Insects, Fitter People, 3D Maps and Diamonds
Manhattan, Chicago and San Francisco are mapped in gorgeous 3D, now Malta has joined their ranks. Dr Saviour Formosa has coordinated a €4.4 million EU-funded ERDF project to map Malta like never before, freely available this June. The project can help Malta develop better disaster relief plans to save lives.
This story is covered in the research magazine Think, of the University of Malta, now available at all newsagents. Other stories cover how University graduates are excelling in Bahrain and how a 100-word idea might change Malta.
Researchers are also trying to answer: how can economics make us fitter and happier? Turning peoples’ assumptions on their head, a new field in economics is attempting to understand how people make choices. By using this information to rebuild consumer trust, citizens should spend more responsibly which will help dampen future financial crises and might solve the obesity epidemic.
Locally, most people speak Maltese and English. Past fears indicated that bilingualism could confuse children and that they wouldn’t speak properly. Overwhelming evidence is showing how bilingualism could be giving our children an advantage for the rest of their lives.
University academics talk about challenges in IVF, continuing the discussion from previous issues. While others discuss new services that women need to compete fairly in academia. On the other hand, students are researching earthquake monitoring in Xemxija and how diamonds might be used in computers.
The magazine also covers local research into insects. Some are loved while others, like the Asian Tiger mosquito, are feared. Over 6,000 insect species could inhabit Malta.
Think may be picked up for free in newsagents around Malta and Gozo and in Agenda bookstores, viewed on Issuu, downloaded here, followed on Twitter or liked on Facebook.
09 April 2013
Science Students Visit Top Research Facilities in Paris
The Science Students’ Society (S-Cubed) at the University of Malta has for the third year running organised an educational trip abroad. Made up of a group of 40 students reading for various degrees within the Faculty of Science, S-Cubed organised a visit to the French capital city, Paris between the 23rd and 27th March 2013. Apart from being a cultural hub, this city also features a great number of state of the art research laboratories and institutes which are often administered by, or operating in close collaboration with, the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). Some of the facilities visited during their four day stay include the Laboratoire de Photonique et de Nanostructures (LPN), Institute des HautesÉtudesScientifiques (IHES), Soleil Synchrotron, Institutd’ImagerieBiomédicale, Institut Curie and the ÉcoleNormaleSupérieure which boasts three Physics Nobel laureates, the latest being awarded in 2012 to Serge Haroche. The students were received with great hospitality by each of the institutes and were given detailed explanations of the research being done there followed by an extensive tour around their facilities. S-Cubed also visited Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie which is the biggest Science museum in Europe.
S-Cubed would like to take this opportunity to thank the CNRS office for the Mediterranean in Malta and French Embassy in Malta for their support in making this trip possible. This trip was also recognised by the Degree Plus Scheme.
09 April 2013
1st Applied Biomedical Science Meeting – 20 year celebration
On 13 April, 2013, the Department of Applied Biomedical Science within the Faculty of Health Sciences held its first scientific meeting to celebrate 20 years of Applied Biomedical Science at the University of Malta. Professor Angela Xuereb, Head of Department and Dean of the Faculty, gave the opening address in which she outlined the development of the department since its inception resulting in the degree course being accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science, UK, since 2001. This was followed by the introduction of postgraduate courses, an M.Sc. by research and doctoral studies. Professor Xuereb praised the foresight of Professor Maurice Cauchi and Professor John Rizzo Naudi, who together in 1992 had been responsible for the introduction of the Applied Biomedical Science degree (previously known as Medical Laboratory Science).
Dr. Christopher Barbara, Chairman of the Department of Pathology, Mater Dei Hospital, followed and discussed the importance of biomedical science graduates in the manning of the hospital pathology laboratories. The practical component of the degree course has always been held in collaboration with the hospital laboratories, and various Chairmen throughout the years were always very supportive of this programme.
Professor Maurice Cauchi made an appearance by live videoconferencing from Melbourne, Australia. He described his original contribution to the foundation and structure of what is now known as Applied Biomedical Science at the University of Malta. He talked about major changes in the department resulting in developments, both at academic and health science level, which started at Diploma level and progressed to a degree programme, and later to postgraduate studies.
A guest speaker from the United Kingdom, University of Chester, Dr Stephen F. Hughes delivered a keynote lecture on ‘lower limb orthopaedic surgery result in changes to selective biomarkers’, indicating how biomedical science can directly influence clinical practice including surgery and the management of post-operative complications, such as sepsis and deep vein thrombosis.
This talk was followed by short talks by various speakers from both the University Department and the hospital pathology laboratories. Dr Joseph Borg discussed one of the well-studied mechanisms in blood physiology – haemoglobin regulation and control and the induction of foetal haemoglobin by chemical drugs. Dr Stephanie Bezzina Wettinger provided an excellent overview of B.Sc. undergraduate projects on the Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor gene and its role in disease in Malta, most notably, Parkinson’s disease and osteoporosis.
A biomedical scientist, attached to the hospital Biochemistry section, Mr. Ian Brincat, discussed the importance of immunoassays, in particular the anti-thyroid hormone antibody in the clinical biochemistry setting. Ms Melissa Formosa, currently conducting research for her doctorate, presented interesting results about the genetics of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women in Malta. She discussed the protective effects of certain polymorphisms in LRP4 and their protective effect on bone mineral density. Ms Patricia Brincat, from the haematology laboratory, described the innovative use of flow cytometry in diagnostic haemato-oncology. The immunophenotyping of fresh lymph nodes for certain markers (both T- and B-cell markers) and its beneficial role in patient management and treatment was discussed. Mr David Grima, responsible for biomedical investigations at the national mortuary and anatomic pathology at Mater Dei, presented relevant findings of cardiovascular disease from post mortem examinations.
Two young biomedical science graduates, Charmaine Vella and Charlene Busuttil, discussed their undergraduate research projects carried out in the Blood Transfusion and Histopathology Laboratories, respectively, showcasing the level of undergraduate work currently being carried out.
The meeting was brought to an end with an address delivered by Professor John Rizzo Naudi, who was Chairman of the Institute of Health Care (now Faculty of Health Sciences). It was a trip down memory lane for most, while young scientists in the audience could not but appreciate the development of Biomedical Science in Malta over the past 20 years.
A good number of posters covering several topics related to biomedical science and pathology at Mater Dei Hospital were presented during the coffee break. The successful meeting was very well attended by both students and staff.
29 April 2013
Waste Awareness for JC Students
A group of Junior College students taking part in 'The Art of Living', a Comenius project, recently visited the Sant’Antnin Waste Treatment Plant, managed by Wasteserv. Students had the opportunity to witness how waste is disposed of and recycled. They were briefed about the effect of unrecyclable waste on the environment.
This event was part of the project funded by the EU’s Lifelong Learning Programme. The project aims at introducing participants to the concepts of sustainable development by means of local initiatives. Students can later make use of this knowledge during specific tasks of the project which are carried out in conjunction with participants from other countries.
25 April 2013
International Trade Finance Course Launched
The University of Malta has joined forces with the International Factors Group (IFG) and FIMBank p.l.c. to launch the Certificate of Finance in International Trade. The programme aims to introduce participants to the world of international trade, logistics, trade supply chain management, asset based lending and trade finance. It also incorporates the IFG Academy Week, which is the only truly international comprehensive and integrated course on the theory and practice of factoring and commercial finance. The six-week curriculum which will be held in Malta is designed to provide participants with a wide range of competencies that will enable them to further their career in the corporate world.
Professor Joseph Falzon, Head of the Department of Banking & Finance, and Dean of the Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy at the University of Malta stated that: "We are proud to be associated with the IFG and FIMBank. This certificate programme will provide a sound framework for those wishing to pursue further study or seek a career in the field of trade finance. Jointly with our partners, who will provide additional international lecturers and trade finance bankers, the programme will offer a unique educational experience - both theoretical and practical."
Erik Timmermans Secretary General of the IFG, was equally excited about this development and stated that: "IFG is the representative trade association for the factoring and the asset based finance industry, with more than 160 members in over 60 countries. The decision to embed our existing Academy programme within this certificate course is intended to add tremendous value, since successful participants will now have the option to either enrol to our Academy Week or else follow the full six week programme distributed over 9 months and achieve an EU accredited qualification in both instances."
The Certificate of Finance in International Trade has been jointly developed by the partners in order to meet the demands of the commercial world and offer a platform from which participants can increase their understanding of all aspects of international trade, the import and export business, logistics and trade finance. The principal objective of the course is to deliver a competitive, industry-focused educational programme that will provide the tools needed to achieve professional development goals in international trade finance. The emphasis throughout will be on the practical aspect of real life international trade scenarios. The course will be held at the University Campus in Msida and Valletta, and is expected to attract a significant number of international students. The support of this training programme is being effected through the University's Research Innovation and Development Trust (RIDT).
FIMBank President Margrith LGtschg-Emmenegger believes that: "This is the first step in a long-term process, since our ambition is to see this certificate developing into a diploma, subsequently a degree and eventually into a fully-fledged MBA, which would be a first." Ms LGtschg-Emmenegger explained that career opportunities in international trade continue to grow even during periods of economic downturn and fluctuations in the business cycle. She stated that: "The demand for capable and experienced professionals in the field of trade finance tends to remain high and FIMBank is very proud to be supporting this programme and promoting Malta as an international financial centre, as well as a centre of excellence in trade finance."
Applications for the Certificate of Finance in International Trade programme are currently being accepted. For more information visit www.ifgroup.com or www.um.edu.mt/fema.
22 April 2013
Junior College Students Participate in European Theatre Festival
A sixteen strong Maltese team of Junior College students and lecturers participated in the sixth edition of the European Theatre Festival organised by ISMC (Institut Superieur Marseille Cadenelle) in Marseille, France between 3 to 8 April 2013.
This exciting and intense experience included workshops and nine performances produced by the participating European countries. These included France, the host country, Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Malta, Norway, Romania and Spain. Plays were either originals or adaptations.
The Junior College students produced an adaptation of 'The Orchestra' by French playwright Jean Anhouil, directed by Roderick Vassallo. The play in English was enriched with Devota Qalbiena, a Maltese poem by Anton Buttigieg which fit the play perfectly. The Maltese performance was well received by the jury and the public in general.
'The Orchestra , a play for six women and one man, is set on a concert stage. As the music is played, the ladies of the brasserie orchestra and the solitary male pianist reveal seething volcanoes under their placid exterior. Jealousy, gossip, boasting and thwarted emotions climax in one of the musicians, committing suicide off-stage — ironically the orchestra played on.
17 April 2013
Information session at 1300hrs, Friday 22 March
at the SLT (Science Lecture Theatre, Msida Campus)
For the first time, Malta will be joining FameLab, an international competition spanning over 20 countries in Europe, Asia and North Africa in the search for the next top science communicator. FameLab offers young researchers and early career scientists an opportunity to showcase their skills.
All science students, educators and researchers, especially those who are passionate about science and want to communicate their enthusiasm about the subject to the public, are being invited to register by sending an email
. FameLab strives to push forward charismatic individuals to inject enthusiasm into science-related subjects and communicate science to wider audiences.
FameLab aims to discover and launch enthusiastic, promising scientists and engineers who can inspire people to see the scientific world from a new, fresh and friendly perspective. The competition is the brainchild of The Times Cheltenham Science Festival. Last year’s overall winner can be viewed online
Contestants should prepare two talks of three minutes each about their favourite scientific concepts and present these talks in an entertaining way. Science-related subjects can refer to engineering, medicine, dentistry, health science, computer science, and other similar scientific fields. One can also send an email to the organisers to make sure that s/he is on the right track.
FameLab Malta is looking forward to hearing about the most fascinating scientific facts to the downright weird ones. Anything from computers generating classical music which can rival even Mozart, to how polymers can be used to 'style' magnetic particles making them more attractive to cells.
Auditions will be held at the Music Room in St James Cavalier on the 6 April 2013 between 1000hrs and 1500hrs. People above 18 years can either register in advance or turn up on the day. The panel of judges includes ecologist Dr Sandro Lanfranco, writer Malcolm Galea and engineer Dr Ing. John C. Betts. Each judge will assess the finalists’ presentations on three main qualities: scientific content and accuracy, clarity of delivery, and charisma.
FameLab was set up in 2005 by Cheltenham Festivals to find and nurture scientists and engineers with a flair for communicating with public audiences. Since 2007, thanks to a partnership with the British Council, FameLab has gone global, with competitions now held in more than 20 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States.
The first FameLab Malta competition is organised in partnership with the British Council, University of Malta, Research Innovation and Development Trust (RIDT), and with the support of Actavis, Microsoft Innovation Centre, Vodafone, Manoel Theatre, Malta Chamber of Scientists and St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity.
The University of Malta is urging science-related students, young scientists, engineers, and technologists to participate and showcase their profile and talent in public dialogue. The young communicators can help to show new dimensions to the way science is portrayed, showing how science subjects are made easier to grasp and understand.
The FameLab Malta initiative is in line with the University’s Trust, RIDT, highlighting the value and usefulness of science and research. RIDT drives to support research activity and to seek additional funds to expand the University’s research studies.The Malta finalists will get the chance to take part in a weekend master class on 27 and 28 April
with Malcolm Love, a media and communications professional who has worked with the BBC flown in from FameLab UK. He will spend time with the Malta finalists, mentoring them and ensuring that they will get the best possible chance to battle it out in the FameLab Malta final in May. The winner of the Malta final will win a fully covered trip to compete and represent Malta in the Cheltenham Science Festival on 4 to 9 June 2013.
Past winners of FameLab have gone on to travel the globe, perform in festivals and feature on national TV and radio, and many combine public-facing activity with ongoing research. All finalists become part of a global network of science communicators.
For more information on how to take part send an email
or visit the website
or like us on Facebook
Biochemist Didac Carmona, a researcher in Austria, was the winner of FameLab International 2012. Photo rights FameLab International
More info about FameLab
Ms Ingrid Eomois
Tel: +356 21 226377EmailMedia enquiries
Mr Carmel Bonello
Tel: +356 21 243211 EmailAbout FameLab
FameLab was set up in 2005 by Cheltenham Festivals in partnership with NESTA to find and nurture scientists and engineers with a flair for communicating with public audiences. Since 2007, thanks to a partnership with the British Council, FameLab has gone global, with competitions now held in 20 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States. Globally more than 4,500 researchers have taken part. The result is a vibrant network of exciting scientists and engineers engaging international audiences but also engaging with each other, broadening each other’s views of what it means to be working in science right now. In 2013 the UK competition is supported by EDF Energy.
11 March 2013
The University Announces the Death of Dr Gordon Blake
The University announces the death of
Gordon Blake B.Sc.(Liverpool), M.D. (Melit.), D.F.C.
Dr Blake lived in East Africa before WWII and lied about his age to join the RAF. He served as a navigator with the famous Pathfinders (bombing Germany) and his was the only crew in his squadron that survived the war. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
After the war he took a B.Sc. in Maths and Physics and then returned to East Africa where he joined the colonial service. He retired when the British colonies there became independent and decided to study medicine in Malta.
Dr Blake taught physics at the then Royal University of Malta while studying medicine. He then moved to South Africa where he taught at Natal University. His research interest was medical statistics. Later he moved to St Kitts in the West Indies where he taught medicine. He finally retired to Dumfries in Scotland where he died aged 88 on 7 February this year (2013). Dr Blake is survived by his wife Margaret and his daughter Lesley who also took up a career in medicine.
01 April 2013
Five International Summer Schools Offered this June
University of Malta Rector, Prof. Juanito Camilleri, announced that the University will be offering five summer schools in June this year. Eminent Maltese professors as well as distinguished professors from the USA, UK, Slovenia, Italy and Israel will be lecturing in these summer schools.
Each summer school, which will be of two to three weeks’ duration, will be held at the unique and historic Valletta Campus of the University of Malta which dates back to 1592. The University of Malta Co-ordinators are Prof. Anthony Frendo for the summer school on Near East Studies, Prof. Denis De Lucca for Military Architecture, Prof. Keith Sciberras for Caravaggio, Dr Timmy Gambin for Underwater Archaeology and Prof. Victor Asciak for Mediterranean Coastline - Threats and Opportunities.
The summer school on Near Eastern Studies will be held between the 10th to the 28th June 2013 and seeks to provide participants with a short but intensive exposure to the Near East from an archaeological and historical perspective. It also provides a comprehensive overview of the most important languages of the region. The summer school will consist of thirty-four contact hours of lecturing together with a number of field trips.
The International Institute for Baroque Studies is offering the Summer School on the military architecture of the Baroque age entitled Hospitaller Malta – Bastion of the Christian World. This will be held between the 3rd to the 14th June 2013. It introduces participants to the theoretical and practical aspects of the splendid early modern artillery fortifications of Malta, which were built by the Hospitaller Knights of St John during the period 1530-1798. The school consists of forty-five contact hours of lectures and debates. In addition participants will also have the opportunity to experience early modern military architecture during a number of field trips. Towards the end of the summer school, the field trips will also be extended to include optional guided tours to early modern fortifications situated in Gozo and south-east of Sicily.
The 20 day summer school on Underwater Archaeology will be held between the 3rd to 23rd June 2013, and is based on a balanced mix of practical experience, lectures, site visits and seminars. Excavation and survey work will be carried out on the site of a Roman shipwreck first excavated by Honor Frost in 1967. It is situated in shallow, clear and sheltered waters. Experts from the University of Malta and other professional agencies involved in heritage management and protection will contribute to this intensive and rewarding course. Topics include Excavation Techniques, Survey Strategies, Remote Sensing, Conservation and Heritage Management. Also included in the field school are a number of site visits to museums and archaeological sites that complement the topics covered during the practical and theoretical sessions.
The intensive summer training titled ‘The Mediterranean Coast - Threats and Opportunities’ will be held between the 17th to the28th June 2013. It is aimed at a wide range of audiences including those with some technical or managerial backgrounds. It would be suitable as a refresher course for environmental managers or as an introductory course for final undergraduate or postgraduate students following a large variety of subject areas such as those dealing with environmental law, environmental management, environmental engineering, and economics. This summer school includes lectures, site visits and field experiences that will introduce participants to the Mediterranean environment and how this has acted as a driving force behind the human condition in the region. It will also provide a basic review of the coastal and marine environmental characteristics and life-supporting systems.
The Summer School on Caravaggio Art and Knighthood will be held between the 3rd to 14th June 2013. It comprises an intensive programme of classroom and on-site lectures, seminars and workshops that will be delivered by leading scholars in the field. It will study the dramatic and exciting context of Caravaggio’s turbulent life and will review his Maltese and Late Period masterpieces within the general story of his works. It also includes a close study of the works of art themselves and will discuss issues of style and technique.
Phone: +356 2340 7501/2
14 February 2013
Gardmed – The Network of Mediterranean Gardens
On Tuesday 26 March the University of Malta hosted a conference at Grand Hotel Excelsior in Floriana, to mark the conclusion of 2 years of Sicilian and Maltese cooperation on the project 'Gardmed – The Network of Mediterranean Gardens'. The aim of the project was to identify gardens which are part of the Mediterranean cultural, social and environmental heritage and to entrust them with tools for sustainable management, thus turning them from a cost to a resource. The garden network hopes to continue to grow.
Before an audience of garden representatives, owners and other stakeholders from both islands, the conference was opened by the Hon. Karmenu Vella, Minister for Tourism, in the presence of Prof. Richard Muscat, pro-rector of the University, Prof. Anna Guglielmo of the University of Catania who is Lead partner of the project, and Dr Joseph Buhagiar, Director of Argotti Botanical Gardens (University of Malta) and host of the conference. The Ambassador of Italy, His Excellency Giovanni Umberto De Vito, also addressed the audience, expressing support and appreciation of the importance of such cooperation projects.
Gardmed created a network of 18 gardens in Sicily and Malta, some of which – like Latomia dei Capuccini in Siracusa or Palazzo Parisio in Malta, are places of rare beauty. A sustainable management index was devised and applied to two public gardens of the network. All the gardens were promoted with a number of international tour operators. A catalogue of the gardens as well as a searchable database of the gardens were produced. A number of public events and tours as well as gardening school for the public were organised and hosted in different gardens. The project website, launched at the conference, features all the outputs.
Stena Paterno' del Toscano - Project Manager Gardmed
Prof. Anna Guglielmo, Scientific Responsible Gardmed
Dr Joseph Buhagiar, University of Malta responsible
Prof. Anna Guglielmo of the University of Catania, Prof. Richard Muscat, Pro-Rector of the University of Malta, Dr Joseph Buhagiar, Director of Argotti Botanical Gardens (University of Malta), the Hon. Karmenu Vella, Minister for Tourism, and The Ambassador of Italy, His Excellency Giovanni Umberto De Vito.
28 March 2013
25 May 2013