Monday, 10 August 2020

Call for the public to help discover if recreational water users are more at risk of picking up lethal bacteria A team of researchers at NUI Galway is calling on swimmers and surfers to take part in a project to find out if recreational water users are more at risk of picking up superbugs. The Antimicrobial Resistance and Microbial Ecology Research Group at the University is launching the PIER study (Public Health Impact of Exposure to antibiotic Resistance in recreational waters), funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Researchers are hoping to recruit 300 people to take part – one group of 150 sea swimmers, surfers and people who regularly use the sea, lakes or rivers for recreation, along with a second group of 150 people who rarely take to the water. Anyone aged 18 or over who lives on the island of Ireland can take part and those interested in supporting the research can find out more and sign up at the PIER website www.nuigalway.ie/pier A key part of the project will be understanding how superbugs get into human populations, particularly to help scientists learn how to control the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. It is hoped that the findings of this study will contribute to improving policy regarding environmental monitoring of antibiotic resistance and the release of waste containing superbugs to recreational waters. Professor Dearbháile Morris, Principal Investigator on the PIER project says: “In healthy people antibiotic resistant bacteria behave very similarly to other common bugs, they live harmlessly on the skin, in the nose or in the bowel. This is called colonisation. As long as a bug stays on the skin or in the bowel, it usually does not cause a problem. “However, once a superbug gets into a wound, into the bladder or into the blood, it can cause an infection that can be difficult to treat. This mostly happens in sick or vulnerable people with weaker immune systems, such as those in intensive care, the very old or the very young, and special antibiotics are then required for treatment, as ordinary antibiotics do not work.”   Professor Morris continues: “Unfortunately, superbugs can transfer easily from healthy colonised people to vulnerable people. The more people who are colonised with antibiotic resistant bugs, the higher the risk that these bugs will spread to vulnerable people and cause serious infection.” Dr Liam Burke, Co-Investigator on the PIER project, says: “Some superbugs are now very common in the environment due to increased antibiotic use in humans and animals and the release of sewage, manure and effluent containing antibiotics and antibiotic resistant superbugs, which can end up in our lakes, rivers and seas. “Although bathing waters are routinely tested for some bacteria, they are not tested for antibiotic resistant bacteria, so we don’t really know to what extent they are present. PIER will look into whether people who regularly use Irish waters for recreation are at risk of becoming colonised with superbugs.” For more information and to register to take part visit www.nuigalway.ie/pier. -Ends-

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

NUI Galway Societies win three awards at 24th annual awards NUI Galway has retained its position as the top ranked third level institution for societies after collecting the two top best society awards at the national society awards. At an event livestreamed by the Board of Irish College Society (BICS) Awards from the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone, NUI Galway brought its tally for awards since 1996 to 75. Following detailed entries for the awards including a portfolio and short video presentation, NUI Galway excelled in three categories at the 2020 awards night: Best Society in a Charity of Civic Field – Sláinte Society Best Society in a Cultural, Academic or Social Field – Dramsoc Best Event – Akumakon, Anime & Manga Society Ríona Hughes, NUI Galway Societies Officer and BICS Executive Member, said: “As a member of the BICS Executive and co-host of the event I am thrilled we were able to produce such an interactive event for our 23 member colleges and even more so that NUI Galway once again proved what a top class institution it is for the whole student experience. “Months of planning went into the interactive awards night for students and staff. We featured an impressive new set-up with over 250 groups streaming the awards live, at zoom parties or in person at socially distancing parties implementing all Government Covid-19 guidelines. “It’s yet another demonstration of the can do attitude of colleges and universities in the face of such challenging times. “As NUI Galway Societies Officer I could not be more proud of our societies and I am humbled with the way they have coped with lockdown and continue to engage with us and their members, under very trying circumstances - it augurs well for the coming semester.” Ms Hughes congratulated all NUI Galway societies nominated for awards. Ms Hughes added: “We want to build on the successes of our societies and we are deep in to planning for the NUI Galway Virtual Summer Festival from August 26-29 which will feature a wide array of events from NUI Galway and the creative Galway community. Anyone who is interested can get details on www.socs.nuigalway.” Ends

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Investigators at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, have demonstrated the efficacy of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) delivery using a three-dimensional microgel platform, to assist with tissue repair in patients suffering from critical limb ischemia and other peripheral arterial diseases. Peripheral arterial disease is a chronic vascular disease characterised by impaired circulation to the lower extremities. Its most severe stage, known as critical limb ischemia (CLI), puts patients at an increased risk of cardiovascular events, infected and non-healing wounds, amputation, and death.   CLI affects millions of patients globally. Advancing age combined with other risk factors such as diabetes and smoking suggests that the condition will only increase in the near future. CÚRAM’s research in innovative ‘smart’ medical devices and implants aims to benefit patients with chronic soft tissue ailments such as CLI, as well as cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, neural, renal and respiratory diseases. This study, ‘Temporal Changes Guided by Mesenchymal Stem Cells on a 3D Microgel Platform Enhances Angiogenesis In Vivo at a Low-Cell Dose’ published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), one of the most influential journals on scientific progress, illustrates how a low dose of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) embedded in a three-dimensional microgel cell delivery platform, can induce rapid blood vessel regeneration and tissue repair. Mesenchymal stem cells are adult stem cells found in the bone marrow that are important for making and repairing skeletal tissues. Therapeutic factors secreted by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) promote the regeneration of blood vessels. Still, delivery of these stem cells to the patient in isolation and outside of their normal environmental conditions offers only a limited benefit to patients, with issues such as poor graft survival. The delivery of stem cells on an extracellular matrix (ECM)-based platform; however, changes cell behaviour and enhances the potential for tissue repair, reduces inflammation and further tissue damage. “Our fundamental research adds to current knowledge about cell encapsulation strategies by highlighting the importance of preconditioning or priming the capacity of biomaterials through cell-material interactions. Obtaining therapeutic efficacy at a low-cell dose in the microgel platform is a promising clinical route that would aid faster tissue repair in patients suffering from peripheral arterial diseases such as Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI)” said Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM and lead author on the paper. Further basic investigation of the biochemical nature of the 3-D delivery platform and its influence on the over or under expression of cellular receptors will be the focus of a future study. From a cell therapy point-of-view, the 3-D model platform developed during this research offers a significant benefit over other cell delivery platforms with the use of a twenty-fold lower cell dose than that of the gold-standard used in pre-clinical ischemia studies. This illustrates the importance of preconditioning the MSCs on a 3-D microgel platform that allows the use of a low-cell dose as a localised therapy to reverse ischemia. According to Professor Pandit: “These findings will be increasingly significant, as future studies will investigate ECM-based three-dimensional niches using our platform technology for engineering constructs that will allow replication of native cellular microenvironments for enhancing the regenerative capacity of stem cells. Besides, we are very keen on transferring this technology to the clinic with our clinical collaborators.” The multi-disciplinary research team led by Professor Pandit involved Professor Tim O’Brien, Co-PI at CÚRAM and the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, CÚRAM researchers Dr Dilip Thomas, Dr Grazia Marsico, Dr Gianluca Fontana and Dr Isma Liza Mohd Isa, Dr Arun Thirumaran and Dr Xizhe Chen, Dr Bart Lukasz and Dr Brian Rodriguez from the Conway Institute, University College Dublin and Professor Martina Marchetti-Deschmann from the Institute of Chemical Technologies and Analytics, TU Wien of the Vienna University of Technology, Austria. This research was supported by Science Foundation Ireland and co-funded by the ERDF as well as through EMBO short-term fellowships with use of core-facilities and technical assistance at NUI Galway. The full paper can be accessed at www.pnas.org. For further information, please contact Claire O’Riordan at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie -Ends-

Monday, 27 July 2020

NUI Galway and the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC), affiliated with the Ministry of Education in China, have announced the acceptance of ten Chinese students to pursue a PhD at NUI Galway. Eight of these students have been accepted for PhDs under supervision of academics at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences while a further two students will receive supervision from the School of Engineering. Each of the ten successful applicants will receive full scholarship support. All eight students intending to study at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway will come from Xiangya School of Medicine of Central South University and are preparing for careers as academic clinicians. Xiangya School of Medicine of Central South University was founded in 1914 and is one of the earliest medical schools to introduce western medicine into China. Following a rigorous selection process in China the students have been chosen after to undertake projects proposed by researchers at NUI Galway. The CSC is the Chinese Ministry of Education’s non-profit organisation that provides support for international academic exchange with China. The CSC provides both funding for Chinese citizens and residents to study abroad, and for students and scholars from around the World to study in China. In welcoming this announcement Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences and Director of the Confucius Institute for Chinese and Regenerative Medicine at NUI Galwaysaid: “This is the first year of a new partnership with Xiangya School of Medicine of Central South University and we look forward to the arrival of these outstanding students in Galway.  This partnership will promote joint clinical research between the EU and China. It is proposed that NUI Galway will host an annual symposium for the Chinese Scholarship Council PhD fellows commencing in 2020/2021.” Professor Becky Whay, Vice-President for Internationalisation at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to welcome these students who have gone through a rigorous competitive process to be selected to study with our academic teams here at NUI Galway. We look forward to the outputs of their research and the cultural interchange this scheme provides.” Professor Sanbing Shen, Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, and Associate Director of Confucius Institute of Chinese and Regenerative Medicine at NUI Galway, said at the announcement: “We are grateful to Chinese Scholarship Council for promoting Ireland-China scientific exchanges and to Professor Xiaochuang Wu and Xingcan Zhou at the Xiangya School of Medicine of Central South University for initiating this program. We look forward to welcoming the CSC-funded students to NUI Galway and to turning this program into a successful example of friendship and international scientific collaboration.” -ENDS-  

Friday, 24 July 2020

Livestock farming contributes one third of Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, posing a unique challenge to achieve a national commitment to achieving net zero GHG emissions post 2050. The EPA-funded SeQUEsTER project seeks to chart potential pathways for Irish agriculture and land use that can deliver net zero GHG emissions. There are a number of challenges and some fundamentally differing perspectives on Ireland’s role in global actions on climate change and food security. To that end, SeQUEsTER will launch The Sequester Journal, a new blog series that will feature high profile national and international experts from academic, social and political spheres. Contributing authors to date include: CCAFS Flagship Leader for Low Emissions Development, Dr Lini Wollenberg; Basque Centre for Climate Change Livestock GHG Modelling Specialist, Professor Agustin del Prado; Professor of European Agricultural Policy at Trinity College Dublin and member of the Climate Change Advisory Council, Alan Matthews; Molecular ecologist and agro-ecosystem analyst at the James Hutton Institute, Dr Pietro Iannetta; and Life Cycle Assessment Scientist for AgResearch New Zealand, Dr Andre Mazzetto. The series will cover topics related to four themes: The potential role of Ireland’s farm forestry in an EU Green Deal. Opportunities for Ireland’s bio-economy in an EU Green Deal. The importance of a carbon neutral Irish agriculture sector: An international perspective What can Ireland learn from other countries as it transitions agriculture towards carbon neutrality Principal investigator on the project, Dr Dave Styles, who has contributed the blog’s inaugural piece, highlighted the importance of encouraging dialogue, saying:  “The significant changes required to meaningfully tackle the climate emergency will entail disruption, challenges and opportunities. There is an urgent need to engage the public in the choices we face if we wish to prosper through the transformations necessary to leave a decent world for future generations to enjoy.” NUI Galway Postdoctoral Researcher and Model Integration Lead, Dr Colm Duffy, also emphasized the need for engagement: “We are acutely aware that we need to effectively communicate our work to all stakeholders, and we are endeavouring to make our work and our research team as accessible as possible.” The Sequester Journal’s first edition will be live from Friday, 24 July, and engagement from the public is welcomed to provide a broad spectrum of perspectives and balance to this crucial debate. To access the blog or find out more about the sequester project visit https://www.plantagbiosciences.org/project/sequester/category/blog/ and follow https://twitter.com/SeQUEsTER_proj on twitter. For more information or to contribute an article to the blog contact Dr Colm Duffy at colm.duffy@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Attendees will hear from a number of experts including Dr David Nabarro, Special Envoy of WHO Director General on COVID-19 The Centre for One Health at NUI Galway will launch its Spotlight Series on Monday, 27 July, from 2.30- 4pm with a live online event ‘COVID-19: A One Health Challenge’. The One Health concept recognises that human health is linked to the health of animals and the environment we share. It is essential to take a One Health approach to tackle many of the human health challenges we face in today’s world. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 is believed to have spread from bats via an intermediary host to humans and therefore COVID -19 is an example of a zoonotic disease, which is a disease spread from animals to humans. Professor Dearbháile Morris, Director of the Centre for One Health and Head of the Discipline of Bacteriology, School of Medicine, NUI Galway, said: “It is estimated that six out of every ten known infectious diseases in humans originate in animals, and three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people are spread from animals. Therefore is it only by taking a One Health approach that we can adequately address issues such as COVID-19 and prepare for future pandemics.” To register for this free event which will be delivered on Zoom visit https://bit.ly/2ZwdARC. For further details, contact Professor Dearbháile Morris at dearbhaile.morris@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

The ENLIGHT consortium of nine European universities, including NUI Galway, has been selected in the framework of the second call for "European Universities", the European Commission's pilot program for new multilateral networks. ENLIGHT, the European university Network to promote equitable quality of Life, sustainability and Global engagement through Higher education Transformation and will receive start-up funding of €5 million. ENLIGHT unites nine universities of Galway, Ireland; the Basque Country, Spain; Bordeaux, France; Bratislava, Slovakia; Göttingen, Germany; Groningen, The Netherlands; Tartu, Estonia; Uppsala, Sweden; and Ghent, Belgium. The nine ENLIGHT universities have set a common goal to fundamentally transform higher education and to empower existing and prospective students with the right knowledge and skills to become engaged professionals and respond to the major, complex societal challenges of the 21st century. The ENLIGHT network embodies the geographical, cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe, and aims to make full use of this wealth and diversity to offer new, flexible international study opportunities tailored to individual’s needs. Speaking today, NUI Galway President Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “NUI Galway is delighted to further its work with the ENLIGHT consortium.  All nine universities are based outside of capital cities and therefore have a particular perspective on the world. Together, we are regional drivers of development, working closely with our cities to tackle societal challenges and see international ambition as a means of maximising regional impact.  At NUI Galway, we serve our region best – and respect it – by being open to highest standards of excellence and co-operation.  We will benefit from this funding as the consortium will learn collectively to address shared challenges consistent with our values as a university community.” The ENLIGHT universities aim to create new learning formats in which students focus on real social needs together with researchers, citizens and companies. In addition, students will not only given the opportunity to sharpen their knowledge with advanced research, but will also be stimulated to look beyond the boundaries of their own discipline, to think innovatively, work together, deal with diversity and to broaden their horizons within and outside Europe. Vice President International at NUI Galway, Professor Becky Whay commented: “The current pandemic has highlighted the need for international co-operation to tackle global problems, and with our ENLIGHT partners, we are committed to tackling barriers to education that may emerge.  We hope that receiving this funding at this time will prove a watershed moment for us to work towards more inclusive internationalisation through online co-operation to tackle shared challenges.”  Over the next three years, ENLIGHT will pilot new learning formats across five focus themes: Climate Change, Health and Well-Being, Inequalities, Digital revolution, Energy and Circularity. In the long term ENLIGHT wants to create an open space between the nine universities without barriers for learning, teaching and working together. The ENLIGHT project was realised in close co-operation with the student representatives of all ENLIGHT universities, with the student network continuing to play a central role in addressing the needs of current and future student generations. More information on ENLIGHT is available at https://enlight-eu.org. -Ends-

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Tá OÉ Gaillimh ar na naoi n-ollscoil Eorpacha i gcuibhreannas ENLIGHT Roghnaíodh an cuibhreannas ENLIGHT ina bhfuil naoi n-ollscoil Eorpacha, lena n-áirítear OÉ Gaillimh, sa chreat den dara gairm ar “Ollscoileanna Eorpacha”, clár píolótach an Choimisiúin Eorpaigh do líonraí iltaobhacha. Gheobhaidh ENLIGHT, an Líonra Ollscoileanna Eorpacha chun caighdeán cóir beatha, inbhuanaitheacht agus rannpháirtíocht Dhomhanda a chur chun cinn trí Chlaochlú Ardoideachais, maoiniú tosaigh ar luach €5 milliún. Tugann ENLIGHT naoi n-ollscoil le chéile mar atá ollscoileanna i nGaillimh, Éire; Tír na mBascach sa Spáinn; Bordeaux sa Fhrainc; an Bhratasláiv sa tSlóvaic; Göttingen sa Ghearmáin; Groningen san Ísiltír; Tartu san Eastóin; Uppsala sa tSualainn; agus Ghent sa Bheilg. Cuireann naoi n-ollscoil ENLIGHT comhchuspóir rompu an t-ardoideachas a chlaochlú ó bhonn agus an t-eolas agus na scileanna cuí a sholáthar do mhic léinn reatha agus ionchasacha d’fhonn go mbeidh siad ina ngairmithe tiomanta agus go ngabhfaidh siad i ngleic le príomhdhúshláin chasta na sochaí san aonú céad is fiche. Cuimsíonn an líonra ENLIGHT éagsúlacht thíreolaíoch, chultúrtha agus teangacha na hEorpa, agus cuireann sé roimhe gaisneas iomlán a bhaint as an saibhreas agus as an éagsúlacht seo le deiseanna staidéir ilchineálacha idirnáisiúnta, atá curtha i bhfeiliúint do riachtanais an duine aonair, a thairiscint. Ag labhairt dó faoin ábhar inniu, dúirt Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh: “Tá lúcháir orainn in OÉ Gaillimh ár gcuid oibre leis an gcuibhreannas ENLIGHT a chur chun cinn a thuilleadh. Tá lán na naoi n-ollscoil lonnaithe lasmuigh de phríomhchathracha agus tá dearcadh faoi leith ar an saol acu dá bhrí sin. Le chéile, cuirimid borradh faoi fhorbairt ar bhonn réigiúnach, oibrímid go dlúth lenár gcuid cathrach le dul i ngleic le dúshláin shochaíocha agus breathnaímid ar uaillmhian idirnáisiúnta mar bhealach leis an tionchar réigiúnach is mó a bheith againn. In OÉ Gaillimh, is trína bheith oscailte do na caighdeáin bharr feabhais agus chomhoibrithe is airde a dhéanaimid an freastal is fearr – agus a léirímid an meas is fearr – ar ár réigiún. Bainfimid tairbhe as an maoiniú seo mar go bhfoghlaimeoidh an cuibhreannas le chéile maidir le dul i ngleic leis na dúshláin chéanna atá ag teacht lenár luachanna mar phobal ollscoile.” Cuireann ollscoileanna ENLIGHT rompu formáidí foghlama nua a chruthú ina ndíríonn mic léinn ar fhíor-riachtanais na sochaí in éindí le taighdeoirí, saoránaigh agus cuideachtaí. Ina cheann sin, ní hamháin go dtabharfar an deis do mhic léinn cur lena gcuid eolais le hardtaighde, ach spreagfar iad le breathnú thar chríocha a ndisciplín féin, le smaoineamh go nuálach, le hoibriú as lámha a chéile, le dul i ngleic le héagsúlacht agus lena gcuid dearcthaí a leathnú laistigh agus lasmuigh den Eoraip. Dúirt an Leas-Uachtarán Idirnáisiúnta in OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Becky Whay: “Léirigh an phaindéim reatha an gá le comhoibriú idirnáisiúnta chun dul i ngleic le fadhbanna domhanda, agus i dteannta lenár gcomhpháirtithe ENLIGHT, táimid tiomanta do dhul i ngleic le constaicí oideachais a d’fhéadfadh a theacht chun cinn. Agus an maoiniú seo faighte againn ag an am seo go háirithe, tá súil againn go mbeidh sé ina chor cinniúnach dúinn dul i dtreo idirnáisiúnaithe níos cuimsithí trí chomhoibriú ar líne chun dul i ngleic na ndúshlán céanna. As seo go ceann trí bliana, triailfidh ENLIGHT formáidí foghlama nua ar bhonn píolótach i gcúig phríomhthéama mar atá: Athrú Aeráide, Sláinte agus Folláine, Neamhionannais, Réabhlóid Dhigiteach, Fuinneamh agus Ciorclaíocht. Ar bhonn fadtréimhseach is mian le ENLIGHT spás oscailte idir na naoi n-ollscoil a chruthú ionas nach mbeidh aon bhac ar an bhfoghlaim, ar an teagasc, ná ar an oibriú le chéile ann. Cuireadh an tionscadal ENLIGHT i gcrích i ndlúth-chomhpháirtíocht le hionadaithe mac léinn de chuid gach ollscoil ENLIGHT, agus tá ról lárnach ag an líonra mac léinn i gcónaí maidir le haghaidh a thabhairt ar riachtanais na glúine reatha mac léinn agus na glúine a leanfaidh ina diaidh amach anseo. Tá tuilleadh eolais faoi ENLIGHT ar fáil ag https://enlight-eu.org. -Críoch-

Monday, 20 July 2020

Friday 17 July: Professor Siobhán Mullally, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, has been appointed as UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children. The position will focus on the human rights of victims of trafficking in persons, and Professor Mullally was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, following an open competitive selection process. As Special Rapporteur Professor Mullally will be responsible for taking action on human rights violations committed against trafficked persons and on situations in which there has been a failure to protect their human rights and to take effective preventive action. She will undertake country visits in order to study the situation in situ and formulate recommendations to prevent and/or combat trafficking, and protect the human rights of victims of trafficking in specific countries and/or regions, and will also submit annual reports to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.  She will also present to the UN Security Council on the links between human trafficking and armed conflict. Special Rapporteurs are independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights, and are a central element of the United Nations human rights machinery. Professor Mullally said: "Human Trafficking is a serious violation of human rights, often targeting people living in poverty, victims of discrimination, and people fleeing situations of armed conflict or persecution. COVID-19 has limited access to critical support services for victims of trafficking, and deflected resources away from preventive action. Closures of borders and limited access to safe, regular migration, combined with increases in unemployment and poverty, all increase risks of sexual, labour and other forms of exploitation. Children who are increasingly in online environments and not attending school regularly, are particularly at risk of trafficking. "It is critical now that effective protection measures are taken to vindicate the human rights of victims of trafficking, and that Governments and the international community take seriously their obligations to prevent human trafficking." Professor Mullally was previously a member and President of the Council of Europe monitoring body, the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Persons. She is a member of the National Group of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague. In 2009-19, she was a Fulbright Scholar and Senior fellow in residence at the Gender and Sexuality Law Center at Columbia University. She has also held visiting positions at Harvard Human Rights Program, Cornell Law School, National Law School of India University and University of Peshawar. She served as a Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission from 2014-19 and Chairperson of the Irish Refugee Council 2006-8. She has undertaken human rights advisory roles in many parts of the world, in conflict and post-conflict settings, working with UN bodies and civil society organisations. She has published widely in the fields of gender and human rights, migration and refugee protection.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Three NUI Galway start-ups, Feeltech, Nua Surgical, BlueDrop Medical, are among the 2020 winners of Health Innovation Hub Ireland’s (HIHI) call for innovative ideas from companies, start-ups and SMEs. The nationwide health innovation competition is directed at companies who have an innovative product, solution or service that are at pre-commercial or late development phase with the potential to significantly impact Irish healthcare. FeelTect’s technology, Tight Alright, is a wireless, pressure sensing device for measuring and monitoring sub-bandage pressure during compression therapy, primarily for the millions of people worldwide with venous leg ulcers (VLUs). Venous leg ulcers are chronic wounds that stem from venous insufficiency, which affects the circulation of blood to the lower limbs. The tiny valves that normally force blood back up towards the heart no longer function, causing blood to pool up in the legs, and the veins of the legs become distended, resulting in an accumulation of fluid in the lower limbs. NUA Surgical are developing Stericision, a novel medical device in obstetrics to make caesarean delivery a safer and  superior surgery. The project has received significant support and funding from Enterprise Ireland through the Commercialisation Fund which will assist the team in taking the unmet need from idea through to concept and design development, in preparation for establishing a new MedTech start-up company. Bluedrop Medical is focused on developing and commercialising an internet of things enabled device which can predict the formation of diabetic foot ulcers. Bluedrop Medical’s device can enable diabetic foot ulcers to be detected early; when treatment is easier and outcomes and costs are greatly improved. The home based system performs a daily scan of the patient’s feet and sends the data to the cloud for analysis through advanced algorithms capable of detecting abnormalities. By detecting skin damage early, the technology could enable healthcare providers to prevent hundreds of thousands of amputations, improving lives and significantly reducing costs. There were 15 ultimate winners with strong competition amongst this year’s entries. HIHI will now match the winning companies with relevant clinical teams, overseeing a study of each product in an Irish clinical setting. These pilot and clinical validation studies provide critical test beds to support Irish companies going to market and can identify any further refinements in the development cycle. The Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar said: “Irish start-ups are working at the cutting edge of healthcare, coming up with innovative solutions to improve the patient experience and patient outcomes. These successful 15 innovators have been chosen for their use of technology to make it easier for patients to manage chronic conditions, and to help with early diagnosis and prevention. I wish them the very best. The Government will continue to promote and invest in the life sciences sector, for the benefit of our economy and our wellbeing.” Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, said: “HIHI has done tremendous work over the last number of years in bringing industry and the health service together to validate innovative products and services. Innovation is essential as we reimagine our health service and implement Sláintecare and I am pleased to see the wide range of ideas put forward, including in the area of digital health, that have been successful in this call. The strength of the Hub is in collaboration and in developing enduring partnerships – both with industry and importantly with the health services - these are key to its success.  I wish all concerned well in the implementation of these ideas.” Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway and Consultant Endocrinologist at Saolta University Healthcare Group, commented: “NUI Galway and Saolta University Health Care Group are happy to host the Galway component of HIHI, which is a major element of the medtech system in the West of Ireland. HIHI is a major part of the link between academia, business and clinic, a partnership which is so crucial to the translation of innovative ideas for patient and economic benefit.” HIHI is a joint initiative of the Department of Health and Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation. Its activity is strengthened through the support of Enterprise Ireland and the HSE.  HIHI offers companies the opportunity for pilot studies and provides the health service with access to innovative products, services and devices. Since it was launched in September 2016, HIHI has managed 300 company engagements, 193 of these have resulted in follow-up support activities and 60 of these have developed into active projects within the Irish healthcare system. HIHI also recently triaged almost 200 innovative healthcare solutions through its Covid-19 Innovation Portal. Irish companies are developing innovative healthcare solutions for patients at home and internationally, by supporting these companies through HIHI, we are strengthening our economy while improving patient care. For further information on the winning companies visit https://hih.ie/engage/health-innovations-2020/ -Ends-

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

NUI Galway Clinician Scientist Dr Emer McGrath has been awarded a Clinician Scientist Fellowship as part of the Health Research Board (HRB) €3.7 million investment in twelve new Health Research Fellowships. Dr McGrath was awarded €655,524 for her research into blood-based biomarkers for early detection of preclinical neurocognitive disorders. The Clinician Scientist Fellowships are designed to support health and care practitioners as they transition towards research leadership, while balancing their clinical commitments. The award to Dr McGrath will fund a new Academic Consultant Neurologist post based at NUI Galway and Galway University Hospital. Dr McGrath will lead a large, international, cross-collaborative research study involving a team of investigators based at the HRB-CRFG, NUI Galway, the Framingham Heart Study, Boston University, the Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University, Canada, Trinity College Dublin and the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Texas San Antonio. Speaking about the fellowship Dr McGrath said: “Dementia is a major health problem and a significant contributor to death and dependence worldwide. Often by the time a person shows signs of the disease, irreversible brain injury has already occurred and the opportunity for early disease modification has been missed. If we could identify people at high risk of developing dementia at an early, preclinical stage (e.g. by detecting elevated levels of proteins or biomarkers in the blood) we would have the greatest opportunity to prevent this disease.” In an innovative programme of research, the research team will investigate selected promising blood-based biomarkers and determine whether these biomarkers vary in people with and without features of early stage dementia on specialised brain scans, and whether these biomarkers can predict who will develop dementia in the future using the large, international PURE study. The results of this research will be used to develop a risk score for predicting an individual’s risk of developing dementia in the future. The results of this research are expected to have important public health benefits including:  development of a risk score which can be used to calculate a person’s likelihood of developing dementia in the future; tailoring approaches to treatment based on an individual’s biomarker signature; and improving the ability to find new treatments for dementia, by allowing better selection of individuals for clinical trials. Dr Annalisa Montesanti, Programme Manager, HRB said: “These postdoctoral awardees have come through a very competitive process and represent the very best of the new crop of health researchers working in the Irish health research system. The standard was so high that the international review panels for each fellowship scheme could have recommended more applications for funding if budget had been available. These are significant achievements in these researchers’ careers.” The HRB awards were made under two postdoctoral training schemes, Applying Research into Policy and Practice Fellowships, and Clinician Scientist Fellowships. Seven of the awards were made under the Applying Research into Policy and Practice scheme.  Five of the awards were made under the Clinician Scientist Fellowship scheme. -Ends-

Monday, 13 July 2020

Throughout the month of June, the Accountancy and Finance department at NUI Galway’s J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics held their annual ‘KPMG-led Summer School in Data and Analytics’ and their inaugural ‘Disruptive Technologies Summer School’. The summer schools are co-ordinated and delivered by academics and programme directors, and are on offer to students currently enrolled in all three of the postgraduate programmes within the department: The Master of Accounting; MSc in Corporate Finance; and MSc International Accounting and Analytics. Speaking following completion of the 2020 KPMG Summer School in Data and Analytics, Laurence May, Head of KPMG in Galway, and Adjunct Professor in Accounting and Finance at NUI Galway, noted: “This year’s Summer School was the third year of our partnership with NUI Galway on delivery of this programme, with it going from strength to strength each year. The programme was mainly classroom based in its first two years, but in response to the measures introduced to mitigate the impact of the global pandemic, we switched to an online delivery model this year. We were very pleased with how well this went, with the revised online programme being very well received by participants. I would like to thank NUI Galway Faculty Staff and our guest lecturers, including many colleagues from KPMG, for their flexibility and commitment to delivering the programme in these challenging times.” This year’s KPMG Summer School guest speakers included: Helen Kelly, KPMG; Conor Clifford, Medtronic; Mathieu D’Aquin, NUI Galway; Mark Gantly, NUI Galway; Marie Joyce, NTR; Giovanni Tummarello, Siren; Joe Smyth, Genesys; Niamh O’Brien, KPMG; and David Cunningham, Sedicii. Andrea Crean, Lecturer in Accountancy and Finance at NUI Galway and co-coordinator of the programme, said:;”At the start of this year, in conjunction with KPMG, we were planning for the third year in-house running of the KPMG-led Analytics in Accounting and Auditing Summer School. In mid-March, due to a global pandemic and the restrictions that ensued, our summer school was switched from an on campus to an online delivery model. With the expertise of Laurence May and his team in KPMG, and the excellent range of guest speakers who were only happy to accommodate the running of this online platform, this made the transition to the first virtual KPMG Summer School seamless. The delivery was hugely successful with fantastic feedback from participants. It is ironic that, while many elements of the summer school focus on the benefits of technology in this current era, without the use of this technology, the switch from in-class to online delivery would not be possible.” The second Summer School held recently, was the first ever Disruptive Technologies Summer School designed and delivered by NUI Galway Lecturer in Accounting Sharon Cotter, who said: ”The rapid scale of development and adoption of techniques such as robotic process automation, machine learning, and powerful data analytics tools means that accountants today and in the future, need to be tech savvy as well as proficient in fundamental accounting concepts in order to survive and thrive as trusted business partners.” Guest speakers for the Disruptive Technologies Summer School included: Don Hicks, Grant Thornton; April Morris, California State University; Marsha Maly, Intuity Technologies; John Munnelly, Chartered Accountants Ireland; Cathal Nolan, PWC;, Seamus Conaty, PWC; and Paul Doyle, Hewlett Packard. More information on the programmes offered by NUI Galway Accountancy and Finance department can be found at http://www.nuigalway.ie/business-public-policy-law/cairnes/subjectareas/accountancy-finance/. -End-

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) has bestowed NUI Galway’s Professor Brian McStay with the lifetime honour of EMBO membership in recognition of his achievements in the life sciences, it was announced today. Professor McStay graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a BA in Genetics and from University of Edinburgh with a PhD. After post-doctoral research in the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, Seattle USA, he then started his own research group in the University of Dundee. Since 2008 he has been a Professor in the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway. Speaking after today’s announcement, Professor McStay said: “I am delighted that the work in my laboratory at the Centre for Chromosome Biology on the inner workings of the nucleolus in human cells has been recognised by my peers.” Professor Noel Lowndes, Director of the Centre for Chromosome Biology and a member of EMBO since 2003, said: “I would like to welcome Brian as NUI Galway’s second elected member of EMBO. Brian is now just one of seven others in Ireland who are members of the organisation. Election to the membership of EMBO is the highest honour within European life sciences ranging from Bioinformatics to Zoology and I am delighted to welcome my Centre for Chromosome Biology colleague to the membership.” EMBO Members actively participate in EMBO initiatives, for example by serving on EMBO Council and committees, by mentoring young scientists, or supporting activities such as the promotion of sound science policy. Members also guide and support the organisation in ensuring the highest quality in the selection of future members, postdoctoral fellows, and courses and workshops. “The new Members have contributed to the success of research in the life sciences in Europe and around the world,” said EMBO Director Maria Leptin. “As EMBO Members they can help to shape the future through EMBO’s work to support talented researchers, bring ideas together, and promote an international research environment conducive to excellent science.”  -Ends-

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Tá mac léinn óg ón gCeathrú Rua ar dhuine de ghrúpa mac léinn ón BA (Cumarsáid & Gaeilge) in Ollscoil na hÉireann Gaillimh a bhain duais don iriseoireacht raidió trí Ghaeilge amach ag na Smedias le gairid. Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge atá ag riaradh na céime seo a chuireann béim láidir ar an gcraoltóireacht bheo agus taithí phraiticiúil a thabhairt do na mic léinn. Fuair an grúpa d’ochtar an duais aitheantais seo don chlár Coolchaint a craoladh ar stáisiún na hOllscoile Flirt Fm ar an 3 Márta i mbliana. “Is iontach an t-aitheantas é seo do na mic léinn go háirithe”, a dúirt duine dá dteagascóirí Norita Ní Chartúir. “Tuigeann muid an tábhacht a bhaineann leis an taithí seo a roinnt le mic léinn óga agus iad a spreagadh i dtreo na craoltóireachta trí Ghaeilge sa todhchaí. Tá aitheantas ag dul freisin do mo chomhghleacaí Fionn Ó Sealbhaigh a dhéanann cúram do chúrsaí fuaime agus teicniúla.” Cúrsaí imirce, Brexit agus an fhoireann peile Gaeil na Gaillimhe a bunaíodh sa mbliain 2016 i nGaillimh a bhí á bplé sa gclár buacach seo. Is é an t-imreoir rugbaí, réalt óg na Ceathrún Rua, Colm De Buitléar a láithrigh an clár. Craoladh an clár seo mar chuid den chraoladh nádúrtha a dhéantar sa gcéim seo idir mhic léinn bhliain 2 agus 4. An aidhm atá leis an gcraoladh seo ná mic léinn a chumasú don saol craoltóireachta. Déantar sin trí sárscileanna praiticiúla a thabhairt dóibh sa gcraoltóireacht raidió. Ceithre bliana a mhaireann an BA (Cumarsáid & Gaeilge). -Ends-

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

School of Education lecturer to become first NUI Galway General Editor of Ireland’s principal educational research journal Dr Tony Hall, Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology and Deputy Head NUI Galway’s School of Education, has been appointed the new General Editor of Irish Educational Studies, the official research journal of the Educational Studies Association of Ireland (ESAI), and Irish educational research community.  Founded in 1981, the journal covers all aspects of educational research, including the history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and technology of education. IES publishes research from across all sectors in Irish education and internationally: early years, preschool and primary education, secondary, further, post-compulsory and third-level education; and the broad repertoire of educational research methodologies.  The international profile of the journal has grown in the last decade, with c.50% of citations outside of Ireland, and a significant increase in its impact factor this year. Dr Hall’s appointment marks the first time that a NUI Galway academic will serve in the chief editorial role for Ireland’s flagship educational research publication. Speaking of his appointment, Dr Hall said: “I am delighted to take up the role of General Editor of Irish Educational Studies. I would like to acknowledge the work and support of the previous General Editors, Professor Paul Conway and Dr Aisling Leavy, and the support and efforts of all editors, reviewers and contributors to the journal over the almost 40 years since it was founded. Working with the IES Editorial Board, the ESAI President and Executive, and the Irish and international educational research and teaching community, I look forward to further enhancing the position and profile of IES as the principal scholarly publication for educational research in Ireland.” Welcoming Dr Hall’s appointment, Head of the School of Education at NUI Galway, Professor Gerry Mac Ruairc said: “The breadth and depth of Tony’s scholarship positions him as an excellent fit for the role of General Editor. As a colleague and on behalf of all of us in the School of Education we wish him every success in this new role and we look forward to supporting him as he brings the Journal on the next stage of its journey. It is particularly great for the School and the University to have the new custodian of the premium journal on our team at NUI Galway - well done Tony.”  Dr Enda Donlon, President of the Educational Studies Association of Ireland, said: “Tony is a scholar of national and international high standing, who brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this role. We are delighted to have an academic of Tony's calibre as the next General Editor of Irish Educational Studies, and know he will do a superb job of this over the coming years.” Dr Hall will officially take up the chief editorial role for IES in September 2021, for an initial term of three years. The IES journal is available online at www.tandfonline.com/toc/ries20/current.   -Ends-

Monday, 6 July 2020

NUI Galway researchers and company partners have been awarded over €10.3 million in Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF). The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund was established under Project Ireland 2040 and is run by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation with administrative support from Enterprise Ireland. Two of the funded projects will see teams at NUI Galway partnering with AuriGen Medical, an NUI Galway spin-out company specialising in electrophysiology and structural heart, dedicated to transforming the management of persistent atrial fibrillation. A third DTIF supported project will see the collaboration between teams at the NUI Galway Centre for Cell Manufacturing (CCMI) and ONK Therapeutics Ltd, also Galway based. ONK Therapeutics is also an NUI Galway spin out who are a clinically focused company who have developed a disease-specific cell product approach to tough to treat cancers.  Professors Martin O’Halloran, Adnan Elahi and Leo Quinlan will co-lead the project that will allow the Translational Medical Device Lab (TMD-Lab) to continue and grow its research collaboration with AuriGen Medical. The project will support the development of a novel medical device for the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation and ultimately stroke. The project will explore the fundamental science of electroporation on both a cellular and tissue level, while also translating this basic science into a refined and optimised patient treatment. The TMD-Lab has significant experience in ablation, working across Radio Frequency, Microwave and Electroporation technologies, with a range of national and international industry partners. This large three year project will allow the team to further cement its expertise in this growing medical device field, and become a European leader in ablation research. The second project in collaboration with AuriGen Medical will support the development of sensors for monitoring the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation, and long-term patient management to prevent stroke and other heart diseases. The sensors and monitoring system will aid in delivering effective treatment and allow for data-driven disease management in associated long-term heart conditions. Led by Professor William Wyns and Dr Atif Shahzad from the Smart Sensors Laboratory, the team will extend its existing expertise and knowledge in the area of novel biosensors and AI driven connected health solutions to deliver on this multifaceted technology challenge.   Enterprise Ireland Distruptive Technologies Department Manager, Imelda Lambkin, extended congratulations to Professor Wyns and Dr Shahzad and AuriGen Medical, commenting: "I congratulate AuriGen Medical and their research partners in the Translational Medical Device and Smart Sensors Labs at NUI Galway on their success in the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. Such collaboration between an NUI Galway spin-out company and its high quality academic research teams is exactly what we look for in this Fund, where we are focussed on developing game-changing technologies with the potential to disrupt markets. We look forward to supporting the team in achieving their global ambition of bringing novel cardiac implants to fruition.” Dr Janusz Krawczyk and Professor Michael O’Dwyer will co-lead the DTIF project- Towards safe and effective off-the-shelf cellular therapy for cancer- which will see a collaboration between the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland and ONK Therapeutics Ltd. The project will concentrate on the development of highly potent, safe, standardized, off the shelf therapy using modified Natural Killer cells.  Natural killer cells, also known as NK cells, are a type of cytotoxic lymphocytes critical to the innate immune system. The modification with Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CAR-NK) will improve their therapeutic efficacy. With the expertise and proprietary technologies of both partners within this consortium, they will develop modified NK cells that may be capable of tackling multiple types of cancer. Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway and Consultant Endocrinologist at Saolta University Healthcare Group acknowledges the key role of collaborations between NUI Galway and industry for medical advancement: “Funding, like the Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund, makes it possible for innovative academic teams to partner with local indigenous industry to develop essential medical innovations. It provides the supportive environment for collaborative break-throughs. Galway has extraordinary talent and I look forward to the results of these complex projects.” -Ends-

Monday, 6 July 2020

Have your voice heard in Ireland’s First Annual Youth Mental Health Conference YOULEAD, a mental health research group led NUI Galway’s School of Psychology, is collaborating with SPUNOUT.ie to look for young people to share their opinions on Irish mental health services and supports. These submissions will form part of Ireland’s first Youth Mental Health Conference in the autumn. The first Youth Mental Health Conference will consist of a series of online lunchtime events from 5-9 October, leading up to World Mental Health Day on Saturday, 10 October. Throughout the conference national and international experts will be discussing their understanding of the mental health needs of young people, and the resources young people need. During the week, YOULEAD will dedicate time during one of the lunchtime sessions to presenting the experiences of young people using mental health services/supports in Ireland, with the aim of providing a platform for young people to share their experiences with others. The goal is to showcase multiple voices of young people, reflecting their experience of mental health services. A number of submissions will be performed by actors with the performance being shown online during the conference. As this is a creative piece that will be performed, artistic license might be used. So, words, sentences or quotes, combined with other pieces, may be used to form a cohesive artistic piece. Professor Gary Donohoe, Established Professor of Psychology at NUI Galway, said: “A crucial element for developing the mental health services needing by young people is knowing what they think and what they have experienced. This is as much to identify the positives we can build on as the negatives we should address. We'd like to give as many young people as possible a chance to share their experiences with us.” YOULEAD are asking young people, aged between 18-25 years and living in Ireland, to submit a word, sentences or story on your opinion of mental health services/supports in Ireland. Pieces can include, but is not limited to: What is/was your experience of mental health services/supports? What would your ideal mental health service look like? What advice would you give to someone trying to access support services in Ireland? To submit please complete the YOULEAD form on the SPUNOUT website at https://spunout.ie/opinion/article/share-your-experience-using-mental-health-services-supports. The closing date for submissions is Friday, 31 July. For further information on the first Youth Mental Health Research Meeting visit https://www.nuiglaway.ie/youlead/events. To register for the Meeting visit https://bit.ly/2BkHyit. For further queries please contact gary.donohoe@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Tá Leabharlann OÉ Gaillimh tar éis leagan Gaeilge dá Córas Cuardaigh Leabharlainne a sheoladh, catalóg leabharlainne den chéad ghlúin eile a chuimsíonn bailiúcháin chlóite agus ar líne na leabharlainne, mar chuid dá misean campas dátheangach den chéad scoth a chruthú i nGaillimh. Cuireann seoladh leagan Gaeilge den chóras ar chumas OÉ Gaillimh feabhas a dhéanamh ar an dóigh a dtacaíonn a cuid seirbhísí le mic léinn agus le taighdeoirí agus cuidíonn sé leis an Ollscoil a tiomantas a chomhlíonadh i dtaca le seirbhísí i nGaeilge a sholáthar. Cuireadh tús le Scéim Teanga na hOllscoile faoi scáth Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla, 2003 agus is é is aidhm léi soláthar na seirbhísí Gaeilge san Ollscoil a leathnú. In 2019 thosaigh an Leabharlann ag oibriú i gcomhpháirtíocht le Seirbhís Aistriúcháin na hOllscoile lena córas cuardaigh a aistriú ó Bhéarla go Gaeilge chun deis a thabhairt do mhic léinn teagmháil a dhéanamh i nGaeilge le bailiúcháin na leabharlainne. “Léiríonn seoladh leagan Gaeilge an fhearais chuardaigh tiomantas na hOllscoile i dtaca le tacú leis an ardoideachas i nGaeilge agus méadaíonn sé sásamh úsáideora i measc mac léinn agus taighdeoirí a labhraíonn Gaeilge. Cuirfear go mór le cumas ár gcuid mac léinn agus taighdeoirí a gcuid staidéar a dhéanamh agus oibriú san ardoideachas trí Ghaeilge de bharr deis a bheith acu córas cuardaigh na leabharlainne a úsáid i nGaeilge,” a deir Monica Crump, Ceannasaí na mBailiúchán i Leabharlann OÉ Gaillimh. Mar aon leis an leagan Gaeilge a sholáthar do mhic léinn agus do thaighdeoirí OÉ Gaillimh, d’oibrigh Leabharlann OÉ Gaillimh i gcomhpháirtíocht le Exlibris leis na haistriúcháin Ghaeilge a chomhroinnt le hinstitiúidí eile, d’fhonn gur féidir leosan leagan Gaeilge an ardáin a sholáthar dá n-úsáideoirí. “Ag teacht le luach straitéiseach OÉ Gaillimh mar atá oscailteacht agus ár dtiomantas don Ghaeilge taobh amuigh de OÉ Gaillimh, táimid sásta a bheith i gcomhpháirtíocht le Exlibris i dtaca leis na haistriúcháin a rinne ár seirbhís aistriúcháin a roinnt”, a deir Monica Crump. Is féidir breathnú ar an leagan Gaeilge ag: http://library.nuigalway.ie/anleabharlann. -Críoch-

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

NUI Galway Library has launched an Irish language version of its Library Discovery system, a next generation library catalogue that searches across the library’s print and online collections, as part of its mission to create a world class bilingual campus in Galway. The release of an Irish language version of the system allows NUI Galway to improve the way its services support students and researchers and helps the University fulfil its commitment to providing services in the Irish language. The University’s Language Scheme was started under the Official Languages Act of 2003 and aims to expand the provision of the Irish language services at the university. In 2019 the Library began working in partnership with the University’s Translation Service to translate their discovery system from English to Irish to allow students to discover and interact with the library’s collections through the Irish language. “The launch of an Irish language version of the discovery tool demonstrates the University’s commitment to supporting higher education in Irish and increases user satisfaction among Irish speaking students and researchers. The ability of our students and researchers to complete their studies and work at higher education through the Irish language will be greatly enhanced by the ability to interact with the library’s discovery system in Irish,” said Monica Crump, Head of Collections in the Library at NUI Galway. As well as providing the Irish version to NUI Galway students and researchers, NUI Galway Library has worked in partnership with Exlibris to share the Irish translations with other institutions, so they can also provide their users with an Irish version of the platform. “In keeping with NUI Galway’s strategic value of openness and our commitment to the Irish language beyond NUI Galway, we are happy to partner with Ex Libris in sharing the translations created by our translation service”, said Monica Crump. The Irish version can be viewed at: http://library.nuigalway.ie/anleabharlann. -Ends-

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Up to 31% of plastic exported for recycling not recycled at all Highest Proportion of Ocean Littering from UK, Slovenia, Italy New research from NUI Galway and the University of Limerick has for the first time quantified the volume of plastic from European countries (EU, UK, Switzerland and Norway) that contributes to ocean littering from exported recycling. While European countries have developed world-leading waste management infrastructure, 46% of European separated plastic waste is exported outside the country of origin. A large share of this plastic is transported thousands of kilometres to countries with poor waste management practices, largely located in Southeast Asia. Once in these countries, a large share of the waste is rejected from recycling streams into overstretched local waste management systems that have been found to contribute significantly to ocean littering. This new research, published in the scientific journal Environment International, estimated the best-case, average, and worst-case scenarios of ocean debris pathways from exported recycling in 2017. The results estimated a range between 32,115 - 180,558 tonnes, or 1 - 7% of all exported European polyethylene, which ended up in the ocean. Polyethylene is one of the most common types of plastic in Europe, and the results showed that countries such as the UK, Slovenia, and Italy are exporting a higher share of plastic outside of Europe and see a higher share of their recyclable plastic waste end up as ocean debris. Speaking today, George Bishop, lead author of the study said: “The results indicate an important and previously undocumented pathway of plastic debris entering the oceans, which will have considerable environmental and social impacts on marine ecosystems and coastal communities.” Using detailed international trade data and data on waste management in destination countries, the study modelled the fate of all polyethylene exported for recycling from Europe, accounting for different fates ranging from successful conversion into recycled resins, or ending up as landfill, incineration, or ocean debris. Dr David Styles, a lecturer at the University of Limerick and co-author, explains, “Given that such a large share of waste destined for recycling is exported, with poor downstream traceability, this study suggests that ‘true’ recycling rates may deviate significantly from rates reported by municipalities and countries where the waste originates. In fact, our study found that up to 31% of the exported plastic wasn’t actually recycled at all”. The study was part of the Science Foundation Ireland funded, ‘Innovative Energy Technologies for Bioenergy, Biofuels and a Sustainable Irish Bioeconomy: IETSBIO3’ led by Professor Piet Lens, Established Professor of New Energy Technologies at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Professor Lens added: “To successfully move towards a more circular economy, European municipalities and waste management companies need to be held accountable for the final fate of “recycled” waste. Our study highlights the lack of available data on plastic waste and the need to consider extended audit trails, or “on-shoring” of recycling activities as part of emerging regulations around trade in plastic waste.”  The authors caution that these findings should not discourage people to recycle as it remains the best waste management treatment, environmentally speaking. However, there is considerable work to be done to improve aspects of these plastic recycling chains, to reduce the ‘leakage’ of these systems. The full study is available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412020318481#s0125 -Ends-

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

“Hope in the Age of Dementia” new programme exploring international developments in dementia, includes NUI Galway research centre Facebook Live Event to explore Issues facing older people in the age of COVID-19 A new documentary and live event from NUI Galway aim to broaden the debate about the public policy options that can best support our ageing population into the future.  This Thursday, 2 July, members of the public are invited to participate in a live Facebook event looking at issues facing older people and public policy in the age of COVID-19.  Featuring international policy experts on ageing, the Facebook Live event will explore three themes – inequalities and inclusion, care and carers and rights and representation.  The discussion will focus on the challenges and opportunities that the new Government will face in creating policy for the members of our society that are most vulnerable during the current pandemic.  Professor Kieran Walsh, Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, said: “The Pandemic has given us a unique opportunity to reflect on how we view and support ageing and older people through our public policy systems and social discourses. This is really critical if we want to ensure that we engage and empower diverse groups of older adults in the best way possible into the future.” Separately, a new documentary “Hope in the Age of Dementia”, launched by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), the global voice on Dementia, and ITN Productions will feature The Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia (CESRD), NUI Galway.  The programme showcases the latest international developments in care, research and technology for people with dementia, with a special focus on advancing and accelerating solutions for Alzheimer's disease globally. Dementia affects more than 55,000 people in Ireland and 50 million people worldwide. This programme hears from international leaders in the field of neuroscience and neurodegeneration, explaining the importance of new treatment pathways, early diagnostic tools, clinical trials, risk reduction, timely diagnosis and health and social care innovation. CESRD researchers highlight the importance of connecting and engaging with people with dementia both locally and nationally to ensure that research and policy reflects their priorities and needs. The importance of enhanced home support for people with dementia and family carers is also emphasised in the film. Eamon O’Shea, Director of the CESRD, said: “I think what really matters is that people with dementia remain deeply connected to place, family and friends. The challenge is to recalibrate public spending in a way that makes this happen. That means more spending on home care services and supports in the future.” The programme focuses on the research work of the CESRD and the importance and impact of the Understand Together dementia awareness campaign in Ireland. It also features Helen-Rochford-Brennan, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2012. Since her diagnosis, Helen has become a champion for dementia research, policy and advocacy in Ireland and internationally. She is the current Chairperson of the European Working Group of People with Dementia. In this programme, Helen talks about the impact of receiving a diagnosis of dementia and how participating in research has given her a new sense of purpose and hope for the future. You can watch the CESRD contribution here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSCdg2jDYik. Watch the new documentary and discussion on discuss “Older People and Public Policy in the Age of COVID-19”, organised by NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, live on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/nuigalway on Thursday, 2 July at 6pm. -Ends-

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

NUI Galway, in collaboration with 16 software industry partners, is accepting applications for its award winning, innovative Higher Diploma in Software Design and Development Programme – Industry Stream. This programme was awarded the accolade of being Postgraduate Programme of the Year in Information Technology by Grad Ireland in 2015. 90% of Higher Diploma in Software Design and Development graduates have secured immediate employment in software development roles. Many of the graduates are employed with some of Ireland’s leading software companies. NUI Galway has designed this one-year conversion programme in conjunction with leading IT employers which enables graduates to reskill for employment in the software development area. The overall goal of this postgraduate conversion programme is to strategically increase the supply of skilled graduates to meet the needs of Ireland’s high-growth software industry. It will provide graduates with a fast track, focused computing qualification, and presents them with an opportunity to obtain valuable industry work experience. Applicants are paired with an industry partner from the start of the programme and are then trained in key technologies for that employer’s needs, so they are then able to maximise the impact of a paid industry internship towards the end of the programme. The Higher Diploma in Software Design and Development builds on the existing strengths of collaborative academic-industry interaction in the Galway region, and will provide graduates with a solid foundation in key areas of software design and development. The final aspect of the course involves a three-month paid internship for successful students to gain industry experience, and as a result it provides the opportunity to kick-start your career as a software developer. Each student progressed through the course will have their training content determined by their associated industry partner. On completion of the course, these students will have transformed their employability in the current economy, with a range of great options opening up to them for further progression either in industry or via more specialisation through a masters.  The industry partners include Avaya, Cisco, SAP, INSIGHT, Storm Technologies, Aspect Software, The Marine Institute, Sidero and Schneider Electric. Dr Enda Barrett, Course Director, said: “We are delighted to again offer this unique postgraduate course to students who are considering a career in software development. This is a super opportunity for highly motivated analytical graduates particularly from cognate disciplines such as engineering, maths, business and science. By investing just one year of their time in further education, and, through placement experience with our Industry partners; they will have an excellent prospect for recruitment as software developers in Ireland’s high-tech ICT sector. The highly intensive programme is designed for those with little or no knowledge of software development, but we are particularly keen to receive applications from those who have had some exposure to coding and feel that this is something they potentially have a flare for.” Dr Barrett continued: “The career prospects for our graduates are extremely strong and demand is dramatically outstripping supply. The programme is highly respected among many of Irelands leading software companies many of whom specifically want to recruit graduates who have come through our unique programme. Our recognition as Postgraduate Programme of the Year in Information Technology has propelled both the programme and our graduates to the front of the list for many recruiters and we are delighted with the feedback and positivity we have been receiving from our past graduates and their employers alike.” The programme is open to all those who have a level 8 degree. Those currently completing their studies and will not graduate until November are still eligible to apply. NUI Galway is now processing applications and those interested can make their application through the graduate admissions system http://www.nuigalway.ie/postgraduateapplications, or seek more information via the twitter account @hdipindustry. Significant interest in this course is expected and early application is advisable as applications will be processed and interviews held on a rolling basis. For further information contact the Programme Director, Dr Enda Barrett at Enda.Barrett@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Monday, 29 June 2020

Young filmmakers from Antrim, Kildare and Cork are awarded prizes by NUI Galway for their short science communication videos One minute films about Blood Clotting, the Immune System and ‘Germbusting Heroes’ were selected by the public as the best science videos produced at home by young filmmakers for the NUI Galway ‘ReelLIFE SCIENCE @ HOME’ competition. More than 130 short films were made by young science communicators in homes all around Ireland, representing 80 primary schools, secondary schools and youth groups during the Covid-19 lockdown. After a shortlist was selected by a team of 40 NUI Galway College of Science and Engineering staff and students, a Twitter poll of over 1,400 members of the public awarded first prize to Year 10 student Max Kamalarajah, who won €1000 for his school, Wallace High School, Lisburn, Co. Antrim. Max used his kitchen sink and food from his cupboards to create a memorable demonstration of how the body recruits cells and proteins during Blood Clotting (https://youtu.be/ckv4EtX8mKc). NUI Galway’s Dr Enda O’Connell noted: “This really creative use of everyday items to explain a complicated situation captured the ‘at home’ aspect of ReelLIFE SCIENCE @ HOME and it is a fantastic and novel depiction of the science of coagulation that certainly supported learning in an engaging and accessible way.” In second place, Naas Community College Transition Year student Enya O’Reilly Huerta, won €500 for her school by producing a superbly animated and scientifically relevant video about the power of the Immune System to fight outside invaders (https://youtu.be/qPhdhNdL9jo). In third place, Sixth Class student William Stokes won €250 for Baltydaniel National School, Co. Cork, with his short video featuring four ‘Germbusting Heroes’, Edward Jenner, Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister and Alexander Fleming (https://youtu.be/9cVrJUOjQO4). Based in NUI Galway and supported by the Science Foundation Ireland Discover programme, ReelLIFE SCIENCE challenges Irish schools and youth groups to communicate science and technology via engaging and educational short videos. Since being launched in 2013 by Dr Enda O’Connell and a team of volunteer scientists, this challenge has been met by more than 14,000 participants in 450 schools and groups around Ireland. All videos can be viewed at www.reellifescience.com and will be screened for the public at the 2020 Galway Science and Technology Festival. -Ends-

Monday, 29 June 2020

NUI Galway’s fourth annual Soapbox Science Galway is set to return when twelve female scientists will take to their virtual soap boxes and talk about their remarkable research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. The event will take place from 12-2pm on Saturday, 4 July, streaming live on Facebook, and is free and open to the public. Soapbox Science is a global public outreach platform for promoting women scientists and the science they do. Events transform public areas into an arena for public learning and scientific debate and they follow the format of London Hyde Park’s ‘Speaker’s Corner’, which is historically an arena for public debate. Soapbox Science 2020 is taking place in several countries around the world including Ireland, Australia, Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Sweden, Germany, Brazil, Belgium, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, the UK and US. Soapbox Science Galway ensures that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy, learn from, question, probe, interact with and be inspired by some of our leading female scientists who will share their latest discoveries and answer the science questions people have been burning to ask. Talks will cover a diverse range of topics ranging from bioengineering, marine pollution, and glaciology to physiology, psychology, and nanomaterials. Soapbox Science Galway 2020 participants were selected from a competitive pool of researchers, and this year’s speakers from NUI Galway and Galway-Mayo Institute (GMIT) include: Dr Margaret Jackson, NUI Galway – “What can glaciers tell us about past climate?” Elena Pagter, GMIT – “What’s all the commotion? Plastic pollution in the ocean” Dr Nadeeka Rathnayake Kankanamge, NUI Galway – “Freshwater pollutants and how they transform in marine transitional zones” Gillian Murphy, NUI Galway – “Developing a Diabetes Drug Delivery Hydrogel using a Heart-Shaped Protein” Maeve Louise Farrell, NUI Galway – “Making Waves: What’s Under the PIER?” Emily O’Dowd, NUI Galway – “How can we help our health service learn from its mistakes?” Aisling Murphy, NUI Galway – “Titanium Bone Plates - Is There an Alternative?” Dr Ananya Gupta, NUI Galway – “The importance of physical activity - being Active is being Healthy” Chloe Walsh, NUI Galway – “Autism-friendly doctor visits: Tips for success” Sandra Brandon, NUI Galway – “Can a lung exercise programme improve my ability to eat, drink and swallow?” Marta Cabello, NUI Galway – “PalaeoExplorers: Sailing back in time to discover how the ocean will affect Ireland's climate future” Duré Basit, NUI Galway – “A pencil, some sticky tape and a Nobel Prize” Soapbox Science Ireland events are organised by Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, School of Physics at NUI Galway and Dr Emily Growney, Boston Scientific. Dr Fairfield is a nanoscientist and comedian, whose research is focused on building electronics like the brain. She is a lecturer in the School of Physics and CÚRAM (Centre for Research in Medical Devices) at NUI Galway. Dr Growney is a tissue engineer who completed a CÚRAM Marie Curie MedTRAIN fellowship on biocompatible neural electrode coatings at NUI Galway before taking up her current position at Boston Scientific. Soapbox Science will also run online with Dublin-based speakers on Saturday, 11 July. Soapbox Science Galway is sponsored by NUI Galway’s Office of the Vice President for Research. The livestream will be hosted at https://www.facebook.com/soapboxsciencegalway/. For more information about Soapbox Science, visit: http://soapboxscience.org/ or follow @SoapboxSciIRL on Twitter. -Ends-

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

FlowPhotoChem, a multi-national research project led by NUI Galway, has been awarded €6.99million in funding under the Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Biotechnology, and Advanced Manufacturing and Processing (NMBP) area of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The European Green Deal sets out to make Europe climate neutral by 2050, and the Clean Planet for All strategy set out ambitious targets to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the EU by 40% by 2030 and by 80-95% by 2050. One of the largest polluters in Europe is the chemical industry, emitting over 145 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents each year. As part of the project FlowPhotoChem will develop novel technologies to use concentrated solar energy and advanced catalysts to convert water and CO2 into valuable chemicals. Rather than generating CO2, the FlowPhotoChem integrated system will utilise CO2 as a carbon source to produce chemicals without the use of fossil fuels, reducing Europe’s greenhouse-gas emissions and contributing to a cleaner planet. FlowPhotoChem is led by Dr Pau Farràs from the School of Chemistry, and researcher at the Energy Research Cluster in the Ryan Institute, at NUI Galway. Dr Farràs said: “This project is one-of-a-kind in Ireland and will demonstrate that direct solar energy conversion technologies can be deployed everywhere. We are leading this exciting European project with the aim to produce green ethylene as a key compound for the chemical industry. With FlowPhotoChem, we will develop in parallel a demonstrator and a comprehensive model which can pave the way for a range of other green chemicals produced solely from water and CO2.” During the project research teams from Ireland, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Uganda and the UK will develop better materials, innovative reactors and advanced computer models to build a proof-of-concept, integrated modular system to convert CO2 into ethylene, a valuable industrial chemical, using concentrated sunlight. Environmental sustainability and scalability will be key parts of the design process to future proof the system. To make sure FlowPhotoChem’s modular system successfully makes it to the market to reduce CO2 emissions, the team will work with chemical companies that could use the technology to find out about their needs and requirements. -Ends-

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

NUI Galway’s Centre for Irish Studies is now taking applications for its Diploma in Irish Studies. The online Diploma in Irish Studies provides an interdisciplinary introduction to Irish life and culture from the pagan Celtic world and the coming of Christianity, through to the establishment of the state and the new millennium from the perspectives of archaeology, history, literature, political science and sociology, Irish music and dance. Programme Director Dr Michelle Comber said: “For anyone with a deep interest in Irish culture this is the ideal starting point, especially those without access to traditional courses in this area.”   Dr Méabh Ní Fhuartháin, Head of Irish Studies at NUI Galway, said: “As interest in online options for further education has accelerated during the Covid-19 crisis, there has been a substantial increase in the number of students considering the online Diploma in Irish Studies at NUI Galway, a world leader in this area since 2003. Even before the pandemic, the growth in the number of students taking this programme had increased significantly in recent years. At a time when remote learning may be the only option for some, it’s great to be able to offer courses online to extend and supplement the full range of programme we will continue to offer on campus.” For further details on the Diploma in Irish Studies commencing in September contact Samantha Williams, Centre for Irish Studies at samantha.williams@nuigalway.ie, or Dr Michelle Comber, Online Co-ordinator at michelle.comber@nuigalway.ie. More information or to apply visit https://bit.ly/2UMsU9W. -Ends-

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

The vast majority of Irish adults – 82% – are willing to download a contact tracing app to their smartphone to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research carried out by a team from Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software, University of Limerick (UL) and NUI Galway. However, respondents also expressed several privacy concerns, including that the Government, tech firms or hackers might use the information gathered for other purposes after the pandemic. In the survey, “A National Survey of attitudes to COVID-19 Digital Contact Tracing in the Republic of Ireland”, 98% of the more than 8,000 respondents stated that they understood the concept of contact tracing and 96% stated that informing the HSE of your close contacts is important if you develop COVID-19. Lero’s Dr Jim Buckley said the response was very heartening considering that researchers from the University of Oxford estimated that, if 56% of people were to download an ideal contact tracing app in the UK, this would be enough to control the disease by itself. It seems, Dr Buckley said, the primary driver for people’s willingness to download a public-health-backed, contact tracing app during the current crisis is a desire to help others and “for the greater good”. However, he noted, “studies in other jurisdictions have suggested that the actual adoption rate typically lags behind the take-up rate suggested by surveys performed in advance of contact-tracing apps’ launches. Therefore, there is no room for complacency and eliminating the disease requires a high degree of participation from the public and evidence-based app development.” This Science Foundation Ireland funded research also shows 51% of respondents indicated they “definitely will install” the app if it becomes available, 31% indicated they “probably will install” the app. Ten per cent reported they “may or may not install” the app. People preferred the idea of a Bluetooth app, with just 31% stating that they would prefer an app that uses geolocation technology. One of the survey authors Dr Michael O’Callaghan, general practitioner and researcher at the UL School of Medicine, said the results offer a good insight into people’s concerns relating to a contact tracing app. “41% of respondents could see no reason not to install the app. The remaining 59% of respondents selected at least one option from a list of 10 options. ‘I worry technology companies will use this as an excuse for greater surveillance after the pandemic’ was selected by 41% of these, ‘I worry the government would use this as an excuse for greater surveillance after the pandemic’ was chosen by 33% and ‘I worry that my phone would be more likely to get hacked’ was selected by 1,742 (22%) of respondents. It is important, therefore, that those particular concerns be addressed if we are to ensure the greatest possible adoption of this technology,” Dr O’Callaghan said. “Clear timelines on when this app would be wound down and how Bluetooth technology will allow information to be exchanged between phones are important messages that need to be communicated widely,” he added. Dr O’Callaghan also said while the international evidence suggests that contact tracing apps are best employed as complementary to a manual tracing process, this study indicates a significant majority of the Irish general public are currently willing to download an app which aims to augment the contact tracing process. Professor Liam Glynn, Professor of General Practice at UL’s School of Medicine and co-founder of #COVIDWATCHIRL, stressed that app download and ongoing use are two separate challenges. To ensure both occur, it will be essential to generate and communicate ongoing evidence to the general public and all other stakeholders that this app is useful to our country’s contact tracing efforts. “It may be beneficial to keep the public informed on key data relating to the app, including downloads, active users and numbers of cases where the app has helped contact tracing efforts etc. People have indicated a clear willingness to help, but experience from other countries shows that intent to download does not always translate into actually downloading and using contact tracing apps. Allowing the general public to see in real-time the public health benefits of this app may help maintain public interest,” he said. “Data from other countries suggest a significant response from early adopters, followed by a swift plateauing. However, these countries are reducing transmission and overall healthcare burden from COVID-19 effectively, so societal concern is likely to be declining. With the considerable uncertainty that prevails over the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems prudent for all countries to continue contact tracing app development and deployment,” he added. According to Dr Jim Buckley of Lero and UL, analysis of free-text responses in the survey also yielded interesting insights. “Concerns regarding battery life and Bluetooth led some respondents to suggest that a means to automatically enabling Bluetooth when users leaves their home or workplace should be integrated into the app. Another suggestion involved setting times for the app to be active, which could be entered by the user in advance according to their work, travel or shopping schedule,” he said. -Ends-

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

NUI Galway study finds that wet wipes and sanitary towels are an underestimated source of white microplastic fibres in the marine environment and 50 percent of wet wipe brands tested in this study that were labelled ‘flushable’ contained plastic fibres Researchers from Earth and Ocean Sciences and the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway have carried out a study on the contribution of widely flushed personal care textile products (wet wipes and sanitary towels) to the ocean plastic crisis. Dr Liam Morrison led the study, which showed that sediments adjacent to a wastewater treatment plant are consistently strewn with white microplastic fibres that are comparable to those from commercially available consumer sanitary products (wet wipes and sanitary towels).  The article has been published in the international journal Water Research and was co-authored by NUI Galway PhD student Ana Mendes and Maynooth University graduate Oisín Ó Briain. In most studies to date, white fibres are likely underestimated, because of the commonly used filtration procedure to capture microplastic fibres as filters are commonly white, making visual identification of microscopic white fibres against a white background difficult. This is significant given the global growth of non-woven synthetic fibre products and their ubiquity in wastewater. Speaking today, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “Our University has made sustainability a strategic priority, and for the world to address climate change, we have a duty to examine the behaviour of individuals and corporations that can help our planet.  This research highlights the need for us to adapt our behaviours and tackle the ubiquity of plastic in so many products.” An urban rural gradient involving three locations from Galway City (close to Mutton Island and adjacent to a wastewater treatment plant) to counties Clare (Bell Harbour) and Mayo (Bellacragher) were investigated in this study. The total number of fibres found near Mutton Island was 6083 microplastics fibres per kilogram of sediment, while the rural sites had much lower levels (Bell Harbour, 1627 and Bellacragher 316). The total number of white fibres was 5536, 788, and 265 per kilogram of sediment for Mutton Island, Bell harbour and Bellacragher respectively. Incredibly, 91% of microplastic fibres at Mutton Island are likely derived from wet wipes and sanitary towels. Lead researcher of the study, Dr Liam Morrison from Earth and Ocean Sciences and Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “COVID-19 may have brought its own challenges for the oceans including the increased use of disinfectant wipes during the pandemic which potentially may end up as microplastic fibres in the sea. It is widely known that microplastics can act as vectors for contaminants including bacteria and viruses and are potentially harmful for public health and marine life.” The nearby intertidal zone at Mutton Island is prone to the accumulation of high volumes of washed-up sewage-derived debris on a frequent basis. Excessive microplastic loading in sediments in December 2017 was likely induced by heavy precipitation episodes during a south-westerly storm front. Elevated debris loading on this occasion may result from combined sewer overflows, where excessive input of drainage water exceeds wastewater treatment effluent capacity and is released untreated in the overflow. Dr Morrison said: “This was significant in the context of climate change, where we are likely to see increased rainfall events and flooding.” While most microplastics may be removed by the wastewater treatment process, combined sewage overflows associated with periods of heavy rainfall give rise to the release of sewage waste containing wipes and sanitary towels, impacting on public health and the environment. Combined sewer overflows and the subsequent shoreline deposition of sanitary waste have not previously been thoroughly investigated as a source of white microplastic fibres in the marine environment. The study found that wet wipes and sanitary towels are a source of unaccounted white microplastic fibres in the marine environment and not all flushable wipes are biodegradable. In fact 50% of the wipes labelled “flushable” in this study were shown to contain microplastics. The lack of regulation for hygiene and sanitary products results in a failure to identify the plastic composition of these materials. This demonstrates the consequences of misleading labelling of non-woven textile personal care products. The samples of sanitary-related macro debris (wipes and sanitary towels) collected from the intertidal zone near Mutton Island in Galway City following a heavy rainfall event were mostly comprised of the plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET), with only a quarter of the samples analysed presenting as a mix of PET and cellulose, and over 80% of the wipes in the shoreline waste were identified as non-flushable due to their polymer composition following the International Water Services Flushability Group and non-woven textile industry guidelines (INDA/EDANA, 2018; IWSFG, 2018). Given the global distribution and projected growth of the non-woven textile industry (as non-woven textiles form the base material of many sanitary products), this is a concern. European production of non-woven textiles for hygiene and sanitary products exceeded one million tonnes in 2016 alone and these products frequently cause blockages in sewage systems globally, incurring significant technical and financial costs to wastewater utilities. These products are a consistent feature of global plastic pollution surveys and in comparison, microplastic fibres from clothing are generally coloured or multi-coloured. To date the role of these white microplastic fibres as significant components of wastewater effluent remained poorly understood. The quantities of wet wipes washing up on beaches in the UK has increased 400% in the last decade (Marine Conservation Society, 2019*). Dr Morrison added: “There is a need for increased public awareness of microplastic pollution in the environment and human behaviour should shift away from the inapt disposal of sanitary products down the toilet and instead divert to alternative land-based waste management.” Funding for the study was based on research grant-aided by the Marine Institute and funded by the Marine Research Programme of the Irish Government under the framework of the JPI Oceans (PLASTOX).(Grant-Aid Agreement No. PBA/ME/15/03). -Ends- *Reference:  MCS, 2019. Great British Beach Clean 2019 Report. Marine Conservation Society, Herefordshire, UK.

Monday, 22 June 2020

The Sexual Experiences Survey also stresses the need for on-campus action Today NUI Galway’s Active* Consent Programme in partnership with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) launched national survey results focused on students’ sexual violence and harassment experiences in higher education institutions. A total of 6,026 students completed the survey between February and April of 2020. The Sexual Experiences Survey is the first national survey addressing university students’ sexual experiences in eight years. It is an inclusive ‘campus climate’ survey that assesses experiences of consent education and help seeking knowledge, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and disability, providing an unprecedentedly applied and intersectional view of sexual violence and harassment in the Irish college experience. Key Findings: 29% of females, 10% of males, and 28% of non-binary students reported non-consensual penetration by incapacitation, force, or threat of force during their time in college. Of the students who reported experiencing non-consensual penetration through force or threat of force, or while incapacitated and unable to give consent, 49% of males, 35% of females, and 25% of non-binary students said they had not disclosed the incident to anyone prior to taking part in the survey. Among this group of students who did not disclose, 54% of females, 37% of males, and 33% of non-binary students said they did not disclose the incident because they thought it was not serious enough. Just over half of first year students reported experiencing sexual harassment in the form of some form of sexual hostility since beginning college. This rose to 62% for second year students, and 66% for undergraduate students in third year or higher. Sexist hostility was the most common form of harassment experienced by all student groups, ranging from 46% of Asian students to 70% of white Irish students. Students identifying as Asian or Asian Irish consistently reported the lowest rates of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. Students from other White backgrounds, Black or Black Irish backgrounds and other backgrounds reported similar rates across most items. Over half of students with a disability reported an experience of sexual misconduct by any tactic (56%), compared with 42% of other students. Over 40% of students said they had a high level of awareness of four services that respond to students affected by misconduct – the Counselling Service, Student Services, the Health Unit, and Students’ Union Welfare Officer. Those undergraduate students who had attended workshops, events, and talks related to sexual conduct consistently reported higher awareness of supports and services compared with students who had no exposure to consent education of this kind. The Sexual Experiences Survey collected online survey responses from approximately 6,026 students, with coverage of 21 third level campuses across the Republic of Ireland, mainly from 14 colleges where all students were emailed before COVID-19 lockdown. The survey was a collaborative project between the Active* Consent team at NUI Galway and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). Active* Consent is a four year programme of research and practical implementation of initiatives such as Active* Consent and SMART Consent Workshops and drama presentations. This report highlights those parts of the survey that addressed sexual violence and harassment among third level students and awareness and appraisal of college supports. This helps to address the gap in our knowledge on these issues at a national level, support implementation of the Department of Education and Skills ‘Consent Framework’, and the development of campus action plans. USI Vice-President for Welfare, Róisín O’Donovan said: “The USI was really pleased to partner with NUI Galway Active* Consent on the Sexual Experiences Survey to address some of the gaps in our knowledge around student perceptions and practices regarding sexual consent and misconduct. The fact that this survey received 6,000 responses shows this remains a huge issue among students, and we now have a lot of up-to-date information on students’ experiences. The last big survey like this we were involved in was the USI 'Say Something' survey back in 2013, so it was important we updated our knowledge. “While a lot of work has been done in raising awareness of issues around consent, this research shows a gap in knowledge of how to report and what happens and should happen when a student makes a disclosure or report. “In the survey just over 70 per cent of respondents who experienced sexual misconduct said they don’t understand what happens when a student reports an incident to their college, while only 16 per cent, again who had an experience, said they had received information on where to get help from their institution and only just under 10 per cent said they knew how to report an incident. These are areas that can be addressed very quickly by Higher Institutions and that needs to be one of the on-campus actions taken as a result of these survey findings.” Dr Pádraig MacNeela, Senior Lecturer in Psychology in NUI Galway, report co-author and Active* Consent programme leader, said: “The SES survey findings provide a stark depiction of the experiences that many students have had. Over 1,000 of the female students who took part in the survey described incidents that correspond to rape, while one quarter of male students said they had been subject to sexual misconduct during their time in college. Bisexual, non-binary, and queer students described particularly high levels of sexual harassment. “The survey findings also reveal positives about our campus climate. Most students took part in events, workshops, or other initiatives designed to prevent sexual misconduct. Those who took part were a lot more likely to be aware of supports and services. A majority of students agreed that their peers would be supportive if they were to disclose experiences of sexual misconduct, and trusted their college to be fair in how they deal with reports of sexual violence. These are positives, but students who had experienced sexual misconduct tended to be less trusting of the college or to expect their peers to be supportive.” Dr Lorraine Burke, NUI Galway Post-Doctoral Researcher, report co-author, said: “The SES survey shows there is a gap that our colleges need to make up in order to respond to students’ needs. Not only the needs of the large percentage of students who are directly affected by sexual misconduct and harassment, but also their peers – the people they are most likely to share these experiences with and who will be best placed as active bystanders to intervene to prevent future incidents. “Fortunately, the Department of Education and Skills supports the Consent Framework launched in 2019, which is one of the most progressive policies that there is internationally. Thanks to these efforts of Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Ireland has the opportunity to take a stand on sexual violence and harassment, to make a difference in the lives of students, and to be a best practice role model for the rest of our society.” The survey report can be found at http://www.nuigalway.ie/student-life/student-support/active-consent/our-research/ from 12noon on Monday, 22 June, 2020.  -Ends-

Monday, 22 June 2020

Findings from a nationwide survey has found that almost a fifth of respondents under the age of 25 report feeling anxious as the country emerges from lockdown while older people are most concerned about contracting the virus. The findings are from phase four of the Corona Citizens’ Science Study*, a population-wide survey conducted by research teams at NUI Galway, Dublin City University and the Insight SFI Centre for Data Analytics (NUI Galway) looking at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated restrictive measures (lockdown, social distancing) on daily life in Ireland. Over 2,500 people responded to the survey. 50% indicated that they feel the government is balancing the removal of restrictions with that of social and economic well-being.  52% of respondents reported wearing face masks while 73% said they would wear a face mask if it meant reducing the distance from 2 metres to 1 metre. Half of all respondents said they adhered to all the restrictions that were in place while 44% said they broke some of them occasionally.  73% said Covid-19 had no impact on their sex life. However, 42% of those under 25 and a third of 25-35 year olds said it had a negative impact. 46% of people said they smoked more during lockdown and half of respondents said their drinking habits changed. The survey found that four out of every ten began to exercise more. Dr Akke Vellinga, Epidemiologist/Senior Lecturer, NUI Galway, joint research lead said: “Reading through over 800 comments left by respondents, it becomes clear that working parents feel under extreme pressure juggling working from home while looking after their children and keeping up with schooling. Similarly, mental health problems, in particular social anxiety, are felt by many respondents, and there are little supports available to help this group. Another interesting finding was that 20% of respondents indicated that last winter they suffered flu-like symptoms that would now be considered Covid-19.” Professor Anthony Staines, Professor of Health Systems, DCU and joint research lead said: “There’s still anxiety about moving out of lockdown, but people feel the government is getting the balance right. The level of social anxiety expressed is of concern, and suggests the mental and physical health effects of this pandemic may need equal attention. The pent-up health service demand will be very challenging for us to meet.” Medical Appointments The number of people who have postponed medical treatment or check-ups remained the same as previous waves at about 31%. 52% said it is mainly because the healthcare professional is not seeing any patients at the moment. 36% say they don’t want to create an extra burden and 24% are worried about the risk of catching Covid-19. Postponed treatments are mainly GP appointments (36%); dental treatment (42%) and routine check-ups (40%) but respondents also indicated postponing surgery and psychological consultations. Emotional Well-being About 58% (1488) of respondents indicated to be more or even much more anxious while 10% indicated to be less anxious. The anxiety is mainly due to the worry of catching the virus (70%); 35% also indicated worry about other health problems; 34% about the relaxation of restrictions; 25% about their finances or their business. Relatively more people worry about working from home (31%) and 29% about their child’s schooling. Tensions in the household have remained more or less the same as previous waves. Much more tension compared to usual is recorded in about 8-10% of the households and a little more in a quarter of the households. Employment/Working from home Most people were employed (69%) while, similar to other surveys, students made up 4%, and homemakers 8% but a higher percentage were retired respondents (12%). Of the people who were in employment (1923), 61% are currently working from home and 20% indicated to be an essential worker. Of the people who were in employment and working from home (1180), 23% indicated they wanted to continue working from home, but most (60%) would like a combination of on-site and working from home. About 15% are worried about being made redundant- younger age groups more so than older. School/Childcare 68% of respondents had children (1753). Of that, 47% felt that their child/children suffered a bit and 33% felt their child suffered a lot due to the lack of social interaction. 68% (747) indicated they would send their child to school if schools were to reopen in the morning. Of the parents who need childcare in September (602), 44% do not have any arrangement in place yet. In relation to college, most respondents said they are still going ahead with this plan (71%), while 17% have not decided yet and 6% intend to defer due to uncertainty. General Health/Well-being The number of people who report flu-like symptoms dropped to 2% (previously 2.5%, 3% and 6% in the first wave). The main symptoms reported are shifting a little; tired/exhaustion 60% (previously 66%); sore throat 40% (previously 48%); dry/throaty cough 26% (previously 28% and in April 38%); runny nose 46% (previously 32% down from 37% in April) and/or muscle pain 27% (previously 32% down from 38% in April). If a Covid-19 vaccine were to become available, 59% (1543) say they will get it, 32% (842) maybe and 8% not. This is similar to the people who say they will get a flu-vaccine this year (57%) even though only 35% said they got the flu-vaccine last year. If antibody testing were available, 48% (1258) would do this immediately and 44% (1150) if medically indicated, while 7% (189) do not want an antibody test. Sexual relationships have not been affected by Covid-19 for 73% of the respondents, but 10% indicated better and 18% worse relationships. The negative impact on sexual relationships is particularly felt by younger age groups with the under 25 age group (42%) and 29% of 25-35 year olds. Of respondents who smoke (12% of the total sample), 46% indicated they smoke more while 18% smoke less. Drinking habits changed for 50% of people (2113) and 28% indicated to drink more while 22% drank less. Exercise has increased for 40% (1033); 24% (632) exercise less and 36% of respondents have put on weight, while 13% lost some. Demographics Mean age was 47 and median age was 47, which is similar to the other surveys. About 23% of respondents were male and 77% female. Age groups were well represented, with about 54% of the people between 35 and 54; 5% under the age of 25 and 10% were 65 or older. Education remained high- 70% had a university degree, similar to the previous waves. Dublin had the highest number of respondents with 28% (previous 43%, 41% and 38%) and Galway 28% (previously 16%, 14% and 12%; Cork 7% (previous 8%, 7% and 6%) and all other counties were represented at less than 5%. *Corona Citizens’ Science Study