All Year 2010

New Director for Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway

Monday, 14 June 2010

NUI Galway is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Tom Scharf as the new director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG). Having previously directed a research centre at Keele University (UK) with a strong international reputation for its work on ageing, Professor Scharf is looking forward to the opportunity to contribute to debates about ageing policy in Ireland. "Population ageing presents both opportunities and challenges for all nations. I am delighted to be taking up this post at a time when there is such an interest in issues arising from demographic change in Ireland. My aim is to ensure that NUI Galway continues to play a leading role in ensuring that public debates on ageing are well informed by research evidence," commented Professor Scharf. With a first degree in German and Politics from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and a doctorate in Political Science from Aston University, Professor Scharf comes to NUI Galway with more than 20 years' experience of conducting research on ageing. The quality and impact of this work was formally recognised in 2009 when Professor Scharf was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences – the body charged with promoting the social sciences in the UK for the public benefit. Professor Scharf's first post in gerontology was at Bangor University where he was researcher on an international study of ageing in rural communities. He moved to Keele University in 1992, initially as a lecturer in Modern German Studies. Professor Scharf spent two years as Visiting Professor of European Studies at the University of Applied Sciences in Worms, Germany, before returning to Keele in 1998 to join its Centre for Social Gerontology. During his time at Keele, Professor Scharf initiated a major programme of research on aspects of disadvantage faced by older people. This included a path-breaking project which addressed issues relating to social exclusion and quality of life of older people living in some of England's most disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods. With a keen interest in public policy, Professor Scharf has subsequently conducted research for UK government departments, and for national organisations such as Help the Aged. He continues to be involved in a study of older people's participation in disadvantaged communities in Manchester, and a longitudinal study of ageing in a purpose-built retirement community. Professor Scharf takes over as ICSG director from Professor Eamon O'Shea. Professor O'Shea was instrumental in establishing ICSG in 2006 as a multidisciplinary research centre on ageing with a focus on research, education and training in the field of social gerontology in Ireland and internationally. In handing over to his successor, Professor O'Shea said: "The establishment of a new Chair in Social Gerontology at NUI Galway and Tom Scharf's appointment to the post puts Galway in a real leadership role in relation to ageing in Ireland and internationally". Professor Scharf welcomes the chance to build on the expertise that already exists at NUI Galway in relation to ageing issues. The first Centre of its kind in Ireland, ICSG offers research expertise and practical support to public, private and voluntary agencies involved in the formulation and implementation of public policy for older people at international, national, regional and local levels. Commenting on his appointment, Professor Scharf said, "This is a fantastic opportunity to make a positive contribution to research and education on a topic that should be at the top of everyone's agenda. I look forward to working with colleagues at NUI Galway to ensure that our work has a major impact on Irish society". -Ends-

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Memorandum of Understanding Signed with the Ocean University of China

Monday, 14 June 2010

A formal memorandum of understanding was signed today (Monday, 14 June, 2010) between NUI Galway and Ocean University of China (OUC), Qingdao. The agreement paves the way for student and faculty exchange and research collaboration. OUC is a comprehensive University renowned specifically for its disciplines in Oceanography and Fisheries and was the first University in China approved by the State as the base for fundamental scientific research and teaching staff training in Oceanography, Marine Chemistry and Life Science Technology. The University has over 20,000 registered students, including 4000 Doctoral or Masters degree students. Speaking at the event, President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne, said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for NUI Galway's Martin Ryan Marine Science Institute to collaborate with such a prestigious Chinese University. We look forward to welcoming their students and providing our own students with the opportunity to spend time on OUC's campus".

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Irish Centre for Human Rights Hosts Summer Schools

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway will today, (Monday, 14 June), open the first of two summer schools entitled, Minority Rights, Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Law. The event will take place from Monday 14 to Friday, 18 June 2010. During the following week, 20-24 June, the Centre will run a Summer School on the International Criminal Court. Professor William Schabas, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights said: "We held our first summer school in 2000, and the popularity and international reputation of both the International Criminal Court and Minority Rights programmes continues to grow". The 2010 Minority Rights, Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Law summer school will provide participants with an overview of the legal, political and philosophical issues pertaining to international human rights law and its relationship to minority rights and the rights of indigenous peoples. During the course participants seek to understand, assimilate and critically evaluate legal arguments with respect to the international minority rights regime and how it pertains to minorities and indigenous peoples. In addition they are encouraged to analyse the underlying philosophical basis of the subject and become familiar with current debates and cases with a special focus on issues such as the right to land, affirmative action policies, and effective political participation and restitution. The final day of the minority rights summer school will be dedicated to the issue of customary law and human rights, as part of a two day international conference being organised by the Irish Centre for Human Rights in collaboration with the United Nations University and other partner institutions, on June 18-19. Participants of the summer school will be invited to attend as observers at the second day of this event which takes the form of an international roundtable dialogue on Customary Law Traditional Knowledge and Human Rights. The dialogue is designed to provide a forum for in-depth examination of the challenges and opportunities for securing effective respect and recognition of customary law in the international regulation of access to genetic resources and benefit sharing and protection of traditional knowledge. Anthony Taubman, Director of Intellectual Property issues at the World Trade Organisation will be a keynote speaker among others from indigenous peoples organizations, international universities, non-governmental organizations and legal practitioners. The Summer School on the International Criminal Court at the Irish Centre for Human Rights which starts on June 20 is widely acknowledged to be the premier programme of its kind. The programme will consist of intensive lectures, delivered by leading specialists in the field. Students are provided with a detailed working knowledge of the establishment of the Court, its applicable law, its structures and its operations. Lectures also speak to related issues in international criminal law, including universal jurisdiction, immunities and the role of the victim. The International Criminal Court is arguably the most important new international institution since the establishment of the United Nations. The aim of the International Criminal Court is in combating impunity for atrocities and it is at the forefront of a broader movement for achieving accountability. During the summer school, a lecture by NUI Galway's Professor William Schabas "Reflections on the International Criminal Court Review Conference", on Monday, 21 June will be open to the public. Professor Schabas will reflect on his experience of the review conference, which he will attend in Uganda in the first two weeks in June. The review conference itself will evaluate the International Criminal Court, and make it more effective in prosecuting the world s worst atrocities. Delegates at the Review Conference will discuss the Court s past and future, and will propose changes to the Court s founding treaty, the Rome Statute. . -Ends-

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Ireland's Deep Oceans Offer New Opportunities

Friday, 11 June 2010

A team of researchers led by Chief Scientist Dr Louise Allcock and Project Leader Professor Mark Johnson from NUI Galway has just returned from a research mission to sample habitats on the edge of the continental shelf using the Marine Institute's vessel, the RV Celtic Explorer, and the deep water remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Holland I. The aim of this mission was to explore the little-studied habitats at the edge of the continental shelf, where the depth increases from approximately 400 m to over 3 km. Professor Mark Johnson of The Martin Ryan Marine Science Institute (MRI) at NUI Galway, said: "A feature of the continental margin is the presence of canyons, which increase the complexity of the margin and may be areas of high biodiversity. Up until quite recently, it has been difficult to sample canyons. Deep sea communities are normally sampled by sending down metal grabs or dredges. These methods do not work well in sloping complex habitats like canyons. In contrast, an ROV can manoeuvre to video and sample organisms with a high degree of precision". In addition to mapping sections of habitat, material sampled from the ROV and from cores was passed to taxonomists to help quantify the biodiversity and identify any species that may be new to science. Some sampled organisms will be frozen and returned to the biodiscovery laboratory hosted by the Marine Institute so that they can be made available to researchers looking for new compounds with pharmaceutical potential. Biodiscovery is the term used to describe the collection and analysis of organisms for the purpose of developing new products. Most of the new compounds derived from marine organisms have originated in warm water ecosystems such as coral reefs. To date, relatively little effort has been spent studying bioactivity in temperate waters and the deep sea, despite the abundance here of sponges and other groups known to have great potential for biodiscovery. Samples from the ROV were mostly collected on, or close to, underwater cliffs, some of which were over 100 m high. This sampling included the deepest dive to date with the Holland, to just short of 3000 m deep, twice the depth of the sea floor at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Organisms were collected using the robotic arms of the ROV, sometime using a suction hose to draw material into a collection box. On surfacing, the collected material was sorted, with material for biodiscovery frozen at minus 80 °C - the best way to preserve the molecules of interest. To make the best use of the mission, the scientific team was drawn from several institutes: NUI Galway, UCC, TCD and Queen's University Belfast. Scientists from UCC are interested in the biodiscovery potential of microorganisms from sponges. This work is complemented by microbiologists from NUI Galway working on the composition and function of microorganisms in the water column. The Trinity team are looking at the links between the canyon habitats and the cycling of nutrients. Queen's University Belfast researchers are interested in biodiversity, particularly the taxonomy of sponges. Links to the wider international research community have been made through associating this mission with the Census of Marine Life COMARGE project ( This mission is partially supported by a Beaufort Marine Biodiscovery Research Award under the Sea Change Strategy and the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation (2006-2013). The Beaufort Award is a 7-year project linking NUI Galway, UCC and QUB. It provides the human capacity to support this mission, including PhD studentships and postdoctoral appointments. The overall aim of the Beaufort awards is to develop Irish research capacity in five key areas identified in Sea Change, including Marine Biodiscovery, Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management, Sensors and Communications Systems for the Marine Environment, Fish Population Genetics and Economic Research related to Development Dynamics of the Marine Sector in Ireland. These awards are managed and supported by the Marine Institute, and funded under the Marine Research Sub-Programme of the National Development Plan 2007–2013. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Launch Report on New Irish Industry Database

Thursday, 10 June 2010

NUI Galway has launched the Lucerna Project Report on Capability Transformation and Competitiveness as part of a one-day Symposium with contributions from industry, policy-makers and academics. The symposium included a keynote address by Professor Michael Best of the University of Cambridge and the University of Massachusetts, the Senior Advisor on the Lucerna project. The report is based on a new industry database developed over three years at the Centre for Innovation and Structural Change (CISC), NUI Galway. The Lucerna database consists of company and product-related information, which allows for a deeper understanding of technological change and industrial development in Ireland. It represents a systematic approach to identify key industrial clusters that are creating a competitive position for Ireland and consists of business demographics for key technology-based clusters in Ireland. The database allows for the examination of technological activities, the specification of technology-related clusters and most importantly, emerging technologies and technology management capabilities. The database and report is a key project of CISC, it will enable policy makers and academics to answer key questions on the genesis and sustainability of Irish indigenous industry. The project is funded under the EU's Marie Curie Transfer of Knowledge program and reflects a partnership between NUI Galway and the University of Massachusetts, USA. The database details firms and the products they make – single or multiple – and the sectors they operate in. Many firms, particularly large ones, operate in more than one sector. Companies that straddle industry boundaries are most important in understanding industrial change and renewal as firms transition into new industries and products. Lucerna includes rapidly growing companies, those in transition and foreign Multi-National Company (MNC's) subsidiaries that drive industrial growth and, as such, are the carriers, developers and consolidators of regionally distinctive technological capabilities. The report suggests that from a capabilities perspective, Ireland has assimilated certain technological, manufacturing and managerial capabilities primarily from the presence of multinationals and supported by HEI investment that can be the drivers of renewed economic growth. Speaking at the launch of the report, CEO of Enterprise Ireland Frank Ryan said: "The increasing complexity and diversity of business requires new thinking around data and information capture. I congratulate the project team on the substantial work that they have achieved so far and I look forward to further iterations and other sectors being added to the analysis". Paul Ryan, CISC Principal Investigator on the project, said: "The Lucerna project research focuses attention on the real economy, that part that makes up the tax base and the wealth-creation. It puts the business enterprise at the heart of the innovation story. Successful firms have distinctive capabilities. These can be grouped across localised firms into distinctive regional capabilities. The Lucerna project focuses on the identification of the origins and development of such capabilities in high-tech firms in Ireland. These can be the foundations on which to build the road to recovery for the real economy". CISC is an inter-disciplinary research institute, based at J.E. Cairnes Business School of Business & Economic at NUI Galway, focused on building an internationally-recognised programme of research and education on innovation processes and policies that are fundamental to the development of a knowledge-based economy. -Ends-

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