Campus round-up

August 11, 2011

Imperial College London

Bypassing the burgers

Gastric bypass surgery makes people want to eat healthier food, according to a new study. Scientists at Imperial College London found that patients who underwent stomach bypass operations ate more low-fat food than those who opted for gastric band procedures. Carel le Roux, leader of the clinical obesity programme at the Imperial Weight Centre, said: "If we can find out why this happens, we might be able to help people to eat more healthily without much effort."

University of Cambridge

Finding friends you haven't met

Researchers have come up with a new way of predicting who people may befriend on social networks based on the types of places they visit. The team at the University of Cambridge's Computer Laboratory has devised an approach to recommending new friends that relies on not only social connections but also the physical locations where people "check in" online. Currently most networking sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, rely upon the "friend of a friend" method to determine compatibility. The research draws on longstanding sociological theory that people who frequent the same places may be similarly minded.

University for the Creative Arts

Bathed in light

More than 200 people had the chance to swim in a cloud of light and colour inspired by the forthcoming London Olympics, thanks to university artists. The Big Swim, which was supported by a consortium of 11 universities in the South East led by the University for the Creative Arts, used art installations to spice up the experience for swimmers at two leisure centres in South London and Oxford last month. Visitors could choose to watch the Big Swim, part of the programme of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, from a spectator area, but three-quarters of those who attended dived in.

University of Reading

An exercise in cross-pollination

A leading research centre for the horticultural industry has become an associate institution of a university in an attempt to foster greater cooperation in the fields of national and international food and health security. Under the terms of the collaboration, which builds on existing links between the two institutions, researchers at East Malling Research in Kent will become honorary members of the University of Reading's academic staff. Peter Gregory, chief executive of EMR and professor of global food security at Reading, said the move would give his organisation access to research students, library facilities and the expertise of Reading staff.

University of Derby

Careers chaos

The government's handling of changes to careers services has been criticised by academics. A report by Tristram Hooley and Tony Watts of the University of Derby's International Centre for Guidance Studies says that cuts in careers funding and the shift of responsibility for young people's careers advice in England from Connexions services to schools has caused widespread confusion and is likely to lead to more than 2,500 job losses in the careers guidance sector. The report, Careers Work with Young People: Collapse or Transition?, says that schools are likely to allocate much less money to careers advice than under the previous arrangements.

University of Worcester

Political heavyweight titles

A former Conservative Cabinet minister's collection of political and biographical books has been donated to his local university. The family of the late Lord Walker of Worcester, who served in Edward Heath's and Margaret Thatcher's governments, decided to give the books to the University of Worcester after learning of its expanded journalism and politics courses. The collection of 300 books will be housed in the new joint university and county council library, The Hive.

University of Manchester

Root of the problem

Breeding crops with deeper roots could dramatically reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, according to the chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Douglas Kell, who is also professor of bioanalytical sciences at the University of Manchester, argues in the Annals of Botany that if the roots of existing crops were 1m deeper, they would absorb twice as much carbon dioxide and would also be more drought and flood resistant. "While there is a way to go before such crops have, for example, the grain yields of present-day cereals, their breeding and deployment seems a very promising avenue for sustainable agriculture," Professor Kell writes.

University of Salford

Broadcasting the good news

The opening date for a university's biggest-ever development has been announced. About 1,500 students will begin courses at the University of Salford's new digital learning facility next to the BBC building at MediaCityUK on 4 October. Martin Hall, Salford vice-chancellor, said: "To be able to announce that we will be moving in on schedule is a real cause for celebration. The design, fit-out and time-tabling for our high-tech new facility has been the most complex project the university has ever undertaken."

Newman University College

Silver for green campus

A Birmingham institution has received a silver award from the EcoCampus environmental scheme. Newman University College is planning a campus redevelopment that includes the fitting of building management systems that control gas, electricity and water consumption. Paul Dean, director of estates, said the institution would now work towards gold status.

University of Strathclyde

Coping with caring

The experiences of young carers have been examined in new research. A study by Monica Barry, honorary senior research Fellow at the University of Strathclyde, shows that young carers tend to compartmentalise their home, school and social lives, which has a negative impact on their development. The research also revealed that many such young people find projects for carers more useful than their schools for developing networks and coping with home pressures. Scotland has an estimated 100,000 young carers, and Dr Barry said there was "little acknowledgement of (their) young age".

University of the Highlands and Islands

Take the high robe

The creation of the University of the Highlands and Islands, announced in February this year, will be marked in a formal ceremony. The event, to be held at the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness on 25 August, will be marked by the robing of the university's first principal and vice-chancellor, James Fraser, and the presentation of a new mace, a gift from the universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Aberdeen, and designed by Edinburgh College of Art students.

Glyndwr University

Goldstein's gift

US academic Leonard Goldstein has donated a 30,000-strong collection of books, including first editions, to a Welsh university. The books given to Glyndwr University cover literature, history, social science, art history and political science. Michael Scott, the university's vice-chancellor, said Dr Goldstein "wished to donate the library to a new university that has a widening participation agenda and high ambitions for all its students". The collection will be kept at the Wrexham campus in the Leonard and Marilou Goldstein Library.

Aberystwyth University

Kelp at hand

Researchers have identified a new biofuel - kelp. A study at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University showed that the best month for harvesting the seaweed was July, when it held the highest carbohydrate levels and the lowest metal content. Underwater ecosystems account for more than 50 per cent of global biomass, but are an unused resource. Jessica Adams, lead researcher, said: "Seaweed biofuel could be very important in future energy production."

Founder's treasures

A London college is giving visitors a rare opportunity to view its art collection. Royal Holloway, University of London, will open the doors to its Grade I listed Founder's Building for one day on 11 September to showcase Victorian paintings by Sir John Everett Millais, William Powell Frith and Sir Luke Fildes. The collection was amassed in the late 1800s by pharmaceuticals baron and college founder Thomas Holloway, who paid more than £80,000 (equivalent to more than £6 million in today's terms) for the 77 paintings. Among the artworks are The Railway Station (1862) by Frith and The Princes in the Tower (1878) by Millais.

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