Friday, 14 December 2018

NUI Galway Conducting Online Research on Parents Experiences of their Children’s Behaviour

The School of Psychology at NUI Galway is seeking 1,000 parents to complete an online ‘Child in Mind Survey’ which is looking at parents’ experiences of their children’s behaviour. The researchers are keen to hear from both fathers and mothers of children aged from two up to 18 years, and in particular the experiences with their eldest child. The study is being carried out by researchers, Noella Lyons, who is also a Senior Clinical Psychologist in the HSE and Dr Jonathan Egan, who is the Deputy Course Director of the Clinical Psychology Programme at NUI Galway and a Consulting Chartered Clinical and Health Psychologist. Noella Lyons from the School Psychology at NUI Galway, explained: “This research hopes to explore a concept called reflective functioning. This relates to how we understand the thoughts, feelings, intentions and behaviours of ourselves and of other people. This online survey is embedded in research on attachment which focuses on how children’s relationship with their parents develops. Through research like this we are beginning to understand more about the importance of how strong parent-child attachment can protect children’s social and emotional wellbeing, thereby leading them to become more resilient as teenagers and adults.” It is hoped that this research will lead to better awareness of how Mums and Dads experience their children’s behaviour. We know that all behaviour is trying to tell us something. Young children in particular don’t have the language skills to tell us about their feelings so they act out when they are hungry or tired, for example. For older children parents tend to have to do a little more exploration to understand what is going on in their child’s mind to cause behaviour problems. Dr Jonathan Egan from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, said: “Some of these less studied aspects of parenting might open a door to help current parenting programmes become more effective in helping parents meet both their children’s and their own needs. Feeling like you are being an effective parent, builds up a sense of being in control of your family’s direction and also leaves you feeling like a better and more competent mum or dad, which can only be a good thing.” For more information about the study contact Noella Lyons, School of Psychology, NUI Galway at To complete the online survey, which takes 10-15 minutes to complete, visit: -Ends-

News Archive

Monday, 10 December 2018

Solving Darwin’s Dilemma: the mystery of when animals first appeared on earth  Animals may have existed on earth for hundreds of millions of years before they first appear in the fossil record, according to new research from NUI Galway, just published in the journal, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.  The international study, led by scientists from the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, has shed light on a significant question which perplexed Charles Darwin over a century and a half ago. In his masterpiece, Origin of Species, Darwin had great difficulty in explaining the apparently sudden appearance of many different types of complex animals around half a billion years ago. This observation was based on evidence from the fossil record, but did not fit with his proposal that animals had slowly and gradually evolved from much simpler ancestors over a very long period of time. Darwin could only suggest that, for reasons then unclear to him, the earliest record of animal life on Earth was not represented in the fossil record. This conundrum would later be dubbed ‘Darwin’s dilemma’. The research team has shown clearly for the first time that the earliest and most primitive animals to appear on Earth would not have had body tissues capable of becoming fossilised - even in situations where exceptionally well-preserved soft-bodied fossils are known to have formed. The oldest known fossils of animals thus do not represent the oldest animals. Dr Breandán MacGabhann (now at the Department of Geography, Mary Immaculate College), who coincidentally shares his birthday with Charles Darwin, conducted the research for his PhD degree at NUI Galway. He commented: “For most of the fossil record we find shells and skeletons, but little evidence of the soft-bodied animals like jellyfish and worms that actually make up the majority of marine animal life. The oldest animal fossils are just impressions left behind by soft-bodied creatures on the seafloor, from long before the time when animals first developed the ability to make shells. We have never known how well these fossils represent these very early animal communities, largely because these creatures were quite different from modern animals, but also due to the fact that we didn’t understand precisely how they came to be preserved as fossils.”  The team investigated fossils of bizarre disc-shaped creatures called ‘eldonids’, which were collected from the edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco. Their anatomy and preservation was carefully examined in NUI Galway, and also in labs in the USA - work which included using cutting-edge geochemical techniques to reveal precisely how different parts of these unusual soft-bodied animals had become fossilised. Dr MacGabhann continued: “As soon as we saw these fossils from the Sahara Desert, it was a bit of a ‘eureka’ moment - we immediately realised that, for the first time, we had known animals preserved in precisely the same way as most of the oldest animal fossils. We shipped over a tonne of fossil-bearing rocks from Morocco back to Ireland, and the entire team spent huge amounts of time working on this material in the lab. We used concepts and techniques from soil science, microbiology, and environmental science to demonstrate that these types of fossils only record and preserve the specific parts of the animal’s bodies which were originally made out of quite complex tissues like chitin and collagen. These body materials are not really present in most primitive animals, like sponges, jellyfish, and sea anemones, which of course would have been amongst the first animals to evolve.” Dr John Murray from Earth and Ocean Sciences at NUI Galway, who supervised the research project, said: “These findings confirm a suspicion that scientists have long held, but which they had struggled to conclusively prove - namely that the earliest animal ancestors most likely evolved during a protracted and cryptic time interval, long before more advanced creatures began to become preserved as fossils. Our work provides the extra time which Charles Darwin needed to account for the early stages of the evolution of animals and it solves a seemingly intractable problem which greatly troubled him when he was writing arguably one of the most important books in science.” To read the full study in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, visit: -Ends- 

Monday, 10 December 2018

Renowned RTÉ journalist and broadcaster Sean O’Rourke has been appointed as an Adjunct Professor of Journalism at NUI Galway.Mr O’Rourke, who presents the ‘Today with Sean O’Rourke’ show on RTÉ Radio One, will take up his new role in January. The role is honorary and Mr O’Rourke will continue to work in his current capacity with the State broadcaster, RTÉ. Mr O’Rourke is a graduate of NUI Galway (BA, 1977) and received an honorary doctorate from the University in 2011. Head of Journalism at NUI Galway, Tom Felle said: “We are delighted that Sean has accepted this post and it’s a strong signal of NUI Galway’s commitment to journalism education.  “Sean is a hugely respected current affairs interviewer and his forensic style has helped shaped the national conversation around many issues in recent years. He epitomises journalistic values of fairness and probity, and his work has made an indelible contribution to Irish democracy by holding those in power to account. “Students will be able to learn from Sean via master classes in radio journalism and in newsdays, working alongside one of the best journalists in the country,” he added. Sean O’Rourke said: “I’m greatly honoured by this appointment, having worked as a student journalist in NUI Galway long before the university began to offer courses in journalism. So much has changed since then in the way journalism is practiced and received, but at its core it is still about two things: asking questions and telling stories. I look forward to working with today’s students, learning from them and sharing ideas about how to serve the public.” NUI Galway has a long history of journalism training and in 2018 opened a new digital newsroom. A new dedicated radio broadcast facility was completed in November this year and new television facilities are planned for 2019. A new BA in Journalism and Ireland’s first MA in Sport Journalism and Communication are being launched in 2019. ENDS

Friday, 7 December 2018

NUI Galway’s Professor Henry Curran, Professor Colin O’Dowd, Professor Donal O’Regan, Professor William Wijns and Dr Derek Morris, have ranked in the top 1% of Clarivate Analytics list of Highly Cited Researchers for 2018. The Clarivate Analytics list of Highly Cited Researchers for 2018 identifies scientists and social scientists who have demonstrated significant influence through publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. Researchers are selected for their exceptional performance in one or more of 21 fields (those used in Essential Science Indicators (ESI)) or across several fields. Approximately 6,000 researchers are named Highly Cited Researchers in 2018 — some 4,000 in specific fields and about 2,000 for Cross-Field performance. This is the first year that researchers with Cross-Field impact are identified. Professor Henry Curran is Director of the Combustion Chemistry Centre at NUI Galway’s School of Chemistry and of the Energy Research Centre in the Ryan Institute. His research interest lies in the study of the chemistry of how fuels burn in combustors in order to increase efficiency and reduce emissions for a cleaner world. Professor Colin O’Dowd is Director of the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies at the Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, and a Professor in the School of Physics, NUI Galway. Through his pioneering work in the field of atmospheric physics, Colin has become internationally renowned as one of the leading scientists in the field of climate change. Professor Donal O'Regan is a Personal Professor of Mathematics at NUI Galway’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics and an internationally recognised expert in the field of Nonlinear Analysis. He has written over 1,300 peer-reviewed mathematical articles, making him one of the most prolific authors in the history of mathematics in the world. Professor William Wijns is an internationally renowned expert in cardiology and a Professor of Medical Devices at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. Professor Wijns research focuses on interventional cardiology, more specifically on reducing the number of adverse cardiovascular events in high-risk patients. Dr Derek Morris is a Principal Investigator in the Neuroimaging and Cognitive Genomics (NICOG) Centre and is Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science within the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway. His research, which began during his time in TCD (2001-2013), is based on using genetics and genomics to understand the biological basis of schizophrenia and other common psychiatric disorders. Vice President for Research at NUI Galway, Professor Lokesh Joshi, said: “Professors’ Curran, O’Dowd, O’Regan, Wijns and Dr Morris are outstanding in their fields and have deservedly earned respect and recognition globally for their research. We are proud of our colleagues and the way they reflect the vibrant and impactful research community at our university.” The Highly Cited Researchers data from Clarivate Analytics form a key component of the Academic Ranking of World Universities, one of the longest established and most influential annual surveys of top universities globally. For the 2018 Highly Cited Researchers analysis, the papers surveyed were those published and cited during 2006 - 2016 and which at the end of 2016 ranked in the top 1% by citations for their ESI field and year (the definition of a highly cited paper). The 2018 Highly Cited Researchers list can be seen in its entirety by visiting:  -Ends-

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