All 2011

NUI Galway Celebrate the 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Irish Centre for Human Rights, together with the Office of the European Parliament inIreland, will host a debate to celebrate the 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The event will take place on Tuesday, 18 October, at 5pm in Áras Uí Chatháil, NUI Galway. Since 1988, in the spirit of Andrei Sakharov, the European Parliament has awarded the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to honour individuals or organisations for their efforts on behalf of human rights, fundamental freedoms and against oppression and injustice. This reflects the conviction of the Parliament that fundamental freedoms includes not only the right to life and physical integrity, but also freedom of expression and of the press, two of the most effective means of fighting oppression and key yardsticks by which to judge whether a society is democratic and open. The winner is awarded the prize, along with an endowment of €50,000, at a formal sitting inStrasbourgto take place on Saturday, 10 December, the day on which the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948. This year there are five nominees, one of which lists five members of the ‘Arab Spring’. At the NUI Galway event, students from the Irish Centre for Human Rights will represent a nominee for the Sakharov Prize and will give a short presentation and argue the case as to why their chosen nominee should be given the award. Following the presentations, the floor will be opened for debate, after which the audience will take part in a vote to choose who they believe should receive the award. Representatives of the European Parliament will convey the results from the NUI Galway debate back to the Parliament’s Human Rights Sub-Committee, where the next stage of deliberations is due to take place on 20 October. Deputy Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, Dr Vinodh Jaichand, said, “This debate is a real opportunity to participate in the selection of an outstanding advocate of freedom of thought and expression, a person whose courage has made a difference.” -ENDS-

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Minister Rabbitte Awards NUI Galway €230,000 under the BenefIT 3 Scheme

Monday, 10 October 2011

NUI Galway has been successfully awarded €230,000 as part of an inter agency collaboration that will train 4,600 people categorised as digitally excluded.  The project, entitled ‘Click and Connect’ is part of the BenefIT 3 scheme which has awarded €1.88m for 20 training projects run by community and voluntary groups and not for profit organisations across the country.  The ‘Click and Connect’ project will offer the people of Galway an introduction to the use of Information Communications Technology (ICT).  The training will offer hands on practical skills in digital photography and processing, using the internet to communicate with friends and family, online banking and government services. The partners include Age Action, Limerick Community Connect, DCU and NUI Galway.  Pat Byrne, Lecturer with the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway and lead in the Project, said: “This award stems from service learning activities that have been embedded in the University since 2003.  It is a great achievement for us and recognises the work that NUI Galway has been offering pro bono to the community and those traditionally excluded from ICT.  Classes will commence in January 2012 and information will be made available through the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) at NUI Galway and local press.” Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte T.D., said: “This important scheme means that 40,000 people will gain from IT training between now and June 2012.   The programme is to support those who have not yet gone on-line.    In particular older people will benefit – as will an estimated 17,000 unemployed people as well as other disadvantaged groups.  By supporting community and voluntary organisations to deliver this training we can ensure excellent value for money.”     The ‘Click and Connect’ project will be key to intergenerational learning and will involve partnerships with the local community. This type of learning is vital to the NUI Galway student experience, and the University, through the CKI, is committed to the development of service and student volunteering.  -ENDS-

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Calling Ireland’s Best Young Female Mathematicians

Monday, 10 October 2011

On Saturday, 15 October, at the University of Limerick, the search for Ireland’s best female mathematical problem-solvers will start. All girls who currently attend a second level school in Ireland are eligible. In recent months, the lack of mathematical problem-solving skills among Irish second level school students has been in the focus of the media. What is less well-known is that for nearly 25 years, five universities in Ireland have been running successful Mathematical Enrichment Programmes for second level students. Many of those who have participated in these programmes are now lecturers or PhD students of mathematics in Ireland or abroad. A strong motivation for those who actively participate in the Enrichment Programmes is the possibility of competing in Mathematical Olympiads. In order to increase the level of interest in mathematical problem solving among female students, the inaugural European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad (EGMO) will take place in Cambridge, England from 10 April until 16 April, 2012. Ireland will be represented there by a team of up to four second level mathematicians. But all participants of the Mathematical Enrichment Programmes, not only the most successful, will benefit from the training offered between October and December and improve their problem solving skills. The training will be facilitated by a series of online lessons and challenges coordinated by mathematicians from NUI Galway, Mary Immaculate College Limerick, University of Limerick, UCD, UCC, and NUI Maynooth. Mathematical enrichment courses at these centres will follow later in the academic year, and Ireland’s first EGMO team will be selected early in 2012. It is likely that the successful students will have already completed their Junior Certificate. Dr Rachel Quinlan from NUI Galway, who will lead the Irish team to the EGMO, said: “Female students have historically been underrepresented at Mathematical Olympiads internationally. Female mathematical talent seems to be an underused resource, and an initiative aiming at mobilising this talent is a brilliant idea. Often, girls who participate in Mathematical Olympiads do this at the highest level. For example, the German student Lisa Sauermann was the only competitor at this year’s International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) to achieve a perfect score. She now holds the leading position in the IMO Hall of Fame with 4 Gold and one Silver medal, outperforming all other participants of 52 years of IMO.” Young mathematicians of both sexes are invited to participate in the programme of problem solving offered through the Enrichment Programmes at five universities in Ireland. The students in these programmes will be included in the search for Ireland’s team for the 2012 International Mathematical Olympiad which will take place in Argentina in July. Those who are interested in this mathematical problem-solving day need to register online at by Tuesday, 11 October. More detailed information about the training and EGMO will be provided during the problem-solving day in Limerick from 11am until 3.30pm. -ENDS-  

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Irish Astronomers Participate in Major Pulsar Discovery

Friday, 7 October 2011

Astronomers at four Irish third level institutions have participated in the detection of pulsed gamma-ray emission from the Crab Pulsar at energies far beyond what current theoretical models of pulsars can explain. With energies exceeding 100 billion electron volts the surprising gamma-ray pulses were detected by the international VERITAS collaboration using an array of telescopes at the Whipple Observatory in Arizona.  Their results are published in a paper in the October 7th issue of the prestigious journal Science The Irish scientists have been involved in the search for this pulsed emission for over two decades.  The Irish team members include Dr John Quinn at University College Dublin, Dr Gary Gillanders and Dr Mark Lang at the NUI Galway, Dr Paul Reynolds at Cork Institute of Technology and Dr Pat Moriarty at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. The Crab pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star, the collapsed core of a massive star that exploded in a spectacular supernova in the year 1054, leaving behind the brilliant Crab Nebula with the pulsar at its heart.  Spinning at 30 times a second the pulsar emits a rotating beam of radiation like a lighthouse beacon.  Current theoretical models of the pulsar predict that the maximum energy of pulsed gamma-rays should be about 10 billion electron volts so it was very significant to find emission with energies ten times higher.  Further observations to characterise the very high energy gamma-ray emission and new theoretical models will be required to explain the physical mechanism behind it. The Irish involvement in VERITAS is part funded by Science Foundation Ireland. More information on the discovery is available at

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NUI Galway Launches USNI Victory Scholarships

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

NUI Galway President, Dr James J. Browne, recently announced the USNI Victory Scholarship Programme at NUI Galway. First launched in Ulster University, the Victory Scholarships Programme has this year been extended to universities in the Republic of Ireland, with NUI Galway being the first University to adopt the programme. The inaugural NUI Galway USNI Victory scholars are Timothy Coyne from St. John Fisher College in New York State and Will Archambault from Davidson College in North Carolina, who will both undertake a Masters in International Management at NUI Galway’s School of Business. The Victory Scholarship Programme assists deserving American students in obtaining a scholarship package to study at Masters level in Ireland. While studying in Ireland these students continue to play or develop sport at all levels; work in the wider community with young people and gain valuable work experience through internships and mentoring with local businesses. Both scholars will also play for NUI Galway in colleges and varsity competitions as well as playing and coaching for the Titans, a Galway City based basketball club, with 400 adult and junior members. According to President Browne, “The USNI Victory Scholarship Programme is a great initiative which facilitates improved access to education at NUI Galway while also deepening linkages through sport with our wider community in Galway. The programme is a natural fit for the University’s Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) which aims to promote greater civic engagement in academic activities, namely teaching, research and service at all levels of University life. I gratefully acknowledge the support of Galway University Foundation and its donors in the United States for the USNI Victory Scholarship Programme and I thank USNI Sport and Titans Basketball Club for their participation in this initiative.” Under the initiative, NUI Galway students are encouraged to participate in community activities locally, nationally and internationally. The Victory Scholarship programme also reinforces NUI Galway’s relationship with the United States. With over 700 Junior Year Abroad students attending the University annually, NUI Galway is one of the leading Irish destinations for American students. In addition, the University has academic partnerships with several universities and an active alumni community in the United States. Gareth Maguire, Director of USNI Sport, added: “USNI Sport Foundation believes that ‘sport changes life’. We believe that providing a programme that enhances personal development, academic achievement and sporting excellence will pay dividends for the scholars as well as all the young people in Galway they will work with over the course of their year. This year will transform the outlooks of our scholars and bring positive sport and diversionary programmes to young people in the area. We are delighted that NUI Galway is the first university in the Republic of Ireland to offer this exciting initiative and have every belief that it will be a huge success for all concerned.” Padraic Fogarty, Chairman of the Titans Basketball Club, also welcomed the initiative: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with NUI Galway in the expansion of the USNI Victory Scholarship Programme to the Republic of Ireland. We are a progressive club with deeply embedded core values. This initiative aligns well with our values and in particular the promotion of inclusiveness through engagement with a number of communities in Galway City and also our approach of developing strong international links. It’s great to welcome Tim and Will to the club who have quickly established themselves in Galway and are already making a positive contribution to Titans. We thank NUI Galway, Galway University Foundation and Gareth Maguire of USNI for establishing the link with Titans and in particular the US based donors, without whom this fantastic Programme would not be possible.” -ENDS-

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