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Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Eurovia’s paving that absorbs air pollution

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Steve Van Dulken writes in his British Library patents blog: “French company Eurovia will be installing paving slabs that absorb air pollution in Kendal, Cumbria, next month. The name for the product is NOxer®.”

“The coating is a mixture of spruce wood, cement, water and titanium dioxide. When it receives ultraviolet sunlight, it is able to absorb nitrogen oxide, which is emitted by car exhausts. The pollutants become nitrate ions, which are either washed away by rain or absorbed harmlessly into the paving.”

“The new paving has already been used in many towns in Japan. Eurovia has a page about the product. It sounds like a very interesting development, though I’m not clear how much more expensive it is than normal paving, and how effective it is in reducing air pollution for the pedestrians.”

To read more go to:

[Source British Library blog as above]

Sustainable Society: Achieving work-life balance in a digitally dependent world

Monday, April 30th, 2012

“The Research Councils’ Digital Economy Theme invites expressions of interest from eligible individuals to attend a virtual workshop (a Creativity Greenhouse) on the challenge area of ‘Sustainable Society’. The aim of the workshop is to:

  • stimulate new thinking in promising areas of Digital Economy (DE) research
  • bring together researchers to create an integrated vision for future research, both those already working on DE, and others whose research could directly contribute
  • develop highly creative research ideas.”

“The Digital Economy Theme has allocated up to £1.5M to fund research arising from the workshop, to be taken up by genuinely novel and transformative approaches.”

For more information go to:

[Source: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council website as above]

ESRC task force to promote wider use of administrative data

Monday, April 30th, 2012

“The UK has an abundance of administrative data, but many social scientists overlook their potential to inform their research, either directly or through linkage to other datasets.”

“That may be changing, though, as researchers seeking to answer policyrelevant questions start accessing government administrative datasets across a number of fields.”

“The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has established an Administrative Data Taskforce to enable and promote the wider use of administrative data for research and policy purposes. The group is chaired by Sir Alan Langlands with members representing research funders, the Cabinet Office and several major government departments, statistical authorities and others. There are currently three working groups exploring: models of data access and linkage; ethics and legal issues; and public engagement strategies. The Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) is represented within the expert advisory groups by the Director, Matthew Woollard.”

“The task force met for the first time in January 2012; it is tasked to report to Ministers by the end of the year.”

[Source ESDS News: ]

Social science for schools: educating with data

Monday, April 30th, 2012

“The Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) has provided guidance on datasets and methodologies for the Social Science for Schools website recently launched by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).”

“The resource, in the form of three downloadable PDF factsheets, explores datasets – their role in social science research and how they are accessed and managed. They are written in common language, easily understood by people who are not already familiar with the world of social science data.”

“The first factsheet, ‘Access, uses and management’, gives insight into how data can be used not only to study social behaviour, but also to provide feedback about how people respond to changes in policy. Examples include tracking how behaviour is changing within the family, in the workplace, the street and in our leisure time.”

“The second factsheet, ‘Using ESDS data for teaching’, points to ESDS tailor-made resources in this area, such as our cut-down survey teaching datasets and our methods resources for teachers.”

“The third factsheet introduces ‘Key points to remember when creating and managing data’, highlighting that data analysis is meaningless without strict practices for creating, preparing, storing and sharing, for example, survey data.”

ESRC Social Science for Schools website:

[Source ESDS news: ]

Tissue engineering: The third dimension to animal replacement

Monday, April 30th, 2012

 “The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) and the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council (BBSRC) are hosting a third joint symposium on tissue engineering and stem cell technologies to reduce the use of animals in bioscience research.”

Date: 12 June 2012 

Venue: Gibbs Building, London, NW1 2BE

“The meeting will be chaired by Professor Alicia El Haj (Keele University) and will include:

  • Sessions on disease modelling and toxicity testing
  • Poster viewing
  • Networking opportunities”

“There is a strong translational theme to the meeting with an ‘Industry needs’ session where companies will highlight their requirements from tissue engineering and stem cell research to address business needs in efficacy and safety testing.”

“Researchers from different disciplines and sectors will benefit from the opportunity to network and potentially form new collaborations.”

[Source BBSRC news: ]

A new strategy for UK regenerative medicine

Monday, April 30th, 2012

“Four UK Research Councils and the Technology Strategy Board have unveiled a new roadmap for UK regenerative medicine research, which includes £75m of investment into translational science.”

 “A Strategy for UK Regenerative Medicine sets out clear objectives and a delivery plan focussed on translating our increased biological understanding into clinical impacts that will benefit both patients and the UK economy.”

 “Developed by the Medical Research Council (MRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Technology Strategy Board, the strategy takes stock of current capability and outlines the knowledge gaps and translational barriers that must be overcome if the UK is to remain at the forefront of global regenerative medicine over the next five years.”

To view the strategy, go to:

[Source MRC News: ]

UK Biobank opens to researchers

Monday, April 30th, 2012

“Researchers from the UK and abroad can now apply for access to use data from the world’s largest and most detailed resource for health research in the world. UK Biobank has been funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Wellcome Trust, the Department of Health, the British Heart Foundation and the Scottish and Welsh Governments. It has been designed to allow scientists to examine the complex interaction of genes, lifestyle and other environmental factors in causing a wide range of different diseases.”

 “More than half a million participants aged between 40 and 69 were recruited from Scotland, England and Wales over four years (2006-2010), via 22 assessment centres. Measurements of height, weight, body fat, hand grip strength, bone density, lung function and blood pressure were taken, along with information about medical histories and lifestyles. Memory, diet, early life factors and psychosocial events (such as how often people see family and friends) were also recorded. The last 100,000 participants also had hearing, fitness and eye tests (creating the biggest eye study ever, in the process).”

“The resource is expected to advance research into the causes, prevention and treatment of a large number of chronic, painful and life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, depression, arthritis, and eye, bone and muscle disorders.”

[Source MRC News: ]

National Archives – Grants and Academic Support Panel (GASP)

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Ruth Roberts in the National Archive blog writes: “We’re always keen to hear from people about ideas for collaborative working. We regularly hear from academics who want to talk about new and interesting collaborative research projects. Usually, after lots of meetings, phone calls and emails, ideas are firmed up and a detailed proposal is put together.”

“But, obviously, we have limited resources and, therefore, can’t say yes to everyone and everything and that’s why we have a formal process to sift through the proposals, this is known as the Grants and Academic Support Panel (or, GASP). The Panel, which meets fortnightly, has representation from each of The National Archives’ Directorates (all at Head of department level) and is Chaired by the Head of Research, Dr Valerie Johnson.”

“Essentially, the Panel is looking to support or partner in proposals that have real benefit to The National Archives and ideally fit with one of our research priorities.”

To read more of the blog go to:

[Source National Archives blog as above]

Early Career Researchers Manifesto “Changing Publication Cultures in the Humanities”

Monday, April 30th, 2012

“The recently published Early Career Researchers Manifesto “Changing Publication Cultures in the Humanities” is the outcome of the 2011 Early Career Researchers Forum “Changing Publication Cultures in the Humanities” (Humanities Spring 2011) which was organised under the leadership of the European Science Foundation (ESF) Standing Committee for the Humanities (SCH) at National University Ireland, Maynooth, on 9-11 June 2011.”

“The document presents diagnoses of current problems and opportunities around the event’s four themes: engagement, impact, language and future. The issues discussed are those chosen by the participating early career researchers. Overall, they identify a confident and proactive role for the humanities, one which can meet and address societal challenges.”

“The document culminates in recommendations to stakeholders encompassing publishers, funding agencies, universities and higher education institutions, research policy makers and early career researchers.”

The Manifesto can be downloaded here.

[Source ESF news: ]

Library of Congress Acquires Lee Strasberg Collection

Monday, April 30th, 2012

“The Library of Congress has acquired the initial portion of the personal papers of the American director, producer, actor and acting teacher Lee Strasberg (1901-1982), internationally known for his development of method acting in the Stanislavsky tradition, which deeply influenced performance in American theater and film. The collection has come to the Library as a generous donation by Strasberg’s widow, Anna Strasberg of New York City, who noted that she joins son Adam Strasberg in making this gift to the Library of Congress.”

“Lee Strasberg co-founded the legendary Group Theatre, was artistic director of the Actors’ Studio in New York City, and founded the Lee Strasberg Institutes in New York City and Los Angeles.”

[Source Library of Congress news: ]