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Faculty Updates

Christmas Conference 2006

The faculty Christmas Conference 2006 will be held on Wednesday 20 December in the George Fox lecture theatre. Our one-day conference aims to give staff and PhD students the chance to explore the range of research taking place across the faculty. Central to the idea of the event is the encouragement of interdisciplinary research and the establishment of collaborations between different departments in the faculty. Please keep the date clear in your diary!

Each department will have the opportunity to showcase their most innovative research and future research plans in a short presentation, and there will be a lunchtime poster session at which faculty researchers are invited to present their latest work. As in 2005, there will be substantial prizes for the best posters.

In addition to talks from departmental staff, we will be inviting some expert guest speakers - last year's guests were President of the Institute of Physics, Professor Sir John Enderby and Professor Chris Pollock, Director of BBSRC Institute at Aberystwyth.

Departments will be asked shortly to nominate their speakers for the conference. Details of how to submit a poster will also follow soon.

Could you do better?

See the winning posters from the 2005 conference

Academic Fellowships

Results of the RCUK Academic Fellowships bids have been announced. Science and Technology at Lancaster has obtained fellowships in the following areas:

For more information, see the RCUK website

Careers Workshops for Postgraduate Students

Faculty postgraduate students are encouraged to attend a series of employability skills workshops to be held in May and June. Five sessions are available, covering Enterprise Skills and Commercial Awareness, Graduate Skills for the 21st Century, Application Forms and CVs, Interview Success and Assessment Centres & Psychometric Tests. The workshops run over one full day (17th May) and four half days (21st May, 7th, 14th and 21st June) and take place in the Masters Training Suite in the Engineering Building.

GSSE408 Employability Skills Workshops - details and booking information

Free Furniture

As a result of the refurbishment of the faculty offices over the Easter period, several items of surplus furniture will be available. There has been some interest already, and several items have found new homes in the faculty. A further selection including office chairs, filing cabinets, meeting chairs, cupboards, easy chairs and tables is still available. These items are free to departments within the faculty on a first come, first served basis. If the furniture cannot be reused within the faculty it will be offered to the wider university community. For precise details of what is available contact Andrew Whitehead (ext. 93828).

Industry Fellowships 2006

Funded by The Royal Society, EPSRC, BBSRC, NERC, Rolls-Royce plc and Astra Zeneca, Industry Fellowships aim to enhance knowledge transfer in science and technology between those in industry and those in academia by providing opportunities for academics to work on a collaborative project with industry and vice versa. The closing date for applications is 6 June 2006 - find out more via the Royal Society website

Contract Research Corner

Some exciting new initiatives for contract researchers from Elaine Davies, the university's Development Advisor for Contract Research Staff:

Contract Research Conference

Researching Your Career, the first Lancaster University Contract Research Conference, is an invaluable opportunity for contract researchers to meet and create links with fellow CRs from across campus. Intended to promote the continued development of an active and vibrant research community at Lancaster, the conference will help contract researchers find out more about:

The conference will take place on Friday 23rd June (9.30am to 4.00pm) at the Conference Centre. Places are FREE - To book contact Linda Cook (ext. 92137) in the Staff Development Office.

Contract Research Careers Workshops

Contract Research Careers Workshops will take place next term, including a new seminar on Intellectual Property for Researchers. Workshops available are:

To book a place on any of these workshops contact Linda Cook (ext. 92137) in the Staff Development Office.

Contract Research Website

The Contract Research website has been very well received by CRs since its launch in January this year. A number of new job vacancy sites have recently been added and it also contains details of the new careers books purchased especially for CR staff, which are available for loan.

Careers Guidance Interviews

Confidential careers guidance interviews with Elaine Davies are also available. These are particularly appropriate for those who have career choice issues, or who would like help preparing a CV or getting ready for an interview. To book an appointment, please email Elaine.

Funding Roundup

Funding awards for March 2006:

Development of stem cell marker technology based on photothermal nano-spectroscopy

Nigel Fullwood - Biological Sciences - BBSRC - 443,103

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), through its joint BBSRC/EPSRC Stem Cell Science and Engineering Initiative has recently announced an award of 443,102 to Lancaster University. The company Anasys Instruments are industrial collaborators and will be contributing a further 60,000 in resources to the project.

The project involves both the Biological Sciences department (Dr. Nigel Fullwood and Dr Frank Martin) and the Physics department (Dr. Azzedine Hammiche, Dr. Hubert Pollock, Prof. Tony Krier and Dr. Matt German). The chief aim is to develop new methods for the identification and characterization of adult stem cells. This will involve further development of a technique termed photothermal nanospectroscopy, which will allow fast near-field mid-IR vibrational spectroscopy at nanoscale spatial resolution.

Adult stem cells have enormous therapeutic potential in medicine and their use does not pose the ethical dilemmas associated with embryonic stem cells. This award will allow Lancaster to compete at the international level in the fields of nanotechnology and stem cell biology.

Can Flagellated Protozoa Select Bacteria from a 'Dolly Mixture' of Species?

Jackie Parry - Biological Sciences - The Leverhulme Trust - 10,000

Flagellated protozoa are the major consumers of bacteria in aquatic systems and at present, the most common method for determining how many bacteria they consume relies on feeding them with heat-killed, fluorescently-stained, bacteria and counting the number of fluorescent bacteria inside the flagellate cell.

This method has the major disadvantage that the prey particles are dead yet there is an inherent assumption that flagellates cannot tell the difference between dead and live bacteria. We have already shown that they can tell the difference and this project now goes on to deduce whether they have the ability to select what bacterial species they ingest, and what species they reject.

We are transforming various strains of bacteria to express fluorescent proteins so they will either fluoresce red, green, blue or yellow whilst still alive. By mixing four species together and feeding this live 'dolly mixture' to flagellates, we will see whether they select for a particular bacterial species and assess whether these microbial predators exhibit optimal foraging, as do larger predators.

2nd International Workshop on Evolving Fuzzy Systems

Plamen Angelov - Communication Systems - EPSRC - 12,768

The 2nd International Symposium on Evolving Fuzzy Systems will be held at St Martins College Conference Centre in Ambleside from 7th-9th September 2006. The emerging area of evolution-augmented fuzzy and neuro-fuzzy systems is currently being shaped and the proposed Workshop on Evolving Fuzzy Systems promises to be an important forum for researchers from academia and industry to discuss current achievements, problems and future directions.

In recognition of the growing importance of the evolution-inspired self-developing systems the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society, Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society, International Fuzzy Systems Association, and European Society on Fuzzy Logic and Technology are technically co-sponsoring this event. Four companies (BAE Systems, Nokia-UK, J&S Marine, and Retail Analytics) are also sponsoring a range of 'best paper' awards.

The faroes auroral all-sky imager

Jim Wild - Communication Systems - Lancaster University Research Committee - 9,823

This project involves the deployment and operation of a state-of-the-art auroral all-sky imager (ASI) at a field site in the Faroe Islands. The ASI will record panchromatic images of the night sky with a cadence of approximately ten seconds. The resulting auroral observations will be compared to satellite measurements of the near-Earth space plasma environment in order to investigate the onset mechanism of magnetospheric substorms - the explosive release of energy stored in the Earth's magnetic tail.

System issues for virtual routers

Laurent Mathy - Computing - EPSRC - 269,954

Routers are the fundamental devices that enable and orchestrate the movement of data in the Internet. Traditionally, logic (software) and platform (hardware) have been tightly bundled into a single device. The goal of this project is to provide a sort of 'meccanno router' by decoupling the router logic from the hardware platform so that a single device could behave as multiple and independent routers, or multiple devices could coordinate to provide the functionality of a single router.

Such logic/hardware decoupling will enable the construction of high-performance and resilient routing devices that are much more affordable through the use of cheap, readily available, and often surplus to requirement equipment, which, in turn, will also enable new functionality that might previously have been too expensive to support in traditional routers.

This project is a collaboration between the Computing Department at Lancaster University and the Computer Science Department at University College London.

Estimating vertical eddy diffusivity in a small lake: A comparison of methods

Andrew Folkard - Geography - NERC - 46,970

This project will investigate the merits of the various methods available for measuring the rate at which heat, dissolved substances and particles diffuse vertically in lakes. Knowledge of this vertical diffusion rate is crucial for understanding both how lakes themselves work biologically, chemically and physically, and for how they contribute and respond to larger scale natural cycles and changes.

The methods to be tested have all been developed for use in large lakes and oceans. In smaller lakes, typical of those found in the UK, the relative proximity of the lake bed to the waterbody makes the situation fundamentally different. This project will provide the science to underpin informed choice of the appropriate method for use in small lakes in the UK and throughout the world.

Coping with obesity: young people's everyday experiences, spatial practices and aspirations

Peter Hopkins - Geography - Lancaster University Research Committee - 7,039

The main aim of this project is to find out how obesity influences the everyday lives of young people, focusing in particular upon the spaces they use on a daily basis such as the school playground, the street, the town centre and the home.

The intention here is work with three samples of young people using a social rather than a medical approach. In doing so, this study will be used to explore the ways in which young people's experiences of marginalisation, discrimination and exclusion are determined by, and relate to, perceptions about their size.

Acquisition of Printed Word Meanings

Kate Cain - Psychology - The Leverhulme Trust - 46,113

Written text is an important source of new word knowledge for young readers. The average 10-year-old encounters up to 500,000 written words annually, of which approximately 10,000 words are unfamiliar in their written form. Because written language is lexically richer than spoken language, young readers come across words that are not part of their written vocabulary. The meanings of many other words they encounter will not be fully established. Thus, the opportunities afforded by written contexts to learn the meanings of new words and elaborate and consolidate the meanings of less familiar words are considerable. The main objectives of this research are:

Neural coding of pitch in humans

Chris Plack - Psychology - Lancaster University Research Committee - 4,000

This project aims to investigate the representation of periodic sounds (such as those made by the human voice or by a musical instrument) in the auditory nervous system. We will use electroencaphalography (EEG) to measure electrical activity in the brainstem, and compare these measurements with the sensations experienced by the listener.

Other grants awarded: