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Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Life as a PhD student – in pictures

November 17th, 2014

From crumbling 17th century historical documents to desk sabotage, the Guardian Higher Education Network has gathered a selection of pictures illustrating life as a PhD student:


Threat to close the Imperial War Museum library

November 17th, 2014

In the Library Service we’ve been alerted to plans to cut the Imperial War Museum’s annual operating grant in aid which would affect its services and standing as an international centre for study, research and education. Specifically there are plans to close the Library, disperse its collections and make 60+ staff redundant.

There is a petition on protesting about the proposed cuts.  If you would like to sign the petition to protest about the cuts, here’s the link:


Nationwide search for new intellectual broadcasters

November 17th, 2014

“The Arts & Humanities Research Council [AHRC], BBC Radio 3, and BBC Arts are launching a nationwide search to find the UK’s next intellectual broadcasters in the arts and humanities.”

“From lively intellectual debates on air, explorations of ancient civilisations, and nationwide commemorations of World War One, academic research has never been so visible in the media. The New Generation Thinkers scheme is seeking innovative programme ideas, talent, and expertise from early career researchers who are passionate about communicating their research across the airwaves.”

“The scheme, led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council with BBC Radio 3, will invite up to sixty early career researchers to BBC-run workshops to develop their programme ideas alongside experienced BBC producers. From these sixty, the ten resident New Generation Thinkers for 2015 will be selected, and will go on to develop their ideas for BBC Radio 3 in a year-long partnership.”

“The scheme is partnered with BBC Arts to provide opportunities for the New Generation Thinkers to develop their ideas for television and have the opportunity to make a short taster film of their idea to be shown on the BBC arts website –”

To find out more go to:

[Source AHRC news as above]

Imaging with added sparkle

November 17th, 2014

“Tiny diamonds are providing scientists with new possibilities for accurately measuring processes inside living cells, with potential to improve drug delivery.”

“Researchers from Cardiff University’s Schools of Biosciences and Physics have unveiled a new method for viewing tiny diamonds inside living human cells. The pioneering technology could help to ensure that drugs are reaching the right target cells, as it enables researchers to see where a drug is reacting inside the body.”

“Nanodiamonds are small particles (a thousand times smaller than human hair) with low toxicity that can transport drugs inside cells. They show huge promise as an alternative to the organic fluorophores usually used by scientists to visualise processes inside cells and tissues.”

“A major limitation of organic fluorophores is that they degrade over time under light illumination. This makes it difficult to use them for accurate measurements of cellular processes. They can also become toxic or even kill cells. Nanodiamonds are one of the best inorganic material alternatives because of their compatibility with human cells, and due to their stable structural and chemical properties.”

“In their latest paper, the researchers showed that non-fluorescing nanodiamonds (diamonds without defects) can be imaged far more stably via the interaction between illuminating light and the vibrating chemical bonds in the diamond’s lattice structure, which results in scattered light of a different colour.”

“The paper Coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering microscopy of single nanodiamonds was published in Nature Nanotechnology. DOI:10.1038/nnano.2014.210.”

[Source Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) news: ]

Historical Photographs of China

November 17th, 2014

“This project, a collaboration between the University of Bristol, University of Lincoln, the Institut d’Asie Orientale, and TGE-Adonis, “aims to locate, archive, and disseminate” the disparate photographs of modern China held in private collections around the world. This is a particularly compelling goal, as the bulk of the photographic archives of modern China were destroyed inside the country during the 1966-69 Cultural Revolution. Five extensive collections, including hundreds of portraits and landscapes from the National Archives Collection in London, are represented on the web site. Themes include Chinese Maritime Collections and the Shanghai Municipal Police. Each collection is accompanied by a helpful introduction and includes a title and date for each image. [CNH]”

To look at the photos go to:

[Source Scout Report, Sept 26, 2014: ]

America’s Music

November 17th, 2014

America’s Music, curated by the Tribeca Film Institute, “uses documentary films and text to engage the public in a study of some of America’s most enduring popular music.” There are six sessions on display here: The Blues and Gospel Music, Broadway and Tin Pan Alley, Swing Jazz, Country and Blue Grass, Rock, and From Mambo to Hip Hop. On the site, click any one of the categories for an engaging topic essay, as well as a Filmography, Bibliography, Discography, and related Web Sites. For instance, under the Blues and Gospel Music, readers can peruse an erudite overview by Charles F. McGovern of the College of William and Mary, for tidbits on such greats as Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, and Memphis Minnie. [CNH]”

Go to the America’s Music website at:

[Source Scout Report, Sept 26, 2014: ]

Image of the Week: Sample of an Unknown Soldier

November 17th, 2014

Isobel Routledge writes in the Wellcome Trust blog:

“This week’s image tells us a story about remembrance. It’s a story that reminds us of the millions of soldiers who lost their lives during World War I, not at the hands of guns or grenades, but from infectious disease. It’s also a story that demonstrates the impact of people from the past on our health today. In this case, this impact comes from a 1915 tissue sample containing Shigella flexneri, the bacterium which causes dysentery.”

“Scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute wanted to understand how dysentery has evolved over the years, in order to help them combat the disease in developing countries. In these areas it has become increasingly resistant to antibiotics and kills hundreds of thousands of children under five each year.”

“To understand how Shigella flexneri has changed, researchers analysed the genome of the 1915 sample of Shigella flexneri and compared it to genomes from modern samples. Analysis of the 1915 sample identified areas of the genome that have evolved over nearly 100 years to evade modern antimicrobial treatments. The research also revealed areas of the genome showing resistance to penicillin before it was in widespread use – suggesting inbuilt resistance to the drug.”

[Source Wellcome Trust blog: ]

Heritage + Culture Open Data Challenge

November 17th, 2014

“Nesta and the Open Data Institute are running an open data challenge on the theme of Heritage & Culture. We are asking teams to develop products and services which answer the question: How can we use open data to engage more people, and more diverse people, in UK heritage and culture?”

“Applications are open from 4th November 2014 until midday 9th February 2015 and we are holding a series of events during the application period to help teams develop their ideas. Applications should be submitted using our Heritage & Culture group on Collabfinder.”

The Challenge “invites teams from existing businesses, startups, social enterprises and community groups to use open data to build products and services. In particular, we are interested in products and services which deliver value to people who are not well-served by current heritage and culture offers. In addition, we are also interested in business to business propositions and new approaches which use open data to support institutions and organisations to expand their reach to new and diverse people.”

[Source Heritage Portal news: ]

New international macrodata at UK Data Service

November 17th, 2014

“We are delighted to announce that two new international datasets are now available via UKDS.Stat – the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Economic Outlook and Pensions Statistics:

The OECD Economic Outlook is the organisations comprehensive twice-yearly analysis of the major economic trends and prospects for the next two years. The Outlook puts forward a consistent set of projections for output, employment, prices, fiscal and current account imbalances, expenditures, foreign trade, output, labour markets, interest and exchange rates, balance of payments and government debt for all OECD member countries as well as for some non-member countries. The data run from, where available, 1960 onwards. Also included is the OECD Long Term Baseline analysing major economic trends to 2060!”

“The OECD Pensions Statistics provide valuable data for measuring and monitoring the pension industry and to permit inter-country comparisons of current statistics and indicators on key aspects of retirement systems across OECD and non-OECD countries from 1980 onwards. The database comprises datasets on Pension Statistics, Indicators, Pensions at a Glance and Public pension reserve funds’ assets.”

[Source UK Data Service news: ]

UK Data Service launches QualiBank

November 17th, 2014

“A new search and browse interface has been launched by the UK Data Service, which allows users to search collections of public surveys, opinions, interviews and essays, offering a rich and diverse resource detailing people’s lives from the early 1900’s to 1980.”

“The collection contains textual data, audio files and images from the UK Data Service collections.”

“QualiBank has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Digital Futures project, which aims to use the latest technologies to bring richly described and contextualised data to researchers. QualiBank is an interface which lets users search on the context of text files, such as interviews, essays and reports. Any related object, for example, audio recordings or descriptions of photographs, are linked to the objects found, allowing users to easily access a wide breadth of information using minimal searches.”

[Source UK Data Service news: ]

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