Public Lecture at NUI Galway on the Consequences of Life on Earth

Thursday, 30 October 2008

The Director of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health in Northern Ireland, Gary McFarlane, will visit NUI Galway on Monday, 3 November to deliver a lecture entitled 'Life on earth: connections; co-dependencies and consequences – the case for a new mindset in policy and practice'. The event will take place at 5pm in the Seminar Room on the first floor of the Martin Ryan Institute Annex, NUI Galway. For many policy makers and indeed members of the general public there is, as yet, a poor grasp of the basic links between the impacts of climate change on our society, our economy and our personal health and wellbeing. There is also a misconception that the consequences of climate change will have little impact on the communities that inhabit these islands. Ireland is not just an island within the context of this clear and present challenge. Mr. McFarlane's presentation will provide some global perspectives on these issues. Dr Martina Prendergast, of the Environmental Change Institute at NUI Galway, comments: "We are delighted to welcome Gary McFarlane to NUI Galway to discuss the global trends and philosophies of climate change. There is a real urgency at his stage to develop and implement relevant policies that address climate change while achieving a high quality environment with effective environmental protection". According to Gary McFarlane: "Climate change is probably the greatest threat to human health, wellbeing, quality of life and perhaps even survival that the human race as a species has ever faced. My talk will outline and explore some of the fundamental linkages between our health and our environment and will outline urgent and critical areas for intervention in order to attempt to secure a future for all who inhabit this planet". As Director of Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, McFarlane is involved in contributing to the development of healthy public policy, working with government ministers and departments, local authorities, universities, non-governmental organisations (NGO) and the private sector. Currently, much of this work seeks to assist in re-establishing the critical links between environment and health within the context of sustainable development and public health. This includes advocacy work with policy makers and politicians as well as working with practitioners, academics and researchers to build awareness, understanding and capacity in this area. Gary McFarlane is currently the co-chair of the Public Health Alliance, he is a board member of Sustainable Northern Ireland, and he also chairs the Advisory Board to the environmental health undergraduate programme at the University of Ulster. The lecture is one of a series of public outreach talks organised by the Environmental Change Institute at NUI Galway. Members of the public are welcome and a reception will be held before the lecture at 4.45pm. For further information, please contact -ends-

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NUI Galway Academic appointed Vice President of US Optics Society

Thursday, 30 October 2008

The Optical Society of America (OSA) has announced that Professor Christopher Dainty of NUI Galway has been elected as its 2009 vice president. As vice president, Professor Dainty will automatically become president-elect in 2010 and then the society s president in 2011, followed by a one-year term as past president. Christopher Dainty holds the chair of applied physics in the School of Physics at the NUI Galway and has been active in the global optics community for several decades. He was recently elected to membership of the Royal Irish Academy. President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne, said: "I would like to congratulate Professor Dainty on his election to the post of Vice-President and President elect of the OSA. This is a fitting recognition of his contribution to the science of optics and adds lustre to his own reputation, that of his research group and indeed of the University. NUI Galway is proud to count Professor Dainty as one of its academic staff.' A Fellow of OSA, Dainty has been an OSA member since 1971. With widespread participation in OSA activities, he has been involved with topical meetings, awards and has been a two-time past member of the Board of Directors. In addition, Dainty has provided technical expertise to the organization's initiatives as a member of the Computational Optical Sensing and Imaging Program Committee, Adaptive Optics: Analysis and Methods Program Committee, and the Signal Recovery and Synthesis Program Committee. Dainty also served as the secretary-general and president of the International Commission for Optics, as well as the president of the European Optical Society. He currently is a member of the board of the European Technology Platform "Photonics 21" and is also on the external/scientific advisory boards of The Center for Adaptive Optics (Santa Cruz) and The Institute of Photonic Sciences (Barcelona). His research interests include optical imaging, scattering and propagation. In these areas, he has co-authored or edited six books, approximately 140 peer-reviewed papers and 220 conference presentations. The Applied Optics Group at NUI Galway was established in 2002, under the direction of Chris Dainty, and funded by a major grant from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). The SFI funding was renewed for a further five years in 2007. The Applied Optics Group has significant interaction with industry in Ireland, Europe, United States, and in Japan. Frank Gannon, Director General of SFI commented on the significance of the appointment: "I congratulate Professor Chris Dainty on his election as Vice President of the Optical Society of America for 2009 and President-Elect for 2010, and President in 2011. Since his move to NUI Galway in 2002, Professor Dainty through his dedication and expertise has established a cutting edge world-class Applied Optics research group, which now numbers approximately 25 researchers. The Group s research focuses in four areas: adaptive optics, vision science, imaging and scattering. Professor Dainty has contributed significantly to the development of Optical Engineering in Ireland, in addition he has developed strong collaboration with industry". ENDS

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The History of Newspapers Subject of Conference at NUI Galway

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A conference entitled 'New Directions for Press History in Ireland ' takes place from Friday, 31 October, to Saturday, 1 November, at NUI Galway. Academics, students and media practitioners will debate and consider research being undertaken into newspaper and periodical history in Ireland and abroad. The event is organised by the Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland, which was established this year by a number of scholars and academics. Central to the study of media history is the idea that newspapers are more than just a source on information for historians - they were important players in their own right. Among the contributors to the conference are Mark O'Brien, the author of an important new history of the Irish Times, as well as a history of the Irish Press; Maurice Walsh, former Irish Times and BBC journalist and the author of The News From Ireland: Foreign Correspondents and the Irish Revolution; and Professor John Horgan, Emeritus Professor of Journalism at DCU and former Irish Times journalist. According to Dr Simon Potter, Lecturer in History at the School of Humanities, NUI Galway: "From the Skibbereen Eagle keeping its eye on the Czar of Russia, to the Irish Times which is about to enter its 150th year, to the Belfast News Letter which was founded in 1737 and can claim to be the oldest continually published English language newspaper in the world - newspapers and periodicals have played a central role in our history over the past 200 years. Until recently the study of our newspaper culture and the journalists who worked within it was, with some honourable exceptions, more or less ignored". James Curran of Goldsmith College, University of London, one of the pioneer interpreters of media history, will also speak at the event, with a presentation called 'New Directions in Media History'. Michael de Nie of the University of West Georgia, USA, will discuss aspects of British reporting of the empire, especially with regard to Ireland and India. Dr Niamh O'Sullivan, the Professor of Visual Culture at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, will look at the illustrators of nineteenth century periodicals. The conference will also feature sessions set aside for young scholars to present short papers on their research. To register, or for further details, contact Simon Potter on 091 493 625 or by email at -ends-

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Ireland's first UNESCO Chair appointed at NUI Galway

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement has been established at NUI Galway. The first UNESCO Chair awarded in the Republic of Ireland, the Chair will be hosted at the Child and Family Research Centre in the University's School of Political Science and Sociology. Professor Pat Dolan, Director of the Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, with over 20 years experience in family support frontline work, policy and research, has been appointed as the Chairholder. Professor Dolan commented: "It is an honour and a challenge to take a lead role in exploring civic engagement in young people as a method for mobilising children's rights and addressing needs in Ireland and across the world". The UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme was launched in 1992 to advance research, training and programme development in higher education by building university networks and encouraging inter-university cooperation through transfer of knowledge across borders. Today 617 UNESCO Chairs and 60 UNITWIN Networks have been established within the Programme, involving over 740 institutions in 125 countries. Funded under the UNESCO University Education Twinning and Networking Scheme, the programme of work associated with the Chair, will focus on an exchange of learning among international University partners and affiliated centres for children, which work on civic engagement programmes in countries including Bulgaria, Lithuania and Zambia. For NUI Galway, the establishment of a formal mechanism for the exchange of knowledge in the area of children, youth and civic engagement across, and between, institutions of higher education and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), will bring a new dimension to its work in this area. President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne commented: "We, at NUI Galway, are particularly honoured to be awarded the first UNESCO Chair in the Republic of Ireland. We look forward to fruitful cooperation with UNESCO and are delighted with this opportunity to enhance the University's commitment to community and civic engagement". The establishment of the UNESCO Chair builds on the Child and Family Research Centre's (CRFC) range of applied practice and high-quality research in relation to working with young people experiencing adversity. The Centre, officially launched in 2007 with significant support from The Atlantic Philanthropies, is affiliated with a range of other University centres of excellence, NGOs and civil society organisations dedicated to enhancing the welfare of, and improving opportunities for, disadvantaged children and youth. The Centre is internationally recognised for its expertise in the development and testing of educational models, such as youth mentoring that bring about improved outcomes for children. The CFRC will work with two key partners in Ireland: the Community Knowledge Initiative at NUI Galway, a forum through which the University plays a leading role in the development of civic leadership skills in students; and Foróige, Ireland's leading voluntary youth organisation providing informal education and social skills building to enable young people involve themselves in their own development and the development of society. According to Seán Campbell, CEO of Foróige: "The collaboration will add significantly to the body of knowledge on what works for helping young people develop as active citizens, particularly those dealing with difficulties in their lives". -ends-

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NUI Galway Researchers Investigate Health, Ageing and Retirement

Friday, 24 October 2008

Researchers at the Irish Centre for Gerontology, NUI Galway have co-published the results from the first Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). The objective of the study is to identify the key issues for people aged 50 and over in Ireland which will help inform policy makers, particularly regarding the financial, health and social inclusion aspects for an ageing economy. According to Dr Brenda Gannon, Deputy Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway: "By 2021 the proportion of the total population aged 65 and over in Ireland will have grown significantly from the current level of 11 per cent to an estimated 15 per cent. The force of this demographic change will impact on all facets of society, particularly public pensions and the health service. This survey has provided up-to-date knowledge on the health care needs and financial position of older people in Ireland. For the first time, we now have data for Ireland on people aged 50 years and over to compare with other European countries". Key findings regarding healthcare use were that 80 per cent of people aged 50-59 had seen their GP at least once in the last 12 months, compared to 93 per cent of those aged 70 and over. One in five people aged 70-79 had one inpatient stay in hospital in the previous 12 months, with many more aged 80 and over have overnight hospital inpatient visits. Other key findings include: Physical Health: one third of individuals aged 50-59 have a long term illness, this increases to over 40 per cent for older age groups. Mental Health: one in three females aged 50-59 have felt sad or depressed in the last month, this proportion is higher among the older age groups. Financial worries: 11 per cent of women have great difficulty in making ends meet compared to 7 per cent of males. Care needs: over one third of people aged 70-79 felt that the care they received for daily activities did not meet their needs adequately. Children: 85 per cent of people aged 50 and over had children and of those, at least one in five children lived in the same household, one in ten lived nearby and 15 per cent lived abroad. The second part of the survey will begin in 2009, and will include interviews with the same individuals on similar aspects of their lifestyle. For further in formation on the research, which was carried out in conjunction with UCD, visit -ends-

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