Campus round-up

May 12, 2011

Newcastle University

Full steam (or wind or sun) ahead

Scientists from an English university are leading a £3 million European Commission project to revolutionise the way ships harness energy. Engineers from Newcastle University are working with colleagues in France and Finland to combine conventional and renewable energy sources in an effort to reduce the shipping industry's carbon footprint. The aim is to create a system whereby different energy sources can be selected according to the operational needs of the ships.

University for the Creative Arts

Royal destination

Several students studying for a foundation degree in hand embroidery were part of a group that contributed to the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress. The embroiderers on the University for the Creative Arts course, which is delivered at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace, helped to create the bespoke lace on the now famous wedding dress, veil and shoes. A UCA spokesman said students washed their hands every 30 minutes while working on the lace to keep the threads pristine, while needles were replaced every three hours.

London Sch Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Stemming the flow

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine are calling on governments and aid agencies to make inexpensive life-saving trauma drugs available to patients around the world. In a paper published in the PLoS One journal, they draw on evidence from more than 20,000 adults in 40 countries to show that early administration of tranexamic acid, which helps to prevent clots from breaking down, reduces the risk of death in bleeding trauma patients. In the UK, for example, the drug could offer victims of car accidents and those with similar injuries extra years of life at an average cost of just £38. In poorer countries it would cost even less.

University of Bristol

Blown out of proportion

The evolution of an important marine predator suffered a massive setback due to huge volcanic eruptions as the Atlantic Ocean began to open up 200 million years ago. Researchers in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol used numerical techniques to find that ichthyosaurs, dolphin-shaped predators that appear to have been abundant in Jurassic seas, were actually a much-reduced remnant of a far more diverse group. Although it was known that only three or four species of ichthyosaurs survived the mass extinction event, previously it had been assumed that the creatures "bounced back" to recreate their former important position in marine ecosystems.

University of Cambridge

Evolutionary process

A project to map Charles Darwin's life and work through the 15,000 letters he wrote or received will be completed after a £5 million funding package was announced. The awards will be used to finish a definitive multi-volume edition of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, which is being compiled by researchers and editorial teams at Cambridge University Library and Harvard University. It is hoped that all the letters, exchanged with around 2,000 correspondents, will be published in full by 2022. They take in every stage of Darwin's life including his school and student days, the voyage of HMS Beagle and the publication of On the Origin of Species.

University of Greenwich

Learning lines

A seminar highlighting the importance of poetry in education is to take place at the University of Greenwich. The seminar, due to be held on 25 and 26 May, is the second in a four-part Poetry Matters series, which is supported by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, as well as a former poet laureate, Sir Andrew Motion, and a former children's laureate, Michael Rosen. "Research tells us that poetry does a great deal of good in education," said Andrew Lambirth, professor of education at Greenwich. "It assists with children's ability to read and expands vocabulary. It is fun and inspiring, but too often neglected." Its potential will be explored in a seminar in which academics, poets, teachers and representatives of colleges, arts organisations and local authorities will share research and discuss new approaches to teaching poetry.

University of Dundee

Top notch

A Scottish university has announced the creation of five new professorships. The University of Dundee has made the appointments in accounting and finance, biophysics, forensic anthropology, nursing and midwifery, and psychology. Pete Downes, Dundee's principal, said: "These appointments are a further boost to our considerable strengths across the university." Two of the new professors have been brought into the university while the other three were already Dundee staff.


See how they fared

A week-long celebration of food in history is to be held in museums and archives across London from 14 to 20 May. Visitors to Keats House will get a chance to learn about the vegetables, salads and plants eaten by the poet and his friends; the Freud Museum will provide Viennese pastries in the garden; while the National Maritime Museum will hold "an archive dining event" looking at the origins of "the great British curry" and India Pale Ale. The events are being organised by the Raphael Samuel History Centre, a three-way partnership between the University of East London, Birkbeck, University of London and the Bishopsgate Institute.

University of Salford

What do you mean by that?

Expletives, epithets and emoticons will be examined by a researcher who has won funding to investigate expressive communication. Diane Blakemore, professor of linguistics at the University of Salford, will spend two years looking at the ways in which people express emotion using the range of English expressions and non-linguistic symbols. This will include expletives such as "damn", epithets like "poppet", interjections like "yuk", and non-linguistic symbols such as "!!!".

University of Sheffield

Medical support

More than £80,000 has been raised for a medical scholarship scheme established in memory of a graduate killed in a road accident last year. Ian Noble finished his intercalated medical degree at the University of Sheffield in 2009. Intercalated degrees include an extra year of research, and the scholarship scheme will provide support for medical students at the university who would otherwise be unable to afford the additional year. Nigel Bax, head of the academic unit of medical education at Sheffield, said: "The fund will provide a lasting tribute to a much-missed young man who made such a tremendous contribution to medicine during his life." The first awards will be made later this year.


Get a move on

Scientists are to work with elite UK cyclists to examine why some people endure exercise better than others. Researchers from the universities of Leeds and Liverpool will also work with groups of healthy young and elderly people to study the interactions between the heart, lungs and muscles. They hope this could lead to treatments for heart and lung conditions associated with "exercise intolerance". Lead researcher Harry Rossiter, a lecturer at the Leeds Institute of Membrane and Systems Biology, said: "The body is like an engine. Not only do all the components have to do their own job well, their responses also need to be integrated effectively."

University of Cumbria

Vote of confidence

An institution that is recovering from a period of financial turmoil is celebrating after winning the highest level of approval from the Quality Assurance Agency. The University of Cumbria, founded in 2007, received a statement of confidence in both areas audited by the QAA - management procedures for academic standards of awards and learning opportunities available to students. Graham Upton, Cumbria's interim vice-chancellor, said: "The past year has been one of intensive change, and yet still the university is operating and delivering at the highest levels."

Anglia Ruskin University

Good things come from a crisis

The Searle Award for Creativity 2011 has been won by a fine arts student. Robert Good, a postgraduate at Anglia Ruskin University, won the award for an art installation on the theme of "crisis", which he described as "a dysfunctional, retro office piled high with books, magazines and prints". Now in its fourth year, the Searle award was initiated by the cartoonist Ronald Searle, an alumnus of the Cambridge School of Art, to recognise artistic excellence at Anglia Ruskin.

University of Nottingham

Why it's good to get away

Researchers are teaming up with a charity that provides holidays for disadvantaged families in order to study the social and economic benefits of tourism. The University of Nottingham has won a grant from the government's knowledge transfer scheme to study the positive impact of holidays provided by the Family Holiday Association. The researchers will also examine the economic impact of tourism and probe whether subsidising low-income families to take UK holidays would benefit the tourism industry by boosting spending and job creation in the low season.

Pause for thought

This picture of Masi women in Kenya with Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance was taken by Teri-Adele Roberts, a third-year photography student at the University of Central Lancashire. Ms Roberts was among 150 students from 40 universities who presented their work at the UK's first undergraduate research conference. The British Conference of Undergraduate Research was hosted by Uclan last month. Stuart Hampton-Reeves, who organised the event, said: "In the coming years, the whole ethos of undergraduate research will contribute greatly to the overall student experience right across the UK."

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