Lancaster University

SciTech bulletin

Reminder: Faculty Plenary next Wednesday!

Don't forget to come to next Wednesday's Faculty Plenary and hear the results of the staff survey for FST.

In particular, there will be an opportunity to contribute to discussion about communication across the faculty. The plenary starts at 4.00pm and will be held in Conference Centre Room 4.

June 2008 Plenary Agenda
Minutes from February 2008 Plenary

SciTech Graduate School

Postgraduate Researchers In Science Medicine 2008 Researcher Conference

19th September 2008, University of Liverpool

This one day conference provides postgraduate researchers an excellent opportunity to present work, discuss common issues and meet with other researchers working in the area of healthcare and biomedical science.

PRISM 2008 follows on from the highly successful PRISM events in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 and is jointly organised by The University of Liverpool and Postgrad Talent North West the North West Hub of the 'researcher development' programme.

More info is at

Courses for PhDs and Contract Researchers

Talk to Business People about Research and Job Opportunities (ref 2026)

Meet friendly “dragons” (from the "den") over lunch on 15th July 2008 at Lancaster House Hotel (12.00 noon to 3.30pm).

For info about this and other courses that are on offer check out the faculty website.

Coffee, cake and completion

If you're in the 4th year or beyond of your PhD or getting close to finishing and you'd like to have a break and chat to other people in a similar position then come along.

The next meeting is on Friday 4th July, 10.30-11.30 in the LEC Atrium. Refreshments are provided by the faculty.

Concordat Launch: Last chance to book!

Don't miss Lancaster's launch of the 2008 Concordat on 2nd July 2008 with speaker Iain Cameron of RCUK and a buffet lunch (Ref 2025). Every researcher will receive a copy of the new Concordat next week.

Contact Linda Cook for all CR bookings.

Funding Roundup

Recently awarded grants for Science and Technology research:

Liquid phase epitaxial growth of dilute nitrides for the mid-infrared

Tony Krier - Physics - EPSRC - £73,31

The project seeks to study the properties of GaAsN, InAsN, GaSbN with a view towards evaluating their potential for use in mid-infrared optoelectronic devices. These so-called "dilute nitrides" show promise for use in tailoring the wavelength and efficiency of novel semiconductor lasers and detectors, because the band gap of the parent III-V binary semiconductor is substantially reduced by the introduction of small amounts (1%) of nitrogen.

Although GaAsN and InGaAsN are currently being studied mainly for telecommunications in the 1.3 to 1.5 um wavelength range, there has been far less research into dilute nitride compounds for the mid-infrared (2-5 um) spectral range. Together with researchers at the University of Calcutta, who have recently demonstrated liquid phase growth of InAsN, we are seeking to achieve a breakthrough in the preparation of dilute nitride III-V alloys (InAsN, GaSbN) with high quantum efficiency. We aim to investigate both bulk materials and corresponding dilute N nanostructures.

If successful, the practical realization of high quality dilute nitrides with low Auger scattering rates would be a breakthrough in providing high efficiency mid-infrared diode lasers and detectors that would unlock a variety of new applications in healthcare and environmental monitoring.

Dynamic transmission protocols and advanced signal processing techniques for wireless sensor networks with cooperative diversity

Zhiguo Ding - Communication Systems - EPSRC - £233,883

The aim of the project is to increase system throughput and transmission robustness of wireless sensor networks by applying cooperative diversity. The solution this project is seeking is two fold:

One is to design new dynamic cooperative protocols by fully exploring the dynamic nature of radio propagation, which provides the theoretic upper bound of system performance.

The second step is from the practical aspect, where sophistic DSP algorithms shall be devised to realize the performance gain promised by the cooperative protocols. Obviously the two are inseparable not just because the ultimate goal of reliable communication for wireless sensor networks is only possible with the accomplishment of the both two parts, but also because the interaction between the two parts is the key for the efficient system design.

The project will address the fundamental issues of cooperative networks from the theoretic aspect of information theory and digital signal processing, which is beneficial for the communications community to get a better understanding for the fundamental limits of cooperative diversity. Also such an obtained insight provides a precise guideline for the efficient design of practical and reliable communications systems. Hence the results will have potentially a broad impact across a range of areas including wireless communications, network coding protocol design, signal processing, wireless transceiver design and information theory.

Environmental Impact Reduction of Commercial Scallop Dredging

Tom Abram - LPDU, Engineering Department - Seafish Industry Authority (in conjunction with West Coast Sea Products Ltd) - £10,000

Commercial queen scallop dredging devastates the seabed leaving a sterile lifeless area behind the dredge. The front rake and heavy metal net scrape not only the shellfish but all other marine life from the seabed.

This project is looking at reducing the environmental impact by redesigning the dredging nets and front rake, firstly by researching alternative materials for manufacture to reduce the weight of the net to lift it off the seabed, and secondly by redesigning the net itself. The environmental impact will be reduced in both the effect that it has on the seabed, leaving it relatively unscathed and also in reducing the fuel consumption of the boat towing the dredges.


Laurent Mathy - Computing - European Commission - £272,553

How do we give the Internet an idea of what it is supposed to be doing, and given that, how do we ensure that it is doing what it is supposed to be doing?

Depending on who you are, the answers to these questions differ widely. An Internet Service Provider (ISP) point of view is that the Internet is supposed to move data as quickly as possible and make money. But that's not what the end users think is important. What they want is for applications to function as well as possible, and know who to call when they fail. Consequently, what we no longer want to have is an Internet optimized for the existing set of applications (because this hinders future innovation), so inherently we cannot design low-level mechanisms that have a concept of applications or services.

What we might be able to do is apply higher-level reasoning techniques that do have a concept of applications and end-to-end services to oversee (and perhaps configure) the general-purpose lower-level Internet mechanisms. The focus of the EU ECODE project is to study and design those high-level, future-proof Internet control techniques, based on machine learning, a broad subfield of artificial intelligence.

Summer Undergraduate Bursaries Announced

Summer undergraduate bursaries are made available by the University Research Committee. The projects, supervisors and named undergraduate students who have been selected within FST to receive a bursary in 2008 are:

Sport in The Faculty

Touch Rugby

Want to have fun, keep fit and meet new people? A group of contract researchers and postgraduates are looking for new people to join them on Thursday nights to play touch rugby.

It's free to play and no experience is necessary. Touch rugby is a non-contact form of rugby and is played in mixed teams of men and women - it's simple to learn, fun to play and a great way to meet new people working in the university.

For more information, please email Beccy.

Physics Relay

The 31st annual Physics Relay took place successfully on Wednesday 18th June, with The Department of Maths and Statistics once again leading the field. The results are on the physics relay site.

News and Events

From LU and Faculty News:

Continued Accreditation for Psychology Courses

The Psychology Department are pleased to announce that their single honours and combined degree programmes have received accreditation by the British Psychological Society for a further five years.

Award for Computing Innovation

Research by Professor Nigel Davies, Dr Joe Finney, James Brown and Dr Christos Efstratiou has been highly commended by judges in the North West IET Innovation Awards 2008. The nemo hardware/software platform research was picked as one of 10 projects out of 28 entries.

Top Bioscientist to Join Lancaster's Water Centre

One of the UK's leading bioscience researchers has joined a team of Lancaster scientists who are trying to improve the way we manage one of the earth's most precious natural resources

Lancaster Students Unveil Race Car

A team of seven students from Lancaster University have unveiled a high-performance race car they designed and built themselves, ready to take part in the Formula Student race at Silverstone on 10th - 13th July

Universities Join the Fight to Protect Children Online

Computer experts are now harnessing new developments in language analysis to identify paedophiles posing as children in online chat rooms, to pick up on their vocabulary choices and trail them as they move around the internet

Insurance Industry Hoodwinked by Polite Fraudsters

Insurance companies are looking for some wrong aspects of behaviour when trying to spot fraudulent claims according to a Lancaster University researcher