Campus round-up - 21 November 2013

November 21, 2013

Source: Rex Features

Ban won’t mean plenty more fish in the sea

Banning the practice of throwing unmarketable or over-quota fish back into the sea is only one of the measures needed to deliver sustainable fisheries, it has been argued. Research carried out by the University of East Anglia with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science found that such a ban would help future fish stocks only if it is accompanied by other measures to reduce total fishing mortality. About half of the fish caught in marine fisheries are thrown back but few survive. The findings were published in the journal Fisheries Research.

Birkbeck, University of London
Legacy fund

A postgraduate scholarship fund has been launched in memory of the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, who died last year. The scholarships at Birkbeck, University of London, where Professor Hobsbawm was once president, will cover the tuition fees and/or research costs of master’s students in the college’s department of history, Classics and archaeology. They aim to give students from poor backgrounds access to postgraduate study, an issue the eminent scholar felt strongly about. The Eric Hobsbawm Scholarships have been made possible by “many donations” from his friends and former students, and with the support of his family. The deadline for applications is 28 February 2014.

Canterbury Christ Church University
To forgive, online

An academic has produced an online toolbox to teach people how to forgive. Masi Noor, senior lecturer in psychology at Canterbury Christ Church University, used real-life stories of victims and perpetrators to develop the tool. It teaches seven skills that underpin forgiveness, including empathy, courage and moving beyond resentment. Dr Noor said that the toolbox would help people who are struggling to let go and move on with their lives after trauma. More than 1,000 people have visited theforgivenesstoolbox.com since the site was launched last month.

London School of Economics
Phoning it in

Mobile phones are becoming the things we turn to first in moments of joy and sorrow in daily life, an academic has argued. According to Jane Vincent, senior research fellow in the department of media and communications at the London School of Economics, in the 14 years since the internet was first accessible via mobiles, the devices have become “personalised social robots” for many of their 5 billion global users. “The mobile phone has become a remote control for one’s life, providing a bridge from the virtual to the real world,” she said. “Users constantly turn to it for solace, to share joyous moments, recall special memories and more.” The devices have become “a personal compendium for the life of the user”, she added.

Middlesex University
Atrocity exhibition

A photographic exhibition depicting human rights violations in former Soviet states will open on 25 November. The photographs have been collected by the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre at Middlesex University. Images from Chechnya, the North Caucasus, Georgia and Nagorno-Karabakh will go on display to mark a decade of the centre’s work with victims of human rights abuses. People will be able to bid for the photographs in a silent auction and the money raised will be donated to help continue the centre’s work in the former Soviet Union.

Kingston University
Fertile find

An archaeological team has discovered a sinkhole on a Neolithic site in Hampshire that may hold vital information about the plant species that thrived there 6,000 years ago. Led by Helen Wickstead, lecturer in heritage at Kingston University, the team has been working for six years at Damerham, about 15 miles from Stonehenge. Recently they found a layer of uncharacteristic orange sand and clay that has preserved plant remains. “We are very hopeful that, within this material, there will be evidence of plant life that will help us continue to piece together the puzzle of human habitation on this significant site,” Dr Wickstead said.

University of Edinburgh
Native tongue

More Gaelic will be used on the campus of a Scottish university, which has unveiled a plan to bolster the use of the language. The University of Edinburgh will introduce an undergraduate degree in Gaelic and primary education, plus a free online course on traditional Scottish music, some of it in the tongue. The language will also be used in the university’s communications, branding and publications. Edinburgh already has a department of Celtic and Scottish studies, which teaches Gaelic at a variety of levels.

University of Sunderland
Generous lovers

A study has found that charitable giving is an important way of signalling the suitability of long-term partners. Researchers from the University of Sunderland quizzed members of the public on what they seek in romantic partners and found that altruism was more important for those seeking long-term relationships than for people looking for short-term partners. Charity sends “reliable signals of how good the altruists will be as both a partner and as a parent”, said Daniel Farrelly, senior lecturer in psychology.

University of Southampton
Manhattan, with plenty of ice

The Natural Environmental Research Council is to fund an urgency grant for academics to track an iceberg in the Southern Ocean. The iceberg recently broke off a glacier in Antarctica and is the size of Manhattan. Researchers at the University of Southampton fear that it could stray into shipping lanes and said that it needs to be monitored. Icebergs of this size break off glaciers on average once every two years. Until now there has been no attempt to track their path.

Anglia Ruskin University
Trash talk isn’t cheap

Childhood bullying can have significant economic implications later in life, research has found. A study led by Nick Drydakis, senior lecturer in economics at Anglia Ruskin University, found that on average victims of bullying earned 2.1 per cent less than the average wage, were 3.3 per cent less likely to be in employment and 4.1 per cent less likely to be participating in the labour market (employed or actively seeking work). The study, based on a sample of 7,500 adults, also shows that those who experience childhood bullying are 18.5 per cent less likely to hold degrees or have advanced IT and language skills. “As the effects of bullying may affect individuals’ employment future, [it] should be of greater interest to economists,” Dr Drydakis said.

University of St Andrews
Humans’ siren song

An academic has given a talk on whether human noise is responsible for the beaching of whales and dolphins. Stacy DeRuiter, research fellow at the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling at the University of St Andrews, delivered the lecture at the University of Dundee on 13 November. “While the majority of these tragic events have natural causes, evidence also suggests that exposure to sounds such as naval sonar can cause some groups of marine mammals to beach,” Dr DeRuiter said.

University of Sheffield
Radioactive reflection

Turning nuclear waste into glass reduces its volume by up to 95 per cent, research has found. The technique, which involves mixing plutonium-contaminated waste with blast furnace slag, was discovered by a team from the University of Sheffield. Lead researcher Neil Hyatt said: “If we can reduce the volume of waste that eventually needs to be stored and buried underground, we can reduce the costs considerably.” The process also stabilises the plutonium in a more corrosion-resistant material, which should improve the safety case for nuclear power, he added.

Nottingham Trent University
Constructive collaboration

A university has partnered with a construction firm to “explore opportunities to develop a long-term collaborative relationship”. Under the deal, Nottingham Trent University and Willmott Dixon will seek to work together on research, placements and even shared lectures. Peter Westland, dean of the university’s School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, said: “Forging links with the construction industry is a key priority for us and having an agreement in place with a large local company [such as] Willmott Dixon will only serve to enhance the offering for our students and staff.”

Coventry University
Turkish green light

A UK university has signed a long-term partnership agreement with a Turkish institution. Coventry University and Kadir Has University, which is based in Istanbul, have signed a “high-level memorandum of understanding”, plus progression and Erasmus agreements. The partnership “further strengthens both universities’ globalisation agenda by formalising increased opportunity for student and staff exchange as well as joint research projects”, Coventry said.

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