Jean Monnet Occasional Papers Series, No. 7
The Institute for European Studies has just published the 7th paper of the Jean Monnet Occasional Papers series. The paper is written by Francesco Biagi and entitled The 2011 constitutional reform in Morocco: more flaws than merits. The author gives a critical insight of the 6th Moroccan constitution and highlights its ties with the monarchy.This is the second Jean Monnet Paper to be published this month.
Another new Jean Monnet paper had been published earlier this month. The paper, by Nasser Algheitta, entitled The future of human rights protection in the new Libya: prospects and challenges examines human rights in the context of the Libyan uprising and its consequences.
26 February 2014
Cooperation of European Countries for the Promotion of Urban Greening Technologies
The University of Malta and Frederick Research Center of Cyprus announce the launch of the European project entitled Urban Greening Systems for the Mediterranean Region -UGreenS. The project aims to transfer knowledge in the field of Green Roofs and Living Walls and it is funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme, Leonardo Da Vinci Transfer of Innovation Programme of the European Union.
UGreenS is a partnership of a number of European research entities undertaking research in the field of green roofs, living walls and a more sustainable built environment together with Small-Medium Enterprises involved in the development and implementation of such technologies in Europe. The partnership is led by the Frederick Research Center of Cyprus and includes the University of Seville, the Agricultural University of Athens, the University of Malta , the Agricultural Research Institute of Cyprus and the companies Terabia Urbana (from Spain),as well as P. Papadopoulos Consulting Engineers, THANGEKO I4 Engineering Consulting Services and Technovation Solutions from Cyprus .
The benefits of pertinent Urban Greening technologies can be categorized in environmental, aesthetic, social, and economic. Environmental benefits include the mitigation of the heat island effect, better management of urban storm-water runoff, enhancement of urban biodiversity and an improved thermal insulation of buildings. UG technologies have been reported to reduce noise pollution in cities as well as to improve the efficiency of photovoltaics installed on roofs of buildings. Further to the environmental benefits, UG technologies can significantly improve the aesthetics of city centers and other built environments whilst lending themselves to act as focal points for tighter social interactions within urban communities. Economic benefits include the improved efficiency of photovoltaic panels installed on building roofs as well as the thermal insulation of roofs in general. As a result of the aforementioned benefits, the sustainability of urban environments is significantly enhanced, contributing to the sustainable development of our built environment.
In Mediterranean countries, however, UG technologies have witnessed limited application, possibly due to either lack of knowledge, by society and the construction industry, or limited technical expertise that would support the effective implementation of UG technologies. Few organizations, in the Mediterranean, have developed expertise in the field of UG, and these include our Spanish and Greek partners. Therefore, the main objective of this project is to capitalize on the existing knowledge of aforementioned organizations, and transfer this innovative know-how to practitioners in our country.
The specific tasks of this effort include 1) the development of continuous professional development material on UG technologies that would cater to the needs of practising engineers and architects, 2) the training of a small number of architects, engineers and scientists to subsequently act as a nucleus for further dissemination of such technologies 3) the creation of demonstration pilot units and activities that would present this technology. UGreenS seeks to introduce specialized knowledge in a pragmatic / tangible way that would be of immediate use to the country's sustainable infrastructure. The contribution of UG technologies to EU's 2020 targets would be multifaceted and immense.
The project is being coordinated by Professor Christos Anastasiou. The University of Malta is represented through its Faculty for the Built Environment and its Faculty of Education. Further information may be sought from Perit Kevin Gatt by email, or by visiting the project website at www.ugreens.eu.
26 February 2014
Mikiel Anton Vassalli (1864-1829). A Maltese Enlightened Reformer (5 Mar.)
Prof. Frans Ciappara, a member of the International Institute for Baroque Studies, has just published a new biography of Vassalli: 'Mikiel Anton Vassalli (1864-1829). A Maltese Enlightened Reformer'. It was launched on Wednesday, 5 March at San Anton Palace in the presence of His Excellency the President, Dott. George Abela, the President Emeritus His Excellency Dott. Hugo Mifsud-Bonnici, the Honourable Minister Dr Godfrey Farrugia and a sizeable crowd.
The book places Vassalli in a historical context and tries to penetrate the complexity of his thought. The book also examines whether his admirers overrated their hero's importance. Did they read history from hindsight? Was he the sole depository of the things to come? But whatever may be said we feel we are in the presence of a giant individual who displayed remarkable courage and daring, a brilliant mind and a great heart.
06 March 2014
Church Domes in Malta in the Baroque Age
As the Knights of St John managed to make Malta a safer place to live in during the later 17th and 18th centuries, church domes grew larger and became increasingly popular. They were transformed into important symbols of civic pride dominating the skyline of Maltese towns and villages. In conformity with St Carlo Borromeo’s guidelines of the Council of Trent, they introduced light and a sense of spaciousness into the sacred buildings themselves, and have come to be recognised as one of the most characteristic architectural features of the Maltese landscape.
Kenneth Cauchi, an MA in Baroque Studies graduate, recently gave an interesting lecture on Maltese church domes in the Baroque Age. The lecture, held on 18 February at the Birkirkara parish centre, was part of the outreach programme of the International Institute for Baroque Studies at the University of Malta being co-ordinated by Dr Petra Caruana-Dingli. The event, which was introduced by the director of the Institute, Professor Denis De Lucca, was attended by around 150 persons.
The design of domes formed part of the education and practice of the Baroque-age architects working in Malta, such as Francesco Buonamici and Romano Carapecchia, as well as by accomplished Maltese architects such as Gerolamo Cassar and Lorenzo Gafa. The novel design and building techniques of their works were admired and imitated by Maltese capomastri (master masons) all over the Maltese islands.
In his talk, Kenneth Cauchi described the primary elements of dome construction – the ‘drum’ at the base, the dome itself, and the lantern on top – as well as their stylistic features. The strength of Maltese limestone enabled the construction of single-shell domes, as opposed to double-shell domes as were commonly built across Europe.
Kenneth Cauchi’s lecture gave a chronological presentation of the development of domes in Malta, starting from the earliest domes in Zejtun and Lija, with the main focus on domes built in the baroque age which reached a high point in Mdina and Birkirkara. The exterior and interior details of several important church domes resulting from his surveys, were described and illustrated.
03 March 2014
UoM Academics Receive Awards for Innovation
Various University of Malta academics, forming part of different research groups, have won awards during the Malta Innovation Awards ceremony, held in February.
Dr Adrian Attard Trevisan, from the Faculty of Economics, Management & Accountancy, is part of the team at AAT Research that was awarded first place in the Malta Innovation Awards for best Technological Innovation. The team was given this award for Mobile Epilepsy Prediction System devised to give patients suffering from epilepsy the opportunity to adopt a safer and more tranquil lifestyle (see www.aatresearch.org
). The team also received the Award for Innovative Enterprises given out by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation.
Academic staff members of the Department of Systems and Control Engineering and the Centre for Biomedical Cybernetics, headed by Prof. Kenneth Camilleri, have been working for the past ten years in the field of brain to computer interfacing. They presented a brain controlled music player, developed by Ms Rosanne Zerafa under the supervision of Dr Tracey Camilleri and Dr Owen Falzon, for the Malta Innovations Award 2013 and have been awarded the second prize for the category of Scientific Innovation. The Department will be using the cash prize to further its research on the use of brain signals as a communication channel for individuals with mobility impairments.
Ms Marie Briguglio, also from the Faculty of Economics, Management & Accountancy, formed part of a team (with Producer Martin Bonnici and St Albert the Great College) awarded first place in the Malta Innovation Awards for Creative Innovation. The project, originally funded by Kreattiv, combined participatory visioning, traditional hand-drawing and 2D digital animation techniques, culminating in a short film which portrayed the children's views of their future. The team also received the Award for Creative Innovation given from the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The Malta Innovation Awards are organised by the Ministry of Finance, the Economy and Investment together with the Ministry for Fair Competition, Small Business and Consumers, as well as the World Intellectual Property Organization.
28 February 2014
Bulletin of the Entomological Society of Malta Edited by Dr David Mifsud
Launch of the "Bulletin of the Entomological Society of Malta – Volume 6"
at the Palace, San Anton
under the distinguished Patronage of H.E. The President George Abela
The Entomological Society of Malta (ESM) established since 1998, and enrolled as a Voluntary Organisation has just published the sixth volume of the "Bulletin of the Entomological Society of Malta" and launched it at San Anton under the distinguished Patronage of H.E. The President George Abela. This peer-reviewed scientific journal is being published annually by the ESM. For this issue 10 different contributions were accepted for publication authored by 6 local and 5 foreign specialists.
The main work in the present journal is a review of the dragonflies and damselflies of the Maltese Islands which took 80% of the journal’s content. This work was undertaken by Mr Godwin Degrabriele, who has been studying these insects for more than 30 years and in this work he meticulously and in a very scientific way managed to give all the knowhow he gained on these fascinating insects. The work is accompanied by no less than 130 colour photographs and more than 100 line drawings mostly done by the author himself in order to facilitate the identification of these insects both in the field and in laboratory. He also gave much information on how to identify not only the adults of these insects but also their larval stages which are always found in aquatic habitats. He presented much information on their ecology and how these wonderful insects can be better protected in Malta.
The entire contents of the present journal provide information on some 40 insects which inhabit these islands and of these eight are here recorded for the very first time. Three other contributions present results on research done on parasitic Hymenoptera, a group of insects which are beneficial as they are natural enemies of crop pests such as aphids. Another contribution highlights the importance of having more strict quarantine regulations, as insects pests such as an Asian longhorn beetle, was intercepted with imported wood and if the establishment of these alien species takes place in Malta, its damage can be of economic significance.
The last section of the book is dedicated for 'The Young Entomologist' with short articles on Maltese insects accompanied by very nice photographs. This section includes information on four species, the Clouded Yellow butterfly, the Melon ladybird beetle, the Mediterranean fruit-fly and a species of springtail.
It is worth mentioning that in these last six years the Entomological Society of Malta through its yearly publications have provided detailed information on more than 1,200 different species of insects which inhabit the Maltese Islands. This information was presented in 93 different contributions made by 72 scientists (46 foreigners and 26 local). Of these 1,200 species, 335 were previously not known to exist locally mainly because of lack of specialised studies, and two species of moths were found to be new to science and formally described in this journal. Thus, this educational society is contributing enormously so as to reveal the unique biodiversity present in the Maltese archipelago.
Those interested in obtaining this publication or any of the previous ones are urged to contact Dr David Mifsud
. Dr Mifsud is a member of staff of the Institute of Earth Systems.
28 February 2014
Join Together for Better Care
'Join Together for Better Care' on the occasion of International Rare Disease Day
Friday 28th February 2014 marks the seventh International Rare Disease Day coordinated by EURORDIS. On and around this day hundreds of patient organisations from more than 70 countries and regions worldwide organise awareness-raising activities around the slogan “Join Together for Better Care”.
According to EURORDIS, a rare disease is any one that affects fewer than 1 in 2000 Europeans or less than 200 Maltese. Thus, all genetic disorders and cancers could be considered rare disease. Nevertheless, collectively, over 30 million Europeans and their friends and families might be affected in one way or another. The main objective of the day is to raise awareness amongst the general public, patients and patient representatives, politicians, public authorities, policy-makers, industry representatives, researchers, health professionals and anyone who has a genuine interest in rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives.
The Malta Biobank at the University of Malta, working closely with the Malta Department of Health, is a partner in various rare disease networks including RD-Connect, EuroBioBank (EBB), the Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure of the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (BBMRI-ERIC), the Fondazione Telethon, and the Electronic Infrastructure for Thalassaemia Research Network (ithanet).
Inter-Operable Biobanks worldwide have recently become essential tools for the global improvement of services and invaluable research on the conditions. Otherwise there is a great risk of them being ignored. Various rare diseases are found in Malta such as muscular dystrophy, retinoblastoma, cystic fibrosis, haemoglobinopathies, and Familial Mediterranean Fever amongst others.
Representatives from the Malta Biobank attended the second Joint
RD-Connect / EURenOmics / NeurOmics meeting 2014 held in Heidelberg
between the 24 and 26 February. They were among those shown in the
accompanying photo waving their arms in support of rare disease day.
is a unique global infrastructure project that links databases,
registries, biobanks and clinical bioinformatics, from Universities,
hospitals and clinics engaged with rare disease into a central resource
for researchers, clinicians and patients worldwide. It is a six year
project funded by the European Union. It will develop an integrated
research platform in which complete clinical profiles are combined with
biological and clinical data with sample availability for rare disease
research, in particular research funded under the International Rare
Diseases Research Consortium (IRDiRC). Strict ethical and legal tools
are being developed to ensure sound migration of patients, biomaterials
and information using unique identifiers. EURenOmics is a consortium
devoted to improving the lives of patients affected by rare kidney
diseases while NeurOmics is a consortium which focuses on
neurodegenerative and neuromuscular disorders.
or those with interests in rare disease who may be willing to join a
stakeholders’ group are asked to leave their name and address email@example.com
; More information can be found on the Malta
Biobank website: www.um.edu.mt/biobank
26 February 2014
Tracking of Shipping Traffic in Central Mediterranean Ports
Funded as a strategic project under the Operational Programme I Italia-Malta 2007-2013, BIODIVALUE has recently delivered an updated online shipping traffic tracker which allows the user to request shipping data from four different regions in the Central Mediterranean: the ports of Augusta and Catania in Sicily, Lampedusa and the entire Maltese territorial waters. Users of such an online tracker can tailor-make their request by choosing the period for which they need the shipping traffic data, the type of vessel for which the data is requested and, for the Maltese and Lampedusa marine area only, the user can also opt for data on anchored vessels or vessels in transit only. The shipping traffic tracker for the Maltese Islands gives near real-time information and additional information such as vessel distance from the Maltese shore, whilst the Sicilian port and Lampedusa vessel trackers are based on historical data only. The collection of real-time vessel traffic data for Maltese waters was made possible through the installation of an AIS (Automated Identification System) signal receiving antenna. In fact, the International Maritime Organization's International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, as of 31 December 2004, requires AIS to be fitted aboard all ships exceeding of 300 gross tonnage engaged on international voyages and aboard cargo ships exceeding 500 gross tonnage and not engaged on international voyages.
All four trackers can be downloaded from the project website
and the online interface was developed by resident and engaged staff members at the IOI-Malta Operational Centre at the University of Malta, including Mr Cedric Camilleri, Mr Adam Gauci, Dr Joel Azzopardi and Dr Alan Deidun (Project Manager).
Besides the IOI-MOC, the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Malta is also a partner on the project. Under the supervision of Head of Department Prof. Martin Muscat and with the contribution of two engaged experts and close collaboration with the University of Catania (another project partner), designs for the development of a TowFish were finalised. The TowFish is a towed underwater platform which will be equipped with sensors to measure a number of different water quality parameters, as well as to collect good-quality video images, as it glides through the water.
There is a total of eight partners within the BioDiValue project, of which the two Maltese ones are the University of Malta (represented by the IOI-MOC and the MED) and the GAL Xlokk, a union of different local councils. The project runs till January 2015 and has a total budget of approximately 2.4 million euros. BIODIVALUE has the main aim of quantifying, in economic terms, the impacts (in terms of water quality, alien species, etc) of maritime traffic in the Malta-Sicily Channel, by monitoring the same traffic, developing an online database which handles all the traffic data coming in, identifying the different typologies of vessels and resorting to the assistance of environmental economists to translate such information into monetary terms for policy-makers and decision-makers.
Aspect of the output from online BIODIVALUE shipping traffic tracker - the tracker can be accessed through www.biodivalue.eu
The ultimate aim of the BIODIVALUE project is to quantify the impact of shipping traffic in the Malta-Sicily Channel and to develop tools for decision-makers in order to rectify such an impact.
26 February 2014
Malta as a Crossroads of Art and Culture in the Baroque Period
07 February 2014
Have Your Say About Surveillance in Europe
Researchers from the Department of Cognitive Science in the Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences are leading EU-wide research about the views of citizens towards the cost, convenience, and success of surveillance in the fighting of terrorism and crime. This is part of RESPECT – a 4.3 million Euro collaborative project with researchers from 19 institutions in 16 countries that is co-funded by the European Union within the Seventh Framework Programme.
As part of this research, the team has just gone live with an online survey, and it would greatly assist if you could spare around 15 minutes to participate. The questionnaire is available in all official languages of the European Union and can be found here.
This survey represents a real opportunity for citizens to influence the way things are run, since the results will be taken into consideration when preparing policy briefs to the European Commission about the implementation, use, and limits, of surveillance.
If you would like more information about this survey or the RESPECT project, please visit the project website or contact Dr Noellie Brockdorff, Department of Cognitive Science, Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences.
25 November 2013
Europe’s World is the only independent Europe-wide policy journal, produced in association with some 100-plus leading European think tanks and academic institutions. Since its launch in 2005 it has become the premier ideas platform for new thinking on political, economic and social issues, read by over 100,000 of the most influential decision makers and opinion formers across Europe.
Published every 4 months, Europe’s World’s objective is to stimulate the much needed debate over topical policy issues by encouraging citizens and stakeholders within civil society, media, academia, business and government, to engage in a series of genuine and informed political debates which reach beyond the Brussels village.
To date over 300 authors, including Heads of State, corporate chiefs, top academics, leading NGO activists or policymakers, have contributed articles, firmly cementing Europe’s World’s reputation as a platform for new thinking and ground-breaking ideas.
Europe’s World’s newly extended website, EuropesWorld.org, is designed to further promote debate on the policy challenges facing Europe. It spans articles and reactions to articles published in Europe’s World, but is not limited to the journal since it also features studies and reports from think tanks throughout Europe.
Its aim is to give readers direct access to the latest in policy thinking across the EU, and encourage visitors to submit their own reports and comment on any of the contributions featured on the website.
06 November 2009
Joint Research Centre European Commission: Update
The Future of Harmonised Environmental Information
The press release is available online.
Information and updates on the research carried out by the Joint Research Centre European Commission is available here. Interested persons wishing to seek additional information about visiting the JRC institutes and/or participating in such projects should get in touch with the JRC National.
Dr Maria Attard at the University of Malta
Dr Jennifer Cassingena Harper at the Malta Council for Science & Technology
25 February 2011
8 March 2014