Lancaster University

SciTech bulletin

Christmas Conference: Graduate School Poster Competition

This year's Faculty Christmas Conference on Tuesday 18 December will again feature a poster competition, with cash prizes, for the faculty's research students.

For full details of the competition see the call for posters on the faculty website - research students have until Friday 16 November to submit their posters details online.

Faculty Studentships

For the 2007/08 recruitment cycle the faculty will offer eight postgraduate research studentships.

Up to four studentships will be pre-allocated to departments, allowing them to advertise their availability early in the recruitment cycle. A further four studentships will be available to all departments in an open competition. The availability of studentships to departments are subject to each department's ability to fund a studentship.

More info on 2007/08 Faculty Studentships (pdf).

Faculty Research Grants - Call for Proposals

The faculty has a total annual fund of £10,000 to support cross-faculty research and research-related activities.

In 2007/08 there will be two calls for proposals and the applications will be reviewed by the Faculty Research Committee. The deadlines for proposals are Friday 30 November 2007 and Friday 14 March 2008.

Faculty Research Grants

What's your view on Industrial Placements?

Members of staff are invited to attend a forum being held in the Engineering Building C29 on Monday 19 November at 10.00am.

The aim of the forum, which is part of the SciTech Vision Project review of industrial placements, is to identify scope for extending placement provision and assess the type and level of support that will be required to do so. This is your opportunity to air your views and inform the development of future placement activity. Places will be allocated on a 'first come, first served' basis and are limited to 25 therefore please book your place by email to Scitech Vision Project Manager Tony Oliver by Friday 9th November.

European Space Agency SUCCESS Student Contest

The European Space Agency has recently launched its fourth SUCCESS Student contest, which invites students to propose and conceive an experiment on the International Space Station.

The first prize is an internship at ESA's space research and technology centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands. During this internship the winner(s) can work on their experiment preparing it for flight to the ISS.

Find out more at

Funding Roundup

Some recent grants awards for Science and Technology research:

Challenging the paradigm for plant-microbial resource partitioning in Antarctic ecosystems

Richard Bardgett - Biological Sciences - £33,308 - NERC

The Antarctic is a uniquely important 'natural laboratory' for examining ecosystem responses to climate change, due to its relatively simple ecosystems and high rate of warming compared to temperate regions.

This study, which forms part of a collaboration with Professor Davey Jones of Bangor University and Dr Kevin Newsham of the British Antarctic Survey (total award £243,212), aims to develop novel experimental and modelling techniques to find out the importance in Antarctic soils of specific forms of nitrogen.

New pathways of plant nutrition and resource partitioning in terrestrial ecosystems: testing the ecological role of DON

Richard Bardgett - Biological Sciences - £169,948 - NERC

This project aims to test the significance of dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) for plant nutrition and resource partitioning by co-existing plant species of grassland ecosystems.

Specifically, the study aims to determine under field conditions whether co-existing plant species have realised niches based on differential uptake of different chemical forms of N, both organic and inorganic, and whether such niche differentiation is constrained by ecosystem productivity and associated shifts in dominance of N forms caused by microbial turnover of DON.

A secondary goal is to identify critical control points in the soil N cycle at a compound-specific level to enhance our process level understanding of ecosystem nutrient cycling.

EPSRC Flood Risk grant

Keith Beven - Environmental Science - £222,000 - EPSRC

This is the second 4 year phase of the UK Flood Risk Management Research Consortium (FRMRC2). The grant is supported by contributions from the Environment Agency, Defra, SEPA, and both parts of Ireland.

Keith will be on the management committee, leading a Work Package on Integrating Methods (including the use of uncertainty estimation and development of Codes of Practice for different aspects of flood risk management).

Critical & surface phenomena of quantum fluids

Peter McClintock - Physics - £120,692 - EPSRC/STFC

The project involves studying small-angle neutron scattering from the surfaces of liquid He-4 and liquid He-3. It builds on pioneering results obtained by Dr Andrei Ganshyn during the summer of 2006, in which he used neutrons to obtain information about fluctuations near the critical point where the liquid and vapour phases become indistinguishable.

The new research, also in collaboration with Dr Andrei Ganshyn, will follow up his critical point investigations in detail. It will also explore nonlinear interactions between surface waves - work that may be relevant to the origin of the rare 'giant waves' that occasionally appear on the ocean and endanger shipping.

Metabolic engineering for improved solvent oriduction by clostridium acetobutyicum

Klaus Winzer - Biological Sciences - £308,464 - BBSRC Industrial Partnership Award

The production of acetone and butanol by the bacterium Clostridium acetobutylicum was one of the first large-scale industrial fermentation processes to be established, but after the first half of the 20th century new technologies made it more economical to produce these chemicals from fossil fuels. In recent years, however, with current concerns over global warming and severe rises in the costs of crude oil, there has been a renewal of interest in the microbial production of eco-friendly fuel substitutes.

The project, a collaboration between Lancaster and the Clostridial Research Group at the University of Nottingham aims to optimise butanol production by metabolic engineering. The fermentation pathways of Clostridium acetobutylicum will be altered genetically so that the generation of unwanted side products is eliminated and butanol formation is maximised. The long-term goal is to make the generation of biobutanol from renewable resources or waste products once again an economically viable process. The joint award shared by Lancaster and Nottingham totals £643 K with another £89 K provided by an industrial partner, TMO Renewables.

Wire integrity testing for aircraft applications

Bahram Honary - Communication Systems - £150,000 - BCF Designs

Wire Integrity project aims to design and develop a portable piece of equipment that is capable of locating and characterising various wiring faults (e.g. corrosion, cracks etc.) onboard aircraft. The project propose to locate electrical non-linearities on onboard wiring a by detecting the intermodulation product that arises when faulty wires are excited with electrical fields at different frequencies.

Research on Wave Energy Converters

George Aggidis - Engineering - £130,000 - Joule Centre

Funding to develop and evaluate, via computational and experimental modelling, a new wave energy converter called WRASPA (Wave-driven, Resonant, Arcuate-action, Surging Power-Absorber).

Marine Energy Generation (EPSRC Supergen Marine 2)

George Aggidis - Engineering - £600,000 - EPSRC

Part of £5.5 million total funding for Lancaster University and partners at the Universities of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt, Strathclyde and Queen's Belfast, as part of The EPSRC SuperGen Marine 2 research programme which focuses on the potential for future exploitation of marine energy resources.

See for details of both these LUREG awards.

Advancing hydrogeophysical quantification of hydraulic conductivity

Andrew Binley - Environmental Science - £63,000 - US National Science Foundation

Funding for a PhD studentship at Lancaster as part of a large US-based project led by Rutgers University.

News and Events

From LU News:

Green Business Winners move into Environment Centre

Three growing businesses are set to move into Lancaster University’s Environment Centre (LEC) after winning a competition to find fresh business ideas with an environmental focus

£3/4m for Wave Energy Research

Lancaster University's Renewable Energy Group (LUREG) has won two major grants totalling £3/4m to help harness the power of the sea and covert it into energy

Lancaster University invests £2.5m in Imagination@Lancaster

Lancaster University has invested in a major new creative research lab which will drive interdisciplinary research to explore places, products and systems for the future