Minister Officially Launches Arts and Humanities Research Programme

Thursday, 27 November 2008

A Ph.D. research programme in the Arts and Humanities entitled 'Texts, Contexts, Cultures' has been formally launched by the Minister for Education, Batt O'Keeffe, T.D.. The multidisciplinary programme is delivered in co-operation between research hubs at three Irish universities: The Moore Institute, NUI Galway; The Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin; and The Graduate School, the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, UCC. Texts, Contexts, Cultures has recruited its full cohort of students after an international competition, with an intake of over 30 students from Ireland, Europe and the Americas. Over the course of four years, the programme will offer students a structured path to the completion of a Ph.D., while allowing them to engage with the research knowledge and skills of scholars from three universities. The programme is designed to integrate knowledge and use of new technologies and related professional placements into the traditional Ph.D. At NUI Galway, Texts, Contexts, Cultures is administered by Professor Nicholas Allen and Dr Sean Ryder. According to Professor Allen: "The project has five strands that cross European history and culture from the earliest period to the contemporary moment. Focussing on a wide range of expressive forms, from writing to visual art, the project incorporates the latest technology into its delivery, using internet teaching tools and video conferencing to give students access to the wider world". The five areas of specific research focus at NUI Galway are: Protecting the Inscribed Stones of Ireland: Led by Professor Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, students will gather and analyse data on the inscribed stones of Ireland, at a time when such monuments are increasingly threatened with physical damage and destruction. The research will focus especially on Clonmacnois, and will incorporate new technologies for archaeological research, such as laser-based tools. Columbanus - Life and Legacy: Led by Conor Newman and Dr Mark Stansbury, the research strand will investigate the textual and visual evidence for the life and work of the medieval Irish missionary Columbanus. The project will result, among other things, in the creation of new digital editions and archaeological surveys. Texts, Transmission and Cultural Exchange: Led by Dr Daniel Carey and Professor Jane Conroy, this strand will illuminate the impact of travel writing and images on the transmission and exchange of culture within Europe and between Europe, Asia and the Americas from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Among the results of this research will be several new databases and editions of historical, literary and visual material. Irish Landed Estates: Led by Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, this will expand an IRCHSS-funded database project on the landed estates of Connaught from the 18th to 20th centuries by producing a similar online database of the estates of Munster, thus facilitating access to valuable information that has hitherto been dispersed and disorganised. Researchers on this project will also produce analyses of the economic, social and cultural impacts of Irish landed estates. Globalisation, Empire and Culture: Led by Dr Lionel Pilkington, research will trace some of the relations between European imperialism and media of various types, including newspapers, popular theatre and religious texts. Among its tasks will be the construction of an online archive of primary materials for further study in this area. Further details are available here -ends-

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Managing Challenge through University Collaboration

Thursday, 27 November 2008

As a small to medium sized enterprise (SME) operating in the very competitive IT services sector, Storm Technology has limited resources for product research and development. The 40+ strong team at Storm primarily focus on providing high quality software consultancy and web integration services to a wide range of public and private sector clients. What Storm does have, literally on its doorstep in Galway, is NUI Galway's Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI). With over 125 staff, the Institute is an internationally recognised institute in semantic web research, education and technology transfer. For Storm, commercialising some of DERI's research was an obvious stepping stone to meeting a customer need. Storm and its client Nortel had identified the challenge of connecting Nortel's structured product catalogue with relevant documents from their multiple unstructured information sources. Nortel wanted users of its product catalogue to be easily able to retrieve context relevant documents from their corporate document repositories. Through collaboration with the team at DERI, Storm was able to scale up its R&D capability, while DERI had access to a real-world industrial scenario for its work. The project, which was called INDRA focused on tackling a key challenge within the enterprise, the management of unstructured information (document repositories, websites, intranets, etc). The question was whether the leading-edge semantic techniques developed at DERI could provide the solution? The Semantic Web is an evolving extension of World Wide Web where data and services are defined and have meaning. This enriching of web content is opening semantically-powered solutions and is applicable to day-to-day business issues such as Nortel's document management process. Part of DERI's remit is the bringing together of academic and industrial partners to boost innovation in science and technology, with its research focused on the Semantic Web. DERI has worked extensively with multi-national industrial partners, including Hewlett Packard, and the INDRA project provided an opportunity to work closely with an Irish SME. Dr Edward Curry, INDRA Project Manager DERI, commented, "Research commercialisation is an important avenue for smaller companies as well as larger enterprises. Working with indigenous companies such as Storm, DERI and the University can provide a huge amount of research expertise and know-how". Working closely with Nortel, the teams from DERI and Storm were able to deliver a successful solution after 11 months of collaboration. The solution provides simple user friendly product search across all of Nortel's repositories with relevant context information from the product catalogue included within the search results. The project utilised DERI's techniques for information identification using ontology-based entity detection and disambiguation. Bill McDaniel, a Senior Research at DERI, described the usefulness of the project, "The INDRA project gave DERI the opportunity to build a serious, real world semantic application while researching new ideas in how semantics can make a difference in the emerging science of knowledge discovery". The day-to-day interaction between DERI and Storm personnel leads to knowledge transfer opportunities between both parties. The potential benefits of this transfer were emphasised by Karl Flannery, Managing Director of Storm Technology, "Equally important to the development of a product is the actual knowledge transfer and the opportunity to innovate across both organisations". The INDRA project was supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and both DERI and Storm own the part of the project they worked on, with some limited joint ownership. Based on its successful participation within the INDRA project, Storm has committed to further collaboration with DERI. -ends-

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Winter Conferring to Honour Award-Winning Music Director

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Over 800 students will graduate from across the five colleges at NUI Galway on Friday, 28 November 2008, at the University's winter conferring ceremonies. Ms Audrey Corbett, musical director of Galway Baroque Singers will also be honoured with a Master of Music (honoris causa). The choral group will give a special performance in her honour at this ceremony. Audrey Corbett s musical career began in Dublin where as a pianist and organist she won many of the major awards at the Dublin Feis Ceoil, among other festivals. Her interest in choral music first manifested itself when, as a music student at UCD she created the St. Stephen s Singers, an ensemble which was acclaimed both nationally and internationally on winning the BBC Radio competition Let the Peoples Sing in 1971. Since moving to Galway, Audrey has contributed significantly to the flourishing of choral music, with the formation of the Corrib Singers, an award winning female voice choir, the Galway Boys Choir, and the Galway Baroque Singers. She is in frequent demand as a choral adjudicator and director of workshops, seminars and masterclasses and was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Concert Hall for five years. Recognised for her outstanding contribution to music in the West of Ireland, Audrey was a recipient of the Galway County Arts Award in 1997. She conducted the annual Messiah for all in the National Concert Hall in 2001. In the same year, Audrey formed a new chamber choir, 'Sunus', with whom she has had considerable success, winning the overall Irish choir of the Festival at the Cork Choral Festival in 2003 and competing in the International Competition there in 2004. Speaking in advance of the ceremony, President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne, commented: "NUI Galway has a strong tradition of commitment to the arts and artistic life, within the University, the local community and beyond. We are delighted to honour Audrey Corbett for her outstanding contribution to music and the development of choral singing in Galway". Students will graduate throughout the day from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences; College of Engineering and Informatics; College of Business, Public Policy and Law; College of Science; and the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies. Among these will be the first students to graduate from the MA in Language Planning, the first third-level course in this discipline to be offered in Ireland and in Europe designed to provide opportunities for professional and academic development for both recent graduates and for practitioners already working in a professional capacity in a language planning context or in a related sector. -Ends-

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Online Hypermedia Archive of Moore's Melodies launched during 200th anniversary

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Moore Institute at NUI Galway will launch the pilot phase of the Thomas Moore Hypermedia Archive at a conference on the life, work and legacy of Thomas Moore (1779 – 1852) entitled Thomas Moore: Texts, Contexts, Hypertext, taking place on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 November. The Archive, the first of its kind in Ireland and funded by the IRCHSS, is a free online electronic resource which will collect and present in digital form Moore's writings, music, illustrations, fresh scholarly notes and commentary and a selection of audio performances. These will include the new recordings by EMI producer Jonathan Allen of all 124 of Moore's Irish Melodies, with pianist Úna Hunt and the young vocalists featured in 'My Gentle Harp'. According to the Archive's director, Dr Sean Ryder of NUI Galway: "The Thomas Moore Hypermedia Archive will allow people to experience Moore's work in multimedia form – combining words, music, and illustrations – and will be a resource for scholars as well as the general public. The project will continue to develop over the next few years, as more materials are added, more texts are edited, and users themselves begin to contribute. Moore published over a thousand poems, along with biographies, a novel and other prose works, and we plan eventually to have all this material available online." Speakers at the conference will include Moore's most recent biographer, Ronan Kelly, Irish cultural critics Luke Gibbons and Emer Nolan, musicologist Harry White, and Moore editors Jeffery Vail and Jane Moore. The conference will open with a lecture and recital by tenor and scholar James Flannery, accompanied by harpist Janet Harbison. A nationwide concert tour and travelling exhibition entitled 'My Gentle Harp: Moore's Irish Melodies 1808 – 2008', coincides with the conference and will take place in the Aula Maxima at NUI Galway on Saturday, 29 November at 8pm. The tour continues around the country until April 2009 and will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the first publication in 1808 of 'Moore's Irish Melodies', by the famous Irish composer and poet Thomas Moore supported by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, the Arts Council, the Office of Public Works, the National Library of Ireland and the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. The concert tour will feature one of Ireland's leading pianists Dr Úna Hunt with Dean Power, Claudia Boyle and Gavan Ring, all young vocal prize-winners from the DIT Thomas Moore Festival held in January 2008, who will present Moore's well-known songs such as The Last Rose of Summer, The Minstrel Boy, The Harp that Once Through Tara's Halls or The Meeting of the Waters and, in addition, some of the unknown songs from the collection, of which there are 124 written by Moore over a period of 26 years. The programme also features 'souvenir' piano music, written by nineteenth century composers in response to Moore's Melodies. The commemorative celebrations 'My Gentle Harp' also includes a travelling exhibition, curated by the Royal Irish Academy, which will be on display in the Aula Maxima, NUI Galway until 5 December. It consists of panels depicting Moore's early and later life, a showing of the TV documentary 'One Faithful Harp' by Hummingbird Productions, and audio clips from a compilation CD of recordings of Moore's Melodies by well-known artists. The recordings will also be available on CD in December 2008. Attendance at the conference is free, and a programme is available at: ENDS

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IBM collaborates with Irish universities to solve complex business issues

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Researching Intelligent, Powerful Systems to Help Companies Use Data Strategically IDA Ireland has announced that IBM is establishing an exascale stream computing research 'collaboratory' and the creation of 40 new jobs at IBM and local Universities supported by the Irish Government through IDA Ireland. The agreement will see IBM supercomputing and multidisciplinary experts work directly with University researchers from NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin Tyndall National Institute in Cork, UCC and IRCSET, the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology to develop computing architectures and technologies that overcome current limitations of dealing with the massive volumes of real-time data and analysis. The two NUI Galway research groups invited by IBM to collaborate in this R&D initiative are Applied Optics led by Professor Chris Dainty and Bio-Inspired Electronics and Reconfigurable Computing led by Dr Fearghal Morgan. President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne, said: "NUI Galway has a strong commitment to collaboration and partnership. The Applied Optics Group and the Bio-Inspired Electronics and Reconfigurable Computing Group (BIRC) are internationally recognised research and development groups working to build strategically important links with industry. The University welcomes this timely opportunity to partner with IBM in developing tomorrow s computing technology and we look forward to increasing our portfolio of innovative research and development partnerships in the future. While high performance computing today primarily focuses on scientific applications in areas such as physics or medicine, the exascale research will focus on how these new powerful computing systems can be applied to solving complex business problems. The research will include both technical and applications research. For example, the application research for exascale computing will study financial services using real-time, intelligent analysis of a company's valuation developed from business models using data from investor profiles, live market trading and RSS news feeds. The research will also focus on making sense of the volume of data from social networks to understand rapidly evolving and changing business trends and opportunities. The technical research will explore innovative ways of using new memory architectures, interconnecting technologies and fabric structures, and will evaluate business applications that would benefit from an exascale streaming platform. IBM believe that the expertise already developed within the partner research groups will help them achieve their goal of increasing computer performance by a factor of 1000 over the next 8 years. Research at NUI Galway will investigate electronic integrated circuits which incorporate high speed optical connectivity and whose architecture mimics that of the brain. This project will provide devices which can process the vast amounts of data which exist in medical, financial and scientific domains, in real time. Commenting on the announcement, Michael Daly, Country General Manager IBM Ireland, said: "IBM's collaboratory strategy will be a vital part of how we will work to apply intelligence to improve the way the world works and solve our clients' toughest problems. A collaboratory is not a place, but it's an integration of teams who can achieve more by working together than working alone. The collaboration between Irish Universities and IBM will not only work on exascale stream computing, but will aim to apply sophisticated and unprecedented computing power to solve the seemingly insurmountable problems businesses are facing today such as inefficient supply chains, energy shortage, managing risk and more." Speaking at today's announcement Minister Lenihan said: "Choosing Ireland as a preferred location for global research centres is significant for Ireland and is in line with IDA Ireland's strategy of developing high-value knowledge-based R&D projects with leading technology companies. Today's announcement strengthens the computational science capability of Ireland in line with the Government's Strategy for Science and Technology 2006-2013. It is a further endorsement of the excellent long-standing relationship between IBM and Irish universities." -Ends-

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