NUI Galway Lecturer Wins ‘Researcher of the Year’ Award

NUI Galway lecturer wins ‘Researcher of the Year’ award
Dr Martin O’Halloran was announced as the winner for his outstanding research in medical electronics.

A researcher from NUI Galway has won the inaugural ‘Researcher of the Year’ award presented by the Irish Research Council.

Dr Martin O’Halloran was announced as the winner for his outstanding research in medical electronics.

Dr O’Halloran is a Techrete Senior Lecturer in Medical Electronics at NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics and College of Medicine, and a Founder-Director of the Lambe Translational Medical Device Lab at Galway University Hospital.

The awards were presented as the Council marks 15 years of the Irish Research Council.

Commenting on being presented with the award, Dr Martin O’Halloran said: “This award is a reflection of the quality and ambition of the broader research team in the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway, and validates the close collaboration between the Colleges of Engineering and Informatics, and Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences.

“By embedding our engineering lab within the hospital, we get a greater understanding of the real clinical need, and can shorten the time required to translate technology out of the lab and into the patient clinic.”

The Lambe Translational Medical Device Lab now hosts 24 world class researchers from Europe, the US and Asia, including engineers, physicists, veterinary surgeons and doctors.

The team are developing medical devices to address problems ranging from new ways to reliably detect fetal distress during delivery, to novel treatments for lung cancer.


Chair of the Irish Research Council, Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, congratulated Dr Martin O Halloran

“We received many nominations of current and previously Council-funded researchers.

“Dr O’Halloran and Dr Rivetti were selected for their outstanding track records to date and I would like to wish them all the very best in their future research careers,” he said.

Author: M.Seosamh O Maoileoin

Researchers in Ireland Report – Autoimmune Disease Impacted by Circadian Rhythms

Researchers in Ireland report that immune responses and regulation of autoimmunity are affected by the time of the day when the immune response is activated. Understanding the effect of the interplay between 24-hour day–night cycles and the immune system may help inform drug-targeting strategies to alleviate autoimmune disease, say the scientists who published their study (“Loss of the Molecular Clock in Myeloid Cells Exacerbates T Cell-Mediated CNS Autoimmune Disease”) in Nature Communications.

Using mice as a model organism, they show that a master circadian gene, BMAL1, is responsible for sensing and acting on time-of-the-day cues to suppress inflammation. Loss of BMAL1, or induction of autoimmunity at midday instead of midnight, causes more severe experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, which is essentially an analog of multiple sclerosis in mice.

“Loss of myeloid BMAL1 or midday immunizations to induce EAE [experimental autoimmmune encephalomyelitis] create an inflammatory environment in the CNS through expansion and infiltration of IL-1β-secreting CD11b+Ly6Chi monocytes, resulting in increased pathogenic IL-17+/IFN-γ+ T cells,” say the investigators. “These findings demonstrate the importance of the molecular clock in modulating innate and adaptive immune crosstalk under autoimmune conditions.”

“In the year that the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded for discoveries on the molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm, our exciting findings suggest that our immune system is programmed to respond better to infection and insults encountered at different times in the 24-hour clock,”says Kingston Mills, Ph.D., professor of experimental immunology at Trinity College, Dublin. “This has significant implications for the treatment of immune-mediated diseases and suggests there may be important differences in time of day response to drugs used to treat autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.”

Although further investigations are needed to understand how to precisely modulate circadian rhythm or time-of-the-day cues for beneficial immunity, our findings serve well to remind us the importance of “keeping the time” when dealing with the immune system, he adds.

“Our study also shows how disruption of our body clocks, which is quite common now given our 24/7 lifestyle and erratic eating and sleeping patterns, may have an impact on autoimmune conditions,” notes Annie Curtis, Ph.D., of the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland. “We are really beginning to uncover exactly how important our body clocks are for health and well-being.”

UL Researchers Generate Electricity from Low-Cost Biomaterial

Mobile phone speakers and motion detectors in cars and video games may soon be powered by electricity generated from low cost and sustainable biomaterials, according to research carried out at University of Limerick (UL), Ireland. Scientists at UL’s Bernal Institute have discovered that the biomolecule glycine, when tapped or squeezed, can generate enough electricity to power electrical devices in an economically viable and environmentally sustainable way. The research was published on Dec. 4, 2017 in leading international journal Nature Materials. Pictured is Sarah Guerin, Science Foundation Ireland funded post-graduate researcher at the Bernal Institute, UL.

Mobile phone speakers and motion detectors in cars and video games may soon be powered by electricity generated from low cost and sustainable biomaterials, according to research carried out at University of Limerick (UL), Ireland.

Scientists at UL’s Bernal Institute have discovered that the biomolecule glycine, when tapped or squeezed, can generate enough electricity to power electrical devices in an economically viable and environmentally sustainable way. The research was published on December 4, 2017 in leading international journal Nature Materials.

Glycine is the simplest amino acid. It occurs in practically all agro and forestry residues. It can be produced at less than one per cent of the cost of currently used piezoelectric materials.

Piezoelectric materials generate electricity in response to pressure, and vice versa. They are widely used in cars, phones, and remote controls for games consoles. Unlike glycine, these materials are normally synthetic and often contain toxic elements such as lead or lithium.

“It is really exciting that such a tiny molecule can generate so much electricity,” said lead author Sarah Guerin, a post-graduate student at the Department of Physics and the Bernal Institute, UL.

“We used computer models to predict the electrical response of a wide range of crystals and the glycine number was off the charts. We then grew long, narrow crystals of glycine in alcohol,” she added, “and we produced electricity just by tapping them.”

Sarah’s PhD supervisor Dr Damien Thompson, adds, “The predictive models we are developing can save years of trial-and-error lab work. The modelling data tells us what kinds of crystals to grow and where best to cut and press those crystals to generate electricity.”

Co-author and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Centre for Medical Devices (CURAM) investigator Professor Tofail Syed said: “We also have a pending patent that translates our findings to applications such as biodegradable power generation, devices detecting diseases inside of the body and physiologically controlled drug pumps”.

Previously, Bernal scientists discovered piezoelectricity in the globular protein lysozyme, found in tears, egg-white and saliva, and hydroxyapatite, a component of bone.

“The current finding extends the technology towards pragmatic, low-cost, renewable sources for electricity generation,” according to Professor Luuk van der Wielen, Director of the Bernal Institute and Bernal Professor of Biosystems Engineering and Design. “The finding translates the earlier Bernal scientists’ world-leading contribution in bio-piezoelectricity towards a large-scale and affordable application potential.”

Professor Edmond Magner, Dean of Science and Engineering at UL, said: “UL’s Department of Physics and Bernal Institute researchers continue to pioneer the use of biological crystals for electrical applications. This work places them at the forefront in the development of bio-piezoelectric devices”.


The full paper, Control of Piezoelectricity in Amino Acids by Supramolecular Packing, by Sarah Guerin, Aimee Stapleton, Drahomir Chovan, Rabah Mouras, Matthew Gleeson, Cian McKeown, Mohamed R Noor, Christophe Silien, Fernando M F Rhen, Andrei L Kholkin, Ning Liu, Tewfik Soulimane, Syed A M Tofail, and Damien Thompson, is published in Nature Materials, December 4, 2017.

For further information, photographs or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Nicola Corless
Communications Officer
University of Limerick

Notes to the editor:


This publication has emanated from research conducted with the financial support of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), and is co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund under Grant Number 13/RC/2073.

About Sarah Guerin:

Sarah Guerin, from Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, is a final year PhD student at the University of Limerick. Her research uses a combination of quantum mechanical calculations and advanced characterisation techniques to develop the next generation of single crystal piezoelectric technologies. In August 2015 she graduated with a first class honours degree in Applied Physics. She completed her undergraduate internship at Analog Devices International, going on to complete her undergraduate thesis with the company.

About University of Limerick:

University of Limerick, Ireland, with more than 14,000 students and 1,400 staff is an energetic and enterprising institution with a proud record of innovation and excellence in education, research and scholarship. The dynamic, entrepreneurial and pioneering values which drive UL’s mission and strategy ensures that it capitalises on local, national and international engagement and connectivity.

About the Bernal Institute:

The Bernal Institute at the University of Limerick was established in 2016 and is comprised of more than 300 researchers in applied science and engineering. The Institute’s research focuses on advanced materials, manufacturing and process engineering. The Institute is housed in 20,000 square meters of high-quality, multi-purpose research space and has received over €100 million in capital investment. The Bernal Institute is named after John Desmond Bernal, who was born in Nenagh, County Tipperary, Ireland and was one of the most influential scientists of the 20th Century. He pioneered the use of X-ray crystallography in molecular biology.

About Curam:

Curam is a Science Foundation Ireland academic-industry-clinical ‘super centre’ designing the next generation of ‘smart’ medical devices. With six academic partners and more than 24 industry partners, Curam is establishing a global hub of research expertise in medical device technology. Curam’s innovative approach incorporates biomaterials and drug delivery, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, glycoscience and device design to enhance, develop and validate both traditional and new combinational medical devices from molecular design to device manufacturing.


By Sean Curtin, Truemedia

Trinity Researchers Harness New Technology to Find Improved ways of Understanding MND

Researchers combine EEG and MRI to monitor brain changes.


Our brains function by electrical and chemical signalling. Recording brain wave patterns can be very helpful in conditions like epilepsy, but the potential of this inexpensive and easily applied technology has not been fully recognised.Researchers in the Academic Unit of Neurology at Trinity College Dublin have been studying brain wave patterns in the neurodegenerative condition Motor Neuron Disease (MND). They have made the surprising discovery that some specific parts of the brain are “over-connected” in MND, while other parts show reduced activity as the brain networks disintegrate.

A previous study by the Trinity group had indicated the potential changes in EEG recordings. The new findings considerably advance our understanding of the brain regions that start to get overconnected as the disease progresses, and how they relate to the death of the motor neurons. These changes in comparison to the healthy brain indicated new dynamics of the disease in the brain and have revealed some previously unrecognised abnormalities in the brain.

Their findings, published in the recent issue of the journal Cerebral Cortex imply that MND, along with other neurodegenerative conditions, are associated with important changes in neural communication between different brain networks, rather than changes in a single region of the brain. The new discoveries are pointing to the mechanisms in the brain that are associated with the disease, that were not previously taken into account, assuming that MND is simply a focal isolated degeneration in certain parts of the brain.

“Understanding how the networks in the human brain interact in health and disease is a very important area that has not been adequately researched” said Dr Bahman Nasseroleslami, Senior Research Fellow and Neural Engineer, who is the lead author of the study.

“Using EEG to decipher changes in brain function has not been possible until recently. The computational power, mathematical and statistical tools were just not available.  But our findings have shown that we can now explore the living human brain in a very sophisticated and non-invasive way, and that we can link our dynamic EEG changes with anatomical changes captured by MRI. This expands enormously our ability to understand how the brain is working in real-time, and how these changes in brain networking correlate with structural changes that we can see on MRI scans. This is breakthrough science”.

“These findings will change how we study MND” said Professor Hardiman, Head of the Academic Unit of Neurology in Trinity. “Our identification of specific changes in brain wave patterns in different forms of neurodegeneration will allow us to develop new drugs, and monitor the effects of these drugs in ways that have not been possible up to now.”

Professor Hardiman continued: “Our findings will revolutionise how we measure changes in brain function in MND and many other related neuro-degenerations such as frontotemporal dementia.  Our findings will also help in understanding the links we have shown previously between MND and schizophrenia. There is much to do, but this is the first step in developing new and innovative measurements that will have a major impact on how we conduct future clinical trials.”

There are 120 number of new cases of MND diagnosed in Ireland every year. 350 people are living with the condition in Ireland.

Media Contact

Yolanda Kennedy, Press Officer for the Faculty of Health Sciences | | +353 1 896 4337

NUI Galway Study Finds the Magnitude of Past Climate Change Events May have been Underestimated

A modified figure showing the underestimation of reconstructed temperatures for the last interglacial (warm) period. Photo: NUI Galway
A modified figure showing the underestimation of reconstructed temperatures for the last interglacial (warm) period. Photo: NUI Galway

A new study led by Dr Audrey Morley at NUI Galway, has found that the magnitude of past abrupt climate change events may have underestimated. If so, the impact of current climate change may be larger than expected. The study was published today (4 December 2017) in the international journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems.

Lead author of the study, Dr Audrey Morley from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “Abrupt climate events that occurred during the last interglacial (warm) period, ca. 125,000 years ago, have been underestimated by up to 4°Celsius. This is important because our current understanding of climate change and our predictions of future climate both rely on past examples from Earth’s climate history. Robust and quantitative methods to deduce the magnitude of abrupt climate events from the geologic record are therefore essential.”

In this new study, Dr Morley collaborated with researchers from the University of California-Santa Cruz, Rutgers University New Jersey and the University of Bergen, and studied an established geochemical tool for investigating sea surface temperatures in the past. In the modern ocean, observations have shown that marine plankton (foraminifera) will use more magnesium relative to calcium, which are elements freely available in sea water, when they form their shell in warmer waters. This allows scientists to apply this modern relationship between magnesium, calcium, and temperature to the past by measuring magnesium-to-calcium ratios (Mg/Ca) in fossilised marine plankton that are continually deposited in seafloor sediments. However, there are limitations with the Mg/Ca temperature relationship, because the scientists understanding of other processes that may influence the amount of magnesium in the shell is incomplete.

For example, higher carbon dioxide levels in seawater results in lower pH (potential of hydrogen) and lower carbonate ion concentrations. Carbonate ion is the carbon species used by foraminifera to form their calcium carbonate tests. As carbonate ion becomes less available in surrounding seawater the individual organism needs to exert more energy for calcification. Through this process more magnesium becomes incidentally incorporated than what would be predicted by temperature only. Since colder surface waters absorb more carbon dioxide than warmer waters, this leads to generally low carbonate ion concentrations in cold surface waters. Therefore, when magnesium-to-calcium values are measured on fossilised marine plankton that lived in surface waters with low carbonate ion concentrations, this relationship leads to an underestimation of reconstructed temperatures.

This study presents an innovative mathematical correction scheme that enables the carbonate ion concentration effect to be isolated from the temperature signal recorded in marine plankton (from magnesium-to-calcium ratios) via subtraction. Specifically, Dr Morley and her colleagues were able to quantify the control of low carbonate ion concentrations values on magnesium-to-calcium ratios for a specific marine plankton species (Neogloboquadrina Incompta) living in the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean, and thereby isolate the true magnesium-to-calcium temperature relationship.

Dr Morley added: “Applying the proposed correction scheme to past climate records reveals that we may have underestimated abrupt climate events by up to 4°Celsius during past interglacial (warm) periods. This is particularly important for climate records from the subpolar/polar North Atlantic region that may have experienced abrupt changes in carbonate ion concentrations linked with abrupt climate events. Correcting for low carbonate ion concentration values improves the fidelity of temperature reconstructions and allows a reassessment of the magnitude of climate events occurring during warm climates.”

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway

Robotic Surgeries to be Streamed Live to University of Limerick GEMS

UL Hospitals Group began live-streaming robotic surgical procedures from the operating room in University Hospital Limerick (UHL) to the new Clinical Education and Research Centre (CERC) at the weekend, as part of the educational component of the Group’s robotic surgical programme. The next step is to live-stream to lecture theatres in University of Limreick’s Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS).

Three-hundred-and-sixty degree live streaming will now form part of surgical training and medical education for GEMS students and students across all healthcare and medical disciplines from University of Limerick (UL). It will also form a strong educational component for non-consultant hospital doctors/registrars, nursing staff and allied health professionals working in the UL Hospitals Group.

On Saturday, November 25, more than 100 consultant urologists, colorectal surgeons, senior registrars, gynaecologists and health professionals from around the country watched the inaugural live-stream of a robotic surgical procedure at the annual South West Urological Meeting held in the state-of-the-art CERC building which was jointly funded by the Health Service Executive and University of Limerick

The surgery was carried out by renowned consultant urological surgeon and honorary senior lecturer, Guy’s Hospital and King’s College London, Mr Ben Challacombe, who was invited by the UHL robotic team to perform this surgery with them.

“It is a great honour to come to UHL and to demonstrate complex robotic kidney surgery using the new live streaming technology, I would like to thank the team at UHL for inviting me, the teamwork and professionalism of the whole surgical team here in Limerick is second to none,” Mr Challacombe said.

In November last year, UHL became the first public hospital in Ireland to perform colorectal, kidney and adrenal surgical procedures using the Da Vinci Xi Dual Console Robot. One year on, over 110 colorectal, adrenal, kidney and other urological cases have been performed.

The Da Vinci Xi technology has particular advancements not available with standard keyhole surgery. 3D-HD visualisation provides surgeons with a highly magnified view, virtually extending their eyes and hands into the patient, almost as if the surgeon were ‘standing inside the abdomen and reaching out to the organs’. The robot is secured or ‘docked’ to the patient and has four working arms (each requiring only an 8mm skin incision) to which operating instruments are attached. Once docked, the robotic arms and instruments are controlled by the surgeon, or surgeons, who are seated at the consoles nearby. The instruments are extremely precise, with no tremor, and they can in fact achieve activities not possible with the human hand, though they would never replace the human hand, they are completely controlled by the surgeon.

Professor J. Calvin Coffey, Foundation Chair of Surgery GEMS, UL and general and colorectal surgeon, UHL, explained the enormous benefits of the live-streaming technology for students: “To date, surgical lectures at GEMS have taken place using video or powerpoint presentations; students do not have access to cadavers. Now, with our new live-streaming technology, students can observe complex operations live and interact from the classroom with the surgeons in the theatre. They can view the anatomy of the patient close up and observe the robotic arms and instruments, providing an unrivalled educational opportunity.”

“The robotic programme at UL Hospitals has been developed to bring the highest international quality standard of robotic surgery to the Midwest Region providing equity of access to all patients. Up to now, robotic surgery has been embedded in the private sector, apart from gynaecologic surgery. For the past year, it has been available to public and private patients alike with over 110 cases performed across colorectal, adrenal, kidney and gynaecological disciplines,” said Professor Coffey.

Speaking about the benefits to surgeons (trainee and trainers), consultant urologist, robotic surgeon at UHL and Chair of the South West Urological Meeting Mr Subhasis Giri added, “The Da Vinci dual console allows two surgeons to operate in synergy with pooling of expertise and maximising patient benefit in complex cases in a multidisciplinary setting. This also greatly facilitates dedicated robotic training for the surgeons of tomorrow, which to date is not available anywhere else in Ireland. Now, with 360 degree live-streaming from the operating room (OR), all of our residents can not only observe this surgery and 360 degree perspective of the operating theatre, but can also see a ‘robots-eye-view’ of the inside of the patient and ask practical questions to the surgeon or any member of the theatre team in real time. While technical skills are important, young surgeons also need to learn how to manage the stresses of the actual OR , it’s difficult to learn this from a simulated environment”.

The next step is to live-stream to lecture theatres in UL, the other hospitals within UL Hospitals Group and then globally using the new technology, where students, doctors and medical professionals will be able to log onto the web based live-stream system using a password. Whilst the current live-streaming technology is in 2D, it is envisaged that this will soon be available in 3D.

UL, academic partner to UL Hospitals Group, donated €135,000 to the project for Audio Visual and training equipment and a further €22,000 was donated from the UL MELG (Medical Education Liaison Group) Fund for Live Streaming equipment this year.

Des Leddin, Head of the Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS) at University of Limerick commented: “At UL, we are delighted to have access to this marvellous teaching tool for our students, allowing them to observe complex operations ‘live’ alongside our top surgeons. Not only will this experience be educationally enriching but I believe that it will also inspire the next generation of high-tech surgeons”.

Colette Cowan, CEO of UL Hospitals Group commented, “Since the robotic programme ommenced last year, we have begun to substitute keyhole surgery with robotic surgery where it’s possible at UHL and the benefits to our patients are enormous. Today, we have seen the huge educational benefits of the robotic programme for our young surgeons and for medical students alike, which is enhanced with the new live streaming technology. I know that I am immensely proud to see this come to fruition and I hope that it will serve them well in their careers into the future”.

Robotic surgery represents the highest international standard of surgery worldwide and is the most advanced form of key hole surgery available to patients. Data from UL Hospitals Group demonstrates that post-operative recovery is twice as fast with robotic surgery than with standard keyhole surgery, with an average postoperative hospital stay of approximately four days. There is also minimal blood loss and a reduction in post-operative pain with robotic surgery.

The Da Vinci Xi program continues to develop under the guidance of Ms Suzanne Dunne, head of strategy UL Hospitals Group and Project Manager for the Robotic Surgery Program. According to Suzanne, “Three components have been fundamental in the program’s success to date; team collaboration and engagement, the multidisciplinary Robotic Assisted Surgery (RAS) forum and the significant data analysis which is collated weekly. The data is crucial in term of patient outcomes, quality improvement, performance and financial monitoring”.

The robotic program was recently further strengthened by Mr Colin Peirce who has developed the robotic assisted program for colorectal surgery. Mr Peirce has also coordinated educational courses, published in Techniques of Coloproctology on the usage of the Dual Console, and delivered international lectures on the topic.

The Da Vinci Xi robotic programme at UL Hospitals Group cost €2.8 million in total and was supported by the Midwestern Hospitals Development Trust, the JP McManus Benevolent Fund, University of Limerick and UL Graduate Entry Medical School. Valued at approximately €2.6m, the Da Vinci Xi robot and equipment was donated by the Midwestern Hospitals Development Trust and funded with the generous support of the JP McManus Benevolent Fund. The CERC development is a partnership project between UL Hospitals and the University of Limerick (UL) and is co-funded by both the HSE and UL with an overall project cost of circa €12.75m. The CERC accommodates and supports the comprehensive educational, training and research needs of both the UL Graduate Entry Medical School and the UL Hospitals medical community across all disciplines.

RCSI Signs €3M Contract with Irish IT Services Firm

Written by Robert McHugh, on 30th Nov 2017. Posted in Technology

article headlineTypetec has today announced a €3m contract with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) to provide students with Apple MacBook Air notebooks. Typetec will deploy hardware, technical support, professional development and continued ICT planning services as part of the agreement.

The three-year deal follows a 25-year partnership between Typetec and RCSI which was the first college in Ireland to pioneer a one-to-one laptop programme in 1993. Working in partnership with Typetec, RCSI has now rolled out the enhanced service to the whole student body based in RCSI’s new flagship building at No. 26 York Street.

Speaking this week, Chief Technology Officer of RCSI, Justin Ralph said, “Using best-in-class technology is part of the student experience at RCSI. Through their learning journey, our students are encouraged to develop innovation and leadership skills, and technology plays an important role in that. With Typetec we know we have a partner that continually delivers on quality of service, and has the skills and experience to deliver technology that supports and enhances our students’ learning.”

Typetec CEO, Paul Dooley added, “We greatly admire the progressive culture and innovation that RCSI has developed over the last 25 years. Working with an institution that has such a vision for technology in education is truly inspiring. We are delighted as always to once again partner with them on this initiative and look forward to supporting them in developing the provision of educational training and lifelong learning through powerful ICT strategies.”


UCD Professors Named on List of World’s Most Highly Cited Researchers

UCD Professors Da-Wen Sun and Colm O’Donnell, UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering, have been included on the 2017 Highly Cited Researchers list, compiled by Clarivate Analytics.

This is the third time that both Professor Sun and Professor O’Donnell have been included on the list.

The list identifies journal publications’ authors – as determined by their fellow researchers – whose research has had significant global impact within their respective fields of study.

The list is a citation analysis of researchers who are among the top 1% most cited for their year of publication in one of 21 main subject fields.

Professor Sun’s work is standard reference material for researchers in the areas of computer vision, computational fluid dynamics modelling and vacuum cooling.

He has 1,099 papers in the Web of Science of which 121 have been cited more than 100 times (Web of Science h-index = 84, SCOPUS h-index = 89). Papers in the Web of Science do not exclusively include papers published in peer-reviewed journals and can include seminar papers and other studies.

Recent work by Professor Sun has used non-destructive and non-invasive hyperspectral imaging to determine quality and safety in foods. This allows greater certainty over standards in the food production process compared to visual inspection practices that are still common.

Hyperspectral imaging takes images of food specimens at different wavelength bands at a scale of around ten nanometres (1 nm = one billionth of a metre).

Professor Sun is an international authority in food engineering research and education. He was elected to the Royal Irish Academy in 2010 and was selected as a member of Academia Europaea (Academy of Europe) in 2011. He was awarded fellowships of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology in 2012 and the International Academy of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 2016.

He is editor of the journal Food and Bioprocess Technology, series editor of Contemporary Food Engineering and former editor of Journal of Food Engineering.

Colm O’Donnell is Professor of Biosystems and Food Engineering and Head of the UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering.

He leads a research team working on a range of Process Analytical Technology and Non-Thermal Processing projects funded by EU Framework, the Irish Research Council, the Food Institutional Research Measure, Enterprise Ireland and industry.

His primary research focus is on process analytical technology for food and bioproducts characterisation and novel food processing technologies.

His areas of expertise include hyperspectral imaging and Near Infra-red and Mid Infra-red spectroscopy – the study of the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation.

He was appointed Editor of the International Journal of Food Properties and Associate Editor of Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural & Biological Engineers. He is Chair of the International Federation for Process Analysis & Control (IFPAC) Dairy Processing Technical Committee.

He is a Principal Investigator and Head of the Process Quality and Safety by Design Pillar in the €25 million Enterprise Ireland/industry funded Dairy Processing Technology Centre. He is also Head of the Food Quality and Processing Pillar in the UCD Institute of Food and Health.

In the 2017 Clarivate Analytics edition, about 3,000 researchers who represent some of world’s leading scientific minds earned the distinction of Highly Cited Researcher.

By: Jamie Deasy, digital journalist, UCD University Relations

Scientists at NUI Galway Make Breakthrough for Parkinson’s Disease

The degeneration and death of brain cells that regulate movement is what affects the ability of a person with Parkinson’s to control movement.

NEUROSCIENTISTS AT NUI Galway have made a breakthrough in regenerative medicine approaches to Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s is a condition that primarily affects a person’s ability to control movement leading to a progressive deterioration in ability.

The symptoms of the condition are caused by the degeneration and death of brain cells that regulate movement.

Brain repair for Parkinson’s involves replacing the dead cells by transplanting healthy brain cells back into the brain, but the widespread roll-out of this therapy has been hindered by the poor survival of the implanted cells.

The research, which was published in the Nature journal, Scientific Reports this week, found that the survival of the transplanted cells is dramatically improved if they are implanted within a supportive matrix made from the natural material collagen.

It was carried out by a team at the Galway Neuroscience Centre and CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway.

Lead author of the research paper, Dr Eilis Dowd said:

The collagen provides the cells with a nurturing, supportive environment in the brain and helps them to survive the aversive transplant process.

The work will be presented at the upcoming Network for European CNS Transplantation and Restoration (NECTAR) conference which is being hosted by Dr Dowd in Dublin from the 6–8 December.

The event will feature leading scientists from the US, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, who will present their latest research on brain repair for Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s.

By Cliodhna Russell

Trinity Student Announced as Winner of Financial Times ‘The Future of Europe Project’

Marie Sophie Hingst, a PhD candidate at the School of Histories and Humanities and a graduate fellow at the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute from 2015 to 2017 has been chosen as the winner from Trinity College in the Financial Times competition ‘The Future of Europe Project’.


Hingst wrote her winning article, entitled “Europeans should not abandon a collective identity”, which was published by the financial times on November 23. The article which looks at the idea of a common European identity and Europe’s four founding freedoms was selected as one of the six winning submissions, each chosen by a panel consisting of both Financial Times journalists and external judges.


The competition named ‘The Future of Europe Project’ was a collaboration between the Financial Times, the participating students and their professors, aiming to give a voice to some of Europe’s brightest young minds, whilst allowing them the opportunity to engage in the ever growing conversation concerning the future of Europe. Six European universities participated in the competition, Sciences Po in Paris, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Bocconi in Milan, Trinity College Dublin, The Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and The Athens University of Economics and Business.


Professors from each university supplied students with the chance to write on one of four questions regarding the future of the EU. The four options to chose from asked: Should the next frontier for Europe be deeper integration, or handing back some power to nation states? Would it be wise to reconsider the four founding freedoms in the EU treaties? Is it time to concentrate on the Eurozone rather than the broader EU27? And to what extent is German leadership of Europe desirable or necessary? The departments in each college selected three articles for submission to the Financial Times, leaving a total of 18 finalists for the judges to pick just six winners from.


In her winning article, Marie Sophie Hingst asks if there is a common European way of life and discusses how we can see both a common European identity and a set of shared European values. She discusses how this shared identity can be used as a way of linking Ierapetra in Crete, the EU’s southernmost town with the small Irish Port of Dingle in County Kerry, the EU’s westernmost settlement. Her essay looks back more than two centuries to Edmund Burke’s 1796 statement on Europe for inspiration, written during a time when the continent found itself in a crippling period of violence and war, despite which he still said “No European could be a complete exile in any part of Europe”.
With the words of Burke acting as influence, Marie Sophie Hingst argues Europe isn’t “a religious, a political or historical construct but a call for a constant civilizational sensibility for each other. A sense of urgency that links the cheese-monger in Kerry with the winemakers of Bordeaux.” The winning article finishes by reminding us that Burke’s words are as true today as they were in the 18th Century. “The four founding freedoms of the European Union are as debatable as they are unquestionable: giving them up for reconsideration would make every single one of us an exile in any part of Europe.”

By Shane Hughes