Campus round-up

July 18, 2013

Animated reaction

A music video created by an academic has won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Animation. The stop-motion film for the band Fossil Collective’s single Let it Go was made by Ashley Dean, lecturer in computing and creative technologies at Leeds Metropolitan University, after the band commissioned his production company, Broken Pixel. The four-and-half-minute film, which took six months to put together, tells the story of Edward and Anne, a couple separated while travelling in a hot-air balloon. It has received more than 225,000 views on YouTube. Mr Dean was helped by Leanda Johnson and Emily Brooke-Davies, two graduate interns from Leeds Met’s graphic arts and design course.

Coventry University

Highly contagious wisdom

Volunteers have been recruited by a university and a local authority to take part in an international campaign to promote healthy living. Coventry University’s Applied Research Centre in Health and Lifestyle Interventions has been working with Coventry City Council to deliver the Healthy Children in Healthy Families initiative, which is co-funded by the European Union Health Development Fund. The university and the city council have recruited and trained 20 local people from different backgrounds and cultures who will act as “community health volunteers” and pass on their knowledge to others. Lou Atkinson, academic lead on the project, said it was about “imparting a sense of ownership so that they feel equipped with the skills, knowledge and confidence to make changes to their lives”.

Edge Hill University

Train and gain, no pain

A university will enhance the training of doctors under a prestigious contract that will in turn improve the patient experience. Edge Hill University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care is working with the Royal College of Physicians and the North West Mersey Deanery to develop the leadership and management programme for trainees in the region. Dave Lynes, project manager, said: “It’s a major coup for the university and is due to our strong track record in delivering outstanding training to the healthcare profession.”

Plymouth University

Join the global party

A university has become the first higher education institution in the UK to join a global group of entrepreneurship educators. Plymouth University has accepted an invitation from Babson College’s Global Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education and will now work with its international members to share knowledge, expertise and experience. Membership will provide the university with access to a number of benefits, including insight into the college’s undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum, and a range of joint research and student-focused projects. Babson College, founded in 1919 in Wellesley, Massachusetts, is a leading private business school.

Soas, University of London

Fast friendship

Students have set up a “Ramadan tent” on campus to mark the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. The tent at Soas, University of London’s Bloomsbury campus will welcome students, staff and the general public to share the breaking of the fast required by Ramadan, known as iftar, each day. Omar Salha, project manager and a Soas graduate, said he hoped the venue would give people a better understanding of the spirit and essence of Ramadan, the month when according to Muslim belief the Quran was revealed to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. Ramadan started on 10 July this year.

University of Southampton

Crystal-clear for ever

Researchers have developed a technique that could be used to secure evidence of our civilisation and keep it safe beyond the days of our species. Using an ultrafast laser, scientists at the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre have shown how to record digital data in crystals. Under the technique, nanostructures that modify the way light travels through glass encode information, which can later be read using a microscope and polariser. The method offers data capacity of 360 terabytes per crystal, stability up to 1,000°C and a practically unlimited lifetime. The technique – similar to the Kryptonian memory crystals in the Superman films – could be used as a safe and stable store for archives, even beyond humanity’s end.

Edinburgh/Glasgow

News breakers neck-and-neck

Twitter on average is no faster than traditional newswires in breaking stories, a study of their output in summer 2011 has found. Researchers at the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow used an algorithm to compare 51 million tweets with the output of sources including the BBC, CNN, Reuters and The New York Times. Neither method was regularly faster overall, although Twitter often had the edge in disasters and sporting events. The social network also highlighted minor new stories missed by the newswires.

Reading/Surrey

Eyes in the sky

Experts in satellite monitoring of the Earth’s climate and ecosystem are to pool their talents to observe changes on the planet. Scientists at the universities of Reading and Surrey will work with colleagues at the National Physical Laboratory on a project titled Global Satellite Sensing, which will monitor changes to the Earth. Working with the Technology Strategy Board-backed Satellite Applications Catapult, the centre will use advances in the new generation of small, lightweight satellites being developed in the UK to provide data services for meteorological purposes and in disaster scenarios, as well as a wide range of commercial services.

University of Abertay Dundee

Props for prophet of doom

The former governor of the Bank of England has been awarded an honorary degree. Sir Mervyn King received the honour from the University of Abertay Dundee in a ceremony on 11 July. The university said Sir Mervyn was “one of the most influential and important figures in the UK’s political, fiscal and economic spheres” and had been “one of the first” to spot the financial crisis by “highlighting the unsustainability of high UK house prices as early as 2005”.

University of East Anglia

Don’t fence in value

The British landscape is not being used as effectively as it should be because of the influence of multibillion-pound subsidies, a report has found. University of East Anglia research, published in the journal Science, shows that allowing land use to be determined purely by an agricultural market distorted by such subsidies results in considerable financial and environmental costs to the public. Researchers looked at 500,000 records and found that at present, UK land use represents poor value for society relative to the subsidy level. Relatively modest land-use changes could help conserve wild species and offer the public more recreational space, while only marginally reducing market profitability, the report argues.

The Open University

End in sight for hard graft

A combination of tissue engineering techniques could reduce the need for nerve grafts, according to research. Regeneration of nerves is challenging when damage extends to a large area, and surgeons currently have to take a nerve graft from elsewhere in the patient’s body, causing further harm. But research by The Open University, published in the journal Biomaterials, has reported a way to manufacture artificial nerve tissue that could be used as an alternative to grafts. The technique could be applied to other regenerative-medicine scenarios, where stable artificial tissue containing aligned cellular architecture would offer treatment benefits.

University of Manchester

The doctor is in at last

A medical student who is graduating this summer is to become the first doctor to work in his rural village in Nepal. Kanchha Sherpa, , who has completed a medical degree at the University of Manchester, comes from Melamchighyang, which is currently served only by a midwife. Patients have to trek for several hours to the capital Kathmandu to see a doctor. Kanchha, part of the seventh generation of his family to have lived in the Sherpa village, will return after his graduation ceremony to work on a medical bus treating the local population of about 1,500 people.

University of West London

Capital investment

A London university contributed £88 million to the capital’s economy last year, a study has found. Spending by more than 12,000 students at the University of West London and employment of almost 1,000 staff helped to generate £60 million for the Ealing economy in 2011-12, according to the report by consultancy Oxford Economics, published on 4 July. The university supported almost 3,000 jobs in total, including 1,850 staff not directly employed by West London, generating £47 million in tax payments to the Exchequer, the report adds.

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