09-2008 Press Releases

29/09/2008: Queen's scientist examines Obama and McCain's policies 
26/09/2008: Queen's call to innovators of tomorrow <img id="vidIcon" src=",97891,en.gif" border="0" alt="QTV News Story">
25/09/2008: School pupils meet the art of 'Mechanical Doodles' at Queen's
24/09/2008: Researchers find animal with ability to survive climate change
24/09/2008: Flamenco and flavours at Queen's International Festival
23/09/2008: Younger people warned about skin cancer as cases triple
23/09/2008: Queen's forges new links with US
22/09/2008: Queen's and University of Vienna collaborate for Byzantine conference
19/09/2008: No change in badger population, according to new research
16/09/2008: Local scientists working to protect NI from bird flu
15/09/2008: Medieval saints explored by Queen's scholars
15/09/2008: Lord Mawhinney honoured by Alma Mater
11/09/2008: Zoe Salmon launches Queen's Open Days <img id="vidIcon" src=",97891,en.gif" border="0" alt="QTV News Story">
11/09/2008: Queen's students spend the summer at Abraham Lincoln's place
10/09/2008: Fun in any language!
09/09/2008: Sir Mark Tully explains what the west can learn from India
09/09/2008: Biotechnology and human rights under the microscope at Queen's
08/09/2008: Queen's helps 'mould' future of global plastics industry
05/09/2008: Bee decline threatens NI?s multi million pound industry
05/09/2008: FIRST LEGO League arrives in Northern Ireland.
04/09/2008: School of Nursing and Midwifery joins in Centenary celebrations
03/09/2008: 150 tips to make NI a hot bed of enterprise on offer at Queen's
03/09/2008: Former paralympian 'superhero' takes on ultimate sporting challenge
01/09/2008: Queen's conference a catalyst for sustainability

Queen's scientist examines Obama and McCain's policies
Professor Robin Rogers
Professor Robin Rogers

A Queen’s University professor will join a panel of leading American scientists to discuss the scientific issues they would like to see debated on the Presidential campaign trail.

Professor Robin Rogers, Director of QUILL (Queen's University Ionic Liquid Laboratories) at the University’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, will take part in the discussion at the Royal Institute of Great Britain in London on Tuesday 30 September.

Professor Rogers said: "Despite the apparent growth in awareness of science and environmental issues across the United States, science appears to have taken a back-seat to the economy in the race for the White House.

“Science and technology should be at the top of the agenda for the Presidential candidates. Environmental issues and energy dependency, for example, have a direct impact not only on the health of the US economy, but on global society. America’s leaders must therefore look beyond the short term rewards of drilling for oil, for example, to the long-term benefits of truly sustainable energy.

“Innovation in science and technology is critical to the future success of the United States. If the US is to hold its own in the increasingly competitive global market, it must invest in its scientific infrastructure through research and development and do more to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

“I would like to see these issues being debated more openly by John McCain and Barack Obama in order to help American citizens make an informed decision on who would be the best President for science."

The Best President For Science takes place at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London on 30 September at 7-8pm.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, , 07814 415 451.

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Queen's call to innovators of tomorrow QTV News Story
More pupils are being encouraged to study science at Queen's
Dr Máire O’Neill

 Queen's call young scientists

Former British female inventor of the year Queen’s lecturer Dr Máire O’Neill has been awarded £1.23m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for her work on cybersecurity.

She is one of the speakers at an event at W5 at Odyssey today to encourage school pupils to study science subjects at Queen’s so they can help Northern Ireland compete on the global stage.

At the event entitled Computing and Electronics - Creating the Technology of Tomorrow, they will learn about the exciting career prospects a degree in electronic engineering, computer science or technology could hold.

Dr O’Neill said: “Undertaking studies in science, technology, engineering and maths can lead to very exciting careers - ranging from electronic engineers, forensic scientists and meteorologists to cryptographers and zoologists!

“I work in the field of electronic engineering and I would strongly encourage students to consider it as a career choice.

“Electronic engineering is a very rewarding career that involves finding new solutions to practical problems that affect our daily lives.

“The starting salaries of last year’s Queen’s graduates in the subject were up to £36,000.

“Although most graduates use their degree to enter the engineering industry, it's also a passport to careers in education, health, law, management, marketing or finance.”

The talk to around 200 A Level and AS students is aimed to help achieve the government’s target to increase the number of students involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects at undergraduate level by 25% by 2015.

From this academic year Queen’s is offering scholarships of £1,000 to all students achieving three As at A-level (or equivalent) and enrolling on a STEM subject at the university.

The EPSRC Leadership fellowship Dr O’Neill has been awarded is a prestigious five-year project.

The scheme targets talented mid-career researchers across the engineering and physical sciences considered to have the potential to be the UK’s international research leaders of tomorrow.

Dr O’Neill added: “As the demand for higher levels of security continues and pervasive computing matures, the provision of effective security architectures that can provide data confidentiality, integrity and authentication will be vital

“My project, entitled Next Generation Data Security Architectures, will focus on the design and development of low-cost solutions to data security attacks.

“New technologies that can provide efficient and effective data security resistant to attack will also be investigated.”

The research will be conducted in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin, Orange Labs, France and Atmel Corporation, Colorado.

Professor John McCanny, Head of the School of School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen’s said: “The EPSRC Leadership Fellowship that Maire has received provides five years of funding to allow her to concentrate on research that is already recognised as being world-leading. 

“Her work is not only very timely, but is also very relevant to the public at large - creating novel computer processors for the protection and privacy of information. 

“Only a very small number of the most talented university scientists and engineers are given such awards, namely those deemed to have the most potential to develop as the international research leaders of tomorrow. 

“Maire provides an exemplary role model for an exciting career for talented young people studying mathematics and science at school.”

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362,

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School pupils meet the art of 'Mechanical Doodles' at Queen's

School pupils from across Northern Ireland are learning about the wonders of movement and machinery at ‘Mechanical Doodles’, a unique exhibition in the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s University.

The Year 10 students from 15 schools can press buttons and switches to turn the cogs, wheels and pulleys that bring a range of mechanical art exhibits, the work of the late Belfast artist Barry Orr, to life.

‘Mechanical Doodles’ also features local artist Paddy Bloomer’s intriguing interactive exhibit ‘The De-elevator’ which uses clockwork mechanisms to harness the potential energy of gallery visitors.

The exhibition is part of an exciting new outreach project co-ordinated by the Naughton Gallery and the University’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

As part of the initiative, each school will be challenged to create their own kinetic sculpture or mechanical doodle, inspired by the current exhibition of work. The school whose sculpture demonstrates the greatest ingenuity and whimsicality will be presented with a special award donated by Barry Orr’s family in November.

After viewing the exhibition, the students will have the chance to learn some simple mechanisms at first-hand during a series of workshops led by Paddy Bloomer himself and former Queen’s engineer Charlie Ludlow.

Clare Leeman, Education and Outreach Officer for the Naughton Gallery, said: “This exhibition aims to recapture and build upon Barry Orr’s spirit of artistic design and fun, to help young people explore their own creativity and to celebrate the long-held tradition of industry at Queen’s University.”

For over 30 years, Barry Orr’s kinetic sculpture, ‘Industry’, was a well-known landmark at the back of the University campus.  When time and the elements took their toll and it was discovered to be beyond repair, the University and the artist’s family agreed to hold an exhibition celebrating his work.

The schools taking part in the project are: St Catherine’s College, Armagh; Lagan College, Belfast; Holy Trinity College, Cookstown; Blackwater Integrated College, Downpatrick; Rathmore Grammar School, Belfast; Glengormley High School, Newtownabbey; Methodist College, Belfast; Sacred Heart College, Omagh; St Patrick’s College, Belfast; St Columb’s College, Derry;  St Mary’s High School, Armagh; St Pius X High School, Magherafelt;  St Benedict’s College, Randalstown; St John’s Business and Enterprise College, Omagh; and City of Armagh High School, Armagh

Mechanical Doodles continues until Saturday 4 October.

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 5310 or email

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Researchers find animal with ability to survive climate change
Queen's scientists say plankton in the North Atlantic have adapted to climate change
Dr Jim Provan

Queen’s researchers have found that the main source of food for many fish - including cod - in the North Atlantic appears to adapt in order to survive climate change.

Billions of Calanus finmarchicus, a plankton species, which are just a few millimetres in size, live in the waters of the North Atlantic where the research was carried out.

It showed they responded to global warming after the last Ice Age, around 18,000 years ago, by moving north and maintaining large population sizes. It also suggests that these animals might be able to track the current change in habitat.

The effect of global climate change on the planet's ecosystems is one of the key issues scientists are currently focussing on and the research has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a publication of the national academy of science of the UK and the Commonwealth, today.

One of the main predicted effects of climate change is a forced shift in species’ distribution range.

The study leader, Dr Jim Provan, from Queen’s School of Biological Sciences, said the discovery that a species has a feature which helps it cope with global warming is a rare example of good news.

“Our results, in contrast to previous studies, suggest that the species has been able to shift its distribution range in response to previous changes in the Earth's climate, and thus ‘track’ the effects of climate change, a feature which may be of crucial importance in its survival.

“The genetic variability of the species - the tendency of the genetic make-up of a population to vary from one individual to another - has remained high, which is good news, and suggests that these animals might be able to track the current change in habitat resulting from global warming and maintain viable population sizes.

“If the species couldn't, it might become extinct and thus threaten the fish species that depend upon it for food.

“It might be a rare example of news that may not be doom-and-gloom with respect to climate change, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to keep watching what happens.”

Previous work on the species had indicated a serious drop in numbers and decreases in population size may be reflected in decreases in genetic variability.

This can compromise the adaptive potential of the populations for the future and possibly result in extinction.  

As a result of the Queen’s findings the team is planning further work to see how the study applies to rapid global warming over the last few decades.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362,

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Flamenco and flavours at Queen's International Festival

A Chinese dancing lion, flamenco and Indian music and a Polish Children’s Choir in national costume will top the bill as Queen’s University celebrates its cosmopolitan culture on Friday.

The festival of food and drink and music and dance, which highlights the diverse nationalities of Queen’s students and staff, is part of the University’s Centenary celebrations.

The event, which is open to the public, will feature stands representing countries and cultures such as China, India, Poland, Germany, France and Spain.  Guests will have the chance to sample food and drink from each country and to view visual displays of pictures and artefacts from each culture. 

International students in national costume will be on hand to offer guidance and advice on culture and language.

Pam McIntyre, manager of Queen’s Language Centre , which has organised the event, said: “This promises to be a truly cross-cultural and vibrant event showcasing the University’s international ethos. Guests will be able to learn about other cultures through taste, sight and sound and to gain an insight into some of the many countries represented at Queen’s.” 

The festival has been partly funded by the Queen’s University Foundation and is being held to coincide with the European Day of Languages, a Council of Europe initiative held annually on 26 September to celebrate language and cultural diversity.

The Taste and Culture Fest will take place in the Great Hall, Queen’s University on Friday 26 September, from 12 to 2pm.

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 5310 or email

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Younger people warned about skin cancer as cases triple
Sun burn in childhood is a risk factor, says Dr Anna Gavin
Dr Anna Gavin

Cases of malignant melanoma, which causes the majority of skin cancer related deaths, have almost tripled in Northern Ireland since the mid 1980s, research from Queen’s University has shown.

Figures released by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry (NICR) at the University show that 254 cases of the skin cancer were recorded in 2006, compared with just 80 in 1984.

Patients tend to be younger than those diagnosed with other cancers, with a third of those under 50 at the time of diagnosis and nine under 25.

NICR has worked with local clinicians and the Northern Ireland Cancer Network (NICaN) to produce the report entitled the Care of Patients with Malignant Melanoma
of Skin in Northern Ireland 2006.

It documents the care that patients received including the hospitals they attended and the number of surgeons who performed operations. 

Other findings were that melanoma is more common in women than men in Northern Ireland.

In men, 70% of melanomas were on the head, neck and trunk areas, while in women almost half of the lesions occurred on their legs and feet.

Unlike other cancers, it is seen more often in more affluent populations than those considered deprived. 

The most common symptom of melanoma is an increase in size of the lesion, followed by a change in colour. Patients also reported that the lesion had nodules or bled as well as itching or ulceration. 

The good news is that people in Northern Ireland have among the best survival rates for the cancer in Europe, with 98.8% of patients alive one year after being diagnosed.

Director of the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, Dr Anna Gavin said: “The figures are alarming and reflect increased exposure of skin to damaging UV rays from the sun and sunbeds. Sunburn in childhood is a particular risk factor.

“The report notes and welcomes the planned introduction for regional multidisciplinary team meeting to discuss and standardise the management patients. 

“It also recommends a review of the number of doctors performing secondary surgery on melanoma patients to ensure an equitable, high quality service for all these patients.” 

Dr Maureen Walsh, Regional Melanoma Pathologist and Chair of the NICaN Melanoma Group, said: “Over a fifth of patients had significant symptoms for over a year which points to the need for professionals to focus even more on highlighting the early signs of melanoma.

“These include increasing size of a mole or spot to greater than the blunt end of a pencil, a spot which bleeds if it is itchy. If people are worried they should contact their GP who will decide if they need further referral.”

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362,

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Queen's forges new links with US
Dr Jack DeGioia will be awarded an honorary degree at a special ceremony in New York on Friday
Dr Jack DeGioia will be awarded an honorary degree at a special ceremony in New York on Friday

A high-level Queen’s University delegation flies out to New York this week to forge new research and education links between Northern Ireland and the United States.

The Queen’s team, led by President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson, will hold a series of meetings with business and academic leaders, including representatives of Fordham University, Co-operation Ireland, and the prestigious Marshall Scholarship programme.

The highlight of the four-day visit will be the conferment of an honorary degree on Dr John J DeGioia, President of Georgetown University in Washington DC, with which Queen’s has extensive academic links.

At a special ceremony in the Mutual of America building in Park Avenue on Friday, Dr DeGioia will be awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws for services to higher education. The ceremony is part of the University’s Centenary celebrations.

Speaking before his departure, Professor Peter Gregson said: “Global connections are vital in today’s worldwide higher education environment. Queen’s has extensive links with the United States, where more than 1,100 of our graduates currently live and work, and we want to enhance these further. This visit will enable us to meet with business and academic leaders who will help us to do just that.

“Our relationship with Georgetown University is particularly special. During the last two years, academics from both universities have been crossing the Atlantic to collaborate on joint research projects in areas ranging from cancer research to law, politics, history and creative writing.

“And, in May this year 450 lawyers, community workers, politicians and academic leaders from around the world gathered at Queen’s for the Mitchell Conference, organised in conjunction with Georgetown, on the lessons to be learned from building peace in Northern Ireland.

“Among the senior Georgetown team who visited Queen’s was the University’s President, Dr John J. DeGioia. In honouring him this week, Queen’s is recognising an eminent and visionary educationalist who has played a pivotal role in enhancing the valuable links between our two institutions and between the United States and Northern Ireland.”

This week’s ceremony is another landmark event in the Queen’s Centenary celebrations which have included a Royal visit by The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in March. This historic event was also attended by one of the University’s most eminent alumni, President of Ireland Mary McAleese.

And, in July, one of the most important figures of the 20th and 21st centuries, Nobel prizewinner Nelson Mandela, accepted the University’s unique award of Centenary Honorary Graduate. 

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Corporate Affairs Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, Mob: 07815 871997,

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Queen's and University of Vienna collaborate for Byzantine conference

Queen’s University is taking part in an international conference at the Institute of Art History at the University of Vienna this week.

The event follows a year of collaboration between Institute of Byzantine Studies at Queen’s and its counterpart in Vienna, and between the Historisch-Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät there and the award-winning Queen’s Gender Initiative.

The conference, entitled Female Founders in Byzantium and Beyond, is heavily influenced by students of Byzantine studies. It focuses on the use of economic power by women in the Middle Ages to fund monasteries and churches, to commission works of art and literature and donate icons, embroideries and smaller gifts like bread and light.

The conference arises out of the work of the chair in Gender Studies, which was given to the University of Vienna by the Austrian government in recognition of its achievement in appointing women. The Chair is currently held by Queen’s Professor Margaret Mullett, who has spent a year teaching at the Institute of Art History in Vienna.

It also arises from work on patronage and foundation which has been going on since 1991 in Belfast through the British Academy’s Evergetis Project, culminating in a volume on Founders and Refounders published last year in the Belfast Byzantine Texts and Translations series.

Collaboration between the institutes in Vienna and at Queen’s has also resulted in a conference on Interaction in word and image and an exhibition on Dangerous Friendships. The Institutes of Byzantine Studies at both universities also plan to work together at a research level.

Professor Mullett said: “Belfast students have run the Belfast Byzantine international colloquia for years, but not as part of their degree. Despite the innovative teaching record of the Institute, winning a Partnership award in 1994 for innovation, and working with the Naughton Gallery and a local artist to produce the mural ‘A feast of wisdom’ in University Square, we have much to learn from Vienna.

“There, in the first institute of art history in the world, students have combined intellectual achievement with practical activity, to produce an exhibition of rare books, a monument to members and alumni of the institute displaced or murdered 1934-1945, and a cutting-edge digitization project to develop a databank of photographs and notes dating back to the nineteenth century.  All these activities are assessed as part of their degree. The next stage is to bring together our students to carry out new projects together.”

The issue which brought the scholars together - the representation of women in academic life - is another area for collaboration between the two universities. Queen’s Professor Madeleine Ennis will address the Frauenpower group in Vienna on Queen’s influential mentoring project in the autumn, and next year will see a coordinated programme of events for International Women’s Day in Vienna and Belfast.

Female Founders is not just a conference: through its ramifications in research, teaching, and gender work it shows that internationalisation works.

For more information on the conference visit

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No change in badger population, according to new research
Badgers are more prevalent in Armagh and Down

A survey conducted by Quercus at Queen’s University Belfast in collaboration with Central Science Laboratory at DEFRA suggests that the distribution and abundance of badgers in Northern Ireland is little different from almost 15 years ago.

The study was commissioned by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) after it recognised a need to update information on the current status of the badger population.

The Quercus-led team used identical survey methods to those employed in an earlier survey during 1990/93. From November 2007 to March 2008 they counted the number and size of badger setts in 212 x 1km squares throughout Northern Ireland by walking every hedgerow and inspecting every copse of trees.

They estimated that there are currently about 7,500 badger social groups in Northern Ireland compared to about 8,800 groups during 1990/93.

Dr Neil Reid, who led the research, said: "Whilst it may appear that there has been a slight decrease in the numbers of badger social groups this is not statistically significant. We are confident that the density of badger social groups has not changed significantly between the two surveys."

Badgers were found to be associated with steep slopes, sandy soils and areas of improved grassland, arable agriculture and cover, such as hedgerows or woodland.  By developing novel and innovative analytical techniques the team have created a detailed map of the suitability of habitat for badgers across Northern Ireland.

This suggests that the number of badger social groups is highest in drumlin farmland and marginal uplands and lowest in high uplands. Due to the prevalence of favourable landscapes, counties Armagh and Down had the highest density of badger groups.

Professor Ian Montgomery, Head of the School of Biological Sciences at Queen's, said: "Studies like this are essential to monitor wildlife and keep the Government and farmers up-to-date on what is happening in the countryside."

For media enquiries please contact: Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 3091 

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Local scientists working to protect NI from bird flu

Queen’s scientists are involved in two international projects aimed to protect Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry from bird flu and African Swine Fever, a disease which kills pigs.

Working with colleagues from other EU-member states and the Far East in the FLUTEST project, they are providing improved diagnosis and early warning systems for bird flu.

Meanwhile, local researchers in the AFRISK project are working with 16 partner institutes around the world including Africa and the Far East to provide new ways of detecting African Swine Fever (ASF) and reduce the risk of the disease being imported into EU member states.  

Gordon Allan, an Honorary Professor at Queen’s who is also a Principal Scientific Officer in the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), is leading researchers from both institutions in the European Commission-funded projects, which have each been awarded £130,000.

Professor Allan said: “Both of these viruses pose a significant threat to the agri-food industry in Northern Ireland and rapid detection of the viruses in any suspect infected animals is an important step in controlling and eliminating potential outbreaks of the disease.”

Bird flu, (avian influenza) which has killed millions of birds across the world, is a constant threat to the poultry industry in Northern Ireland while African Swine Fever, a disease which kills pigs, has recently spread across Europe.

Although it has killed hundreds of people, bird flu is not considered a large-scale threat to humans as it cannot pass easily from one person to another.

ASF is no longer confined to sub-Sahara African states, and recent outbreaks have been recorded in Sardinia, Georgia, Armenia and southern Russia.

Global warming and climate change are thought to be increasing the spread of the disease in Europe.

Professor Allan explained: “It is important to the agri-food industry on the island of Ireland that researchers, both North and South of the border, continue to participate in these large EC-funded projects.

“These multinational collaborations enable locally-based scientists to input expertise but they also gain considerable information from partners around the world on how to successfully fight the increasing threat to our local industry.

“Infectious diseases do not recognise borders and multinational collaboration is the only effective way to combat their spread.”
For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362,

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Medieval saints explored by Queen's scholars
The Hill of Tara, the focus of a medieval conference

The legendary curse of the Hill of Tara will be explored at an ancient and medieval history conference at Queen’s University on Friday 19 September.

The conference, entitled The role and function of beliefs in early societies is being hosted by the School of History and Anthropology at Queen’s.

Judyta Szacillo from the School of History and Anthropology said:"The cursing of Tara is well known in Irish history. Legend has it that St Ruadán, who founded the Monastery of Lorrha in Co. Tipperary, invoked a solemn curse against the High King of Ireland - King Diarmait - after the latter violated the sanctuary of the monastery to capture his enemy. After this, according to the legend, Tara, the seat of Irish High Kings, was ruined and deserted.

“During this conference we will look at the life of St Ruadán, one of the Twelve Apostles of Erin, as well as other medieval saints, and the power of their miracles and their words, with particular reference to the cursing of Tara.

“Guest speakers from around Europe will also provide an insight into the functions of sacred buildings in early societies, the factors contributing the creation of ancient and medieval myths and legends, and the relationship between devotional art and spirituality in the context of medieval female mysticism."

The role and function of beliefs in early societies will take place at the Peter Froggatt Centre at Queen’s on Friday 19 September. For more information visit the Medieval Seminar series page at

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, , 07814 415 451.

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Lord Mawhinney honoured by Alma Mater
Lord Mawhinney, with Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson, following the conferment of his honorary degree
Lord Mawhinney, with Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson, following the conferment of his honorary degree

Chairman of the Football League and former Conservative Party Chairman Lord Mawhinney will be honoured today by his Alma Mater, Queen’s University Belfast, as part of its Centenary celebrations.

At a special ceremony in London, Lord Mawhinney will receive an honorary Doctorate of Laws for distinction in public service.

During his accomplished political career, Lord Mawhinney rose to become the highest ranking Northern Ireland born politician in British national politics. He served as Secretary of State for Transport, Minister for Health, Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Cabinet Minister without portfolio and Shadow Home Secretary.

Since 2003 he has served as independent Chairman of the Football League, a move widely regarded as the catalyst for a drive towards good governance in the sport.

Brian Mawhinney graduated from Queen’s in 1963 with a BSc in Physics. He then completed his MSc at the University of Michigan and his PhD at the University of London. He was elected MP for Peterborough in 1979 and served as MP for North West Cambridgeshire until his retirement from the House of Commons in 2005. The same year, he received a life peerage, becoming Baron Mawhinney of Peterborough in the county of Cambridgeshire.

Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson described Lord Mawhinney as “one of the University’s most distinguished alumni”.

He said: “In honouring Lord Mawhinney, Queen’s is recognising an eminent member of the University’s family whose career on the national political stage and in the media spotlight has been marked by unflinching integrity and a commitment to the highest standards of public service.”

The citation will be delivered by Mr Tom Lynch, Chairman of the Queen’s University of Belfast Foundation, who said: “The ethos of Queen's is defined in the words ‘Leading, Inspiring and Delivering’. This year the University celebrates 100 years as a leader in society which inspires its students and staff to be the best they can be, and delivers a standard of education and research which is competitive with the best in the world.

“Throughout his career, Lord Mawhinney has personified these qualities of leadership, inspiration and delivery, and we are delighted to honour him today.”

Lord Mawhinney said: “I am deeply honoured by the conferment of an honorary degree from Queen’s University. My years at Queen’s were both enjoyable and worthwhile but, more importantly, they helped to shape the person I have become. Queen’s gave me the skills and values which I have tried to put to good use in my roles in the worlds of politics and football and I am most grateful.”

Today’s ceremony is another landmark event in the Queen’s Centenary celebrations which have included a Royal visit by The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in March. This historic event was also attended by one of the University’s most eminent alumni, President of Ireland Mary McAleese.

In May, leaders in law, politics, academia and community work from around the world gathered at Queen’s for the Mitchell Conference on the lessons to be learned from Northern Ireland’s experience of peace-building and regeneration. Named after the University’s Chancellor, Senator George Mitchell, this event included the conferment of honorary degrees on former UK and Irish premiers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern for their contribution to peace in Northern Ireland.

And, in July, one of the most important figures of the 20th and 21st centuries, Nobel prizewinner Nelson Mandela, was named the University’s Centenary Honorary Graduate.

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Corporate Affairs Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, Mob: 07815 871997,

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Zoe Salmon launches Queen's Open Days QTV News Story
Zoe Salmon launches Queen's Open Days

 Open Days at Queen's

Queen’s graduate Zoe Salmon will today join thousands of school pupils at her old alma mater as she helps launch Queen’s Open Days and QU, a publication for prospective students.

The former trainee-defence litigator, who obtained a law degree and a post-grad in Professional Legal Studies from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies while at Queen’s, is the cover star of QU. She will personally hand out copies of the magazine to some of the 12,000 prospective students who will attend the University’s Open Days on Thursday and Friday of this week.

The magazine is the essential guide to student life at Queen’s for prospective students; offering advice and tackling issues from choosing accommodation to finding Belfast’s best shopping, eating and entertainment.

In an exclusive interview Zoe not only reveals her tips on how to get good A-level grades and make the most of being a student at Queen’s, but also why she left Blue Peter and how she turned down Jack Osbourne.

Zoe said: “I absolutely loved my time at Queen’s. First year is a fantastic mix of excellent teaching and an exciting social life. Queen’s gave me an all-round grounding and a great platform from which to base my career. I came away with a degree, great friends, invaluable life skills and much more. If any of the students coming to the Open Days do choose to come to Queen’s then they will have made a brilliant decision.”

Professor Ken Brown, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students said: “The choices students attending Queen’s Open Days will make in the coming months will determine their future. We want our Open Days to enable students to make the best possible decision. The publication of QU is a vital part of this.

“Students who do decide to come to Queen’s will be some of the first to benefit from our Degree Plus programme. It is designed to enhance employment prospects through non-academic activities such as sport, voluntary activities, travel and work placements. Queen’s will also offer students a more self-directed learning approach through our extensive pool of personal tutors and support services within the Students’ Union and Student Guidance Centre. We are committed to ensuring students who choose Queen’s have a first-class experience.”

During the Open Days students will have the chance to meet members of academic staff, as well as members of the Admissions Office and Queen’s Careers Service to talk about courses on offer at the University and subsequent career prospects. Students will also have a chance to find out about life at Queen’s by visiting the facilities available, including student accommodation at the £45 million Elms Student Village, the £9 million revamped Students’ Union and the £7 million Physical Education Centre (PEC).

Any schools or colleges who would like to request free copies of the new edition of QU for distribution to students, please contact or call 028 9097 5332. More information about Queen’s Open Days and a pdf of QU can be viewed online at 

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572,

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Queen's students spend the summer at Abraham Lincoln's place
Lincoln Interns - Lynsey, Daniel and Patrick
Lincoln Interns - Lynsey, Daniel and Patrick

Five budding historians from Queen’s University Belfast have spent the summer immersed in the life and times of Abraham Lincoln in the former American President’s home town.

Daniel McCarthy (West Belfast), Lynsey Gillespie (Comber), Joanne Gallagher (Derry), Patrick Rooney (Newcastle), and Andrew Tipping (Bangor) spent four weeks steeped in history working as interns at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.

Daniel McCarthy said: “To spend the summer at an institution dedicated to celebrating the life and times of one of America’s greatest Presidents and preserving his memory was an amazing experience, particularly at a time when the museum and library are preparing for the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth in 2009. Abraham Lincoln considered Springfield home before leaving Illinois for the White House in 1861, so what better place to learn about his legacy?

“We worked with respected historians, curators, researchers and others to help prepare exhibitions, restore and preserve historical artefacts, develop online history education resources and promote the work of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. We’ve all gained a fascinating insight into Lincoln’s life and work and also learned what it might be like to take our passion for history and turn it into a career.”

Professor Catherine Clinton from the School of History and Anthropology at Queen’s said: “These internships were designed to combine the study of history with the development of the skills needed to enter the workplace. The Lincoln Library and Museum is one of the premier historical institutions in the United States, and our students will have gained invaluable experience during their time there. They’ve learned to understand and appreciate history related job opportunities and have learned a little about the business of running a public institution. I hope that we can continue to develop similar international internship opportunities for all our history students.”

For more information on studying History at Queen’s University visit

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Fun in any language!

Queen's University is asking colleges and workplaces to come up with a fun way of celebrating language learning on Friday 26 September 2008, the annual European Day of Languages (EDL).

EDL is a Council of Europe initiative held annually on 26 September in 47 countries to celebrate language and cultural diversity. It is co-ordinated locally by the Northern Ireland Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (NICILT), which is based in the School of Education at Queen’s.

NICILT Executive Officer at Queen’s Wendy Phipps said: “EDL provides a great opportunity to highlight the importance of language learning in a really fun way and to increase awareness and appreciation of all languages. Last year many schools, colleges and other groups organised excellent activities to highlight the day. We encourage everyone to get involved again this year. We have already heard from a number of organisations planning to do something special.

“These include a French-English bilingual preschool event at Weecare Day Nursery in Belfast and a series of celebrations in local schools. For example, Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Campbell College will both be hosting quizzes, classes taught in different languages and colourful international cuisine tasting sessions.”

Meanwhile, the Language Centre at Queen’s is planning a Taste and Culture Fest as part of the University’s Centenary celebrations.

The NICILT website has lots of ideas on how to celebrate the day, such as organising a sponsored “speak-in” in another language, running a European quiz or even learning a traditional sport or dance from another country.

EDL pens, stickers, badges, posters etc in over 30 languages are available to purchase at minimal cost through the national CILT website

The European Day of Languages also highlights the advantages of languages at work. The website includes examples of 21 languages which show evidence of people using languages at work. This day encourages people of all ages to start learning a new language.

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 5310 or email

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Sir Mark Tully explains what the west can learn from India

Indian-born journalist and author Sir Mark Tully will visit Queen’s University on Tuesday 16 September to explain ‘What the West can learn from India’.

This free public talk is part of Queen’s Centenary celebrations and is supported by local businessman Lord Diljit Rana. It will take place at 6.30pm at the University’s Peter Froggatt Centre.

Professor Gerry McCormac, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Planning and External Relations at Queen’s, said: "I am delighted to welcome Sir Mark to Queen’s, particularly at a time when the University is continuing to build links with India through its strong partnership with Bengal Engineering and Science University in Kolkata.

“Born in Kolkata, Sir Mark Tully has spent most of his life in India, where he was the Chief of Bureau at the BBC in New Delhi for 22 years. As a reporter, covering everything from the conflict on the India-Pakistan border to the aftermath of the Bhopal chemical disaster, he gave us a unique insight into life in the Indian subcontinent.

“As an author, Sir Mark explores and challenges our understanding and misconceptions of India, bringing the country to life for many people who have never had the opportunity to travel there. His knowledge and love for his country of birth shines through in everything he writes. I am sure his talk at Queen’s will offer a fascinating insight into how the West can learn from India."

The Peter Froggatt Centre is located on Queen’s main campus, behind the Lanyon building. Sir Mark Tully’s talk will take place in Lecture Theatre G06.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, , 07814 415 451.

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Biotechnology and human rights under the microscope at Queen's

The human rights implications of designer babies, cloning and national identity cards are among the topics up for discussion at Queen's University on Tuesday 9 September.

Queen’s School of Law will host a workshop entitled Biotechnology, European Law and Citizens at the University’s Institute of Governance.

The co-convenor of the conference, Dr Mark Flear from Queen’s said: "Biotechnology - technology based on biology - has many applications, some of which are fraught with controversy. The legal and ethical debate over the development of cloning, stem cell research or being able to determine the sex of your children, for example, is well known. Many people though are not aware of the role of European law in the regulation of biotechnology and how this affects us, as European citizens.

“This workshop brings together experts from across Europe to discuss biotechnology in the context of European legislation, such as the European Convention on Human Rights. Are the EU laws that regulate biotechnology considered ethical, and how do they impact on our fundamental rights?

“Biotechnology is being used to develop advanced treatments for diseases such as cancer and AIDS. European laws govern the development of these treatments and the extent to which they are made available to patients in EU member states. We will consider how EU law limits or aids the development of these treatments, the impact this has on patients, and the extent to which this regulation is ethical.

“The workshop will also explore the legal implications of proposals to introduce national identity cards, which would involve recording information on our unique personal characteristics, such as our fingerprints and irises."

Other topics up for discussion at the one-day workshop include biotechnology and reproductive rights, questions over the ownership and control of human genetic information, activism surrounding genetically modified foods, and the development of a strategy to raise public awareness of EU regulation.

The event is organised by Queen’s School of Law and part-funded by the University Association for Contemporary European Studies.

Professor Colin Harvey, Head of the Law School at Queen’s, said: "This is the first School of Law Annual Workshop and I am delighted that it will address such timely and topical issues. I would in particular welcome our guest speakers and visitors for what is a significant event in the Law School’s annual calendar."

Biotechnology, European Law and Citizens is open to the public and admission is £35. For more information or to register call Mr Deaglan Coyle on 028 9097 3472 or visit the ‘Public Events’ pages at

For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, 028 9097 5320, , 07814 415 451

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Queen's helps 'mould' future of global plastics industry

75 years on from the discovery of Polythene (or Polyethylene), global industrialists are in Belfast to discuss the latest issues affecting the plastics industry. The industry in the United Kingdom generates sales of approximately £17.5 billion or 2.1 per cent of the UK’s GDP and it employs 220,000 people.

Today, Professor Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University will address over 400 industry delegates at the Alliance of Rotational Moulding Organisations conference in the Waterfront Hall.

Rotational molding is best known for the manufacture of storage tanks but is also used to make complex medical products, toys, leisure craft, and highly aesthetic point-of-sale products. Also known as rotomolding or rotocasting, it is a process for manufacturing hollow plastic products. It has particular advantages in terms of inexpensive moulds and stress-free products.

While in Belfast, the delegates will take advantage of the resources at Queen’s worldwide Centre of Excellence in Rotational Moulding. Based in the University’s Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC), delegates will receive tours of the Centre and join in technical sessions on the latest thinking in the area.

Researchers at the Centre have developed many patented products and processes which have revolutionised the rotational moulding industry. These include the Rotolog process controller which significantly improves product quality and reduces production time. They have also created processes to improve surface ‘pinholing’, previously considered to be in unavoidable defects in rotationally moulded products.

Delegates at the event will also hear of the latest progress on the Micromelt project, a major EU-funded programme focused on the development of innovative microwave heating and water cooling methods to reduce energy costs and increase efficiency.

The three-day event is being organised by the BPF (British Plastics Federation). Further information on the event is available at

An animation illustrating how the rotational moulding process works can be viewed at 

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572,

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Bee decline threatens NI’s multi million pound industry

The worldwide environmental and financial impact of massive losses of honey bee colonies caused by exotic diseases will be highlighted at Queen’s University this week.

Bees play a vital role for agricultural economies across the world with many food industries, including the apple industry in Northern Ireland, dependent on bee pollination.

In fact, bees are to thank for pollinating every fourth bite of food we eat.

Over 200 leading academics will attend The 3rd European Conference of Apidology at Queen’s, also called EurBee3, which runs from today until Wednesday (8 to 10 September).

Research being presented will focus on the loss of UK honey bee colonies and the decline in bumble bees in Britain.

Conference organiser, Dr Robert Paxton, from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s, said: "Pollination by bees, honey bees, bumble bees and the 20,000 odd other species of bee, is vital to agriculture, to our food supply, and to almost all terrestrial habitats.

"99 per cent of tomatoes you buy from a supermarket have been pollinated by a bumble bee. “The island of Ireland has 100 species of bee, roughly a third of which are in serious decline.

"Northern Ireland's apple industry is worth millions each year, mainly generated through exports. Without bee pollination it would be worth nothing.

"Exotic so-called emergent diseases are playing havoc with honey bees throughout the world. "Beekeepers in Great Britain have suffered 30 per cent honey bee colony losses last winter, and the situation is probably no better in Northern Ireland.”

The conference will be the first time the full extent of the massive bee colony losses in Germany in Slovenia this spring has been exposed.

Also on the agenda for discussion is the latest research on new viruses and other pathogens of honey bees, some of which are thought to have been responsible for the massive decline in US honey bees in 2007.

Speakers from America will include Professor Tom Seeley from Cornell University, who is a leading honey biologist, and Professor Claire Kremen, a top conservation biologist, from the University of California at Berkley.

Leading bee neurologist Professor Martin Giurfa of the French National Research Council at the University of Toulouse and Professor Dave Goulson from Stirling University, who is considered the foremost authority on bumble bee ecology and conservation, will also speak at the event.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,028 9097 5391, Mob 07980 013 362,

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FIRST LEGO League arrives in Northern Ireland.
A puzzled Christian Martin from Belfast High School and Matthew Loughlin from W5 prepare to solve the FIRST LEGO League Challenge
A puzzled Christian Martin from Belfast High School and Matthew Loughlin from W5 prepare to solve the FIRST LEGO League Challenge
Preparing to solve the FIRST LEGO League Challenge are L to R: Douglas Thompson, Belfast High School, Malachy McCullough, St Patrick's Barnageeha, Stpehanie Wilson from Queen's and Ben Greene from SAP Research.
Preparing to solve the FIRST LEGO League Challenge are L to R: Douglas Thompson, Belfast High School, Malachy McCullough, St Patrick's Barnageeha, Stpehanie Wilson from Queen's and Ben Greene from SAP Research.

The FIRST LEGO League (FLL), the world’s biggest interactive robotics challenge for children has arrived in Northern Ireland.

Pupils from 16 secondary schools in NI will join over 90,000 budding young scientists across the globe on 18 November at W5 at the Odyssey, as they bid to design, build and programme a winning robot that must perform a series of set tasks linked to a research presentation.

The LEGO League, launched today at Queen’s University’s Institute of Electronics, Communications and Technology (ECIT), is being brought to Northern Ireland by a partnership of The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Invest NI, Queen’s, SAP Research (SAP) and W5 at the Odyssey.

The League was designed to introduce children aged 9-16 to the fun of solving real-world problems by applying maths, science, and technology. The partners are hoping Lego League in NI will help develop of 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% by 2015.

Each year a theme is chosen for the challenge based on current, real-world issues. This year’s is Climate Connections - Building a Global Game Plan. Teams will embark on an exploration of the earth's climate and discover the links between science, people, resources and communities. The challengers will explore why many experts believe Earth's climate is changing and how these changes impact us and our planet.

In Northern Ireland IET, Invest NI, Queen’s, SAP and W5 have teamed up with leaders in the field of industry, including ESB International, FG Wilson (Engineering) Ltd, NIE, Randox Laboratories Ltd, Seagate and Thales Air Defence Ltd, academia (University of Ulster) and education, to spearhead this initiative to engage secondary schools with real world issues using robotics.

Guided by a team coach and assisted by mentors from 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 and may go through to the World Festival in the United States and other International FLL tournaments. They will also be awarded a range of Lego Mindstorm equipment for their school, sponsored by The School of Engineering at the University of Ulster.

For media enquiries, please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, 028 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572,

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School of Nursing and Midwifery joins in Centenary celebrations

The School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s has joined the University’s centenary celebrations with an international symposium focusing on future education and research links on Friday 5 September.

Academics from universities in Thailand, Hungary, Portugal and Finland have travelled to Queen’s to share their knowledge and expertise and contribute to the growing research profile of the School.

Around 9,000 nursing and midwifery students have graduated from the school since the anniversary of the Northern Ireland colleges of nursing and midwifery just over a decade ago.

Tomorrow evening, (Friday) the school, one of the top 10 in the UK, is also hosting a dinner in honour of the staff, students and graduates who built the school.

The School, now the largest within the University, graduates over 800 nurses and midwives every year, both undergraduate and postgraduate.

School founder Professor Jean Orr, School said: “I am delighted to have been able to oversee the full integration of our school into the academic fibre of this University.

“Our students and staff make a great contribution to the life of the University and they gain great benefits from membership of such a vibrant institution.

“It gives us all great joy to be able to celebrate the Queen's centenary alongside the rest of the academic community, our key stakeholders and our international partners.

“Our nursing and midwifery students are highly sought after locally, nationally and internationally.

“Many of them have gone on to become leaders of their profession, returning to Queen’s for further education and professional development to progress their careers and achieve excellence in their chosen fields.”

Professor Orr stressed that the school’s achievements were a team success, made possible by the commitment of everyone from founders to support staff.

“This School has been built up by a team of dedicated professionals who have worked hard to ensure we have the standard of nursing and midwifery education we need in Northern Ireland.

“Indeed, we are pioneering a ground-breaking new doctoral qualification this year, a fitting tribute to the hard work put in throughout the last ten years.”

Queen’s is leading the way in advanced nursing education as the first university in Europe to offer the new Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). It aims to equip the future leaders of nursing with the skills they need to make a dynamic contribution to healthcare, as advanced clinicians, managers or educationalists.

It marks a major change in the high-level training and education of nurses as it focuses on action as well as knowledge.

Professor Orr will retire next month and Professor Linda Johnston, who is currently Deputy Head of the School of Nursing at the University of Melbourne in Australia, will take over as Head of School.

More information on nursing and midwifery courses available from Queen’s is available at

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit, 028 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362,

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150 tips to make NI a hot bed of enterprise on offer at Queen's
International 'blue skies' thinking the name of the game: (L to R) Prof Peter Russo, Dr Tina Seelig and Prof Alistair Fee.
International 'blue skies' thinking the name of the game: (L to R) Prof Peter Russo, Dr Tina Seelig and Prof Alistair Fee.

Local businesses will learn how to make Northern Ireland a hot bed of enterprise at Queen’s this week from fifty of the world’s leading entrepreneur educators.

Stanford Technology Ventures Programme’s Roundtable on Entrepreneurship Education takes place at the University from the 3rd-5th Sep. Experts at the event, supported by Invest Northern Ireland, will offer 150 tips on how to boost Northern Ireland’s economy.

The event was traditionally designed to stimulate communication and collaboration between business, science and engineering Faculty who teach high technology entrepreneurship.

But now, in a first for the event, Queen’s has invited over 60 local businesses to benefit from the expertise on offer.

A one-off special Industry and University: Building Better Business Bridges session on Thursday will enable locally-based SMEs and international corporations to access some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurial minds.

Professor Alistair Fee, Visiting Professor of Marketing and Innovation at Queen’s and co-ordinator of the event said: “Thomas Edison’s maxim ‘Hurry up and fail’ might not be something we usually associate with successful entrepreneurship, but it does demonstrate the type of edgy thinking employed by many of the innovative and successful educators at Queen’s this week. These people are regarded as global drivers of enterprise but they do it at the edge of most people’s experiences. They are truly inspirational ‘envelope pushers’.

“They will provide 150 tips on how we can help Northern Ireland plc become a hot bed of enterprise. This will be just one of the tangible benefits for our economy resulting from hosting this conference at Queen’s. Another will be the new lessons we can learn when educating our students from both undergraduate and executive courses. Already we try to immerse our students in enterprise and enable them to marinade and flavour the business world around them. This event will enable us to take this aspect of our work in new directions.”

Graham Davis, Invest NI’s Director of Regional Economic Development, said: “Academic institutions and employers in Northern Ireland have a vital role to play in encouraging higher levels of entrepreneurship amongst students and the local workforce. A more enterprising culture here can lead to even more business starts with the potential to export products and services worldwide, helping to develop a thriving local economy.

“Education is key to the development of a commercially astute pool of young people in Northern Ireland that will have the right attitude and business skills to start their own businesses and contribute to economic growth.

"The key to building an increasingly successful N Ireland economy is to embed both entrepreneurship and innovation in the culture of our young people.”

Speakers at the event include Michael Dearing from the Institute of Design at Stanford, a former Senior Vice President & General Merchandise Manager for eBay; Tina L. Seelig, Executive Director of the Stanford Technology Venture Program and Dr. Marco Seppä from Finland. Dr Seppa created an umbrella portfolio of over 70 research and development projects, representing a combined volume of over €17 million between 2001 to 2005, while Director of e-business research centre eBRC.

Other meetings in the 2008 schedule include Macquarie University, Sydney; Stanford University, California and Universidad del Norte, Colombia. Further information on the roundtable event can be found at

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572,

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Former paralympian 'superhero' takes on ultimate sporting challenge

Queen's Sport fitness trainer Aidan McGlynn is taking on the ultimate sporting challenge by competing in the UK Ironman competition in Sherborne, North Hampshire on Sunday 7 September. The herculean challenge involves swimming 2.5 milies, cycling 112 miles and finishing with a 26.2 mile run all in succession.

What makes this challenge even more remarkable is that the Strabane man is a former Paralympian, who represented Ireland at Athens in 2004 in the Men’s 50 metre freestyle swimming. He also competed in the European and Commonwealth Games, and World Championships, as a full–time professional athlete living in Leeds. He returned home to take a break from professional sports, before joining the sports staff at Queen’s 18 months ago.

Facing up to the daunting challenge Aidan said: “I have been doing Triathlons for five years, with the biggest distance being the Olympic 1,500m sea swim, 40km cycle and 10km run, but this will be the ultimate endurance challenge. For an idea of the distance I will be covering, it’s like going from Belfast to Derry and back by swimming, running and cycling.”

“Competing isn’t just about being physically fit,” Aidan said. “There is the mental challenge too. If I don’t believe I can do it, I never will. I need to have something to push myself to the finish line, and for me that is raising money for the Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke charity. My dad died in October last year of a heart attack, and I realised what a fantastic job they do. I hope the money I raise will go towards patients recovering from heart attacks or strokes.”

“The day will start at 6am with a 2.5 mile swim in a lake, then I jump on a bike and cycle 112 miles, and finally I complete the day by running a marathon, 26.2miles. And yes, that’s all miles not metres. After that, my brother Michael, and the friends that have come to support me will have to carry me back to our hotel.”

Wishing him good luck was Eithne Bradley Acting Head of Queen’s Sport who said: “Everyone at Queen’s is wishing Aidan well. He is a perfect role model for any young person in demonstrating the true value sport has to play in our lives. He is one of our most popular instructors in the PEC and we are delighted that he has been able make use of our state-of-the-art training and sports science facilities as he goes for the ultimate bragging rights.”

The first Ironman Triathlon was held on the 18th February 1978 in Honolulu, Hawaii. On the sheets of rules and course description the athletes received was a hand written note: “Swim 2.4miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life” - now the registered trademark of Ironman.

Of the 15 men who started the challenge, 12 completed the event. With a time of 11 hours and 46 minutes Gordon Haller was the first Ironman title holder. The current record was set in 1996 by Belgian Luc Van Lierde with a time of 8 hours 4 minutes. Most people aim to complete the triathlon in 12-14hours, with a recovery period of up to four months.

Aidan has trials in January for the Irish Road Racing Cycle Team. He is confident he will have recovered in time to start training after only four weeks. If successful, he will take part in the World Championships which are being held in Spain next July.

For media enquiries please contact: Judith Rance, Press & PR Unit, 028 9097 5292,

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Queen's conference a catalyst for sustainability

Clean energy production and environmental protection will be top of the agenda at Queen’s this week (1-3 September). Over 450 of the world’s leading experts in the field of catalysis are at the Belfast University for the Fifth International Conference on Environmental Catalysis.

From lunchboxes and perfume, to biscuits and high-octaine fuel, breakthroughs in catalysis have played a significant role across industry. It is an essential process for manufacturing, food processing, pollution control and more.

Activating and directing chemical reactions without being changed themselves, catalysts permit reactions to take place more effectively under conditions than would otherwise be possible. Small quantities of a catalyst can convert thousands or millions of times their own weight of chemicals. The experts are at Queen’s to hear of the work taking place in the University’s renowned Centre for the Theory and Application of Catalysis (CenTACat) and to discuss breakthroughs in the area.

Explaining the importance of the process to everyday life, Professor Robbie Burch, Head of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s said: “Breakthroughs in the field of catalysis have brought about many benefits for people and industry.

“But, now scientists and industry urgently need to develop new ways of working to create a sustainable future. CenTACat at Queen’s is part of the University’s £10 million Institute for a Sustainable World. We need to develop catalysts that can decompose environmentally unacceptable compounds or provide alternative syntheses of important compounds without forming environmentally unfriendly by-products.

“It is vital for our future that we make advances in the efficiency of environmental catalysis as it will lead to reduced pollution, more effective waste clean-up, improved emissions treatment and overall a more efficient use of energy. Queen’s has invested significantly in this area and we will all reap the rewards when the breakthroughs that will hopefully be made, make their way into industry.”

Key areas of discussion during the conference will include, Renewables for Chemicals and Fuels, Automotive Emission Control and Green Energy.

Further information on the event can be found at

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, 028 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572,

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