All Year 2010

NUI Galway Research Highlights Harmful Effects of Noise Exposure

Monday, 20 December 2010

A Postgraduate research project recently completed in the School of Physics focusing on noise levels at Irish traditional music and Irish rock performances, has shown high levels of noise exposure among musicians and the potential for increased risks to hearing. This study also highlights the need for increased awareness training in relation to the harmful effects of repeated high noise exposure among musicians. Some of the results exceeded the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 relating to the control of noise at work. The data from the project shows that personal noise exposures of all the rock/pop musicians sampled exceed the 87dB(A) exposure limit value as detailed in the 2007 regulations and half of the traditional Irish musicians sampled exceeded the 87dB(A) exposure limit value. To obtain these results, Helena O'Sullivan, an MSc student with Dr Marie Coggins at the School of Physics in NUI Galway, measured noise levels at static monitoring points on the stage during the music performance, and ranged from 85 to 90 dB(A) during traditional Irish music performances and from 101 – 107 dB(A) during Irish rock/pop music performances. The personal noise exposure level of one band member (either the singer or the drummer) was also measured, and they ranged from 100 to 102 dB(A) for members of the Irish rock/pop bands and 88 - 95 dB(A) for members of the Traditional Irish music bands. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 relating to the control of noise at work, sets out an exposure action value of 85dB(A) and an exposure limit value of 87dB(A) for a daily or weekly personal exposure. These limits apply to people working in a noisy environment and do not apply to the general public. Workers who are regularly exposed to noise levels of 85dB (A) have an increased risk of noise induced hearing loss. Dr Marie Coggins, Director of the MSc in Occupational Health and Safety Programme at NUI Galway says: "The harmful effects of repeated exposure to high sound levels, have long been recognised, and much progress has been made in reducing noise exposures in many work environments. However, high noise levels and exposure to noise continues to be an issue for the entertainment sector. This project highlights the need for further investigation in the area." Using the data collected in the study, an estimate for the eight hour equivalent noise dose for comparison with the recommended guidelines in the 2007 regulations, was calculated. This estimate does not take into consideration other sources of noise exposure that the band members may have received at another point in their day, and so may be underestimating the risk. Results from a questionnaire survey, as part of the research, detailing experiences musicians report in relation to noise exposure show that 52% of respondents regularly experience a ringing sensation in their ears after a performance, and 60% reported that they do not use hearing protection. Helena O'Sullivan has just completed a one year taught MSc programme in Occupational Health and Safety at NUI Galway.   <iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> -Ends-

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NUI Galway Web Researcher Secures Funding From Google

Thursday, 16 December 2010

An NUI Galway Researcher at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), Dr Alexandre Passant, recently won a Research Award granted by Google to work on the next generation of mobile social networking applications. The grant will fund a team for a year, enabling them to combine theoretical research and implementation, which will make the product directly usable by end-users and advance the state of the art in the domain of social networking applications. A key element of the research will be the protection of privacy for users. In this recent round of funding, Google distributed 112 awards, for a total of more than six million dollars, and 29 percent of the funding was awarded to Universities outside the U.S.A including NUI Galway. Most social network applications are closed worlds, where you have to give your data to a provider such as Facebook in order to share this data with friends and the user cannot interact with friends on other social networks. Researchers at DERI have been working on SMOB, a microblogging framework as an alternative that enables semantic and distributed social networks. The result is that the user does not rely on a third-party provider, but owns their data and can share it with whomever they want. In the SMOB framework, distributed hubs communicate with each other to exchange the microblog posts and subscriptions in order to follow particular blogs or have others follow an individual blog, belonging to another user. Each user installs their own hub and the communication spreads from there. Dr Alexandre Passant, Unit Leader at DERI and Principal Investigator for the project, explains "With this Google Research Award, we will push the boundaries of this research to make such distributed networks as SMOB communicate directly between mobile phones, with a special focus on privacy. Our goal is to make users really control who they want to share content with, based on dynamic and in-the-cloud identification of people belonging to particular groups, for instance colleagues or family members, without having to subscribe to a service that will own your data. We will in particular rely on Google s PubSubHubbub protocol to do so, combined with our expertise in Social Networks and Semantic Web technologies." Professor Stefan Decker, Director of DERI says "The grant from Google shows the quality and relevance of Irish research, attracting more and more commercial interest. Our responsibility is to create the environment that makes it possible for the research to also transition into commercial reality, improving the lives of people, instead of staying solely in academia." -Ends-

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NUI Galway Students' Union Shop Scoops National Prize Two Years in a Row

Monday, 13 December 2010

The XL Students Union Shop on the campus of NUI Galway has won the national prize for best Stationary Offering at Shelflife C-Store Awards 2010, held last week in Dublin. The shop was one of 23 outlets to pick up an award from amongst hundreds of local convenience store entrants from across Ireland. This is the second year in a row the shop has won this prestigious award. John Moane, Managing Director of BWG Foods Wholesale Division says, "It is confirmation of how well they understand their customer s needs. The team is very deserving of this industry accolade and they should take pride in displaying it alongside their other awards." Students' Union Shop Manager Liam Buckley says, "The staff and I are delighted to have won this award two years running. There is a huge effort in keeping the standards high in the shop and it is a great achievement by all that this has been recognised at a national level by winning the most sought after accolade in the retail industry." The ShelfLife C-Store Awards, now running for 11 years, were set up to recognise retailers and retail outlets that set the highest standards in the retail industry. ENDS

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NUI Galway Alumni Awards Gala Launched

Monday, 13 December 2010

Details have been announced of NUI Galway's 11th Annual Alumni Awards Gala, which will take place in the Bailey Allen Hall on Saturday, 5 March, 2011. Proceeds from the event will support the expansion of NUI Galway's Archives through the acquisition of new collections and the development of humanities programming for the Arts, Humanities and Social Science Research Building. One of the highlights of the evening, which has established itself as a premier national event and one of the key social occasions in the West of Ireland, is the presentation of the Annual Alumni Awards. These awards celebrate the life-long value of an NUI Galway education and recognise individual excellence and achievement among the University's more than 80,000 graduates worldwide. Six alumni awards will be presented on the night. They include: Aer Arann Alumni Award for Sports Achievement and Leadership; AIB Award for Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies; Bank of Ireland Award for Business, Public Policy and Law; Bank of Ireland Alumni Award for Engineering and Informatics; Medtronic Award for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences and Seavite Alumni Award for Science. For ticket enquiries, contact Emma Goode in the Alumni Office on 091 493750, Tickets cost €100 per person. For further information on the event please contact JB Terrins, Director, Alumni Relations, NUI Galway. 091 495411 ENDS

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Ecologists Say Sustainable Farming Practices Help Protect Biodiversity

Monday, 13 December 2010

Work carried out by the Applied Ecology Unit at NUI Galway have found that intensive farming practices have definitive effects on local biodiversity – where biodiversity includes all living organisms in, and their interactions with and within, an environment. At a recent talk held in NUI Galway, Dr. Mike Gormally of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research spoke of the challenges facing the unique biodiversity in the West of Ireland. The talk followed a significant breakthrough in negotiations in Nagoya, Japan at the end of October, when almost 190 member countries of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met to discuss a new global strategic plan for protecting biodiversity. Focusing on the effects of farming on peatlands and turloughs (disappearing lakes) in the West of Ireland, Dr. Gormally explained that sustainable farming practices are intrinsic to the protection of biodiversity, and that many native plant and insect species would suffer if sustainable agricultural practices ceased. Some of these species are found only in the West of Ireland and are a fundamental part of intricate regional food webs and cycles of life. Identifying climate change as another threat, Dr. Gormally stated that there would be "winners and losers" in Irish biodiversity if the effects of climate change were to continue in their current trend. "The Nagoya Agreement, recently adopted by the CBD, outlines 20 goals for 2020, to protect threatened habitats and to halt the disturbing rate of extinction of plant and animal species." explains Dr. Gormally. He adds, "In the west of Ireland, where we have really special habitats such as turloughs, peatlands, and the karst limestone found in the Burren, the biodiversity is unique and complex, and there is still so much to be understood and explored. We desperately need for loss of biodiversity to be globally recognised as a threat as potentially damaging for human health and welfare as climate change. Hopefully the protocol adopted at Nagoya will go some way to make that happen." Dr. Colin Brown, Director of NUI Galway's Ryan Institute, says "The work of Dr. Gormally and members of his Applied Ecology Unit play an important role in assisting Ireland to address the targets outlined by the Convention on Biological Diversity. Climate change, urbanisation, misuse of our resources, and some modern agricultural practices can threaten biodiversity. With a better understanding of the interactions between flora, fauna and landscape, we could manage our land and resources in a way that maintains a healthy ecosystem while supporting a wide range of human activities." For more information contact: Dr. Michael Gormally, 091 493334 email: ENDS

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