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Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Trans-Atlantic Dialogues on Cultural Heritage: Heritage, Tourism and Traditions

Monday, December 15th, 2014

13-16 July 2015, Liverpool, UK

“This conference offers a venue for exploring three critical interactions in this trans-Atlantic dialogue: heritage, tourism and traditions. North America and Europe fashioned two dominant cultural tropes from their powerful and influential intellectual traditions, which have been enacted in Central/South America and Africa, everywhere implicating indigenous cultures.”

“These tropes are contested and linked through historical engagement and contemporary everyday connections. We ask:

  • How do heritages travel?
  • How is trans-Atlantic tourism shaped by heritage?
  • To what extent have traditions crossed and re-crossed the Atlantic?
  • How have heritage and tourism economies emerged based upon flows of peoples and popular imaginaries?”

To find out more go to:

[Source Heritage Portal as above]

World’s first artificial enzymes created using synthetic biology

Monday, December 15th, 2014

“Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funded scientists have created the world’s first enzymes made from artificial genetic material. Their synthetic enzymes, which are made from molecules that do not occur anywhere in nature, are capable of triggering chemical reactions in the lab.”

“The research, published in Nature, gives new insights into the origins of life and could provide a starting point for an entirely new generation of drugs and diagnostics.”

“The findings build on previous work by the team at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, which saw them create synthetic molecules called ‘XNAs’ that can store and pass on genetic information, in a similar way to DNA.”

“Using their lab-made XNAs as building blocks, the team has now created ‘XNAzymes’, which power simple reactions, such as cutting up or stitching together small chunks of RNA, just like naturally occurring enzymes.”

The paper, entitled ‘Catalysts from synthetic genetic polymers’, by Taylor et al, is published in Nature

[Source BBSRC news: ]

Beyond the X-ray – a new frontier in structural biology signals big gains for UK industry

Monday, December 8th, 2014

“A UK lab has successfully taken images of the atomic structure of materials – at a shutter speed close to one ten-thousandth of a billionth of a second. This new imaging capability is great news for UK industry, drug discovery companies and researchers, as it takes biological and materials research beyond the limits of what is currently possible in the UK. It is also a step towards the ‘holy grail’ of being able to make molecular movies.”

“Known as ‘ultra-fast electron diffraction’ the technique is a UK first, and a remarkable milestone for researchers at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire. This makes Daresbury Laboratory one of only a handful of sites globally that can perform ultra-fast electron diffraction, and STFC intends to ensure that UK industry and researchers can benefit from this exciting new research tool. STFC’s newest particle accelerator, VELA (Versatile Electron Linear Accelerator), has been purpose built to assist UK industry to bridge the gap between prototypes and market ready products by making this ultrafast imaging technique available at a fraction of the cost and physical size of facilities using other methods.”

[Source STFC news: ]

New Ordnance Survey Digimap Licence Agreement

Monday, December 8th, 2014

“We are pleased to announce that a new Ordnance Survey licence agreement for Digimap is now available.”

“The new End User Licence Agreement (EULA) can be viewed in the Digimap Help Pages. As part of the new licence arrangements, end users need to agree to the EULA to access the Ordnance Survey data through the Digimap Service. Initially this will need to be done every time you access the collection via a popup after you select an application, however we are working on a new registration system that will mean you only need to do this once.”

“There is also an updated list of FAQs for the licence.  However, if you have any questions relating to the licence please do not hesitate to contact the Digimap support team:


Phone: 0131 650 3302”

[Source Digimap blog: ]

Jisc launches collaborative initiative for UK research

Monday, December 1st, 2014

“Teams across universities and others that support research in the UK are being offered the opportunity to submit their ideas to a collaborative funding initiative [recently] launched by Jisc.”

“Called research data spring, the project aims to engage all individuals and groups with an interest in research data and get them to work together to create new solutions to common research problems. This includes finding and developing new technical tools, software or services to streamline researchers’ workflows, and to improve the use and management of data.”

“The initiative is being run via Ideascale, an online platform that allows people to submit their ideas, vote and comment on others, and join up with teams on a shared idea.”

“To have your idea considered, the solutions need to fit into one of five priority areas:

  1. Research data deposit and sharing tools; including the development of protocols that help support the streamlining of access, use and re-use of research data
  2. Data creation and re-use by discipline; including ideas for experiments and proto-types that address the researchers experience and the research data workflow to improve the creation, management, curation and re-use of data. This should support open research practice and methods where appropriate and be transferrable across disciplines
  3. Research data systems integration and interoperability; including developing solutions to improve interfaces and ease connections, and create seamless working between and across systems
  4. Research data analytics; including the development and testing of ways to use big data analytical methods for the benefits of research, or to better analyse research data activity and test associated metrics
  5. Shared services for research; this aspect should be considered in all of the priority areas, and includes international, national and local shared services, that could be delivered by Jisc or other partners.”

The deadline for submissions is: 12 January 2015

Here is a link to the research data spring project page:

[Source Jisc news: ]

A new wave of data

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Understanding Society, a unique longitudinal study tracking people from 40,000 households across the UK, has released its ‘Wave 4′ data – gathered from the fourth of its annual set of interviews. The dataset contains the results of interviews with nearly 70,000 adults and 9,000 children (age 10-15).”

“New input from Wave 4 include:

  • A one-off module on leisure participation focusing on the 2012 Olympics 2012. Did the influence of the Olympics really make us all more active?
  • A focus on mental health and wellbeing and gender role attitudes, included as a Wave 4 self-completion questionnaire for adults.
  • Data on net income, enabling research into people’s economic situation and answers to key questions such as ‘how many people are living in poverty?’
  • Comparison of gross and net incomes will allow researchers to see how effective current policies are in alleviating some of the effects of unequal access to income and capital through income transfers.”

“The data, which integrates 18 years of data from the British Household Panel Survey, provides the opportunity to analyse decades of evidence about the changing nature of our society.”

The Wave 4 data is available on the Understanding Society website:

[Source ESRC news: ]

Anti-bullying training helps children stand up to cyberbullies

Monday, December 1st, 2014

“With a recent YouGov poll finding that two-thirds of teachers had seen pupils trolling and bullying each other on the internet, an urgent way of teaching children how to stay safe online is needed. Research presented at the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) 2014 Festival of Social Science shows that simply teaching children in school about what they can say to bullies can have great results, with children receiving this training being much more likely to stick up for others when they see cyberbullying take place.”

“Studies have shown that young people who witness another child being bullied are likely to stand by and watch it happen. However, according to researcher Dr Nicola Abbott from Canterbury Christ Church University, children do want to help – they just don’t know the right way to go about it. Young people often fear that they may say the wrong thing, or perhaps make the bully turn on them. This is unfortunate, as observational research shows that when people do stand up for someone else, the bully tends to stop within just 10 seconds.”

“To improve the awareness and education around this issue, Dr Abbott led an anti-bullying programme for children of 12-13 years of age. Using role-play, this programme taught students how to stand up for victims if they saw someone being bullied and showed them what sort of words they could use. Afterwards, the young people used a chat room simulation where they observed another person being picked on by two other users. The children who had participated in the anti-bullying program were far more likely to intervene on the behalf of victim, and were also quicker to intervene than a control group.”

[Source ESRC news: ]

With age comes a better understanding of social signals

Monday, December 1st, 2014

“Neuroscientists have discovered an unexpected benefit of getting older – a more nuanced understanding of social signals, such as the age of others.”

“In a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)-funded study in the journal Current Biology, University of Glasgow researchers show that older people have richer mental representations of the ageing process. A team from the university’s Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology used computer-generated representations of faces to gain an insight into the mental representations of ageing in the minds of volunteers aged 18-25 and 56-75.”

“The two-part study first showed volunteers 4,000 computer-generated images of faces. The images used a base face, created by averaging 84 male and female faces, overlaid with varying layers of random patterns known as Gabor noise, which darkened and brightened certain areas of the face.”

“The volunteers were asked to pick, for example, the ‘old’ face from three simultaneously presented faces, with perceived age affected by factors such as darkened areas between the nose and mouth which could appear as wrinkles to the observer. Over the trials, the researchers were able to average the noise templates to visualise the information each participant uses to estimate old age. Other trials repeated the experiment with ‘young’ and ‘middle-age’ choices.”

“The second part of the study presented faces ‘aged’ using the templates to a separate group of volunteers and asked them to judge their perceived ages between 18 and 80. The results showed that younger people mentally split the faces between themselves (younger) and others (older), while the older volunteers more faithfully represented the features of young, middle and old age.”

With Age Comes Representational Wisdom in Social Signals by Nicola van Rijsbergen, Katarzyna Jaworska, Guillaume A. Rousselet, Philippe G. Schyns

DOI: (Open Access)

[Source BBSRC news: ]

Timeline report for superbug research

Monday, November 24th, 2014

“A new report which sets out the foundation for future research into antimicrobial resistance (AMR) [has been] published by the Medical Research Council (MRC). The report tells the story of key research achievements over the past thirty years, showcasing some of the best advances and providing the groundwork for a cross-Council collaboration on AMR research.”

“Antimicrobial resistance is a huge and complex problem for healthcare and agriculture. Antibiotics have been used to treat bacterial infections in humans and animals for 70 years, but these medicines are becoming less and less effective. No new classes of antibiotics have been discovered for 25 years and some strains of bacteria are now unharmed by the drugs designed to kill them.”

“The UK Research Councils have joined together in an historic initiative to tackle this global problem. A coordinated network of medical researchers, engineers, biologists, vets, economists, mathematicians and designers, will drive through new discoveries and advancements.”

“The AMR initiative, which has been heralded as a war cabinet for AMR research, pulls together all seven research councils and looks to deliver exciting new research projects.”

“The report offers a timeline and case studies in each area supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) , Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and the Medical Research Council (MRC).”

To read the timeline go to:

[Source Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC): ]

Engage conference 2014

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Location: Bristol Marriott Royal, Bristol

Date: 3-4 December 2014

“Are you interested in how universities can play a more active role in stimulating dialogue and debate, and in feeding people’s curiosity and imagination? In learning from how other organisations – like the Eden Project and the BBC – go about this? In exploring tools and techniques for effective engagement, and exploring how such work can best be evaluated and supported?”

Engage 2014 tackles all these questions and more. A two day event, with plenary, workshops, and a range of hands on encounters that bring cutting edge public engagement to life.”

To find out more go to:

[Source Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) news: ]

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