Campus round-up

June 13, 2013

Display hoard

A student dressed from head to toe in medical equipment is one of the highlights of the University of Brighton’s Graduate Show. Karol Michalec’s artwork (top, left) – which he says represents the way the public now trust more in medicine than religion – is just one of the works of architecture, fine art, design and film expected to attract more than 15,000 visitors. Other highlights include Jessie Fleck’s green ashwood swing seat (top, middle) and Saskia Buchanan’s Smoke and Mirrors (bottom, left) which explores the ideas of collecting and hoarding, inspired by tins of nuts, bolts and screws owned by her late grandfather. Having toured the city centre, the show can now be seen at the university’s Faculty of Arts in Grand Parade, Brighton. The works are for sale and the graduates can be commissioned.

Plymouth University

Sound of science

A composer has been invited to perform his “particle physics duet” at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Alexis Kirke, a member of Plymouth University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research, is due to perform the piece Cloud Chamber on 28 June at the 26th Lepton-Photon Conference, hosted by Stanford University. Cloud Chamber is a duet for violin and subatomic particles, with the movement of particles in a chamber monitored and then digitally transformed into music. The sound of the live violin also feeds back to alter particle tracks within the chamber. It will be the first time the piece, which was created with Antonino Chiaramonte, Anna Troisi and Eduardo Miranda, has been performed outside the UK.

Bath/Bath Spa

Statements of intent

Two institutions aim to help state school pupils with their university applications by hosting drop-in sessions this summer on how to write personal statements. Staff from the University of Bath and Bath Spa University will help local pupils to write, develop and polish personal statements, including identifying the right experiences and skills to draw on to strengthen their applications. The events were organised after research from the Sutton Trust revealed how young people in state schools may not be able to access the same help or support from their school or family as independent school pupils when it comes to applying to university.

University of Surrey

Help on the menu

The founder of the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain has set up a scholarship scheme at his alma mater. Robert Earl graduated from the University of Surrey with a degree in hotel and catering management in 1973 and launched the celebrity-themed restaurants in the 1990s with the backing of Hollywood stars including Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. At least 10 undergraduates at Surrey’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management each year will now benefit from a scholarship worth £2,500 funded by Mr Earl. The former chief executive of the Hard Rock Café, who now owns a string of restaurants in the US, will also provide a management training placement at Planet Hollywood’s Orlando, Florida branch for one Surrey student.

Queen Mary, University of London

What a relief

One of Britain’s oldest maps has been reproduced in 3D by a medieval historian. The 700-year-old Mappa Mundi, on display in Hereford Cathedral, depicts how 13th-century scholars viewed the world, with Jerusalem at its centre, the Garden of Eden to the east and Britain in the northwest. Thanks to Jerry Brotton, professor of Renaissance studies at Queen Mary, University of London, and artist Adam Lowe, a plaster cast of the vellum document has been created that allows visitors to see every detail of the map’s surface.

Soas, University of London

Nutrient-rich research

A British academic will lead a study on how to protect the agricultural conditions that produce food for China’s population of more than 1.3 billion. Laurence Smith, senior lecturer in applied environmental economics at Soas, University of London, will head the Sino-British research team that will focus on the management of nutrients, such as phosphorus, which are vital for farming but may soon be scarce. The three-year project, which will also look at water pollution and nutrient use in the UK, has been awarded £760,000 from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

University of Essex

The less said, the better

In the 1920s, Ernest Hemingway wrote: “For sale. Baby shoes. Never used.” He said it was the best story he had ever written. Now the University of Essex has challenged its students and staff to follow suit, encouraging them to share their ideas in 10 words or fewer by holding a “microfiction” competition. The winner of the story category was student Georgina Beard, from the School of Philosophy and Art History. Her story read: “It was me. I did it. I’m so sorry.” The staff winner was Lucy McCaul, who works in the university’s library. She wrote: “She ran. He chased. She hid. He ran. She lived.” The contest was part of a wider university microfiction programme.

The Open/Manchester

Celestial adornments

The ancient Egyptians used meteorites to make symbolic accessories for their dead, believing they held magical powers, researchers have found. The Open University and the University of Manchester have uncovered “conclusive proof” of the practice after testing strings of iron beads that were excavated in 1911 and confirming their meteorite origins. Joyce Tyldesley, senior lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Manchester, said: “Today, we see iron as a practical, rather dull metal. To the ancient Egyptians, however, it was a rare and beautiful material which, as it fell from the sky, surely had some magical or religious properties.”

University of East Anglia

A little integrity please

Companies that claim a high level of social responsibility should lead the way in committing to greater transparency over their tax arrangements and in abandoning the use of tax havens, according to new research. The University of East Anglia study, published in the journal Third World Quarterly, highlights the fact that many of the companies that actively engage in tax avoidance also like to assert their credentials as “responsible corporate citizens”. It argues that tax strategy should be addressed as an aspect of corporate social responsibility, particularly with growing public concern about tax avoidance. It highlights Starbucks as an example, with its commitment to using fair-trade coffee contrasting with its “ethically questionable” arrangements to minimise its corporation tax liabilities.

Coventry University

Industrial relations

A Google director, a former fighter pilot and a design chief from Volvo Cars were among high-flying alumni who returned to their alma mater 30 years after graduating. The Coventry University group – all graduates of the former Lanchester Polytechnic’s industrial design courses – gathered at the School of Art and Design’s annual degree show earlier this month and met some of the university’s current design students whose work was being exhibited to the public. One of the returning alumni was industrial design graduate Steve Rogers, who is now the director of user experience for Google in Europe.

University of Salford

Click and go

A research centre aims to help companies make the most of opportunities available through digital technologies. The Centre for Digital Business at the University of Salford’s business school will bring together a team of academics who are “internationally recognised for high-quality, relevant research into the impact of the digital world on business, society and culture”. Marie Griffiths, centre director, said: “Whether it’s social media, electronic product tracking or internet retail, digital technologies and applications are no longer something that businesses can ‘bolt on’ as an afterthought.”

University of Liverpool

Double base

Nine dual PhD projects between a UK university and a Taiwanese counterpart have been launched. They form the second cohort of four-year studentships being offered as a dual programme between the University of Liverpool and National Tsing Hua University (NTHU). The partnership means that PhDs are registered at both universities with successful applicants spending at least one year of the programme at the partner university campus. Stephen Holloway, Liverpool’s executive pro vice-chancellor for science and engineering, said: “Both of our universities are dedicated to promoting international collaboration with the best minds around the world, and these studentships are a realisation of that goal. Our partnerships with top universities, like NTHU, are central to the continued advancement of world-class research.”

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