UWE Bristol-led study explores natural alternative to antibiotics in fight against Salmonella in pig farming

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Salmonella causes more than 93 million cases of salmonellosis, resulting in 155,000 deaths annually worldwide. Many severe cases are associated with the production and consumption of pork: salmonella is found in the pig gut and is often multidrug-resistant. The bacteria can be transmitted through the pigs’ oral−fecal route at the farm, the slaughterhouse, and the food processing plant, where it can survive and cross-contaminate equipment or the final food products, leading to human infections.

Salmonella is conventionally dealt with by using antibiotics. However, antimicrobial resistance is on the rise, and it is widely associated with the intensive use of antibiotics in pig farming. This has led to an increased interest in alternatives to antibiotics in the fight against bacterial pathogens.

Dr Alexandros Stratakos, Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Agri-Food Production at UWE Bristol, has led a study on alternatives to antibiotics in pig farming. Alexandros in collaboration with UWE Bristol colleagues Professor Olena Doran and Dr Sotirios Oikonomou, and Dr Dimitrios Lamprou from Queen’s University, Belfast, developed novel nanostructures for the targeted delivery of geraniol, a natural antivirulence compound, in the pig gut.

Geraniol is the primary component of citronella oil but can also be found in many other plant essential oils.

The study has shown that geraniol at specific concentrations inhibits Salmonella colonisation in the pig gut, which can potentially reduce the requirement for antibiotics in pig farming.

For this study, geraniol was also encapsulated in liposomal (spherical fat-like) formulations, which acted as carriers to protect the agent from degradation and increase its effectiveness against the pathogen.

This approach could lead to reduced Salmonella transmission to food, ultimately leading to an increase in the safety of the food supply chain.

The full publication can be accessed on the website of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


Community STEM Club connects local community, engineering students, and industry professionals

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The Old Library Community STEM Club has become a well-established weekly event in Eastville since it was first launched in September 2021: every Thursday after school, children and their parents or carers make their way to the Old Library Community Hub to take part in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) based activities, and to play and socialise.

The Old Library is a community led and run project, based in the former Eastville Library, which was closed down in March 2016 after council budget cuts. It now serves as a hire space for workshops and activities, including a community café, workshops, crafts, quiz nights, music, book clubs, a repair café, and the weekly STEM Club.

The Club was co-developed with the team behind UWE Bristol’s DETI Inspire, a programme designed to connect children from all backgrounds with real-life, diverse engineering role models to widen participation and aspirations for STEM careers.

It gets further support from Industry professionals via the STEM Ambassador Hub, and UWE Bristol Engineering students, who regularly support and run activities.

A club for the whole community

The sessions vary every week: children have built balloon- and sail powered cars, electric circuits, bike pump powered paper rockets, water filtration systems, and they even designed their own city, using recycled materials. They also had the opportunity to build and programme their own robots using Lego Mindstorms, and they digitally re-designed Bristol in Minecraft sessions led by the  DETI Inspire Team at UWE Bristol.

The Club is aimed to be as accessible as possible, which is why it is run on a free, drop-in basis. There are also healthy snacks on offer alongside the activities, and the grown-ups can relax with a cup of tea or coffee, or choose to get involved in the activities themselves.

What’s next?

For the upcoming sessions the children will be building model boats which will be raced at the Bristol Harbour Festival on Saturday 16 July. Boat building is taking place on 16 of June and 7 July and supported by the My Future My Choice programme and Industry volunteers.

Lego Mindstorms will be making a comeback on 23 and 30 of June: instructed by UWE Engineering students, the children will learn how to build and programme Lego robots.

There are also plans for wind turbine building, though the exact dates are still to be confirmed.

The last STEM Club session of this term is planned for Thursday 14 July, and then the Club will pause for the summer holidays, with a return planned in September, for the start of the new school year.

For updates check the Old Library Facebook page or email hello@theoldlibrary.org.uk should you have any questions.

Applications open for Partnership PhD scheme

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UWE Bristol has recently announced another application round of its successful Partnership PhD programme.

A Partnership PhD bridges the gap between external organisations and university. It enables an organisation to gain access to cutting-edge real-world research that can help transform it.

The Partnership establishes a relationship between an organisation and UWE Bristol, based on a specific project that is mutually beneficial.

Organisations have the opportunity to choose a relevant research area and gain access to cutting-edge research. The researcher will work extensively with the organisation to provide a tailored piece of research.

In turn, the researcher will gain an opportunity to pursue their research in a real-world setting, developing transferable and interdisciplinary skills whilst gaining cross-sector experience.

Over the past two years, the Graduate School, part of the Research, Business and Innovation team at UWE Bristol, has been developing the Partnership PhD scheme. Through it, UWE’s investment in Post Graduate Research has been matched by over £1.5m from 40+ partner organisations.

Application deadline 1 July 2022 for Partnership PhD’s starting in 1 January 2023.

Email uwebusiness@uwe.ac.uk to find out more.

Please find below full Partnership PhD guidance, costings, useful information and the flyer for businesses:

See below for our slides for businesses:

Email uwebusiness@uwe.ac.uk to find out more.

UWE Bristol academic leads Community Climate Literature Book Club in Eastville

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Dr Sarah Robertson, a senior lecturer in American Literature and part of the English Literature team at UWE is currently leading on a time-limited book club for those who love literature and want to read more about the climate.

Across her research, Sarah has repeatedly turned to the extractive logic that has ravaged parts of the Appalachian mountains. She critically examines literary representations of coal mining, strip mining, mountain-top removal, fracking and logging, and their impact on the land and local communities in US States including West Virginia and Tennessee. Her latest projects include completing a book on Gothic Appalachian Literature (Anthem Press, 2024), with a distinct focus on extraction and climate change, and working with UWE colleague, Dr Ann Alston (English Literature), on an impact case study on climate change, literature, society and the English curriculum.

As part of her work on the impact case study, Sarah devised this book club to provide the public with opportunities to discuss a variety of contemporary novels that represent the changing climate. Engaging with world literature, from science fiction to realism, the group discusses the challenges of climate change and questions of hope, adaptability, and resilience as they emerge across the selected novels.

Meeting in the lovely space at The Old Library in Eastville, Bristol, over tea and coffee, the group discussions are warm and friendly, allowing everyone to share their thoughts. In January the group read Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour (2012), and in February it turned to Amitav Ghosh’s Gun Island (2019).

The book club is free of charge and you can join by dropping-in with no prior booking (though it would be great if you could let us know at Sarah.Robertson@uwe.ac.uk if you are intending to join, just so we have a rough idea of numbers). It takes place on the first Tuesday of every month from until June, from 7:00-9:00pm.

Upcoming meetings:

1st March – Maja Lunde’s The End of the Ocean

5th April – Ian McEwan’s Solar

3rd May – Elif Shafak’s The Island of Missing Trees

7th June – Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future

English Literature and the Climate Crisis: Teaching Climate Literature to Young Adults

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As society responds to the changing climate, English literature provides useful and critical insights into the challenges we face, as well as helping to build resilience and activism. At Cop26 in November 2021, the education secretary Nadhim Zahawi promised to “put climate change at the heart of education.” To turn this promise into a reality, then climate change should be taught across the curriculum, from the Humanities to STEM.

This event, designed and led by UWE English Literature staff Dr Ann Alston and Dr Sarah Robertson, is for key stage 3 English teachers. It will explore how English literature can be more fully utilised as a vital tool in generating climate change awareness and for coping with climate anxiety. At the event, Dr Ann Alston will deliver a talk on climate change in young adult fiction, and Dr Sarah Robertson will present on approaches to teaching climate literature. The talks will be followed by a roundtable discussion where participants can share their thoughts on teaching climate change through English, exploring the challenges and benefits of such an approach.

The event will take place on Saturday 26 March, from 11:00-14:00 on Frenchay Campus. For more information and/or to book a place, please email Sarah.Robertson@uwe.ac.uk

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