Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Computational methods to unlock literary secrets

NUI Galway partners with 12 European institutions to build new resources to aid digital decoding of literature NUI Galway’s Moore Institute has joined forces with 12 other institutions across Europe for a research project that aims to aid new approaches to the study of literature in the digital age. Computational Literary Studies Infrastructure (CLS INFRA) is a four-year partnership to build a shared resource of high-quality data, tools and knowledge needed for literary studies using artificial intelligence and other computational methods. The project is being supported with €5 million funding from the European Commission. Dr Justin Tonra, Lecturer in English at NUI Galway, whose work in the project will focus on bridging the gap between computational and traditional literary studies, said: “When studying literature we often focus on a small number of books by a small number of authors. With the aid of computers, we can ‘read’ literature at a scale that opens windows onto topics like gender, language and colonialism, and how they are represented in our shared and varied European cultural heritage.” The overall aim of CLS INFRA is to open up the best data mining resources Europe has to offer in the growing field of Computational Literary Studies, which enables a big-data approach to the study of culture. For instance, it can help scholars to detect patterns which show what literary genres were prevalent at certain times; if and how gender manifests in the language of writers; whether the movement of literary style can be mapped across time and space. The CLS INFRA project will identify and map the specific requirements of researchers who wish to study literature using technology and AI. Partners in the 13 institutions will bring together existing resources as well as develop new tools, services and literary collections. A further aim of the project is to open up Computational Literary Studies to more researchers and enable investigation into Europe’s multi-lingual and interconnected literary heritage and cultural diversity. Support services and training will be provided to researchers who are new to the use of computers and AI for literary study. Scholars from under-represented regions and languages, as well as independent and citizen scholars, will also be supported. Dr Maciej Eder, Director of the Institute of Polish Language at the Polish Academy of Sciences and Principal Investigator of CLS INFRA, said: “This is a very exciting project which promises to make great advances in how we use computers to study literature. “One of the great challenges to Computational Literary Studies is that the landscape of digital literary sources is very fragmented, as scholars and readers struggle to find texts that are made accessible and reusable in standardised ways. CLS INFRA will address this deficit in a way that will allow the field to flourish.” Dr Tonra added: “The partnership of 13 European institutes will also foster systematic and meaningful cooperation across national borders and linguistic boundaries, as well as disciplines of study. “Human beings are storytellers. Nowhere do we see the expression of human ambitions, values, norms and desires more clearly than in the collected literary works that have been created over centuries of human creativity. “The emergence of information and communications technologies has given us an unprecedented opportunity to share, compare and understand this legacy across national borders and linguistic boundaries.” Ends

News Archive

Thursday, 8 April 2021

NUI Galway will hold a virtual information session for those interested in the Access Programme for Mature Students. It will take place on Thursday, 15 April, from 7pm-8.30pm. The application process for the Access Programme for Mature Students will open in April and this session will provide information on courses, the application process and various supports available to prospective students aged 23 and over. The Access Programme for Mature Students is designed specifically as an alternative admission route to third level education for people from socio-economic backgrounds that are underrepresented at third level, who for a variety of reasons, did not reach their educational potential, and do not have the necessary conventional educational requirement to progress to third level. NUI Galway’s Access programmes aim to support students to build confidence in themselves, in their academic ability and to support them to reach their full potential. Representatives from the Access Centre and Programme Coordinators will be online to advise and answer questions and to support those who wish to take that first step into third level education. Dr Mary Surlis, Senior Manager of NUI Galway’s Access Centre, said: “The teaching and learning environment on our Access programmes is built on guiding and offering support to our students  at every stage of their progression. It is never too late to fulfil your ambition and our courses are designed to provide students returning to education with a strong foundation as they progress to third level. We are looking forward as always, to yet another new group of students to our 2021/22 programmes.” To register for the information session visit https://bit.ly/3uahrAq. Further information about the Access Programme for Mature Students is available at www.nuigalway.ie/access/mature-students. -Ends-

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

50 students will diagnose and treat sick teddy bears, and children will learn how to take care of their teddy’s health focusing on general health, lifestyle, and emotional wellbeing For the 16th year running NUI Galway is inviting children to its award winning Teddy Bear Hospital, which will take place online on Saturday, 17 April from 12pm-3pm.  Over the years, children have attended the hospital with teddy bears suffering from an imaginative range of sore ears, sick tummies and all kinds of other weird and wonderful ailments. This year, childrens’ appointments will be carried out virtually, and will educate the children  on how to treat their sick teddy at home. The event is organised by the Sláinte Society, NUI Galway’s health promotion society that focuses on promoting all aspects of physical and mental health. Up to 50 medical, healthcare and science students will diagnose and treat the teddy bears. In the process, they hope to help children, ranging in age from 4-8 years, feel more comfortable around doctors and hospitals. Tristiana Dalchand, second year Medical student at NUI Galway and co-auditor of Sláinte Society, said: “Given the current circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, we believe it’s really important to maintain engagement with as many children as possible through the Teddy Bear Hospital. We hope to remind children and their teddies that the doctor’s office and hospitals remain a fun, comfortable, and safe space.” On arrival at the virtual Teddy Bear Hospital, participants and patients will be greeted by two teddy doctor specialists. The children and their ‘patients’ will learn how to take care of their teddy’s health through three main themes: general health, lifestyle, and emotional wellbeing. Andrea Dimitrov, second year Medical student at NUI Galway and co-auditor of Slainte Society said, “Covid 19 has been challenging for all of us and we hope to provide an engaging, fun, and educational event that the children can participate in and interact with each other. This pandemic has highlighted the importance of community, and we hope to continue bringing the community together through the Teddy Bear Hospital.” Due to limited capacity of this year’s virtual Teddy Bear Hospital, Sláinte Society are also holding a drawing contest. Children are encouraged to submit a drawing of themselves and their teddies to be in with a chance of winning one of two €50 vouchers for Smyths Toy Store.  To enter the drawing contest, please email submissions to tbh.drawing.contest@gmail.com and include, name, age, and hometown. The closing date for submissions is Wednesday, 14 April, and the two winners will be announced on Saturday, 17 April. Places for the virtual Teddy Bear Hospital are limited. To apply to attend the hospital please visit www.nuigalway.ie/teddybearhospital by 5pm on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Those selected to attend will be contacted by Thursday, 15 April. -Ends-

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Three NUI Galway based programmes will engage more than 385,000 members of the Irish public with science in 2021 Three NUI Galway public engagement and education outreach initiatives have been awarded funding of more than €339,000 through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme. It will fund projects dedicated to inspiring and empowering over 385,000 members of the public in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. The funding awards were announced by Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, as part of a national investment of €5.2 million through the Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme. NUI Galway Funded Projects Cell EXPLORERS (€267, 636 funding award) Cell EXPLORERS is a successful science education and public engagement programme locally delivering educational science outreach activities to school children and the Irish public. Led by Dr Muriel Grenon, College of Science and Engineering, the programme has the dual benefit of engaging children and the public, while developing graduate student and researchers’ public engagement skills in a way and at a scale that is unique in Ireland. It has reached more than 38,500 members of the public and involved more than 2,250 team members since its creation in 2012. In 2021 and 2022, the programme will run school visits and tailored activities nationally, through its network of 13 teams based in 15 institutes of technology and universities. New partnerships will include the Galway STEAM Project (a joint TUSLA and Foróige project) to provide better reach to those who do not typically engage with STEM.  The programme‘s research shows that many children (aged 10-12 years) have narrow and stereotypical views of what a scientist does and have had few opportunities to meet a scientist. Drawing from these findings and others Cell EXPLORERS will revise both its activities and practices by applying the Science Capital Teaching Approach, a specific way of teaching that employs social justice methods designed to both broaden young peoples’ views of what it means to be a scientist, and widen participation in Science. See www.cellexplorers.com. CÚRAM ‘Science Waves' Project (€43,719funding award) CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices will run an education and public engagement programme that aims to raise awareness of its research and increase understanding of preventative behaviours which can reduce the incidence of chronic illness.  The current Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need for members of the public to better understand science and its impact on their lives. More than ever, there is a greater need for clear science communication. However, the pandemic has exposed the existing divide amongst children who have access to learning material online and those who don't. CÚRAM’s Science Waves project led by Andrea Fitzpatrick, aims to create content which is accessible to everyone and gives clear information about science. Science Waves is a series of six science radio shows co-created by children and scientists for children. CÚRAM will work with children from underrepresented communities to create accessible, engaging, and fun radio shows, which are aimed at children aged 10–12 years old. The radio shows will broadcast later this year on the NUI Galway student radio station, Flirt FM, and will also be released through the CRAOL network of community radio stations. See www.curamdevices.com. ReelLIFE SCIENCE (€27,987 funding award) ReelLIFE SCIENCE is a nationwide science video competition, which encourages young people and the general public to discover more about STEM and its impact on individuals, society and the environment, while developing their creativity, communication and digital skills. Young people from schools and youth organisations are challenged to research a STEM topic and communicate it to the public through an engaging and educational three-minute video. Led by Dr Enda O’Connell, College of Science and Engineering, ReelLIFE SCIENCE has enabled more than 16,000 young people from 500 schools and youth organisations all over the country, to engage with STEM in a novel way. In 2021, ReelLIFE SCIENCE will continue to engage students and teachers in primary and secondary schools across Ireland, while also specifically targeting, training and empowering youth workers and leaders in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon youth organisations.  The deadline for submitting this year’s three-minute video entries is Friday, 15 October with the best videos awarded €1,000 and will be screened for the public at the Galway Science and Technology Festival in NUI Galway. See www.reellifescience.com. Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway, said: “Outreach and public engagement are integral to research at NUI Galway. Engagement is a feature of all stages of research, and we value the insight we derive into the pressing scientific and social questions from our partners. Openness is one of our core strategic values. Open research is a proven path to inspire young minds to take on the challenges posed by the sciences and to creatively approach the evident social issues of the moment. These excellent and innovative programmes will create new energy, inspire young people to aspire to careers in the sciences, and broadcast the standards of excellence the community expects of us. I thank Science Foundation Ireland for their support of these programmes and look forward to the events and activities that are planned.” Speaking about the announcement Minister Harris, said: “I am delighted to announce the 49 projects that will receive funding through the SFI Discover Programme. As we continue to live through the Covid-19 pandemic, we are more conscious than ever of the importance of supporting the public to have access to and to understand the issues that impact our collective future, and the role science and technology can play in providing solutions. These projects will play a role in starting conversations about the role of STEM in society and inspiring our young people to explore careers in these areas. I wish all the recipients every success in the roll out of their projects.” Science Foundation Ireland has invested in public engagement projects through the Discover Programme since 2013. This year’s funded initiatives are estimated to reach a wide audience of people in STEM Topic, while 49 diverse initiatives will be supported by this year’s programme, with successful awardees being carefully selected through international peer-review. -Ends-

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