Campus round-up - 2 January 2014

January 2, 2014

Source: Reuters

Tidal treasures

The recent storms that have battered Scotland’s coast may have revealed new archaeological sites, say scholars. The University of St Andrews is working with Historic Scotland and the charity Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion to appeal to local people to inform them if important historical sites have been damaged by the storms. But erosion by high tides could also have uncovered new finds, the organisations say. Volunteers can send information about coastal sites through an Android or iPhone app via

University of Essex
Declaration of intent

Multicoloured chalk was used to spell out the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at a university campus last month to mark International Human Rights Day. The annual “chalking of the steps” by students at the University of Essex, led by its Human Rights Society, took place on 10 December – the 65th anniversary of the signing of the declaration. Marte Lyngstad, president of the society, said: “The declaration may have taken place more than 60 years ago, but there remain corners of the world where communities do not have access to basic human rights such as the right to education.”

University of Huddersfield
Lung odds improve

Researchers have been given £105,000 by a pharmacy chain to develop a breathalyser to detect lung cancer. The donation from the S. G. Court Group will be matched by the University of Huddersfield, whose academics will run the project. Lung cancer accounts for 6 per cent of all UK deaths, largely because treatment is often ineffective by the time the disease is diagnosed. The researchers hope to find a chemical biomarker in exhaled breath that will indicate the cancer in its early stages.

Cranfield University
Winging it

A 3D printing process that could revolutionise aircraft production has been pioneered at a UK institution. Researchers at Cranfield University have developed “additive manufacturing”, which enables large structural parts to be fabricated more cheaply and quickly. The process has already produced a 1.2m component that forms part of an aircraft wing in just 37 hours: previously the process would have taken weeks. Stewart Williams, professor of welding science and engineering at Cranfield, said: “This is an exciting technology with huge potential for the aerospace industry.”

University of Southampton
Underlying emotions

Academics have designed a smart bra that can detect mood changes in the wearer. The group from the University of Southampton, working in collaboration with Microsoft Research and the University of Rochester in New York, said the device could help tackle overeating. Removable sensors monitor the wearer’s skin and heart for signs of changing physical parameters that could indicate mood. The data are sent to the wearer through a smartphone app and can be used to indicate when comfort eating is likely to occur.

De Montfort University
Clearing the path

A university is teaming up with the private education company Isis to open a centre dedicated to preparing international students for higher education. De Montfort University’s International Pathway College, which will open in June, will provide both English language training and qualifications related to students’ chosen fields of study. The university’s vice-chancellor Dominic Shellard said: “I believe that through initiatives such as [this] we can provide our domestic and international students with far-reaching opportunities and help to ensure the university’s growth in the future.”

Royal Holloway, University of London
Plastic poison

Litter levels in the Thames are likely to be worse than previously thought, scientists have claimed. Researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London pulled more than 8,000 pieces of plastic from the river bed of the upper Thames estuary in just three months using nets designed to catch Chinese mitten crabs. The previously unseen amounts of plastic on British riverbeds, which release toxic chemicals, may be harming wildlife, the researchers warn.

Birmingham City University
Driving ambitions

A world motorsport symposium will be hosted by a UK university next week. Engineers and motorsport experts from around the world will gather on 6 and 7 January at Birmingham City University for the Race Tech World Motorsport Symposium. Delegates will be given access to a series of sessions, presentations and debates about the future of the motorsport industry and the latest developments in aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. Adrian Cole, director of innovation and enterprise at the university’s Faculty of Technology, Engineering and the Environment, said the event will highlight how crucial the automotive industry is in “ensuring a prosperous future for the region”.

Royal Veterinary College
Animal artistry

Veterinary students have been asked to look at animals differently by their institution’s artist-in-residence. Geoffrey Harrison has run several workshops for aspiring vets at the Royal Veterinary College since his one-year Leverhulme Trust-funded residency started in September. The sessions by Mr Harrison, a former artist-in-residence at Bart’s Pathology Museum in London, are designed to encourage students’ draughtsmanship and observation skills.

Middlesex University
Pilot initiative

The budget airline easyJet is to launch a degree programme for pilots in association with a London university. Pilots will study for a BSc in professional aviation pilot practice at Middlesex University’s Institute of Work Based Learning while doing flight training with firm CTC Aviation. The partnership will allow trainee pilots to access student funding to help finance their flight training and degree courses, easyJet said.

University of Wolverhampton
Invaluable experience

A project helping graduates to find paid work placements has won local government funding. The University of Wolverhampton’s Step programme puts graduates into extended work experience placements, helping them to gain vital training and earn money while doing so. Now, thanks to a successful bid to Wolverhampton City Council, the university will be able to offer more placements next year via nearly £90,000 in additional funding. Helene Turley, employer engagement manager at the university, said the programme “fosters close relationships with local employers and gives graduates vital work experience and training”.

Liverpool John Moores University
Stub it out

Sport and physical activity can be effective in changing children’s attitude to smoking, a university study has shown. SmokeFree Sports, an initiative by Liverpool John Moores University in partnership with Liverpool City Council, ran a school-based programme for more than 1,000 Year 5 children in 32 Liverpool primary schools, with 11 Knowsley schools acting as a comparison group. Children took part in activities that raised awareness of the dangers of smoking on health, the effect of the practice on sports performance, how to avoid peer pressure to take up the habit, as well as the manifold benefits of physical activity.

Glasgow Caledonian University
Prescription for health

A university has launched a series of research projects in a bid to find out if social enterprises can help Scotland to lose its label as the “sick man of Europe”. Academics at Glasgow Caledonian University’s Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health plan to discover whether the estimated 2,000 such organisations in the country can address Scotland’s “appalling” record for health inequalities. The project has received £2 million from the Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council. A second study will involve researchers working with colleagues across Europe to find out more about how social enterprises grow and evolve.

University of Sunderland
Kick and rush

Footballers playing in lower divisions of English soccer run further but complete fewer successful passes than their counterparts in the Premier League, research indicates. A study of 300 players in the Premier League, Championship and League One, led by Paul Bradley, senior lecturer in sport and exercise science at the University of Sunderland, suggests that players at higher levels are more skilled and do not use the “long ball” game common in lower divisions. But when players moved from the Championship to the Premier League they still ran as far, it found.

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