Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Head of Shannon College of Hotel Management Retires after 34 years

Tributes have been paid to Dr Phillip Smyth, the outgoing head of University of Galway’s Shannon College of Hotel Management who has retired after 34 years.  Dr Smyth is succeeded by Adrian Sylver, who becomes the fifth Head of School in its 71-year history. University of Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “Dr Philip Smyth has devoted decades to the teaching and learning of students and his legacy is the reputation for the quality of graduates who come through Shannon College of Hotel Management and work in Ireland and around the world. Our University values of respect, openness, excellence and sustainability are evident in the lived experience in Shannon but more so in the standards which the alumni bring with them on their careers. I wish Phillip a long and enjoyable retirement and thank him for his work. Dr Smyth joined Shannon College in 1988 after a career in the Defence Forces, with Army duties in border control, overseas and as a lecturer in the Military College. His background had a major influence in his management style at Shannon College of Hotel Management, with attention to detail, impeccable presentation, discipline and hard work, all integral parts of the learning. In his role, he successfully guided Shannon College of Hotel Management through three decades of immense change, from his start at the College with only four staff and 150 students, to the renowned institution it is today with more than 40 staff and more than 450 students.  Speaking of Dr Smyth’s legacy, incoming Head of School Adrian Sylver said: “Phillip’s contribution to Shannon College of Hotel Management and the hospitality and tourism sector over the last 34 years has been immense. His tenure and leadership has brought the College to where it is today, a School of the College of Business Public Policy and Law, University of Galway.” Dr Phillip Smyth said: “I have worked closely with Adrian Sylver for 16 years, and he has been my Deputy for the last five. He has the leadership skills and the drive to take Shannon College of Hotel Management to new heights. He is devoted to his students both educationally and personally and is deeply committed to maintaining our unique educational ethos.” Through his time at Shannon, Dr Smyth oversaw and contributed to important milestones including Shannon’s integration within University of Galway, development of its own honours degree, extensive international placements, internationalisation of the student body, maintaining close alumni connections with the class patrons programme, and continuing Shannon’s 100% employment rate for undergraduates.  The educational system at Shannon College is unique. Programmes offer a rich mix of practical training, extensive placements at operative and trainee management level, business education, all combined with development of the student as an individual and leader.  Dr Phillip Smyth played an integral role in creating this environment that allow students to thrive and develop their own management style. He also ensured the history and ethos of Shannon College were preserved, along with the emphasis on practical, hands-on learning, while still developing with the ever-changing needs of industry.  Adrian Sylver, a native of Galway, will lead Shannon College with Deputy Head of School Tracy Hegarty. Mr Sylver has worked as a lecturer in Accounting and Finance at Shannon College since 2006, having joined from Dublin Business School where he worked as a senior academic lecturing on undergraduate, postgraduate and professional accounting programmes. Tracy Hegarty, a graduate of Shannon College, lectures in Revenue Management, Rooms Division and Information Technology and has been with the College since 1996. For more information on Shannon College visit https://www.universityofgalway.ie/shannoncollege/  Ends

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Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Funded by An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta, the scheme is open to Máistir Gairmiúil san Oideachas students  University of Galway, in partnership with An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta, have announced the extension of the Máistir Gairmiúil san Oideachas bursary scheme. All student teachers who undertake the Máistir Gairmiúil san Oideachas (MGO) programme at the University will receive an award of €2,000 per year, funded by An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta.  The MGO is two-year Irish immersion Professional Master in Education programme, an initial teacher education programme that prepares teachers for the second level Irish-medium school sector.  Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht Jack Chambers said: “I welcome this important development for student teachers who undertake the Máistir Gairmiúil san Oideachas (MGO) in University of Galway. This initiative provides greater supports for student teachers and will ensure more highly skilled and exceptionally qualified teachers for Irish language medium schools. This development complements work by my department across a range of areas to support teaching through our language in Gaeltacht schools. I congratulate University of Galway on the extension of this scheme and look forward to the benefits it will bring for the teaching through Irish.” Speaking at the launch of the bursaries, Jacqueline Ní Fhearghusa, Chief Executive of An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta, said: “We are delighted to extend the number of bursaries available for student teachers on the MGO programme in University of Galway. We understand only too well that there is a recruitment crisis across gaelcholáistí and scoileanna sa Ghaeltacht, which is a huge strain on principals and wider school communities.  “An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta recognises the importance of the MGO programme and the vital role it plays in providing suitably qualified teachers for the Irish medium schools. We are very pleased to be able to provide continued and extended support to the MGO in recognition of their work in this sector."  Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Deputy President and Registrar at University of Galway, said: "Not only will these bursaries allow us to raise our student numbers on the Masters programme but it will also ensure that we attract high quality graduates to the sector. We are indebted to An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta for their continued support.”  Applications are now being accepted for the Máistir Gairmiúil san Oideachas through Postgraduate Applications Centre at www.pac.ie.  Ends

Monday, 28 November 2022

Hundreds of fossils discovered on Wexford coastline date back to long before dinosaurs roamed  A team of scientists, led by experts from the School of Natural Sciences at University of Galway, have discovered an exceptionally well-preserved group of fossil sea urchins at Hook Head, County Wexford.  The find is one of the most important in Irish palaeontology in recent times. Sea urchins, or echinoids, are a group of marine animals, related to starfish. They have globular plated bodies covered by numerous defensive spines, which fall away and are quickly lost after the urchin dies. Over 200 complete fossil echinoids are preserved in exquisite detail on a limestone surface, in an area of just 1m2 . All of the Hook Head specimens have their spines still attached and they apparently died together on the seafloor almost 350 million years ago - a dramatic moment now frozen in time on the rock surface on the coast of south-east Ireland. The limestone layer containing the fossil urchins was in danger of being lost to coastal erosion, so the scientific team mounted a rescue operation to save it.  The site at Hook Head is protected under law and approval for the recovery was granted by several state agencies, as well as the local landowner. Following successful removal, the team immediately entrusted the fossil-bearing slab to the National Museum of Ireland for conservation and further study.  The discovery and recovery of the hundreds of fossil sea urchins was recently reported in the Irish Journal of Earth Sciences, which is published by the Royal Irish Academy.  One of the international scientific experts who peer-reviewed the paper remarked: “Speaking as a Paleozoic echinoid worker, this is one of the most exceptional and striking fossil finds in the last century.” Palaeontologist Dr Nidia Álvarez-Armada, the lead author in the study, said: “I initially discovered these fossil sea urchins on a rocky coastal outcrop when I was surveying the geology of Hook Head peninsula for my undergraduate Bachelor of Science thesis at University of Galway. When I first noticed the echinoids on the limestone surface, I was completely astonished by both the sheer number of fossil specimens present and also their exceptional preservation.  “The significance of the find was instantly apparent and I immediately began mapping and recording the shape, size and position of each individual urchin on the rock surface. This work took several weeks to complete, but it was important to carefully document the fossil find in as much detail as possible.” The Hook Head fossil find has considerable potential to reveal important information about the nature of seafloor communities during the Carboniferous, a time period that occurred long before dinosaurs ever walked on land, when the marine realm was very different to today. Dr John Murray, School of Natural Sciences, University of Galway, who co-authored the paper and supervised the original project, said: “It is quite exceptional to find Carboniferous fossil sea urchins so perfectly preserved and in such large numbers like this. In life, these particular echinoids had very flexible plated bodies, covered with many spines, which usually disarticulated and dispersed rapidly after death, leaving little trace of them behind. The Hook Head urchins must have been buried quite quickly after they died, with little or no post mortem disturbance; however, it remains unclear why they congregated in such large numbers at this location on that ancient seafloor.” Dr Murray added: “The significance of this discovery was such that all of the members of the rescue team willingly volunteered their time and expertise to travel to Hook Head to help salvage the fossil-bearing slab. We consciously chose to leave this important fossil find in the care of the National Museum of Ireland immediately - I guess it was our way of giving this piece of priceless geoheritage back to the people of Ireland.” To read the full study in The Irish Journal of Earth Sciences, visit: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/868440/pdf Ends

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

University of Galway researchers discover biomarkers which may help in determining tailored cancer treatment Researchers at University of Galway have determined that biomarkers known as microRNAs can help predict which patients with breast cancer are likely to face a recurrence of the disease and death. The researchers, led by Dr Matthew Davey, Professor Michael Kerin and Dr Nicola Miller, from the University’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, conducted a multicentre trial In Ireland, involving 124 patients who were treated with chemotherapy.  The findings of the research have been published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS).  They include:  MiRNAs can be used as a biomarker to predict which patients are likely to face breast cancer recurrence and mortality. Researchers conducting a multicentre trial in Ireland drew blood samples from 124 patients with breast cancer at 5 different timepoints during their cancer journey, and assessed their outcomes almost nine years later. Researchers say their discovery of the predictive value of miR-145 could help physicians better tailor treatment to the need of each patient being treated for breast cancer. According to figures from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland, over 3,500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. While long-term outcomes have improved for patients with breast cancer, the most common cancer diagnosed in women, 20% to 30% of these patients will see their breast cancer relapse.  Dr Davey said: “The process of identifying which patients are more likely to have a recurrence has been a challenge. Therefore we set out to determine whether miRNAs -small, non-coding molecules that modulate genetic expression and affect cancer development - are capable predicting which patients are more likely to have a recurrence of, and die from, breast cancer. “We discovered that patients with an increased expression of a certain type of miRNA, called miR-145, are unlikely to have a recurrence of breast cancer.  “We showed that increased expression of this biomarker, which was measured in patients' blood samples during chemotherapy, actually predicted their long-term oncological outcome. We can predict those who are likely to suffer recurrence and also those who will be free of recurrence. Further studies into the clinical application of this biomarker are ongoing. “This study may also help identify breast cancer patients who could benefit from closer monitoring and additional therapies post-surgery or treatment.” This research is made possible by the National Breast Cancer Research Institute and Cancer Trials Ireland.  Ends

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