Campus round-up

June 14, 2012

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Seasonal shift in malaria war

Giving young children medicine once a month during the rainy season could prevent tens of thousands of malaria deaths. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine say that introducing a new strategy to combat the disease could have a major impact on public health in malaria-endemic areas of Africa. Providing cheap anti-malarial drugs during humid weather for 40 million African under-fives could prevent as many as 11 million cases of malaria and reduce the number of deaths by 50,000 a year, the study concludes. "Providing insecticide-treated nets is an important way of protecting children from malaria, but in some areas it isn't enough - children need additional methods of protection," said Matt Cairns, lead author of the study.

Queen Mary, University of London

East Asian stars, East End setting

Chinese celebrities from the worlds of athletics and television visited several London universities during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Olympic gold medal diver Li Na and TV hosts Jiong He and Li Weijia stopped off at the Whitechapel campus of Queen Mary, University of London to film a segment for China's most popular entertainment show, Happy Camp, which is watched by more than 100 million viewers a week. The visit was organised by the London Universities International Partnership, a group of 15 institutions in the capital, including Queen Mary, that works to promote the city to international students.

University of Manchester

Depressed - I blame myself

Freud may have been right about guilt's role in causing depression, researchers have found. A team from the University of Manchester's School of Psychological Sciences found that the brain scans of people with a history of depression differed from those of a control group in the regions associated with guilt and knowledge of socially acceptable behaviour. Roland Zahn, the team's lead researcher, said: "Our research provides the first brain mechanism that could explain the classical observation by Freud that depression is distinguished from normal sadness by proneness to exaggerated feelings of guilt or self-blame."

Sheffield Hallam University

Cornerstone of our ambitions

A £25 million campus revamp has been given the green light. Buildings on Sheffield Hallam University's Collegiate Crescent Campus will be refurbished, and a three-storey structure will be built to house lecture theatres, study areas and social spaces. It will be used mainly by the faculties of development and society, and health and wellbeing. Mark Swales, Sheffield Hallam's director of estates and facilities, said that the revamp was a key part of the institution's aim to become a top 50 university by 2015.

Swansea University

Resurrected treasures

More than 30 objects from ancient Egypt, including glass bottles and figurines designed to serve the deceased in the afterlife, will be put on display in Wales. Swansea University's Egypt Centre has received a donation of a collection of artefacts originally given to Woking College in the 1970s. The centre will organise visits for students from the college to see the artefacts in a bid to encourage more sixth-formers to go on to higher education - and possibly even to study Egyptology at Swansea.

Royal Holloway, University of London

The shape of tunes to come

Can you "play" an iPad as if it were a classical instrument? Brian Lock, senior lecturer in composition and creative music technology at Royal Holloway, University of London, has done so, and he unveiled a piece written specially for the Apple device at the Play! Festival in Windsor on 4 June. Playing a duet with Susan Milan, a former Royal Philharmonic Orchestra principal flautist, Mr Lock used a bespoke iPad app he developed to perform Dreams and Memoryscapes for Flute, iPad and Birds. "When the iPad came out, I realised it was something that you could use to control sound and manipulate a piece of music under one hand," he said. "It meant you didn't need expensive mixing desks to create an original piece of music."

University of Nottingham

Green chair's healthy cash dose

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical giant, are to co-fund a chair in sustainable chemistry. The position, funded for five years to the tune of £1.5 million, will be based at the University of Nottingham's planned GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry. David Delpy, the EPSRC's chief executive, said that the appointee would lead "a collaborative partnership with GSK and other institutions that will put environmental stewardship firmly at the heart of future drug discovery".

Teesside University

Very able bodies

An academic has created an animation installation to show the public how disabled athletes move. Simon McKeown, who has brittle bone disease, teaches 3D animation and post-production in Teesside University's School of Computing. Motion Disabled: Unlimited uses motion capture to track Paralympians, and is designed to show how people can walk or jump without legs or sail with just one arm. "This is an opportunity to look, see and be fascinated by beautiful motions and bodies," Dr McKeown said.

University of Aberdeen

Indus reign fell after less rainfall

Climate change was a factor in the decline of the Indus civilisation almost 4,000 years ago, according to evidence from a new survey. Peter Clift, who until recently was a professor in the department of geology and petroleum geology at the University of Aberdeen, led an international team that analysed ancient rivers and settlement patterns in what is now Pakistan. A decline in monsoon rains weakened rivers and reduced flooding, reducing the agricultural surpluses that the civilisation relied upon, the study suggests.

Oxford Brookes University

Freshers, get appy

Students beginning their studies at an English university this autumn will have help with everything from referencing to bus safety thanks to apps being developed by the institution. Ideas for the smartphone software came from a competition, launched in March, which asked students to submit ideas for apps that would enhance their experience. The five winning ideas, chosen from more than 300 entries, included a student union app and a system for reporting computer faults.

Newman University College

Holy Book study, wholly funded

A Birmingham institution has made a successful bid to the Bible Society for financial support for research into the use of the Bible in schools. The funding will be used to offer a full-fees PhD studentship under the supervision of staff at the Newman Research Centre for the Bible and its Reception, part of Newman University College. The centre engages with the academic study of the Jewish and Christian Bible, its later reception (in art, music, literature and culture) and its relevance to contemporary society. Susan Docherty, head of theology, philosophy and religious education at the institution, said that it was important to offer the scholarship "at a time when funding for postgraduate study in the arts and humanities can be difficult to obtain".

Liverpool Hope University

Hope's great expectations

A university's national advertising campaign has launched with a "wrapped" London cab and giant screens spreading the word to potential students. Liverpool Hope University's campaign, which was developed in conjunction with marketing agency McCann, is aimed at prospective undergraduates and promotes the new Liverpool Hope website, www.hope.ac.uk, and its Undergraduate Open Day on June. As well as billboard advertising around the North West and at key train stations from London to Liverpool, the campaign includes the full wrapping of six double-decker buses in the North West, a campaign takeover at the Trafford Centre in Manchester, the redecorated London cab and regional radio advertising.

The Open University

Top billing for payment video

University leaders are working to address prospective students' confusion over how to pay for their education. The Open University has launched an online video, Ways to Pay, that highlights the range of options available to students, including tuition-fee loans, support for students with low incomes, employer sponsorship, upfront payments and The Open University's own loan system. According to a survey carried out by the institution in April, 71 per cent of the people interested in entering higher education in England say they are unsure or feel they do not have enough information about the funding options available.

Healthier bodies, not healthier minds

Exercise might not help depression after all, research published in the British Medical Journal has suggested. Clinical guidance currently recommends that patients increase their physical activity to help alleviate symptoms, but a study by researchers from the universities of Bristol and Exeter and the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry found no evidence that encouraging patients to take part in exercise left them any better off than those receiving traditional care. Until now, most of the evidence for exercise's power to alleviate depression has come from small studies and interventions that might not be practical in the NHS. The study's authors highlight that exercise can still have a range of positive effects, even if not on depression.

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