Kirk, graduated in 1982 in Medicine and later completed a doctorate in 1991. Mum Linda graduated in History and English in 1978. And youngest sister Meghan is currently in her final year at Queen’s studying Law. After graduating in 2009, Jessica returned to Queen’s the following year as Vice President of the Students’ Union. She followed that up with her MSc in Management during which she not only gained a post-graduate seat on Student Council but became the sole student representative on Queen’s Senate. Jessica, from Belfast, said: “I have loved every minute of my time at Queen’s. My year as a sabbatical officer was a fantastic experience where I got to engage with a wide range of students. It was over too quick, but it gave me a real insight into a business way of thinking and how to encourage a spirit of enterprise. “The past year and a half has further consolidated my love for Queen’s, in particular my role as a Senator, and made me more employable. Higher education in Northern Ireland has been proven to boost the local economy by £1.5 billion per annum. I am not surprised by that figure and I am genuinely sad that my time at Queen’s has come to an end. Queen’s has a reputation for creating global citizens and that was definitely my experience.” Jessica has already started working with BrandNI, an organisation dedicated to fostering local talent and entrepreneurial skills, with an ambition to make Northern Ireland the ‘talent capital of the world’ by 2030.

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