IUA Release 20th Dec: Change Makers: Irish universities’ most innovative and transformative research projects solve real-life problems

6-part documentary series by RTÉ and the Irish Universities Association explores game-changing university research projects. Airing from Monday Jan 3rd 8.30pm RTE1.

• Series charts the work of university researchers and the lives of the people they help as they develop technologies and treatments for diabetes, pre-eclampsia, compulsive behaviours and maths anxiety and tackle societal challenges in areas like education, equality, inclusion and the environment.

December 20 2021: The Irish Universities Association has partnered with RTÉ and New Decade TV to bring Ireland’s Change Makers, the most transformative research-led projects and the inspiring people behind them, to Irish television this coming January and February 2022.

The series will showcase the remarkable and lasting public impact of leading research projects by eight universities in Ireland in areas such as children’s health, health technology, education, youth justice, gender equality and inclusion, as well as the environment.

Take Dingle Peninsula 2030, a University College Cork and MaREI research project using the power of citizen science to reduce Dingle’s carbon emissions by 50% in just under 10 years, or the Neureka App for Mental Health developed by the Global Brian Institute at Trinity College Dublin that combines mobile technology with citizen science to help create a clearer picture of people’s mental health as two transformational projects in the series.

Also changing the game in terms of research impact are University College Dublin’s AI PREMie project which uses Artificial Intelligence to ‘disrupt’ diagnostics practices in pre-eclampsia to help save the lives of mothers and their newborn babies and University of Limerick’s Greentown Project where a new investigation system identifies the most vulnerable young people at risk of joining Irelands organized crime gangs.

Commenting on the unique impact of Irish university research, Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA, said, “Irish universities play a crucial and growing role in solving real-life problems in society. Change Makers shines a light on the transformative research-led projects and partnerships that are delivering meaningful change across Irish society. Be it in health, education, social sciences, the environment and across all age ranges, the innovative research at our universities brings untold value to the people of Ireland now and will continue to do so in the future. Covid has shown the real value of science and research and our hope is that these powerful stories will make people realise the everyday benefits to people’s lives made possible by university research”.

The six episodes will feature research from University of Limerick’s ‘SI Drive’ and ‘Greentown’ projects; Dublin City University’s ‘Backdrop’ and its ‘Moving Well Being Well’ projects; Maynooth University’s ‘Story Exchange’ and its ‘STEM Passport’ projects; NUI Galway’s ‘HIVE’ and ‘Health Behaviour in School Aged Children Study’; Trinity College Dublin’s ‘Sorgente’ and ‘Neureka’ projects ; University College Cork’s ‘CIPHER Hip Hop Interpellation’ and ‘Dingle Peninsula 2030’ projects; UCD’s ‘Citizens Assembly’ and Ai PREMie projects; Technological University Dublin’s ‘Happy Maths’ project.
The 6-part series will be broadcast from Monday January 3rd 2022 at 8.30pm on RTE One television and the RTE Player.
Media Enquiries:

Máire McGrath / Louise Walsh
Maire.mcgrath@drury.ie / Louise.Walsh@drury.ie
085 265 9047 / 087 775 7725

Notes to Editors:

www.iua.ie/changemakers #IUAChangeMakers

Full details of all university projects that will feature in the series:

Episode One 3rd January 2022 – Childrens Health and Well-being

Preeclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy with potentially life-threatening consequences for both mother and baby. At present, preeclampsia diagnosis relies on error-prone techniques, furthermore the delivery of the preterm infant is the only curative treatment. In this SFI/DFA funded project Professor Patricia Maguire’s UCD Conway SPHERE team are using Artificial Intelligence to ‘disrupt’ diagnostics practices in preeclampsia and save the lives of mothers and their newborn babies.

• NUI Galway – Health Behaviour in School Aged Children
The Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway carries out a Health Behaviour in School Aged Children Survey every four years. This cross-sectional study conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe. In the latest report published in March 2021 the study compared findings of health behaviour in school-aged children from 1998 to 2018.

• DCU – ‘Moving Well, Being Well’
A partnership between DCU’s School of Health and Human Performance, the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics, the GAA and Dublin GAA. At its core, the Moving Well-Being Well project wants to get Irish children moving. We want to help all relevant stakeholders equip children with the tools they need to be active, and therefore healthier, for life.

• TU Dublin – Happy Maths
The Happy Maths project aims to reduce Maths Anxiety in primary school students using game-based learning. TU Dublin developed educational games to help anxious and non-anxious students to feel more confident and engaged with Maths. Affecting 1 in 6 students, this condition affects more girls than boys, thereby worsening gender inequality in STEM education. If MA is not dealt with, it will affect mathematics performance and have long-term effects on overall learning and poor self-esteem with numerical skills.

Episode Two 10th January 2022 – Climate and Environment

• UCC – Corca Dhuibhne 2030 Dingle Peninsula 2030
Innovative rural energy community transition to a low carbon future. At the heart of this project is a diverse range of stakeholders – ambassadors and trial participants, west Kerry dairy farmers, community energy mentors, the local community, schools, business, transport and farming sectors – to support and enable the broader societal changes required for the sustainable transition.

• UL – SI Drive
Funded by European Union Horizon 2020, this project will increase uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) by lowering the cost, increasing the range and enabling rapid fast charging using new battery chemistries based on nanoscale silicon.

• DCU – Backdrop
Engaging citizens, and in particular water users, to monitor the water quality of our rivers, and in particular of the Liffey as it flows through Dublin suburbs and city.

Episode Three 17th January 2022 – Health & Tech

• NUI Galway – Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE) Project
The Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE) project, led by Prof. Derek O’Keeffe, identifies problems that patients are having and uses state of the art technology to solve them.

• TCD – Neureka
Working with a number of NGO’s and industry partners, the aim of this project led by Assoc. Prof. Claire Gillan is to use digital technology and data science to develop and deliver personalised interventions for people struggling with mental health problems.

Episode Four 24th January 2022 – Youth Crime & Justice

• UL – The Greentown project: Breaking the hold that crime gangs hold over children
Funded by Department of Justice, this project aims to reduce the influence that crime gangs hold over children and families in the neighbourhoods that they operate in and provide a practical route out of a crime gang for children already embedded or caught up in criminal activity.

• Maynooth – The ‘Story Exchange Project’
A participatory arts-based research project with Mountjoy Prison Inmates and Maynooth University in partnership with Gaisce – The President’s Award. Young people in custody in Mountjoy Prison’s Progression Unit and young people in Maynooth University were brought together in Mountjoy Prison for peer to peer empathy-building workshops, aiming to challenge stereotypes and create a sense of shared endeavour.

Episode Five 31st January 2022 – Gender and Equality

• Maynooth – STEM passport
This SFI funded project led by Dr Katriona O’Sullivan aims to support 1,000 girls from working class communities across Ireland to move into STEM courses and careers. With working class girls least likely to enter STEM careers there is a risk that they will be left out of the 21st-century job market- especially if trends are not reversed.

• UCD – ‘We the Citizens’ and the Citizens Assembly
Led by UCD’s Prof. David Farrell in partnership with DCU’s Prof. Jane Suiter this project has global impact. It raises a constructive conversation about the nature of democracy and how ‘we the citizens’ have the power to transform it. In a worrying time of deepening divides and disinformation, solutions have emerged from this field of social science research to restore faith and value to our tired democratic institutions and engender legitimate participation and representation of citizens.

Episode Six 24th January 2022 – Diversity & Inclusion

• TCD – Sorgente
Community, academic and industry partners working together to encourage young refugees and migrants to engage with their imagination, while learning English as a second language, honouring both their heritage identity and their new identity as migrants, while supporting teachers that work with refugees and migrants to use the arts, focusing on the present and future, rather than on the past.

• UCC – CIPHER Hip Hop Interpellation
Housed in the UCC School of Film, Music, and Theatre this ERC funded project is the world’s first global study of hip hop music and culture. UCC’s Prof. Griff Rollefson and a team of global researchers will investigate how and why this highly localised African American music has translated so easily to far-flung communities and contexts around the globe. The music already impacts every young person across Ireland and across the world, so this study attempts to tell us why it is so appealing and useful for speaking truth, for combatting racism, but also its role as a creative and positive platform for tackling societal problems of identity and inclusion.