Top UK engineer and NI businessman honoured for their contributions to public life

One of the most respected engineers in the UK and a leading Northern Ireland businessman are to be honoured by Queen’s University today (Monday 6 July).

Currently serving as President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Professor Dame Ann Dowling embarked on a distinguished career by becoming the first female Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, where she also studied.

She has held visiting posts at MIT and Caltech in the USA and continues to research and teach at Cambridge. 

She is best known, however, as an international authority on aircraft acoustics, combustion and vibration, and leads research into how to cut down on noise levels at airports, especially for people living in the immediate vicinity.

Speaking of her honorary DScEng, Dame Ann said: “To receive this recognition from such a prestigious university, and a university with such a fine heritage, that’s known for its engineering pedigree going back 160 years, is a considerable honour. I very much look forward to sharing this special occasion with students who will be graduating on the same day.”

One of Northern Ireland’s most successful exports, Shaun T Kelly will also be honoured today for his contribution to the local economy and fostering of business in Northern Ireland.

Originally from west Belfast, Shaun graduated with a First Class Honours in Commerce from University College Dublin. Most recently he has served as Vice Chairman of Operations for KPMG in the United States, and Chief Operating Officer for KPMG International’s Americas region.

While Shaun’s responsibilities with KPMG took him to America in the early 1980s, he has remained a prominent figure in Irish-American circles and the business community. He has been featured in Irish America Magazine’s Wall Street 50 each year since 2009.

Never forgetting his roots, Shaun has remained committed to strengthening investment and growth in his home country. He was involved in a working group to develop economic support in Northern Ireland and continues to work with Invest NI, meeting potential investors interested in the region. He has also brought to Ireland Enactus, a community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better more sustainable world, and is an active supporter of Queen’s City Scholarship programme.

Speaking of his DSc Econ for services to business and commerce, he said: “It’s an incredible honour to be recognized by such an important institution, and to have that happen in the city where I grew up. I have enjoyed building connections with Queen’s in recent years, and watching its world-class programmes and extraordinary students make vital and lasting contributions, not only to the Northern Ireland economy but to the world at large. I am proud and delighted to be returning to the university today for this very special occasion.”

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office, on 02890973087 or


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Pioneering student works on African excavation

A pioneering Archaeology student who is carrying out fieldwork on ancient sites in Africa, will graduate this week.

Stephen Armstrong, who is graduating with First Class Honours MSci in Archaeology, has recently been awarded a prestigious British Institute in East Africa (BIEA) Graduate Attachment which has given him the opportunity to gain experience on excavations in East Africa over the next year.

During the course of his degree, Stephen has taken part in archaeological digs in Ireland and Scotland, contributed to high profile field studies with Cambridge University and the British School in Rome and assisted the Queen’s University, ERC funded FRAGSUS project in Malta.

Stephen, who grew up in Tanzania and hopes to carry out fieldwork there, is developing his own independent research project on Swahili Settlement and Architecture and wants to pursue a PhD in the future.

He said: “My time at Queen’s has given me the opportunity to enjoy my passion in life and to gain experiences and opportunities I could never have imagined. The School of Archaeology at Queen’s offers a wide range of international placements and internship opportunities that broaden your horizons and allow you to achieve success. The archaeology teaching staff are leaders in their academic fields and give great support to their students.”

“A Queen’s degree is more than just a qualification, it has given me the skills, confidence and ambition to explore new ideas and make a lasting difference to society.”

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office, on 02890973087 or

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Double celebration for brother and sister

An award-winning brother and sister from Magherafelt will be celebrating their success at this year’s summer graduation ceremonies.

Grace McKenna graduated with a degree in Medicine on Friday (July 3) while her younger brother, Vincent, will receives a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering today.

Both Grace and Vincent picked up prestigious awards during their time at Queen’s.

Vincent is among six students from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering who received the Royal Academy of Engineering Advanced Leadership Awards, while Grace won the Medical Sciences category of the international Undergraduate Awards, aimed at recognising the brightest and most innovative undergraduate students in the world.

The Royal Academy leadership award, which is awarded to only 30 recipients annually across all engineering disciplines in all UK universities, offers ambitious engineering undergraduates the chance to undertake an accelerated personal development programme.

As part of his degree Vincent spent his third year on placement working for the Red Bull Formula One racing team in Milton Keynes, took part in a three-week student exchange visit to India and learnt to speak Italian.

Vincent said: “A degree from Queen’s is much more than an education, it is a life changing experience.  The opportunities for placements and exchanges really is incredible and I would never have imagined getting a placement with Formula One was possible.”

Grace said: “Queen’s equips you not just with a qualification but skills that make you workplace ready and confident about your ability to make a difference.  I look forward to taking up my job in August and using my degree to make a positive impact.”

Vincent plans to do a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s, while his sister starts work with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust in August.  They join 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Queen’s graduates help shape Belfast’s future

A group of talented students graduating from Queen’s today have helped shape the future of Belfast City centre.

Under the guidance of Dr M. Satish Kumar, a number of Geography graduates volunteered to take part in the Young Civic Leaders of Northern Ireland programme. They are: Steven Donnelly, Naomi Watson, Ellyn Murphy, Emma Walsh, Sinead Morris, Amy Bell, Amy Morgan, Patrick Deboys, Laura Keenan, Iram Rasool, Brendan Rogers and Shauna McGreevy, Shannon McGarrigle, Ryan Devine, Katherine Dowdall, Rebekah McCready, Noleen McCloskey, Amy-Ruth Dunlop and Conleth McGillan

The programme, hosted by Liam Lynch of Square Pit Collaborative, Titanic Quarters, gave the students an opportunity to directly contribute to the vision of Belfast City Council with their ideas and opinions on how services in the city centre can be developed and improved. They took part in a range of discussions including how to use derelict spaces, how to improve the traffic infrastructure and the potential of pedestrianizing Belfast.

Steven Donnelly said: “Having the chance to gain work-related experience, and to contribute to the city’s new vision, has been a really enjoyable experience. It is proof that a degree from Queen’s is more than just a qualification, it’s a chance to gain experience and opportunities that can be taken into working life.”

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office, on 02890973087 or


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European human rights lawyer and leading Chinese academic to be honoured by Queen’s
President Qun Zhao, President of the China Medical University (CMU), receives an honorary degree from the Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast, Professor Patrick Johnston
President Qun Zhao, President of the China Medical University (CMU), receives an honorary degree from the Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast, Professor Patrick Johnston

A Belfast-born international human rights expert and a leading Chinese academic are to be honoured by Queen’s University Belfast today (Saturday 4 July).

Former Deputy Registrar of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, Michael O’Boyle will receive his award for distinction in public service.
A barrister and former lecturer at Queen’s, Mr O’Boyle studied at Harvard Law School and the International Institute of Human Rights, spending much of his career in Strasbourg, where he was a prominent figure in the field of international human-rights protection.
Commenting on his honour, Mr O’Boyle said: “I am delighted to be recognised in this way by Queen’s University where I initially studied and lectured. I still retain my links with the School of Law and am proud to be able to share my experiences with up and coming researchers in this important area. If I had any words of wisdom for my fellow graduates today, it would be that education, especially from a top-class university like Queen’s, will stand you in good stead for the rest of your lives and enable you to make a contribution to improving the lives of others.”

Also being honoured today is President Qun Zhao, President of the China Medical University (CMU), which has a long standing partnership with Queen’s that has led to the development of the China Queen’s College in Shenyang, the capital of Laioning Province in north-east China.

Rewarded for his services to education, President Zhao was instrumental in rapidly developing the CMU International Education School which was among the first batch of Chinese medical schools authorised to recruit and to teach international students in English.

Speaking ahead of receiving his LLD, President Zhao said: “This is a great honour for me to be recognised by Queen’s University, which is building on its collaborative efforts with Chinese universities to help the next generation of students become world-class global scholars and ensure research partnerships help build a better global society.”

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or


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Dedicated student inspires others to ‘Mind Your Mood’

A talented student, who has helped develop the first-ever mental health campaign at Queen’s University, is celebrating her graduation this week.

Emma Francis, who is graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, is the president of ‘Mind Your Mood’, a campaign based at Queen’s that is helping to raise awareness and understanding of mental health and well-being among students.

Emma, from West Lancashire in England, has worked with a range of mental health charities to increase the number of workshops offered to students at Queen’s teaching important skills on how to manage their mental health, for example through cognitive behavioural therapy.

She is also a volunteer advocate at Holywell Psychiatric Hospital for one of Northern Ireland’s leading charities, the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health, where she visits patients offering support and guidance.

Emma, who following graduation will be starting a Master’s Degree in Psychiatric Research at King’s College London, said: “I got involved in the campaign because I wanted to make students aware of how important it is to protect their mental health throughout their time at university. The support of Queen’s for this student-led campaign has led to Mind Your Mood being a great success, reaching over 2000 students to date. This university is renowned for creating global citizens who are ready to achieve success and make a difference in society.

 “A Queen’s degree is more than just a qualification; it has broadened my horizons and given me the confidence and skills needed to pursue my future career. My time here has opened doorways to a world of opportunities.”

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Mum’s memory inspires proud Queen’s graduate

Today’s graduation ceremony will prove a proud experience for student Robyn McCue.

Roybn, from Newtownabbey, is graduating with a First Class Honours in Psychology, although her achievement will be tinged with sadness as her beloved mum Jane won’t be there to cheer her on.

Jane passed away in January this year, aged just 47, following a battle with liver failure. Her death came just one day before Robyn was due to take her final examination. Despite the devastating news, Robyn summed up all her strength and decided to sit the exam, knowing it was what her mum would have wanted.

Speaking ahead of her graduation Robyn said: “It was really tough, but I decided to take the exam as my mum is the reason I'm at university in the first place and she had always encouraged me to work hard. The School of Psychology at Queen’s were really helpful and informed me of my options regarding extenuating circumstances. I couldn’t have done it without their support.

“My mum was such an inspiring woman with such a great work ethic and I think she passed that down to me. I decided to continue with my final year as I knew she'd want me to graduate no matter what. A degree from Queen’s opens pathways to new professions and I have learnt many new skills that I will use in the future. My time here has really fuelled my passion for research, and I hope one day to be able to study Clinical Psychology at Queen’s. I’m looking forward to a new chapter in my life.”

Robyn, who is now planning to start a PhD in the School of Psychology in October, will be celebrating her graduation with her boyfriend George, her brother Warren, and her family and friends.

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Dutch success for Queen’s student

Maike Rea-Schermer will graduate from Queen’s today, with distinction, in Atypical Child Development.

During her studies for this MSc, Maike found time to have a baby plus continue to run a company she founded in the Netherlands. Maike set up the Netherlands-based company, De Taalsleutel, to advise on special education and teach professionals within that setting. 

Maike, who is originally from the Netherlands but living in Dromore since 2013, is planning to continue her studies at Queen’s with a part-time PhD in Psychology, as well as continuing consulting to both Dutch and Northern Ireland schools on special educational needs.

Reflecting on her time at Queen’s, Maike said: “One of the things I loved most about Queen’s was the beautiful buildings and scenery around campus and the great sense of history and heritage – 160 years of tradition! During my research, I collaborated with several primary schools in Northern Ireland, after which one of the schools asked me to provide a workshop for their staff on speech, language and communication needs in children.

“My aim is to provide more services like this, as I love the way Queen’s interacts with its local community and impacts on society. Building bridges with schools is not only beneficial to my research, but it also provides the opportunity to share the latest insights and, in this way, what happens in universities can actually change lives. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.” 

Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or



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Leading international scientists to be honoured by Queen’s University
Professor Sir Alexl Markham, who has been awarded an honorary degree for his services to science and medicine
Professor Sir Alex Markham, who has been awarded an honorary degree for his services to science and medicine

Three leading international scientists will be honoured by Queen’s University today (Friday 3 July).

Professor Stephen Furber, who is best-known for his work as one of the main designers of the ground-breaking BBC microcomputer and the ARM 32-bit RISC microprocessor in the 1980s, will be honoured for services to engineering.

His latest project, known as ‘SpiNNaker’, and nicknamed the ‘brain box’, is an attempt to build an IT system based on the workings of the human brain. In 2014, Steve was made a Distinguished Fellow at the British Computer Society (DFBCS), joining the likes of Bill Gates and Tim Berners Lee.

Commenting on his award, Professor Furber, who currently teaches at the University of Manchester said: “I am really honoured to be recognised by Queen’s University. As someone with extensive links to the University, I am a very strong advocate for the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) and Queen’s activities on the Northern Ireland Science Park. ECIT is a very strong contributor to the local economy, as is Queen’s as a whole, and it’s a delight to see a University at the forefront of the technology revolution.”

Meanwhile, another distinguished figure on the international stage will also be honoured today. A tireless advocate for cancer research across the EU, oncologist Dr Françoise Meunier has been the Director General of the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) for 24 years and is “Director Special Projects” as of April 1st2015.

A Fulbright scholar, she has worked at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and is a fellow of the UK’s Royal College of Physicians alongside her academic and professional career in her native Belgium.

A key member of the European Cancer Concord Steering Committee, Meunier was instrumental in supporting the Queen’s University-led European Cancer Patient’s Bill of Rights which was launched in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on World Cancer Day 2014.

Speaking of her DMedSc for services to science and medicine, Dr Meunier said: “I am so grateful to be given this accolade. Queen’s University is a world-class institution which is carrying out world-leading research in the area of cancer. It has been a privilege to work with the university and I look forward to many more collaborations as, together, we try to improve outcomes and treatments for cancer patients.”

Also being recognised today is Professor Sir Alex Markham, an internationally acclaimed leader and advocate for cancer research. Professor Markham, who is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, served as Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK using his vision and drive to turn the organisation into the largest funder of cancer research in the UK and one of the world’s largest.  

Knighted in the 2008 New Year’s Honours List for his services to academic medicine, Professor Markham is a member of the Advisory Board for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s, providing support and advice that has helped the school’s Centre for Cancer Research expand its growing reputation for excellence across the world.  

Professor Markham said: “I am delighted to be recognised in this way by Queen’s University, a world-leading institution for medical research where I have had the pleasure of supporting and mentoring many of the world’s leading cancer specialists. If I had any words of wisdom for my fellow graduates today, it would be to challenge themselves and to pursue their passions. Their education, from the top-class university that is Queen’s, can and does change lives.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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UK Student Volunteer of the Year prepares for medical career

UK Student Volunteer of the Year, Aidan Bannon, who helped establish the Red Cross at Queen’s University, is celebrating his graduation this week. 

Aidan, from Belfast, who is graduating with a degree in Medicine, was awarded the title of the UK’s ‘Student Volunteer of the Year for 2014’ for his tireless work to improve the lives of students at Queen’s. He has already secured a job as a doctor at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. 

As a founder of the Red Cross Society at Queen’s, an organisation which aims to support disadvantaged people in society, Aidan has helped improve the confidence and skills of over 3,500 young people across Northern Ireland.

He has also been involved in the student Volunteer Academy and spearheaded the ‘Mind Your Mood’ campaign at Queen’s, which has raised awareness of mental health issues across the University. 

Aidan said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time at Queen’s. I’ve met so many good people, learnt so much from my lecturers, and been inspired to make a difference. The School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences is a hub of volunteering and leadership opportunities, and it has given me the chance to give something back and to help improve the lives of other people.

“I’m really looking forward to the next step. I will be working as a doctor, something I’ve always dreamed of doing, but I also plan to continue to volunteer and to try and improve society for everyone.”

Aidan joins the 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.


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Double celebration for Belfast twins graduating at Queen’s

It’s a double celebration for twin sisters Danielle and Rouchelle Magee as they celebrate graduating from the same ceremony at Queen’s University today.

Danielle graduates with a degree in Dentistry and Rouchelle with a degree in Medicine.  The non-identical twins from west Belfast are now parting ways after spending primary school, grammar school and University together, to pursue their respective careers.

Rouchelle will spend the next year between the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine and Antrim Hospital while Danielle will undergo her dental vocational training in Ballygomartin and Ballysillan practices in North Belfast.

Danielle said: “We’ve always been together, growing up as kids in Belfast, and all the way through school and university. Now we are starting a new chapter in our lives and going off in different directions. But despite our diverging career paths, I know we will always be there for each other and cheering each other on. I am very proud of what we have achieved, both separately and together, and am grateful to Queen’s for providing us with the opportunities to embark on two great careers.”

Rouchelle said: “Queen’s has a great reputation for creating global citizens who are committed to having a positive impact on society so we felt very strongly about studying at home and contributing to society here in Northern Ireland.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Award winning student lands employment after graduation

An award winning student will graduate today with a First Class BSc Degree in Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition with Professional Studies from Queen’s University before beginning employment.

Victoria Brady, from Glennane, Co Armagh, has just landed employment, as a New Product Development Technologist in TS Foods, a family-owned, fresh and frozen food producer based in Castlewellan, Co Down.

Victoria was also recently named runner-up in the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) NI’s Young Scientist of the Year 2015, with a prize including £500 and a year’s membership of IFST.

Victoria’s final year research project was on Food Fraud and the Stakeholder in the Beef Supply Chain – a very topical subject in the wake of international food-fraud scandals.

Reflecting on her time at Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security, Victoria said: “I am passionate about the production of food and have always wanted to be part of the growing agri-food industry. I chose to study at Queen’s as it has such a strong reputation in this area and I was not disappointed. The course provided me with scientific knowledge and skills through both academic and practical avenues.

“The professional-studies module allowed me to apply what I had learned with a year’s placement at Deli Lites Ireland. Through this, I gained an invaluable insight into the agri-food industry and the various roles within it. By going straight from my degree into a Northern Ireland firm, I am an example of how Queen’s supports and grows our local industry with a steady supply of market-savvy graduates.”

Victoria joins the 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Success for Newry PhD student with Devenish Nutrition

Newry native, Joanna Keenan, has already secured a job after finishing her PhD at Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security with Belfast company, Devenish Nutrition.

Joanna will take up her role as a research officer within their pig division. Devenish supplies animal feeds for the pig, poultry and ruminant sectors.

Speaking of her time at the Institute for Global Food Safety, where Joanna also did her undergraduate degree, she said: “My doctoral research was in metabolomic approaches to assessing pre-slaughter stress in relation to beef quality. I feel very lucky that I was able to carry out this work at the Institute for Global Food Security as I had access to the most advanced analytical techniques, meaning I could do research at the forefront of meat science.

“I have always had a strong interest in and passion for the agri-food industry and it was my ambition to secure employment within this sector. I am delighted to have started a job with Devenish Nutrition as they are leaders in providing nutritional solutions for livestock. This is a great start for me in my career and a good example of how Queen’s directly feeds into the Northern Ireland economy by producing highly employable graduates.”

Joanna joins the 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.


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At the heart of success for Queen’s scientist

A Queen’s University student, who is due to graduate today, has been successful in securing funding from the British Heart Foundation to do a PhD.

Rachel Caines from Ballyclare, graduates with a degree in Human Biology this week before beginning her PhD researching the role of a DNA remodelling protein.

She hopes her research will translate from bench to bedside for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, which is the leading cause of heart attacks, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

Rachel has previously worked with the Centre for Experimental Medicine’s Summer Studentship programme and her goal is to work towards the role of a Principal Investigator, at the forefront of stem cell research.

Rachel said: “During my time at Queen’s I was selected for two summer studentships at the Centre for Experimental Medicine which helped me develop my practical laboratory skills, scientific writing and communication skills and showed me pathways in which my degree could take me. These placements were crucial for demonstrating my commitment to a career in scientific research and no doubt were vital in securing my PhD.

“This also allowed me to register for Degree Plus, a scheme run by Queen’s to nurture its students to become global citizens as well as proud Queen’s graduates and workplace ready.”

During her time at Queen’s, Rachel was also a member of St John Ambulance QUB Links, taking up the post as President in her final year.

Rachel joins the 94 per cent of Queen’s students who are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Homeless benefit from Queen’s Graduate

A student whose volunteering commitment and entrepreneurial drive has helped support the homeless community in Belfast is celebrating his graduation today.

Paul Loughran, who is graduating with a degree in Business Information Technology, co-founded Regenerate NI, a student led community organisation that gives homeless people in Belfast the opportunity to gain part-time jobs in regeneration projects.

Paul, from Belfast, came up with the idea for Regenerate NI when he joined Enactus Belfast – a Queen’s programme that encourages students to develop social projects that support disadvantaged people in the community. Since it was founded in 2013, Regenerate NI has gone from strength to strength. Twelve Queen’s students now work on the programme, providing support, training and employment opportunities for homeless people across the city.

Along with his work on Regenerate, Paul has also received international recognition for his volunteering work at Queen’s, winning the Queen’s Student Union President's Award For Student Achievement, as well as ‘Volunteer of the Year’ from the Union of Students in Ireland.

This year he also sat on the steering board of the ‘Mind Your Mood’ mental health campaign at Queen’s, while he was selected as a Northern Ireland Social Ambassador for a project working with No.10 Downing Street, and for the last two years he has been on the Board of Directors for CAUSE, one of Northern Ireland’s biggest mental health charities. Paul has also been elected to the Queen’s Student Union Council for the past two years and was elected to serve as the Student Union Vice President for Community for 2015/16.

He said: “I helped start Regenerate because I wanted to make a difference in society and support those people who are vulnerable or have gone through a tough time in their lives. It has proved a great success and I’m proud that I was involved. During my time at the University I feel I’ve had the opportunity to make a difference to the lives of my fellow students and that’s something I’m very proud of.

“Queen’s is renowned for creating global citizens who are workplace ready after graduating and I believe I have accomplished both attributes. A degree from Queen’s is more than just a qualification, it helps you aspire to achieve your goals in life, reach your potential and make a difference in society.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Double celebration for proud mum

It’s a double celebration today for a proud Queen’s University student who has balanced being a new mum with her busy studies.

Amie Graham, from Bangor, who is graduating with a BSc in Biological Sciences,will be joined on her big day by her proud husband Jordan and her 17-week old son Lincoln, who was born as Amie was completing her final dissertation.

Amie said: “It’s been quite tough at times and I’ve had to go without sleep during my exams, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Having Lincoln with me on my big day will be a dream come true.

“A Queen’s degree is more than just a qualification, it has given confidence and skills that I never thought possible and I’m looking forward to moving on to the next step in my career.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.


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Graduate entrepreneurs celebrate Google success

A team of student entrepreneurs who won a prestigious €10,000 business competition at Google’s Headquarters in Dublin, are set to graduate today.

Victoria Potts and Alex Caskey, graduating in Computer Science, and Adam Whiteside, graduating in computer games development, won the ‘Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition’ for their product Visit - an innovative new smart phone ‘app’ that has the potential to boost the tourism industry in Northern Ireland.

The Visit app - which the students developed through their new start-up company Ivea Labs - provides tourists with videos and information about local attractions such as museums and galleries, as well as giving owners information about how they can improve their businesses and boost the visitor experience.

Victoria said: “None of this would have been possible without the help of staff in our school and the team at Queen’s Enterprise Student Union. They were a big support and we now plan to trial the app with some local businesses and to develop a viable business plan, so the future looks really exciting. Our time here at Queen’s has shown us that a degree from Queen’s isn’t just a qualification – it opens a door to a world of opportunities”.

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Fourth time’s a charm for dedicated doctor

A dedicated doctor who volunteers to support disabled people across Ireland, is celebrating his fourth degree from Queen’s University today.

Michael Moran, from Belfast, is graduating with a PhD in Medicine from the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s - having already achieved a Bachelor of Science degree, a Bachelor of Medicine degree, and a Masters in Medical Education.

In his free time, Michael helps to organise trips for people who are sick or disabled to a   religious shrine in Lourdes, France. He is also a member of the International Medical Committee of Lourdes, a panel of doctors who evaluate medical evidence in regard to unexplained cures at Lourdes.

Michael currently works as an Academic Clinical Lecturer at Queen’s, as well as an Ear, Nose and Throat registrar in the Belfast and South Eastern Health Trusts.

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.


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Female high-fliers honoured by Queen’s

Pictured receiving her Honorary Degree for her services to education from Queen’s Chancellor, Thomas Moran, is Professor Louise Richardson FRSE.

The first woman to be appointed as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford will be honoured by Queen’s University today (Thursday 2 July).

Professor Louise Richardson, a renowned scholar on terrorism and security studies, will be recognised for her exceptional services to education.  She currently leads St Andrews University as its Principal and Vice-Chancellor and will take up the new position at the University of Oxford at the beginning of next year.

A native of County Waterford, Professor Richardson studied at Trinity College Dublin where she received a Rotary Scholarship to study in the US and completed a PhD at Harvard University, where she taught for many years and held a succession of high-profile positions.

Commenting on her honorary degree, Professor Richardson said: “I am both delighted and honoured to receive this award from Queen’s University, a university which has played such a pivotal role in the history of these islands, and which has educated so many leading figures in public life, the arts, academia and sport.”

Meanwhile, another female history-maker will also be honoured today.

Leading businesswoman Rona Fairhead CBE, is the first female to chair the BBC Trust, the body in charge of overseeing the corporation. She will be awarded for services to business and commerce.

Born in Cumbria, she attended St Catharine’s College, Cambridge where she was president of the University’s Law Society and graduated with a double First in Law. She later obtained a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

Her corporate career has straddled consulting to many well-known businesses including Bombardier, the Financial Times Group, Morgan Stanley and British Aerospace.

A qualified pilot, Ms Fairhead was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 for services to UK industry. She was also appointed as one of the Prime Minister’s business ambassadors in 2014.

Speaking ahead of the graduation ceremony, Ms Fairhead said: “I’m delighted to be graduating with a DSc Econ from Queen’s University; it’s a very exciting day. I would encourage all of my fellow graduates today to live their lives to the full and grab every opportunity to make a positive difference to their world.” 

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Former Volunteer of the Year set for top job

An inspirational young leader graduating today is preparing for a dream job to improve opportunities for students across Northern Ireland.

Fergal McFerran, who is graduating with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, will be starting a new role as President of the National Union of Students in Northern Ireland (NUS-USI).

As President, he will represent the interests of over two hundred thousand students in Higher and Further Education across Northern Ireland.

It is a job that Fergal is well prepared for, having been involved in a number of roles during his five years at Queen’s, including volunteering with the St Vincent de Paul Society and serving as Speaker on the Students’ Union Council. 

As well as winning the Queen’s Special Contribution Award in 2014, he was also one of six young people in Northern Ireland to serve as a Young Social Action Ambassador for an initiative run by the UK Cabinet Office.

Fergal, from Dunloy, said: “I can’t wait to start my new role. Throughout my time at Queen’s I’ve been involved in helping my fellow students and I have a real passion for supporting others and standing up for their rights.”

 “Queen’s is renowned for creating global citizens who graduate with a sense of their role within the world and the responsibility they have to make a positive impact within their local and our global communities. I look forward to using the skills I’ve developed through my time at Queen’s to ensure that students and educational institutions work in partnership to reflect the importance of investing in students in Northern Ireland.”

Queen’s offers over 170 clubs and societies, along with a host of volunteering opportunities, giving students throughout the university the chance to make a difference in society. 

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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Double celebration for Queen’s student and fiancée

It’s a double celebration for a Queen’s University student as he graduates with his American fiancée by his side.

Newry student, John McCaul, graduates with a degree in Modern History and Politics and will celebrate with his fiancée, Ashlyn Neas who has flown in from Tennessee, USA especially for the big day.

John met Ashlyn while on the Study USA exchange programme, facilitated by the British Council NI and supported by Queen’s, at Warren Wilson College, Asheville, North Carolina.  While on the exchange John was awarded the Certificate in American Business Practice. Before returning home, he spent a summer internship at the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in Washington DC.

Reflecting on his time at Queen’s, John said: “My three years studying have been very challenging but also hugely memorable. I have been able to develop a vast range of skills which I have been able to apply in assignments and projects in addition to voluntary work in the local community and with Queen’s societies. 

“I have really enjoyed the fact that, at Queen’s, an education is not just about attending lectures and passing exams. It’s about contributing to society and changing lives. It has given me so many opportunities already and I’m looking forward to availing of more in the future that I know will not only enhance my employment prospects but hopefully also make me a more fully rounded person.”

John plans to do a Master’s at Queen’s in a subject related to his undergraduate degree and hopes to pursue a career in relation to conflict transformation and social justice work. 

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087.

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U.S. exchange proves life-changing for Queen’s graduate

Pictured at today's graduation ceremony are John McCaul with his fiancée, Ashlyn Neas.

From the academic halls of Queen’s University to a life-changing exchange programme in America – one student graduating today has had an unforgettable year of study.

Lauren McMahon, from Belfast, was chosen to represent Queen’s School of History in their first ever exchange programme with the University of Illinois. During her time there Lauren also completed an internship with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library.

Lauren, who is graduating with a degree in English and History, said: “My time in the USA really helped to broaden my horizons and I learnt so much. I was able to travel across the country, whilst meeting people that I now regard as friends for life. They helped me to have the ultimate American experience.

“A degree at Queen’s is more than just a qualification, it’s a chance to try new things, and it gives you the confidence and skills to achieve your full potential.  Without the support of staff at Queen’s none of this would have been possible. The exchange programme allowed me to explore the world and meet some of the nicest people I have ever known.”

Queen's students have access to over 200 work placements and study programmes each year - an opportunity that really changed Lauren’s perspective on life.

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on or 028 9097 3087. 

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Significant research grant awarded to develop and test a new model of pharmacy practice in care homes

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast and the Universities of East Anglia, Aberdeen and Leeds, in partnership with NHS South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), have succeeded in winning a £2 million Programme Grant from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) for a five year programme of research into medicines management in care homes.

The Queen’s University Belfast contribution will be led by Professor Carmel Hughes, from the School of Pharmacy. Professors David Wright and Richard Holland from the School of Pharmacy and School of Medicine respectively at the University of East Anglia, are leading the research.

A national report identified large numbers of medication errors in care homes and recommended that one individual should be responsible for medicines management. Emerging evidence indicates that pharmacist independent prescribers can practise in a safe and effective manner and so, the team of researchers applied for funding to develop a pharmacist independent prescriber model of medicines management in care homes. The funded programme aims to determine the cost-effectiveness of pharmacist independent prescribers working in care homes in an integrated manner with general practitioners and care home staff.

The proposal is for a resident’s GP to continue to manage acute problems and assume overall responsibility for individual resident care whilst the pharmacist independent prescriber will assume responsibility for medicines management primarily through the development of individualised pharmaceutical care plans and repeat prescription authorisation. The first year of the project will involve working with all stakeholders to develop the service specification.  In year two a small feasibility study will be undertaken in each area which will then lead onto a pilot and then proceed to a randomised controlled trial.

Professor Hughes, from the School of Pharmacy at Queen's, said: "This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for GPs and pharmacists to work together to improve patient care in the primary care setting. It is great that we have been given sufficient time and funding to develop and test the model before moving to a full trial. By determining the cost-effectiveness of the intervention rather than just its effectiveness we also increase the chance of the service being adopted more widely at a later date".

Academic leads:

  • University of East Anglia: Professors David Wright and Richard Holland
  • Queen’s University Belfast: Professor Carmel Hughes
  • University of Aberdeen: Professor Christine Bond and Professor Phyo Myint
  • University of Leeds: Dr David Alldred

Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office, on or 028 9097 5384.

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