Campus round-up

June 7, 2012

University of Strathclyde

Cutting-edge research

The UK's first Fraunhofer Centre, a branch of Europe's largest applied research organisation, is to be established in Scotland. German-based Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft will create a hub for industry-driven laser research, as well as its UK headquarters, at the University of Strathclyde. It is being funded by a consortium of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the university, the Scottish government, the Scottish Funding Council and Scottish Enterprise. Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has more than 80 research centres in Germany as well as outposts across Europe, Asia and North America.

University of St Andrews

Heroically good-looking

Masculine-looking men with wide faces are more likely to sacrifice themselves for the good of a group, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of St Andrews looked at the reactions of groups of students told they were playing a game for money against either a rival university or fellow St Andrews students. Wide-faced men, who in other circumstances are thought to display more physical aggression, were more cooperative when their group faced a rival university, and were found to be more sensitive to inter-group relationships than women.

University of Hull

Spirit of adventure

A science play created by an academic has had its premiere. The play, Investigation: Haunted House, was written by playwright Pippa Roberts, based on an idea by Mark Lorch, lecturer in chemistry at the University of Hull. Pupils from local primary schools watched the story of how a group of young ghost-hunters use science to help them, and were then offered the chance to try for themselves experiments such as creating an electromagnet to retrieve a key from under a locked door and making rockets powered by bicarbonate of soda and vinegar.

University of Northampton

Carry on, campus

A university has unveiled plans to move to a £330 million new campus by 2020. The plan by the University of Northampton to construct the campus in Northampton's town centre has been approved by its governing council and the compulsory purchase of the necessary land has begun. Delia Heneghan, director of marketing at Northampton, said: "This new campus will place us in the heart of the community, making us much more accessible, central and visible. It would also enable us to deliver our mission of being the number one university for social enterprise though a coordinated programme to develop projects regionally, nationally and internationally."

University of Surrey

Sky's the limit for Kinect effect

Spaceships of the future could be built and rebuilt from "space blocks" that use computer-game technology to dock with each other. Researchers at the University of Surrey and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd are developing STRaND-2: 30cm-long "nano-satellites" that could be used to build larger spacecraft and make upgrades in orbit. The satellites will use the three-dimensional spatial awareness provided by hands-free gaming Xbox Kinect technology to dock. Other potential applications of the "snap-on" satellites include attaching to existing craft to provide backup power, propulsion or additional on-board computing capability. Initially two identical satellites will be launched, and they will separate and dock together in space.

Queen Mary, University of London

Spark of recognition

A researcher has been chosen to carry the Olympic flame in recognition of his work on blindness. Michael Proulx, lecturer in cognitive psychology at Queen Mary, University of London's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, will run with the flame in August in the day prior to the start of the Paralympic Games. He will be one of 580 people to hold the flame on the journey between Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games, and the Olympic stadium in London.

University of Nottingham

Sketching out the answers

Medical students are to get drawing lessons as part of a research project into how visual representation can help them learn anatomy. The project will be led by Shaaron Ainsworth, an associate professor in the University of Nottingham's School of Psychology. She said: "Drawing can be very useful when learning many complex topics. It can help learners observe things more clearly, organise and integrate their knowledge more effectively and ultimately can be transformative when students understand in new ways."

Anglia Ruskin University

Healthy growth spurt

A university has launched a new partnership to drive growth and innovation in the UK medical technology sector. The new MedTech campus, a project being led by Anglia Ruskin University, will provide one of the largest health innovation spaces for companies of all sizes - from large corporations to start-ups - in a bid to establish the UK as a global leader in the £170 billion sector. The project, which Anglia Ruskin is running in partnership with three local councils, is predicted to increase the value of the UK medical technology sector by £1.2 billion and generate about 12,500 jobs.

Norwich University College of the Arts

Building on local expertise

The first architecture degree to be offered in Norwich has been approved. The BA Architecture course at Norwich University College of the Arts has already attracted students from as far away as Tennessee in the US, as well as interest across the UK, and will welcome its first students in September. "The validation of the course is great news," said course leader Adrian Friend. "We are very lucky in Norwich and Norfolk to have some of the best house designers and architects right on our doorstep. The course will draw on these industry links to provide opportunities for internships and professional collaborations."

University of Oxford

Long-deferred but not forgotten

Pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi will be awarded an honorary degree on her first trip to Europe since 1988. On 20 June, Ms Suu Kyi will receive an honorary doctorate in civil law from the University of Oxford, where she studied at St Hugh's College from 1964 to 1967. The university first made the award in 1993, but because she was under house arrest imposed by Burma's military government, from which the opposition leader was released only in 2010, she was prevented from receiving it in person until now. Others receiving honorary awards at the ceremony will include Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, former director general of the Security Services; and the author David Cornwell, also known as John le Carre.

University of East London

Call to assert gay rights at Games

Nations that criminalise homosexuality should be banned from sending athletes to this summer's Olympics, a university leader has argued. Mark Stephens, who is chair of the board of governors at the University of East London, has also called on gay athletes who do not feel safe in their respective countries to apply for asylum during the London 2012 Games. The human rights lawyer said that 84 nations participating in the Olympics have bans on homosexuality, and he called on Olympic athletes to show their support for the gay rights movement with a gesture similar to Tommie Smith and John Carlos' Black Power salute at the 1968 Mexico City Games. "I implore lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual athletes who feel safe to do so, to come out and make a visible, memorable, courageous gesture for LGBT rights," he told a public lecture at the university on 22 May.

Imperial College London

Pinpointing a killer

Scientists have developed an ultra-sensitive test to detect signs of a disease in its earliest stages. Researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Vigo in northwest Spain say they have created a biosensor able to detect molecules that indicate the presence of diseases, such as HIV or prostate cancer, even when these are in very low concentrations. Molly Stevens, senior author of the study and professor of biomedical materials and regenerative medicine at Imperial, said: "For many diseases, using current technology to look for early signs of disease can be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Our new test can actually find that needle."

Familiar feelings

Apes can be neurotic, jealous, agreeable and sympathetic in ways similar to humans, according to a new study. Researchers, including those from the University of Edinburgh, examined 531 apes and found groupings of traits that appear together to make up overall "personality domains" such as dominance, extroversion and conscientiousness. The research, published in the journal Animal Behaviour, finds that seeing personalities in apes is not simply an example of anthropomorphism but a reflection of real differences.

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