Campus round-up

February 10, 2011

University of Leicester

Don't believe everything you read

Policymakers should beware of relying too heavily on academic literature reviews, a statistician has warned. A report by Alex Sutton, professor of medical statistics at the University of Leicester, emphasises the danger of relying solely on published work, pointing out that positive results are more likely to be published than inconclusive or negative results. Professor Sutton has devised a way to quantify such "publication bias" by comparing data on medical trials submitted to regulators with that published in journals. "The same bias can affect systematic reviews of published material in any sphere, be it the effect of class size in schools or the impact of divorce on children," he says.

University Campus Suffolk

Rude awakening

The mobile phone is replacing "behind the bike shed" as the "space" where young people are likely to encounter bullying or sexual experiences, according to research. Emma Bond, senior lecturer in childhood and youth studies at University Campus Suffolk, said her work had shown that the online activities of children and young people who use mobile devices remained largely hidden from adults' gaze. She concluded that children are growing up in a very different environment from that of their parents and teachers, and that more needed to be done by adults to understand new technologies to help children make informed choices about their behaviour.

Anglia Ruskin University

Power to the people

The Big Society so beloved of Prime Minister David Cameron is getting a helping hand from a new course aimed at managers of charities and social enterprises. The Anglia Ruskin University course, which has been developed by Ashcroft International Business School, is aimed at chief executives, managers and other leaders within third sector organisations. In particular, it is targeted at those who are being put under pressure by the Big Society idea, which aims to increase "people power" by putting more control in the hands of local communities and voluntary groups.

Edge Hill University

African experience

A university project aims to improve the quality of life of people in Ghana. Edge Hill University has been chosen by UK Sport to deliver the International Development through Excellence and Leadership in Sport programme in the African country this summer, and will enlist some of its students to help. Iain Lindsey, senior lecturer in sports development, said: "It's not only the children in Ghana that benefit from the project but our students, who will be able to develop their leadership skills and build confidence."

University of Wolverhampton

Care for the vulnerable

A £620,000 research project is to examine the lives of women who have suffered domestic violence and sleep rough. The University of Wolverhampton's Central Institute for the Study of Public Protection has secured funding from the European Union for the two-year project. The research will assist in the development of national and European Union policies to support the women back into mainstream society. It will help to create knowledge-transfer activities aimed at grass-roots organisations and public agencies that work with battered and homeless women.

University of Bristol

Safe keeping

A data storage facility large enough to hold the equivalent of 20 million four-drawer filing cabinets of text has opened at a West Country university. BluePeta, which stores about a petabyte of information, was opened at the University of Bristol on 2 February to safeguard and organise data from the ever-expanding volume of research. The £2 million facility was designed through collaboration with technology suppliers SCC and IBM.

University of Nottingham

Suit yourself for a job

A fashion show is being held to teach students how to dress for job interviews. The University of Nottingham's Centre for Careers Development is hosting the event as part of a drive to boost students' employability. Samantha Longe Thomas, events and vacancies team leader at the centre, said the aim of the show is to "emphasise the importance of having a professional appearance in the workplace". It will also teach students how to present themselves at interviews and when meeting employers at recruitment fairs and presentations.

Kingston University

The way they were

A time capsule from the 1950s has been discovered in the grounds of a university. Rumours of its existence had been circulating at Kingston University for years, but no written record existed. Penny Sparke, pro vice-chancellor for research and enterprise, learned of the capsule from former dean Keith Grant who said it was buried under a stone plinth in the courtyard - and sure enough, it was found when builders working on a new library were asked to check. Inside were memorabilia from the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture's predecessor institution, the Kingston School of Art, including a 1952 prospectus. It reveals that full-time students could study at the school for £15 a year if they lived in Surrey. The capsule is being reburied.

University of Dundee

1, 2, 3 and that's enough of that

Hugs last an average of just 3 seconds, researchers have found.

In a study released just before St Valentine's Day, academics at the University of Dundee have found that a hug lasts just as long as many other human actions. It supports the theory that we perceive the present moment in approximately 3-second chunks. Waving goodbye, taking a breath and infants' "bouts of babbling" are all recorded as lasting around the same time. The research, led by Emese Nagy, a senior lecturer in psychology, was published in the Journal of Ethology.

University of the Arts London

Crossing boundaries

Central Saint Martins has launched a new interdisciplinary master's course in art and science. The University of the Arts London course will see students work on projects with the Wellcome Trust, the Hunterian Museum, the Gordon Museum and the Natural History Museum, looking at relationships between art and science and how they can be communicated. Coinciding with Central Saint Martins' move to King's Cross this autumn, the school of art has launched a new programme of postgraduate courses.

Keele University

Green light

A Chinese university is to start sending students to the UK after receiving government approval for the deal. Representatives of Nanjing Xiaozhuang University signed an agreement with Keele University after China's Ministry of Education gave approval. Starting in September 2013, 40 Chinese students who have completed three years of study in Nanjing will progress to the final year of Keele's BSc in environment and sustainability.

Cardiff University

Division of labour

Scientists have discovered a gene that defies conventional biological rules. All animals have two copies of each gene, one inherited from each parent. For most genes both copies are active, although for some genes one copy is switched off. Now researchers at Cardiff University have found a gene called Grb10 that behaves in a third way. In this gene both copies are active, but the copy from the father is only active in the brain whereas the maternal copy is active in all other parts of the body. The two copies perform different functions.

University of Manchester

Earmarked for success

An influential think tank has named a biomedical scientist as "one to watch" in the North of England following the successful creation of a university spin-off company. The Institute for Public Policy Research included Geoff Parker, professor of biomedical imaging at the University of Manchester, in its list of 50 influential people working in the North. Professor Parker founded BiOxyDyn, a Manchester spin-out firm that specialises in the development of new medical imaging techniques. It is hoped that the company's work will improve the understanding of conditions such as asthma, as well as aiding cancer specialists and neuroscientists.

Imperial College London

Massive problem

The worldwide prevalence of obesity has nearly doubled since 1980, according to research. The study, published in The Lancet, looked at all available global data to assess how body mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol levels have changed between 1980 and 2008. Senior author Majid Ezzati, chair in global environmental health at Imperial College London, said: "Overweight and obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are no longer Western problems. Their presence has shifted towards low and middle income countries, making them global problems."

Dirty and dangerous

Pregnant women who follow the ancient practice of clay eating are exposing themselves and their children to toxic chemicals, scientists have found. Geophagy is popularly believed to have medicinal and nutritional benefits and is still widespread in Africa and south Asia. Researchers at De Montfort University tested samples of the baked clay, known as sikor, imported to the UK from Bangladesh. They found that a small sample contained up to six times the safe daily intake of arsenic and lead, which can cause cancer, kidney damage and brain damage, as well as premature delivery, stillbirth and miscarriage.

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