Campus round-up

May 31, 2012

University of East London

Dresses to impress

Budding fashion designers presented their work to the Queen during a stop on her Diamond Jubilee tour of the UK. Mikaela Cephinis, a foundation textiles and fashion student at the University of East London, had her designs for futuristic fashion blown up into a gigantic banner and displayed in a shopping mall in Bromley visited by the royal party. Academics Emma Carey and Kate Davey of the university's School of Arts and Digital Industries also curated an exhibition at the shopping centre that showcased fashion styles throughout the Queen's 60-year reign. Twenty-four outfits were displayed, including a 1950s Hardy Amies ballgown, a 1960s Ossie Clark outfit and a 1970s Biba dress. "Seeing Mikaela's work blown up to a vast scale and suspended from the ceiling ... filled me with a sense of pride, as she has been one of our most hard-working foundation-level students," added Ms Davey, a lecturer in textiles.

Brunel University

Cool for cats and chocaholics

Bizarre student inventions will go on display at an end-of-year design show. About 300 innovations by final-year Brunel University students will feature at the annual Made in Brunel exhibition, held this year at the Bargehouse on London's South Bank from 14 to 17 June. Among the products tipped to grab people's attention this year are a chocolate pen and 3D chocolate printer, a device that recycles the hot water wasted when running a tap and an intelligent toy for cats that moves away when approached. Other concepts on display will include sustainable roofing technology, a process that enables HIV-positive mothers in sub-Saharan Africa to check the safety of their breast milk and a study of a proposed Thames Estuary airport.

Imperial College London

Site for soaring ambitions

A new £73 million research facility is to focus on turning scientific discoveries into medical treatments. The Imperial Centre for Translational and Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London's Hammersmith campus, which opened on 28 May, will house up to 450 scientists and has been built with support from the British Heart Foundation, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust. Situated alongside Hammersmith Hospital, the centre will be home to researchers focusing on cardiovascular diseases, cancer and the molecular and physiological basis of health. They will also carry out clinical trials in the six-storey building, which represents Imperial's largest-ever investment in research facilities.

University of Edinburgh

Scaling the stormy seas

A £9.5 million wave pool is to be built to enable the testing of submersible devices, offshore wind installations and other marine tools. The University of Edinburgh will construct a 25m circular pool that will simulate currents of up to 12 knots and 28m waves on a one-tenth scale. It is designed to mimic the extreme sea conditions of coastlines around Europe for the benefit of both academics and industry, and is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the university.

Durham University

Hit the North, cosset the South

Allocating health funding on the basis of age rather than deprivation would increase healthcare for Conservative voters at the expense of the poor, a senior academic has argued. Clare Bambra, professor of public health policy at Durham University, said that the proposal, made by health secretary Andrew Lansley last month, would lead to a "considerable shift of healthcare funding away from the neediest, poorer areas of the North and the inner cities" and towards Conservative-voting, affluent and elderly areas in the South.

Swansea University

Past presents future opportunities

Postgraduate research students and early-career researchers will be given work placements and take part in workshops and masterclasses at heritage organisations in Wales under a new scheme. The Graduate Centre will be located at Swansea University and will help students at all Welsh universities to gain employability skills that could land them a job in the heritage sector. The scheme is being supported by organisations including the National Waterfront Museum and the Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust. The programme, which launches in September, is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.


Is your heart on your wallet?

Unfair deals can cause people to make decisions with their heart rather than their head, research has found. In a study by the University of Exeter and University of Cambridge, participants had to accept or reject ways of dividing up £10. It found that those who had strong "gut reactions" - and who were in tune with their response - were more likely to reject unfair offers even when they would have benefited. The study, a collaboration with the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, suggests that phrases such as "following your heart" could often be accurate, said Exeter's lead researcher, Barney Dunn.

The Open University

Cracking the access code

The history of a unique UK university has been remembered alongside that of its eminent longtime chancellor, Asa Briggs. In his autobiography Special Relationships: People and Places, the 91-year-old historian reflects on the growth of The Open University and his part in bringing correspondence courses and television together to create a new type of education during his time as chancellor, from 1978 to 1994. In the book, published on 23 May, Lord Briggs also recalls his experiences as a cryptographer at the Bletchley Park code-breaking facility during the Second World War.

University of Sheffield

Partners in time

A university is offering its expertise to local communities looking to access Heritage Lottery Fund grants to research their history. The University of Sheffield will hold two public events for interested groups to meet potential academic partners and find out more about the All Our Stories grants scheme, which offers community groups up to £10,000 to research and document their local heritage. Bob Johnston, a lecturer in landscape archaeology at Sheffield, said: "The community will provide ideas, inspiration and leadership for the projects. We'll share expertise, offer training in new skills and provide practical things like access to archives and specialist equipment."

Leeds Metropolitan University

Tough hides, warm hearts

A rugby league club has staged a carnival to help raise money for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Proceeds from the recent event held at Leeds Rhinos' Headingley Carnegie Stadium will fund scholarships and bursaries for disadvantaged students who want to study at Leeds Metropolitan University. Visitors were entertained by live music, archery lessons and appearances by Rhinos players, and zip wire rides from the top of a stand down to the pitch.

University of Leicester

Veiled hostility

The French ban on the wearing of veils in public has increased levels of hostility towards Muslim women wearing the garment in the UK, a doctoral candidate has argued. Irene Zempi, a tutor and PhD student in the University of Leicester's department of criminology, reached the conclusion based on individual and focus-group interviews with veiled Muslim women in the UK, including some who moved from France following the ban. She said: "The policy is a clear manifestation of Islamophobia. It overshadows the fundamental issue of religious freedom as a human right, and also undercuts individual agency, privacy and self-expression."

Keele University

Why wait for the milk run?

The universities and science minister has welcomed a "distinctive curriculum" aimed at preparing graduates for work. The curriculum at Keele University, which comes into effect in September, is accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management. From the start of their programmes, students have the chance to attend timetabled classes, workshops and advice sessions designed to improve graduate employability prospects. David Willetts said: "This initiative will help graduates to emerge with the breadth and depth of skills and knowledge that employers are looking for."

Send us your cryptids

The abominable snowman may not remain mythical much longer. Researchers at the University of Oxford and the Museum of Zoology in Lausanne, Switzerland, have embarked on a project to analyse remains that are claimed to be those of Yeti and other human-like species. Organisers are calling on people around the world to submit samples for analysis from creatures known variously as Bigfoot, almasty and orang pendek. Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes, one of the project's leaders, said that he hoped to bring scientific rigour to the claims and determine whether the samples are from known species, surviving early humans or other species thought to be extinct.

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