This month UWE Bristol’s Dr. Nikki Cotterill, Associate Professor in Continence Care, Continence Lead for North Bristol NHS Trust, and BABCON HIT Director succeeded at having two of her studies selected for inclusion in the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) England’s new Research portfolio summary. Dr Cotterill’s studies were the only inclusions from the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) area out of 46 studies demonstrating the breadth and value of nursing research during the pandemic.
Nursing research matters: learning from COVID-19 aims to increase knowledge of nurse-led research in response to Covid-19, inspire other nurse researchers and promote pride in what nursing has achieved through research leadership and its impact. Finally the portfolio will underpin future plans for research and priorities addressing consequences of Covid-19.
“I’m delighted for our research to be included in this prestigious collection alongside peers conducting high quality research in healthcare, showcasing the contribution nursing research can make for the benefit of patients and raising the profile of bladder and bowel care.”
Dr Fiona Crawford, Research Fellow in Transport Studies, has been awarded funding for a new innovative clean air project as part of the University of Birmingham-led TRANSITION Clean Air Network, funded by UK Research & Innovation.
TRANSITION has awarded £48,000 to five innovative clean air research projects, including Fiona’s, aimed at helping to shape the UK’s low-emission mobility revolution to deliver clean air solutions and help meet the government’s ‘net zero’ targets by 2050.
The five projects, led by both commercial and academic organisations, aim to: characterise changing travel patterns; measure exposure to pollution in different transport modes; progress real-time identification of pollution sources; reduce the emissions of pollutants from so-called ‘zero-emission’ vehicles; and minimise public exposure at the roadside.
It comes after the UK government last month (April) announced it has set the world’s most ambitious climate change target into law to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels.
Dr Suzanne Bartington, TRANSITION Lead Investigator and Public Health Clinician and Environmental Epidemiologist at the University of Birmingham, said: “We are delighted to fund these innovative projects spanning UK road, rail and bus transport. The outputs will advance our knowledge, understanding and tools to reduce health harms of transport emissions.”.
Fiona’s project, Characterising Changing Travel Patterns in the COVID-19 era, looks at applying methods previously used in gene sequencing to number plates and vehicle registration data to generate insights into travel behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide insights into the air quality impacts of changes in working patterns and shopping behaviour (e.g., increasing home working and home deliveries). The research will use data supplied by Bristol City Council (under a data sharing agreement) and is very timely with the Clean Air Zone due to be introduced in the city in October 2021.
Fiona commentated: “We are thrilled to receive this funding to help with our research. We know that there have been far fewer cars on the road during the pandemic, but what we don’t know is whether it is the least polluting vehicles that have been taken off the roads. This research will examine how car and van travel has changed across Bristol during different stages of the pandemic and these behavioural responses will be examined alongside the emissions standard of the vehicles involved.”
The other four funded projects are:
Measuring Exposure in Different Transport Modes – led by Nick Molden (Emissions Analytics Ltd)
Focussing on ultrafine particles and currently unregulated pollutants, Emissions Analytics Ltd will measure differential exposure when opting to walk, cycle, drive*, catch a bus* or travel by train* (*comparing diesel and electric variants) on a commuter journey between Oxford and London.
2. Progressing Real-Time Source Identification– led by Gordon Allison (DustScan Ltd)
Enabling real-time air quality management at high spatial coverage, Dustscan Ltd will develop statistical techniques for machine learning to differentiate between construction dust and non-exhaust vehicle emissions using its new DustScan Cloud ‘low-cost’ air quality sensor, including on the HS2 Curzon Street site.
3. Understanding the Impact and Effects of Non-Exhaust Emissions (NEE) on human health and the environment – led by Jon Tivey (First Bus)
NEE from friction related elements of vehicles (namely particulate matter from brake, tyre and road wear) will remain in spite of a changing vehicle market from Internal Combustion Engine to electric propulsion (electric battery and/or hydrogen fuel cell). First Bus will engage vehicle and component manufacturers in a review of opportunities to reduce vehicle wear and associated NEE to inform future policy and regulation.
4. Minimising Public Exposure at the Roadside – led by Dr Fabrizio Bonatesta (Oxford Brookes University)
Focussing on roadside exposure to momentary peaks of air pollution from passing vehicles, Dr Fabrizio Bonatesta’s team will use state-of-the-art airflow simulation software to optimise bus shelter design for minimum air pollutant exposure. The study will be undertaken in collaboration with Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council.
In a recent webinar, Doctoral trainee Uzochi Nwaosu discussed his research on ways to support black men and sexual health, supervised by Dr Jane Meyrick.
Uzochi Nwaosu is a sexual health adviser at a busy London sexual health service and a trainee on the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology programme.
Dr Jane Meyrick is a Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology at UWE Bristol and Public Health specialist. She focuses on researching sexual health/wellbeing and sexual violence. Her recent work speaks both to UWE’s approach to inclusivity and the importance of community collaboration, focusing on less heard voices in sexual health including sex workers, survivors of sexual violence and racially minoritized groups.
They are working together to find a platform for the voice of black men within the area of sexual health. There work started with building the evidence base around what works and is soon to be published as peer review journal article. Uzochi has interviewed black men in London, to place their voice at the centre of sexual health service development in the NHS.
They are connecting the work to key professional bodies such as BASHH (British Association of Sexual health and HIV) as well as providing additional engagement with the local Health Foundation funded research programme ‘Common Ambitions’, led by African Voices + Brigstowe, which looks to talk to Black men in Bristol about HIV.
View the slides from Zoch’s presentation below and to listen to their podcast here.
Imagine being able to grow your own gemstones? Well Research Associate, Sofie Boons, from the Centre for Fine Print Research at UWE Bristol has been awarded a research grant from DAAD to try and work out how to grow innovative bespoke crystals for jewellery designers and wider applications in industry.
Man-made crystals already drive innovations in a range of industries, however they have not yet been adopted by the world-wide jewellery industry which is fearful of a significant disruption to the market by these ‘fakes’.
Sofie will work in collaboration with the Trier University of Applied Sciences, Department of Gemstones and Jewellery in Idar-Oberstein and Electro-Optics Technology Inc to explore the unique possibilities that these new materials provide beyond imitation. She will undertake tests on the viability, limitations and use of innovative and experimentally grown crystals in the production of a range of contemporary jewellery.
As world-wide pressure increases due to a reduced supply of mined gemstones, the environmental damages due to mining, increased competition from countries with lower labour costs and an increase in research, investment and skills being applied to the enhancement and innovation of grown crystals in other industries this is a perfect time to undertake this research so the jewellery industry can take advantage of the opportunities bespoke man-made crystals could offer to support the move to specialist and innovative designs, which the area is currently making.
With sustainability becoming more and more important to consumers and industry, the potential environmental benefits man-made gemstones provide; their traceability and the transparent labour practices involved, should be of huge value around the world.
Dr. Daniel Rytz from Electro-Optics Technology Inc describes the research as being an ‘opportunity for innovation, which in turn could lead to benefits for the wider jewellery industry’.
About the partners:
Electro-Optics Technology (EOTech) has been producing components for manufacturers worldwide since 1987. EOTech designs, grows, and fabricates laser crystals for the world’s leading laser manufacturers. EOTech’s high quality standard in manufacturing laser and nonlinear crystals are the result of intensive research and development activities to improve crystal growth processes and develop new materials.
Trier University of Applied Sciences – Dept. of Gemstones and Jewellery in Idar-Oberstein is unique in the world for its specialisation in gemstones. Its studios, extensive library and connections with the industry in Idar-Oberstein, in addition to its key role in the global contemporary jewellery field through for example its bi-annual Schmuck Denken (Thinking Jewellery) symposium, places it at the forefront of gemstone research.
About the funder:
Deutscher Akademisher Austauschdienst (DAAD) (German Academic Exchange Service) is the world’s largest funding organisation for the international exchange of students and researchers. Change by exchange is the motto of the DAAD. Exchange promotes understanding between countries and individuals and helps secure the peace. New scientific findings enable us to meet global challenges. Cooperation contributes to political and social progress. Change by exchange is our contribution to shaping a global society that finds solutions to the pressing issues of tomorrow.
Dr Mary Alice Young, Senior Lecturer and Researcher of Transnational Organised Crime from UWE Bristol has been invited to a series of engagements and placements around the world to share her expertise and research.
Dr Young has also been successful in applying for funding to undertake a project which focuses on exploring the resilience of transnational organized crime in the pandemic and post-pandemic world. She has also incorporated Dr Amber Philips from UWE Bristol Criminology to assist with the project.
Dr Young has been appointed as an editor for the Journal of Financial Crime, the Journal of Money Laundering Control and, the European Review of Organised Crime. Dr Young has recently submitted an editorial for the former, and is being mentored by Professor Barry Rider (Cambridge) to undertake wider research dissemination duties.
A Centre for Fine Print Research project, led by Associate Professor Fabio D’Agnano, has been selected as Best Practice at EU Industry Days 21, a flagship event of the EU Commission. The project featured in the main exhibition of the fourth edition of the European Industry Days 2021 which took place virtually 23-26 February 2021.
The UNESCO4ALL TOUR project was undertaken with the aim of producing replicas to be displayed at four UNESCO World Heritage sites (Basicica Aquileia, Alhambra Palace, Sibenik Cathedral, Rila Monastery) to aid visually impaired audiences.
The scope of the research was to develop accessible, innovative, transnational cultural tourism artefacts and experiences by integrating tactile exploration with audio data.
Researchers tested a high-tech “ring” detection of Near Field Connectivity (NFC) tags integrated into 3D printed artefact replicas. NFC sensors located on tactile surfaces are triggered to communicate wirelessly with a smart device (through an app for tablets or mobile phones).
The team found innovative solutions for the production of three-dimensional models for tactile exploration. This required translating real objects into digital models through photogrammetry, digital 3D modelling and digital sculpting. Digital models were then built using a variety of materials and techniques including Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) routing, laser cutting and engraving, and resin 3D printing. One of the main challenges was to create a precise replica of an artefact, of considerable size and at reasonable expense. In addition, the material used needed to be easy to maintain and pleasant to touch.
Watch the video below to learn more about the project:
Replicas will be sited at four UNESCO World Heritage sites and findings will be disseminated via conferences and public talks in 2021.
An exciting competition for school children has been launched by UWE Bristol academics in collaboration with Waterwise. Based on the award winning book DRY: The Story of a Water Superhero, the competition provides an ideal opportunity to engage young people to think about water use and enable positive behaviour change.
Having won the Geography Association’s Silver Award, the book written as a young girl’s diary, has been published by the Drought Risk & You (DRY) Project (UWE Bristol), which is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The story runs over the course of a year and tells how an ordinary schoolgirl in the UK transforms into a water superhero when a dry summer and winter with little rainfall lead to drought. Seeing life through ‘water goggles’, the girl shares her new-found love of water with her school and community, as the drought progresses.
The story and accompanying teacher notes were created by Professor Lindsey McEwen, who heads the DRY project and is Professor of Environmental Management and Director of the Centre for Water, Communities and Resilience at the UWE Bristol, Dr Verity Jones, Senior Lecturer in Education at UWE; Sarah Whitehouse, Senior Lecturer in Education & Humanities at UWE and Dr Sara Williams, an environmental psychologist and researcher. The illustrations by artist Luci Gorell Barnes play a key role in projecting the relevance of the story and the science behind it.
The curriculum-led competition is a creative challenge for children to read and enjoy the engaging STEM book and use their imagination to illustrate what their community would look like if we all used water more wisely. It also offers an ideal opportunity to embed geography, science and PSHE into real-world learning, informed by evidence-based scientific research. Which can be carried out in lessons / activities or set as a homework assignment. It is also ideal for out-of-school activity groups.
The aim of the competition is to:
Raise awareness of the importance of treating water as a precious resource in the face of climate change, based on the research of the Drought Risk and You (DRY) Project
Teach the causes of and impacts of drought in the UK
Prompt changes in behaviour to use water more wisely – inspiring children to be agents of change, to protect our communities and our planet, carrying the message back to their homes and families
To give them the confidence and background knowledge to engage with some of the themes and messages of COP26, the world’s biggest climate change summit being hosted by the UK in Glasgow in November
Communicate the accessible science behind the DRY Project, part of the NERC-funded About Drought programme
The competition is open to 5-9 and 10-13 year olds entries must be submitted between May 1st-28th 2021
UWE Bristol’s Dr Vadim Zverovich, Senior Lecturer in Operational Research, has recently had his new book published – Modern Applications of Graph Theory. The book discusses many cutting-edge applications of graph theory, such as traffic networks, navigable networks and optimal routing for emergency response, placement of electric vehicle charging stations, and graph-theoretic methods in molecular epidemiology. Due to the rapid growth of research in this field, the focus of the book is on the up-to-date development of these applications and the mathematical methods used to tackle them.
One of the topics discussed in the book is devoted to the well-known Braess’ paradox in traffic networks. Braess’ Paradox illustrates situations when the addition of another road link or route, with the intention of improving traffic flow, actually has the opposite effect of causing more congestion. This is because drivers generally choose their own driving routes when making their travel plans, without thinking about the traffic flow for all drivers, so that the road system as a whole does not operate optimally.
Deeper insight into this paradox from the viewpoint of the structure and characteristics of road networks may help transport planners to avoid the occurrence of Braess-like situations in real-life networks. If the analysis of all performance measures in a road network is done before the construction of a new road, then a huge amount of money and time can be saved. One relevant example is a demolition of a motorway section in Seoul in 2003, which improved travel time in the local network and resulted in a restoration of a river under the motorway (see Figure 2). The demolition and restoration costs were £201 million, not including very high construction expenses and upkeep of the river. Although it is generally believed that this is a real-life example of Braess’ paradox, it was not proved mathematically that the paradox actually occurred in this road network.
A generally accepted belief is that Braess’ paradox is wide spread. This was confirmed by some researchers who claimed that the likelihood of the paradox is 50%, or even higher under some assumptions. However, Dr Zverovich proved mathematically that typical probabilities for Braess’ paradox to occur in classical road network configurations do not exceed 10%. In addition, the probability of Braess’ paradox to occur is 6% in the classical network configuration consisting of motorway sections and class A roads. Notice that for traffic networks consisting of motorway sections, class A roads or a mixture of both, statistical tests showed that the distribution of parameters of travel time functions follow the Erlang-k distribution for small values of k.
Congratulations to Dr Vadim Zverovich on his recent book success.
We’re living through a Climate and Ecological Emergency and we urgently need to reduce carbon emissions. And yet society seems frozen into inaction. Could a new modelling and communication approach help to gather momentum?
In a journal paper recently released, the research team detailed their innovative method to bring these results together, through citizen-centred source apportionment. Traditional methods for monitoring air pollution and carbon emissions look at what is creating the emissions (vehicles, heating etc), and where the emissions end up (pollution hot spots).
Focus on Who and Why
This new approach focusses on who is burning fossil fuels and why they are doing so. This means we can understand the human dimension of emissions to improve policymaking, accounting for demographics (gender or age groups), socio-economic factors (income/car ownership) and motives for specific behaviours (e.g., commuting to work, leisure, shopping, etc.).
The modelling produced some surprises when applied to traffic in Bristol – as leisure travel accounted for the most km travelled, and therefore the most emissions per year. Local councils usually focus on school traffic or commuting, but this provides a new way to approach emissions reduction. Policymakers plan to look at ways to reduce car use for leisure travel, for instance locating leisure venues near to public transport or cycling paths, or even considering plans for 15 minute cities, where any necessary city amenities are within a 15 minute walk from homes.
For science communicators, there is also much to think through as well. The modelling showed that emissions are not evenly produced; certain types of people produce more emissions than others, and some feel the effects of pollution more than others. For instance, men travel by car more than women, and people who earn over £50,000 per year tend to own more cars, and therefore drive far more often.
Perceptions of ‘sensible’ climate action vary between groups
We therefore need a far more nuanced approach to communicating about climate action. Climate Outreach have done some excellent work on this topic, with their work on seven segments of British society and their attitudes to climate action. Science communicators need to focus on the segments polluting the most, and tailor communications showing the benefits of each relevant action they can take.
The UWE team’s new journal paper take this further using social psychology theories, explaining how the social contexts of the groups to which we belong influence what we perceive to be ‘normal’ in society. This means that cultural realities can change between social groups, cities, regions and countries. This ‘Overton Window of Political Possibility’ can shift over time so that an idea moves from unthinkable to radical, to acceptable, to sensible, to popular and finally into policy. For example, a climate change policy which is considered quite sensible in one city, such as an extensive network of segregated bike lanes allowing for cars to be curtailed in the city centre (Amsterdam in the Netherlands), may be considered to be quite radical in another city (such as Bristol, U.K.).
Science communications needs to focus on group lived experience of this ‘normality’, in order to understand more about why our day-to-day behaviours happen, and how we can change if we see others doing the same. Politicians will generally only pursue policies that are widely accepted throughout society as legitimate policy options, or otherwise, they may risk losing popular support and become unelectable. In order to introduce new policies, we therefore need to show how an idea can be communicated so that it resonates with what is deemed ‘acceptable’ or ‘sensible’ to the majority of citizens.
People like me create emissions, and people like me can take action
The UWE team showed how social cognitive theory can be used to help improve individual and collective self-efficacy for climate action. Using an example of more women cycling to activities, we need to focus on:
Vicarious experiences (i.e., comparisons of capability to others, modelling and observing)—a woman deciding whether to cycle will be influenced by whether other women cycle; if this is considered a ’normal’ thing for women to do, then other women will likely join in.
Mastery or performance accomplishments (i.e., experiences of relevant success)—a beginner female cyclist will be more likely to continue cycling if they have a positive experience cycling on main roads; they will then have a memory to recall about their ability to cycle alongside cars.
Verbal persuasions (positive feedback from peers and supervisors, coaching)—to continue cycling, the female cyclist would need to receive direct positive feedback on this activity.
Emotional arousal – both vicarious (indirect) and mastery (direct) experiences can influence our emotional states. To improve self-efficacy for an activity, we need to experience positive emotional responses. Therefore, the woman would need to feel that she is capable and confident at cycling and that other people approve or admire her behaviour.
So climate action needs positive (and relevant) role models, alongside positive press or communications (in relevant media) in order to help change our behaviours.
The ClairCity project showed how new thinking about the role of people in relation to air pollution and carbon emissions can widen options for action, leading to more acceptable and effective policies. Climate communications should draw on social learning in order to tailor communication efforts towards relevant groups. Ultimately, we need to become more aware that ’people like me’ create emissions and, equally, ‘people like me’ can take action to reduce emissions.
Fogg-Rogers, L.; Hayes, E.; Vanherle, K.; Pápics, P.I..; Chatterton, T.; Barnes, J.; Slingerland, S.; Boushel, C.; Laggan, S.; Longhurst, J.. Applying Social Learning to Climate Communications—Visualising ‘People Like Me’ in Air Pollution and Climate Change Data. Sustainability 2021, 13(6) 3406 doi.org/10.3390/su13063406
The special issue of LINKs will serve well as a light-touch introduction to unconventional computing for people not familiar with computing and might inspire artists and humanitarians to enter the field.
Unconventional computing is the future of computers. It is the most high speed and capacity which a computer will handle. A way to understand this theory is across its expressivity in the art as seen in Genaro Martínez, Andy Adamatzky, Marcin Schroeder’s research on the art of unconventional computing with cellular automata.
Genaro Martínez shares some of his research images below:
“Cellular automata and Turing machines are both abstract models:
It is the result of a binary collision between two particles in a three-dimensional space. So, later of 112 generations the result is a propagation of symmetric patterns self-replicating, as demonstrated above.
They are related to patterns in the universe or in nature. In this case, a three-dimensional cellular automaton reproduces one of these patterns from a collision of particles. It is related in physics (big bang theory) where the construction of a universe (artificial in this case) begins later of the collision and expands forever.
The above image is a Turing machine in colours. Typically, a Turing machine works in one dimension and shows the steps of an algorithm, in the sense abstract. This is as if you could see step by step how your computer calculates data. Of course, it is not evident for the final user, but in computer science, our picture shows a pictorial representation as a Turing machine works but in two dimensions for a computable process.”
Research from other UCL members was also included in the special edition:
Andy Adamatzky and Irina Petrova’s research on Fungal Grey Matter looks at recent discoveries that the electrical activity of fungi is similar to neurons. They briefly overview their discoveries on sensing and computing with fungi.
In the special issue, Andrew Adamatzky, Anna Nikolaidou, Antoni Gandia and Alessandro Chiolerio briefly reviews their ideas on Living wearables from slime mould and fungi. They argue that Living wearables offer a new spectrum of performance possibilities such as reactiveness, adaptiveness, and sensing capabilities. Whilst also being harmless to the environment, biodegradable and they can even nurture the cultivation of new materials in their end of life.
All the research mentioned in the special edition of LINKs can be viewed here.
The UCL was founded by Professor Andy Adamatzky in 2001 as a response to an urgent need to develop computers for next century. Their research looks at novel computational techniques, architectures and working prototypes of non-linear media based computers.