Campus round-up

August 2, 2012

Universities of Edinburgh and Sheffield

Trouble ahead

Researchers have used US military data from the war in Afghanistan to establish a model that can predict which regions of the country are more prone to future violence. Scientists from the universities of Edinburgh and Sheffield, as well as Columbia University in the US, used spatio-temporal modelling on more than 75,000 US military logs released via WikiLeaks to assess patterns in the conflict from 2004 to 2009. The analysis provided an accurate forecast of provinces that would go on to experience further violence in 2010.

Highlands and Islands/St Andrews

A little gas may be good

A three-year research project will try to discover how gases that are poisonous in large quantities can protect against diseases that lead to heart attacks and strokes. Scientists from the universities of the Highlands and Islands and St Andrews will design "metal-organic frameworks" that act like tiny tanks to hold gases such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide and nitric oxide and deliver them into patients' bodies. Researchers will study what effect the release of the gases in small doses has on blood-vessel function and blood clotting.

University of Leicester

The end (of the dole queue) is nigh

Two recent economics graduates have received several offers of jobs and internships after standing in London's financial districts with placards advertising their services. University of Leicester graduates Zeeshan Uppal and Faraaz Kaskar stood in Canary Wharf and Paternoster Square with signs reading "Economics graduates - who will employ us?" They also handed their CVs to passing professionals. Mr Kaskar, who graduated this summer with a 2:1 in mathematics with economics, said: "It is necessary for graduates to think out of the box to get noticed. Being proactive is the key in the current climate."

University of Nottingham

Electric dreams

One of China's largest vehicle manufacturers has signed a memorandum of understanding with a UK university to carry out research into low-carbon technologies. The firm, FAW, will provide the University of Nottingham with up to £1 million over three years to work on technologies vital to the development of electric vehicles. Chris Rudd, a pro vice-chancellor at Nottingham, said the agreement was "a testament to the quality and reputation of our research work and further strengthens our close links with Asian industry". The university also bestowed on Li Jun, the president of FAW, an honorary professorship.

University of Sheffield

Get in the game

A university has run an Olympic-themed outreach event for local school pupils who do not have a family history of attending university. Year 10 pupils at the two-day University of Sheffield event constructed an Olympic stadium using tubes of paper, sampled Olympic sports, heard about the ancient Olympic Games and learned how the heart responds to exercise. Budding journalists also created an Olympic-themed news bulletin with the Sheffield lecturer and former ITV Calendar News presenter Katie Stewart.

University of East Anglia

Small change to avoid big C

Pancreatic cancer could be prevented by slight changes to dietary intake of antioxidants. Research by scientists at the University of East Anglia suggests that an increased intake of vitamins C and E and selenium could help cut the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to two-thirds in those eating low amounts in their diet. The nutrients are present in several food types, including cereals and nuts. If the association turns out to be causal, one in 12 of these cancers might be prevented, say the researchers.

University of Essex

Mine of information

The Economic and Social Research Council is investing £17 million over five years in facilities at an English university as part of a project to create a national storage facility for research data. The funding supports the creation at the University of Essex of the UK Data Service, a repository for the UK's most valuable collection of social and economic research data. The service will provide researchers in the academy, business, government and the voluntary sector with a single point of access to an extensive range of high-quality information, including census data.

Queen Mary, University of London

Legend of the (toxicology) screen

A toxicologist and a veteran journalist will discuss the death of Marilyn Monroe at a public talk next week. Atholl Johnston, professor of clinical pharmacology at Queen Mary, University of London, will explain the science of poisons and drug overdoses at the Pathology Museum at Bart's Hospital on 8 August to mark the 50th anniversary of the actor's death. The screen beauty was found dead at her home on 5 August 1962 aged 36, with an empty bottle of sleeping pills by her bedside. Professor Johnston will be joined by Peter Evans, who covered Monroe's death as foreign correspondent for the Daily Express in the 1960s.

Glasgow Caledonian University

Chinese press pass

Chinese media and communications students will be able to apply directly to the fourth and final year of a bachelor's degree at Glasgow Caledonian University. The institution has signed a partnership agreement with Zhejiang University of Media and Communications that will allow the transfer of Chinese students who have already completed three years of undergraduate programmes in advertising, public relations or creative media. Julian Calvert, media and journalism subject leader at Glasgow Caledonian, said that the link reflected the two institutions' "excellence in media and journalism".

University College London/Imperial College London

Ecstasy on trial

A study of the effects on the brain of the Class A drug ecstasy is to be filmed by Channel 4. Footage of the research by scientists from University College London and Imperial College London will feature in two hour-long television programmes scheduled for broadcast this autumn, provisionally titled Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial. Volunteers will take the drug, supervised by medical staff, before undertaking an MRI brain scan and cognitive tests. David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial - who was sacked as a government adviser after making public his views on the dangers of drugs - said this would be the first clinical study of ecstasy's effects on the resting brain, including its impact on memory, empathy and trust.

University of Worcester

This is what we do

Students from five schools across the Wyre Forest and Hagley areas of Worcestershire spent a week exploring the possibilities of higher education. Discovery Week at the University of Worcester allowed 25 talented students from schools belonging to the ContinU Trust take part in activities at the institution, focusing on science, technology, engineering, maths and humanities subjects.

Royal Holloway, University of London

Poor relations

Humans, not climate change, drove Neanderthals to extinction, research has suggested. A team led by academics at Royal Holloway, University of London may have settled a long-standing argument about why the distant cousins of early modern man died out. Scientists studying ancient volcanic ash found that Neanderthals' decline began long before a massive volcanic eruption about 40,000 years ago blocked out the Sun and plunged Europe into a deep freeze. Some scholars have held that this "volcanic winter" was pivotal in the demise of Neanderthals, who would disappear within about 10,000 years of the event. But new evidence suggests that the species died out because it could not compete for natural resources with early man, who had tools, weapons and higher communication skills.

University of Birmingham

Mind the metal

Titanium medical implants used in bone-anchored hearing aids and dental prostheses may not be as robust as has been believed, new evidence suggests. A collaborative study led by Owen Addison, a lecturer in restorative dentistry at the University of Birmingham, has found evidence that in environments where there is no significant wear process, microscopic particles of titanium can be found in the surrounding tissue. This could be pro-inflammatory and affect the device's performance, the researchers say in a paper in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Tale of one city

The results of a project translating the stories of local residents into short films, animations, audio recordings and digital art are being displayed at a university exhibition. The Cartography exhibition - which runs until 10 August at the University of Salford's MediaCityUK building - follows work by professional writers, film-makers and visual artists with people who live in the Salford suburb of Broughton. The exhibition includes "a magical map charting memories of places from yesteryear" and "a secret garden where mothers are reunited with long-lost children".

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