SciTech bulletin

Christmas Conference 2009: Research Impact in Science and Technology

Impact is the theme of this year's SciTech Christmas Conference. This is currently a hotly debated topic, with some scientists arguing that it is wrong to ask about the impact of research, while others consider it perfectly reasonable to be asked to say why their research matters and how they can demonstrate its effects.

We are very fortunate to have two external speakers who are well placed to bring us up to date on the views on impact held at the Research Councils and at the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Lesley Thompson, who is Director of the Research Base at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will talk about impact as understood by the EPSRC and particularly the role of impact statements in grant applications. Lesley was previously Director of Research and Innovation at the EPSRC, and currently has responsibility for the delivery of research programmes, liaison with the academic community, career development and the support of researchers, and capacity building and peer review, so she is very well placed to discuss impact from the research council perspective.

Paul Hubbard, who is Head of Research Policy at HEFCE will talk about impact from the perspective of the Research Excellence framework exercise (REF). HEFCE is currently consulting on the proposals for the REF, with impact and how it is to be assessed playing a large part, and is also running a pilot exercise on impact in which Lancaster Physics will take part. The outcome of the REF, like the outcome of the RAE, affects both the way in which we are rated for research and the funding we receive from HEFCE. As Head of Research Policy at HEFCE, Paul is immersed in the pilots and the consultation and will be able to give us insights into the way in which HEFCE is approaching the issues of measurement of the impact of research.

There will be eight presentations of research from across the faculty, and each speaker has been asked to say something about the impact of their work or the work in their area during their presentation, which should result in eight different views on impact. In addition, there will be an open discussion session at the end of the day. So come along to the Conference on Tuesday 15 December and join in the discussions.

2009 Conference programme

SciTech Grad School


Postgraduate graduation ceremonies are being held on Wednesday 9 December. To celebrate, the Faculty of Science and Technology will be holding a graduation lunch. This will take place in the LEC atrium at 12.30pm. All those who have been involved in the teaching and administration of these students are invited to celebrate with the students and their families.

Faculty Christmas Conference Poster Sessions

Poster abstract and title submission for the SciTech Christmas Conference Poster session closed last Friday. We had a fantastic response with 104 submissions! We are currently in the process of selecting posters from each department and hope to be in touch this week with all those who submitted.

Research Development Programme

Courses for next term are being finalised and should be online over the next couple of weeks.

SciTech Grad School Forum

Do you have any ideas for new courses for the Research Development Programme? Do you want more from the SciTech Grad School? If so, join the SciTech Grad School forum and have your say! Being an active member of the SciTech Grad school forum will count as three training credits. If you are interested please contact Liz Hurrell.

SciTech Grad School: PG Admissions

The new postgraduate admissions system has now been launched. Applicants wishing to apply on-line will now be directed to a new web portal at From here, applicants can keep track of the status of their application, view electronic offer letters and access general information about studying at Lancaster.

In terms of internal processing, new applications will now be managed using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This software is much more sophisticated than the existing LUSI PG Admissions database, and it is hoped that in the future it will have many useful functions relating to enquiries and marketing. However, in the first instance, the CRM will allow applications to be processed in a paperless, partially-automated way. This will allow for more timely decisions and responses, but more importantly, it will reduce the time departmental staff spend on routine paper-chasing, allowing them to focus more on building a relationship with each applicant, and developing other ways to improve conversion rates.

Although new applications are now being processed in the paperless/CRM system, existing applications will continue to be processed in the paper-based/LUSI system until such time as records can be migrated into the CRM in the new year. Departmental staff will receive training on the CRM as soon as possible, and efforts will be made to ensure a smooth transition between the two systems.

Funding Roundup

Keith Cheverst from Computing has received an EPSRC award of 83,549 to fund a 3 year PhD student to work on an innovative research project entitled: "EXTRAMS: Exploiting Traditional Map Signage with Mobile Devices". The central aim of which is to investigate the way in which mobile phones can provide a useful and usable facility to support the capture, georeferencing and display of traditional You-Are-Here map signage and the associated Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) issues.

Your Grant News

Send details of successful grants to Katherine Gill with a two-sentence summary to go in the Bulletin as well as information about the funder, amount awarded, title and a link to provide further details if appropriate.

News and Events

Seminar: How Technology Evolves

Thursday 10 December, 1600, Institute for Advanced Studies, Lancaster University

Professor W. Brian Arthur, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, will talk about his new book, The Nature of Technology. All are invited to attend. More details.

LEC research awarded Queen's Anniversary Prize

The development of water saving techniques for agriculture which have helped farmers in some of the driest regions of the world, has won Lancaster University a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. It is the third time the University has received one of these prestigious awards read more

Lancaster Scientists Take Part in Big Bang Experiments

Lancaster University Physicists are celebrating their work on two landmark experiments which are attempting to understand the building blocks of the universe read more

Brain Communication Key To Dyslexia

Some children with dyslexia suffer from a lack of communication between the two halves of their brain according to researchers at the Universities of Lancaster and Edinburgh read more

How Groups Prevent Violence: Analysing CCTV Footage of Night-time Violence

When it comes to thinking about violence and anti-social behaviour, groups of drinkers out at night tend to get a bad press. A combination of excess alcohol and the negative influence of the group is believed to lead to anti-social behaviour read more

Bright Spark wins Engineering Prize

A promising young engineer has been singled out for an award by the Nuclear Institute read more

Best Paper Award for Computing's Map Research

A Best Paper award from the International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services has been received by the Computing department for collaborative research with the University of Munster on capturing You-Are-Here maps using mobile phones read more