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New Associate Dean for Undergraduate Teaching

Congratulations to Dr Jane Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences, who has been appointed as the faculty's new Associate Dean for Undergraduate Teaching.

Jane will take over from Alan Thomson when he retires in July 2007. She will begin by shadowing Alan, becoming more involved in Associate Dean duties as the academic year progresses.

Contract Research Corner

New Faculty Career Management Surgeries

Confidential careers guidance surgeries for contract researchers are now available. These will take place with the Contract Research Development Advisor, Elaine Davies and are particularly appropriate for those who have career choice issues, or who would like help preparing a CV or getting ready for an interview.

Surgeries will take place in the Faculty offices, room B19 Engineering building, on the following dates:

To book a session at one of these surgeries, or for a separate appointment, please email Elaine Davies.

Website and Workshops

The Contract Research website has been very well received by CRs since its launch in January this year. It has continued to expand and now contains more links to job vacancy sites and careers information resources suitable for those who wish to stay in academia and those who wish to consider other options. A particularly well used section of the site is, Developing Your Career as an Academic Researcher, which includes a list of books on this topic, many of which are available for loan in CEEC.

The site also contains details of the contract research careers workshops offered this term. In addition to the courses on Career Choice and Job Search, Writing an Effective CV and Successful Interviews, there are also several new courses.

The new courses have been provided in response to requests from contract research staff and include Media Engagement, A Career as an Academic, Protecting Your Intellectual Property and Making Grant Applications. They will be run by a team of senior academics and will provide vital insights into these key areas. To book a place on any of these workshops contact Linda Cook (ext. 92137) in the Staff Development Office.

Funding Roundup

Newly funded research from across the faculty - selected awards for August 2006:


Chris Edwards - Computing - European Commission - 236,000

Modern society has reached a high dependability on ubiquitous services and networks. Especially in crisis or emergency situations the availability of these services is crucial. Today governmental and rescue entity communication services are characterized by a strong technical compartmentalization. The interworking and the availability of communication resources cannot be assured in crisis situations.

This proposal highlights and deploys concepts to enhance the availability of these services and of the existing networks by leveraging redundant communication channels wherever possible and using automatic redirection in case of network failures. In crisis situations rescue teams have to be assembled on the fly. Mobile and ad-hoc networks are seen as a possible solution for that. Additional research on these networks will be conducted in this project to fulfill the requirements of crisis intervention teams.

Experimental investigation of pure quantum turbulence in superfluid He4 at very low temperatures

Peter McClintock - Physics - EPSRC - 620,709

The aim is to reach an understanding of turbulence in superfluid He-4 in the low temperature limit where the flow of the liquid is totally free of frictional effects. The obvious question is: How can turbulence ever decay under these conditions?

Earlier Lancaster experiments showed that such quantum turbulence does decay, albeit relatively slowly. The underlying mechanism is not yet known, though there are already some ideas waiting to be tested. The joint grant, together with Prof W F Vinen at Birmingham as Co-Investigator, is part of the NSF/EPSRC World Materials Network; NSF have awarded a matching grant to collaborator Prof Gary Ihas at University of Florida, Gainesville. There will be extensive, well-funded, exchanges of staff and students between Lancaster, Gainesville, and Birmingham.

Marine carbohydrates

Bob Lauder - Biological Sciences - Highlands & Islands Enterprise - 20,581

Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are complex polysaccharides with functions ranging from control of corneal transparency and CNS development to mediating malaria transmission and the well known anticoagulant role of heparin. However, heparin use is associated with serious bleeding complications and there are safety concerns around the bovine and porcine sources.

Our studies reveal that waste from fish processing represents a source of a wide range of biologically important GAGs. This award, in collaboration with Glycomar Ltd, allows us to study the unique structure and bio-activity of GAGs from marine species. We have already discovered novel structures which will help us to understand the biosynthesis of these macromolecules, and are working to characterise others while establishing their biological roles and assessing their therapeutic capacity.

DNA damage sensing & repair processes underlying the changes in cellular effects of UVA

Sarah Allinson - Biological Sciences - North West Cancer Research Fund - 77,938

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK and its incidence is rising. Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight, however the processes by which UV causes cancer are not yet fully understood. Until recently it was believed that the longer wavelength UV (UVA) in sunlight was not a risk factor for cancer, but it is now thought that it may contribute as much as 10-20% of the cancer-causing dose.

We have recently found that longer exposure to low intensity UVA is more harmful to skin cells than short doses of higher intensity UVA. This finding has important implications for our understanding of how to protect ourselves from the cancer-causing effects of sunlight. The aim of this research is to better understand the processes underlying this phenomenon by examining in detail the way skin cells respond to UVA at different intensities.

Identifying the origin of false memories: A comparison of DRM & categorised lists

Stephen Dewhurst - Psychology - ESRC - 73,376

Although we place considerable faith in the accuracy of our memories, recent research has shown that human memory is highly susceptible to errors and distortions. There is currently disagreement over whether encoding or retrieval is the critical stage at which memory distortions occur. The two most widely used techniques are the Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) procedure and the Category Repetition Procedure.

In the DRM procedure participants study lists of words that are associates of a nonpresented word (or 'critical lure') e.g. bed, dream, pillow or snore, which are associates of the critical lure sleep. In the Category Repetition Procedure participants study words from a set of semantic categories, such as animals. Participants often falsely remember other members of the category, which were not presented. This research aims to determine which view is correct.

Uncertainty Assessments of Flood Inundation Impacts: Using Spatial Climate Change Scenarios to Drive an Ensemble of Distributed Models for Extreme Conditions

Jim Freer - Environmental Science - NERC - 30,662

Jim Freer and colleagues from Kings College London (Glenn McGregor and Hannah Cloke) and Exeter (Matt Wilson) have been awarded a 520k NERC grant as part of the FREE thematic programme.

The project will explore improving estimates of flood inundation hazard by propagating uncertainties from Regional Climate Model (RCM) precipitation projections into an ensemble of flood inundation predictions for large catchment scales. The research will use data from the river Severn and employ a number of novel techniques to assess the prediction uncertainties for such a complex and cascaded modelling system.

NATCOR - A National Taught Course Centre in Operational Research

Kevin Glazebrook - Maths & Statistics - EPSRC - 240,000

Lancaster University has been awarded 240K to establish a UK-wide taught course centre for PhD students in Operational Research (NATCOR). The call offered pump priming funding to establish such centres and was in response to concerns expressed by the International Review of Mathematics about the lack of breadth and depth of the UK PhD in the mathematical sciences.

Lancaster will head a consortium of some of the UK's leading providers of advanced training in OR to develop a programme of distance learning and residential courses for PhD students in their first two years of study. This is a wholly novel initiative for the UK OR community which has been widely supported (including by the OR Society as collaborator on the grant) and which it is hoped will lead to a considerable strengthening of PhD programmes to the long term benefit of UK research.

Funding Opportunities

New Technologies for Active Control - The Active Aircraft

EPSRC have formed a strategic partnership to fund novel engineering and science research in active control. Outline proposals for one year studies which address the challenges of the call are invited.

ESPRC: New Technologies for Active Control - The Active Aircraft

Maths for Engineers Summer Schools

EPSRC plans to invest 300k on the development of a series of training courses aimed at increasing the mathematical competencies of UK postgraduate engineers, and exposing them to the latest mathematical techniques. Proposals for summer schools are sought to address specific areas of engineering research.

ESPRC: Maths for Engineers Summer Schools

Mathematical Sciences CASE Projects Call 2007

Applications for collaborative projects in mathematics, statistics and operational research with a non-academic partner are invited. There will be a maximum of 20 awards.

ESPRC: Mathematical Sciences CASE Projects Call 2007

ESRC Placement Fellows Scheme

ESRC's Placement Fellows Scheme, jointly funded by the ESRC and a host 'partner organisation' (e.g. Government Department, Devolved Administration), allows for researchers to spend time in that organisation to undertake policy-relevant research and to upgrade the research skills of 'partner organisation' employees.

ESRC: Placement Fellows Scheme

From LU News

Science and Technology stories from LU News:

UK Particle Physics Steps on the Accelerator Pedal

A major new research centre opened this week by Lord Sainsbury is set to bring the UK to the forefront of international efforts in Accelerator Science and Technology. The Cockcroft Institute will be a national focal point for UK scientists and companies to develop cutting-edge accelerator technologies for major new projects such as the International Linear Collider and a Neutrino Factory.

Evolving Intelligent Systems

An International Conference to develop techniques and methodologies that can make possible computers and machines that can 'think', 'learn', adapt and self-develop like humans has been organised by Lancaster University.

Physics experiments filmed for BBC4

A laboratory in Lancaster University's Physics Department became a TV studio when a camera crew spent the day filming experiments.

240,000 grant to develop the next generation of electronics

The Engineering Department has won a 240,000 grant to develop the next generation of electronic systems based on Micro and Nano Technology.

Lancaster Environment Centre Expands

Forty businesses have been given a preview of part of the 8.4 million extension to the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) which will include accommodation for companies wishing to benefit from Lancaster University's expertise and provide a new home for the University's Department of Geography.