In January, the Research Impact team hosted a two day writing retreat for selected academics from UWE Bristol.
The retreat was the last one in a series of away days that have taken place since last June for the different faculties at UWE Bristol.
The two-day retreats allow academics to think about their research case studies away from campus enabling them the opportunity to fine tune and edit their work.
The impact team helps the academics to fine tune their work so that it is in a good position to submit for the Research Excellence Framework 2021.
All four retreats have been extremely well received, with glowing feedback from attendees:
“Very many thanks for organising and initiating for us such a brilliant retreat. It has made a huge difference to me – I would never have made this progress without it!” Participant A
“The experience has been really excellent (and I know others have said the same). The structure, information, advice, hospitality and good humour that the RBI team provided was exceptional. As a result it was possible – in bite-sized chunks – to get tuned into the specifics of what was needed and then review and revise the case study material as well as getting critical feedback on it in near real-time.” Participant B
“I found the structure and flow of activities well-structured and relaxed, which is exactly what was needed to get us talking to each other and working on our case studies. Thank you for not ‘forcing’ us into unnecessary “workshop standard” activities, which usually involve flip-charts, felt-tip pens and post-it notes! This is an element I’m always dreading in mandatory workshops/seminars and not having it, is what made me feel more comfortable and got me concentrating on the task at hand.” Participant C
Read some of UWE Bristol’s Research with Impact Case Studies here
From 20th – 25th January, the driverless
pods were at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway transporting members of the public,
enabling them to experience connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) and
understand how they might operate in the future.
Capri is a consortium comprising 17 partners, including lead
organisation AECOM, South Gloucestershire Council and UWE Bristol. The Capri
trial is the first in the UK without this level of supervision, inviting
members of the public to turn up and travel alone in the autonomous pod.
The research used in this trial will help reduce potential
barriers limiting the uptake of commercially ready autonomous vehicle services.
This also includes overcoming technical challenges, raising public awareness
and ensuring sustainable integration into the wider transport systems. This
pilot will support the local and UK economy by helping regional and national
businesses become more competitive in a growing international market.
[Photo L-R: Dr Geraint Jones (Innovate UK), Alex Sleat (UWE Bristol), Shirley Hall (ExtraCare), Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly (UWE Bristol) attending the quarterly review meeting at Bristol Robotics Lab]
UWE Bristol has been working on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with ExtraCare Charitable Trust. Based in Coventry, with a village in Stoke Gifford, ExtraCare runs retirement villages and housing developments and currently has almost 4,000 homes available for older people.
This KTP aims to develop expertise in smart living technologies, such as intelligent sensing and socially assistive robots. The project aims to explore what technologies are capable of improving service provision, increasing productivity, generating revenue and upskilling staff. We spoke with Alex Sleat who has been leading the project as the KTP Associate:
What attracted you to the KTP role?
I’ve been a researcher in academia for some time, so it was interesting for me to get to see lab research being utilised in the outside environment. The KTP partnership between UWE and ExtraCare is a great opportunity for this.
How is the partnership between UWE and Extracare working?
The partnership is going well, there’s a good level of communication between the two partners, and a lot of additional activity towards finding opportunities for future collaboration.
What are the current challenges of your role?
The main reoccurring challenge is finding technology that fits into people’s lifestyles, trying to figure out how technology will work for an individual and then conducting research around their busy schedules and in their own homes. Getting people to try new technology is always tricky, so it’s important that explanations are simple and the technology is bespoke enough to prove beneficial.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Sometimes it’s obvious to see the positive effects of new technologies. Often technology that might have been overlooked, because it’s not directly designed for a purpose, has a huge impact and allows people to improve their day-to-day lives, wellbeing, health and independence. I spend a lot of time inside the retirement village, so have enjoyed getting to know the residents and watching the community grow.
What do you think about the support available from UWE and the Company?
Both UWE and ExtraCare have made me feel part of the group, and support and guidance from both sides has been tremendous when I’ve needed it.
To find out more about the Knowledge Transfer Partnership opportunities at UWE, visitour website
As part of the Being Human Festival 2019, Professor Steve Poole is co-hosting an event on 14 November that explores ‘dark tourism’ sites of extraordinary public execution in Georgian Britain. Read all about it in his post below:
Steve Poole, University of the West of England, Bristol
“Ralph Hoyte and I first came up with the idea for Romancing the Gibbet in 2014 and pitched it to the first Being Human festival. Here’s the premise: Ralph is a poet concerned with embedding language in the landscape, a situated poetry working in tandem with the experience of Place. I’m a social historian interested in the representation of emotional trauma in the historic environment. What might we make if we worked together?
In 2014, Ralph was developing digital conversations between
the Romantic poets Coleridge and the Wordsworths in the Quantock Hills above
Nether Stowey in the later 18th century, and I was completing some
research about the extraordinary and occasional practice of hanging criminals at
remote rural crime scenes in the same period. In many cases, the executed body
was then left to slowly decompose in an iron gibbet cage suspended high over
Conventional histories assess the evidence surrounding
events like these but struggle to represent their emotional and affective
impact on the environment in which they were staged and in the consciousness of
the people they targeted. We wondered whether a fusion of historical research
and poetic response, cast as a situated performance piece close to an execution
site could get us (and a local audience) closer to understanding the process as
it was conceived by contemporaries – as a deep and indelible mark on the
collective memory of a community.
So, augmented by a live soundscape created by the environmental artist Michael Fairfax, we staged two bespoke Being Human performances along these lines at Warminster, Wiltshire (where two men were hanged on a hill overlooking the town after murdering a farmer and his servant in 1813) and at Nether Stowey, Somerset (where a man was hanged for the murder of his wife in 1789). Built around lengthy balladic interpretations, these went down astonishingly well and attracted a brilliantly mixed audience of local history buffs, creative writing fans and curious local residents.
Our next objective was to make some more permanent immersive
landscape interventions, adapting the performance pieces and making them more
accessible. Ralph and I had both worked a lot with creative digital audio as an
interpretation tool so we next threw that experience into building four
geo-located ‘Romancing the Gibbet’ app downloads. We added two new poetry
commissions: a fratricidal killing in the estuary at Avonmouth in 1741 and the
murder of a labourer on a hill overlooking Chipping Camden in 1772. These
immersive landscape trails are designed for use with smartphone and headphones
in the environment they commemorate. They are not linear guides and they do not
offer ‘information’. We see them as situated sound pieces triggered by past
At this year’s Being Human festival we’re promoting all this
work – engaging audiences at community halls in each of the four locales, with
historical discussion, sample performance pieces and specially laid out audio
Why have we stuck with this project for five years now? Partly because we are still learning how our understanding of the world, and what it is to be a human in it, is affected by a finely tuned balance between reason and emotion. Historians haven’t always found it easy to work with imaginative reconstruction, with empathy or with feeling. But here was an historical practice deliberately designed to traumatise, to emotionally scar and to change for generations the ways in which the landscape was read and understood. What’s more, eighteenth century people often used poetry themselves to record them, perhaps because rational explanation was never quite enough.
For heritage interpretation, making sense of emotional
currents and their relationship to the conventional archive, material culture
and the natural world seems to me absolutely vital. And working collaboratively
with creative industries partners like Ralph has changed the way I think as an
Creative and even-handed co-production between artists and academics can provoke audiences to think differently about the past and to ‘remember’ or ‘know’ things in different ways. Collective memories, tied to Place, may reveal themselves in evidence-based research, but they may also emerge in myths, fictions and folklore. Poetry works with the spectral traces of a half remembered, part imaginary past and is quite at home in it. But it is no less ‘authentic’ for all that.”
Watch a short film of Ralph and Steve discussing the project here. To book tickets for the event please see here.
Researchers at UWE Bristol are supporting the North Bristol
NHS Trust to develop a device that can diagnose urinary tract infections (UTI)
in a few minutes. The project, funded by
the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), could avoid instances when
doctors prescribe antibiotics as a precautionary measure while waiting for test
The device, which will be about the size of a domestic
toaster, is to be developed within the University’s Institute of Bio-sensing
Technology. It will work using a cartridge that contains antibodies to common
UTI bacteria, and a protein indicating when an infection is present. A small
volume of the patient’s urine sample is poured into the cartridge, which is
then placed in the new detection device, after which a diagnosis can be made
Professor Richard Luxton, who is co-Founder and Director of
the Institute of Bio-sensing Technology at UWE Bristol said: “As well as
speeding up the diagnostic process, this device is aimed at minimizing
inappropriate prescription of antibiotics and hence supporting the aim of
reducing antimicrobial resistance.
“Currently it can take up to three days to get a result
for a urine sample sent to a microbiology laboratory. If the patient has
ongoing symptoms, the GP will sometimes prescribe antibiotics before the result
is back. This could be harmful to the patient, and also to the community at
Professor Marcus Drake, Consultant Urologist from North
Bristol NHS Trust and project Principle Investigator, said that as well as
being slow, such methods are sometimes unreliable. “The new device will
detect the infecting bacteria directly, giving a reliable indicator of the UTI.
Current dipstick type tests measure chemicals in the urine that suggest
bacteria may be present, but these are not sensitive and may miss an
infection,” he said.
The development of the diagnostic device is in its early
stages and the project duration is scheduled for three years to develop a
prototype, and do a preliminary test with real urine specimens. Over a following
three-year period, researchers will then further develop the diagnostic system
to bring it in line with regulations, with a plan for the device to then be
used in clinical trials.
Following this, the researchers hope to make it available to
the NHS for use in GP surgeries for patients with suspected UTI.
Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences Dr Alex Greenhough has been awarded a grant of almost £25,000 from Bowel Cancer UK to understand why some patients with rectal cancer don’t respond well to certain treatments and look for new ways to improve its chance of success.
Alex will be studying proteins that are found in bowel cancer cells to find out if they affect how patients respond to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
In collaboration with Adam Chambers and Professor Ann Williams from the University of Bristol, they hope to discover how subtle differences in these proteins might help them to which patients will respond best to this type of treatment.
Knowing which patients are likely to respond well to chemotherapy and radiotherapy means this treatment can be offered to those who would most benefit from it. Most importantly, patients will be spared from the side effects of a treatment that simply won’t work for them.
This award is part of Bowel Cancer UK’s investment of over £1.3 million pounds to support research with the greatest benefits for those at risk and affected by the disease.
Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, however it shouldn’t be because it is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early.
Alex said: “We are incredibly grateful for this funding from Bowel Cancer UK, which will give us a fantastic opportunity to make important progress towards better understanding patient responses to chemoradiotherapy and ultimately improve clinical outcomes.”
Dr Lisa Wilde, Director of Research and External Affairs at Bowel Cancer UK, said: “We are delighted to invest in Dr Greenhough’s research. This important work will support our commitment to invest in high quality, innovative and creative solutions to help lead a step change in the number of people surviving bowel cancer.”
As part of a research project involving UWE Bristol robotics, driverless pods helped transport members of the public around London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The project aims to pave the way for the use of connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) transport services at public transport hubs and around private estates, including tourist and shopping centres, hospitals, business parks and airports.
With Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park already a testbed for smart mobility activity, alongside a wide range of other innovation projects, an important element of this trial assessed people’s behaviours and attitudes towards driverless pods. With little existing research on how people interact with CAVs in public spaces, representatives from UWE Bristol and Loughborough University observed how people behaved when confronted by the pods, as well as surveying passengers who took a ride on them.
Conducting the trial in the park allowed the UWE Bristol team to speak to users of the park to explore how they felt about the pods being in the same space, and if that raised concerns. Talking to groups such as cyclists, e-scooter users and families provided feedback on how accepting the public might be of driverless vehicles in off-road spaces like the park, and in other locations such as shopping centres, hospitals or airports.
The trial at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park earlier this month was the first public appearance for the Capri pods, which picked up and dropped off passengers at a number of points on a circular route. The Capri pods will be at The Mall in South Gloucestershire in early 2020, returning to the park next year with a final trial that will extend their route and further test the on-demand technology.
Blog post adapted from UWE Bristol news article, which can be found here.
A project co-led by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), Bristol Zoo and West African Primate Conservation Action is set to help protect nine species of primate found across Africa. A five-year plan that will be sent to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and which begins in 2020, sets out measures to protect the endangered Mangadrills.
Mangadrills include nine groups of African monkeys: seven within the genus Cercocebus, also known as mangabeys, and three within Mandrillus, including the mandrill and the two sub-species described as drills. These primates inhabit an area that stretches from Senegal and Gabon in West Africa, all the way to the Tana River Delta in Kenya. Yet despite the wide range of their habitats, they are among some of the world’s most threatened monkeys.
Dr David Fernandez, senior lecturer in conservation science at UWE Bristol who is co-leading the project, said: “These species are one of the least known primates, as there are very few people working on them. They are classed as ‘endangered’, except one ‘critically endangered’ and one ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN. Although we know that in most cases their numbers are going down, for many we still don’t know exactly where the populations are or how many are left.”
The plan lists a set of actions that could help conserve these monkeys, which live in forest areas. Although the measures are still being finalised, one could be to protect the Bioko drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus poensis)species from hunters on Bioko Island, in Equatorial Guinea, by blocking off access routes to protected areas, which are used by hunters.
Said Dr Fernandez: “Most hunters enter the Caldera de Luba Scientific Reserve, a protected area in the South of Bioko where most Bioko drills live, using the only existing paved road. Setting up a checkpoint on it would help control poaching in that area and might constitute a plan that is achievable and could be highly effective.”
Another suggested action is to go into communities where primates raid sugar cane crops and are sometimes killed in retaliation. A solution, as set out in the plan, is to help communities to build appropriate fences to prevent this from happening.
As well as identifying what needs to happen to protect these animals, another goal of the action plan is to highlight the existence and plight of these animals.
One action is to set up ecotourism tours in locations like Bioko Island, where the primates have their habitats. Tourists would be able to spend the night in a tropical forest and go with local guides to view the monkeys up close.
Dr Grainne McCabe, head of Field Conservation and Science at Bristol Zoological Society, said: “This action plan is a genuine step forward in trying to save Mangadrill monkeys and we are really pleased to be working with the University of the West of England.
“Together we hope to promote awareness of these threatened species and encourage researchers, conservationists and governments to take the necessary actions to protect them.”
People who are flying less often for environmental reasons want more visible leadership from environmental organisations and green employers to overcome expectations that ‘flying is normal’. That is the conclusion of a study investigating the views of flying ‘reducers’ conducted by two researchers at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).
The study found the ‘reducers’ were driven to act by strong ethical reasons, particularly concern about climate change. But they told researchers that they faced barriers in reducing their flights including social factors, such as ridicule from people around them and tension within families, including partners. Most of the respondents found it relatively easy to reduce their flying, but some mentioned high costs of international rail travel, and difficulties with booking, ticketing and making connections.
The two-year project surveyed members, supporters and staff of 80 organisations involved in environmental campaigning or sustainable development based in the UK. The study was conducted before the recent upsurge in awareness about aviation and climate change, and the ‘flight shaming‘ movement, which has reduced flying in Sweden. In total 153 people completed the online survey, with in-depth interviews conducted with 13 of them.
The study was conducted between 2016 and 2018 as part of Paul Purnell’s MSc in Sustainable Development in Practice at UWE Bristol. Paul works as a management consultant, specialising in general and environmental management systems for small engineering companies. The project was supervised by Dr Steve Melia, a Senior Lecturer in Transport and Planning, who has written and lectured about aviation and climate change.
Dr Melia said: “Several people in this study said they avoided talking about flying, to avoid conflict or embarrassing other people. Others described some difficult conversations with people around them.”
The study concluded that a ‘vanguard’ of flying ‘reducers’ could help to boost alternatives, such as ferry connections and long-distance sleeper trains, which have been eroded in recent years. This will require more leadership from environmental organisations and other organisations with a commitment to sustainability, the researchers found.
The full research paper, published in World Transport Policy and Practice, is available here. Originally appeared on the UWE website here.
A revolutionary new type of intelligent building made with green construction materials and capable of adaptively reacting to changes in light, temperature and air pollutants is being developed by UWE Bristol academics in collaboration with partners from Denmark (Centre for Information Technology and Architecture), Italy (MOGU) and the Netherlands (Utrecht University).
Researchers from the UWE Bristol’s Centre of Unconventional Computing will lead the construction of a smart home for the future using fungi, a carbon free material, as part of a £2.5 million project funded by the European Commission.
Using a novel bio-electric system developed by scientists, living fungi grown inside the building’s framework structure will act as a sensor detecting changes in light, pollutants and temperature, and computers will analyse the information. When particular changes are recognised, the system will have the potential to respond adaptively by controlling connected devices such as lights and heaters.
UWE Bristol computer scientists will work with European experts in architecture, biophysics and mycology on the project, which has been heralded as a potential breakthrough for the building industry due to its eco-friendly credentials. By using fungi as an integrated structural and computational substrate, buildings would have low production and running costs, embedded artificial intelligence, and could be returned to nature when no longer in use.
The three-year FUNGAR (Fungal Architectures) project will mark the first time intelligent biological substances have been used as construction materials. It will see living organisms and computing function integrated into designing and building.
Professor Andrew Adamatzky, Director of the Centre of Unconventional Computing, said: “Our overarching goal is to design and bio-manufacture a sensing and computing building with fungi. This is a radically new approach as it proposes to use a real living organism in the material structure, which is also tuned to perform computation.
“If successful, the building as a whole will be able to recognise lighting levels, chemicals in the environment, the presence of people, and will respond to touch. Acting as a massively-parallel computer, the building will control devices depending on the environmental conditions. For example, a warning light could be lit if high levels of air pollution were detected or inhabitants could be warned about high or low temperatures. It’s our vision for an alternative version of a smart home.
“This type of building would be ecologically-friendly as it will be made from natural materials, and will be lightweight, waterproof and recyclable when it reaches the end of its life.”
Professor Adamatzky discovered fungi could be used as a type of functional computer following a studyat UWE Bristol three years ago. He found that the organism reacts to external stimuli such changes in lighting conditions and temperature with spikes of electrical activity.
Fungi is already used as a building material in Europe but the existing approach involves growing the organism to the shape of bricks or blocks, before drying it out to harden. However, fungi have never before been used in live form in self-growing construction. For the FUNGAR project, the fungi will be combined with nanoparticles and polymers to make mycelium-based electronics. This material will then be grown inside the building’s triaxial woven structure. The full-scale fungal building will be constructed in Denmark and Italy, with a smaller scale version being created at UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus.