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Friday, 17 November, 2000, 06:43 GMT
University wins national award
Queens
Queen's University's Palaeoecology Centre picked up top award
A Northern Ireland research centre is the winner of an national award which honours outstanding achievement.

Queen's University's Palaeoecology Centre in Belfast was one of the winners of the Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education on Thursday.

The awards, part of the national honours system, recognise and honour the outstanding achievements by universities and colleges in the United Kingdom.

The award citation described the centre as "a unique resource and recognised world leader".

Its prize will be presented at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace in London in February.

The Palaeoecology Centre is one of the few multidisciplinary units that can provide a precise chronological framework in which past environmental and human change can be studied.

It undertakes research into past environments in which humans and their societies evolved and also plays a role in assessing present and future environmental changes.

Its director, Professor Gerry McCormac, said: "Basically palaeoecology is the study of environmental history.

"We use nature's markers to measure time and have found that nature is often a more accurate historian than man.

"Our research has shed new light on events which have shaped human history and has contributed to international understanding of future environmental changes."

News of the award was welcomed by Queen's vice-chancellor Professor George Bain.

He said: "We are delighted to learn of the award of a Queen's Anniversary Prize to the Palaeoecology Centre which has proved itself as a model of excellence on the world stage.

"The fact that it has served as an exemplar for other countries wishing to set up similiar ventures is a tremendous accolade for both Queen's and Northern Ireland."

It is Queen's University third award of the Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education.

The University's Servicing the Legal System programme was awarded a prize in 1994 and its environmental research initiative, the QUESTOR Centre, featured among the winners in 1996.

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