News Article | November 22, 2016
UK universities are helping lead the world on environmental research – but when it comes to their own back yard they appear to be falling behind. Only a quarter are on track to meet their carbon reduction targets by 2020. Teams leading environmental initiatives are being cut and sustainability strategies have not been renewed, according to the results of the 2016 People & Planet University League, published on Tuesday (see below). Lack of government support for public sector sustainability is blamed for the stalling of energy-saving schemes. It is the fourth year that the league – ranking institutions by environmental and ethical performance – has recorded fewer universities on course to meet their legally binding target of reducing emissions by 43% from 2005 levels by 2020. But not all have abandoned their green goals, with “first class” status being awarded to 30 of the 150 universities. This year Nottingham Trent University, which tops the table, opened the Pavilion, its first carbon negative building. Brighton University, in second place, has made sustainability one of its four core values. The University of Warwick – the biggest mover, up from 129 last year to 34th – is launching a unique BASc cross-disciplinary degree in global sustainable development. Nottingham Trent’s high score reflects its commitment to engage staff and students, and its aim to include sustainability in all its courses, while the University of Brighton has managed to reduce its carbon footprint despite expanding in size and opening its buildings for longer hours. “Sustainability is a core value in our university,” says Prof Debra Humphris, Brighton’s vice-chancellor. “With students and staff we aim to embed sustainable practices; we all need to play our part.” A spokesman for the University of Warwick said its improved showing could be partly due to the different way statistics for the league have been collected this year. “They may have picked up more of the things we are doing this year, such as the bike hire scheme, the £5,000 fund to support student projects, and our staff and student green champions initiative,” he said. The 2016 league table, based on information in the public domain, scores institutions on such factors as the commitment of senior management, the employment of dedicated sustainability staff, divesting from investment in the fossil fuel industry and meeting public sector carbon reduction commitments. It also considers employment factors, such as paying staff the living wage, joining Electronics Watch to improve workers’ rights in that industry and investing in projects that do not exploit or pollute communities. Before 2010 and the election of the coalition and the Conservative governments, there was a flurry of carbon reduction initiatives linked to higher education funding, says People & Planet, a student campaigning network. “Sustainability drivers such as the capital investment framework (which made tranches of funding contingent on plans to reduce carbon emissions), the higher education green academy and the student green fund have all been removed. Today, it says, “the landscape looks bereft of any significant support or incentive for sustainable development in universities in England.” “We can now see the concerning impact of the current government’s short-termism with regard to energy and climate policy,” says Hannah Smith, co-director for campaigns and research. “Environmental sustainability has been removed from the government’s annual grant letter setting out higher education funding, leaving the Higher Education Funding Council [Hefce] without the resources it had in the past to support sustainable practice.” Wealth and academic prestige appear to be uncorrelated to progress on sustainability and ethical employment and procurement. The University of Oxford comes 46th and Cambridge 57th. Grant Anderson, Nottingham Trent’s environmental manager, says that in the past, external pressures were useful in engaging senior management in the sustainability drive. “These now don’t exist. However, it hasn’t impeded us. We continue to expand from an initial focus on carbon, waste, transport etc to a more holistic approach, understanding the sustainability opportunities of our core business of education and research. “We made it a formal requirement six months ago that all of our courses incorporate at least one of the 17 UN sustainable development goals. We don’t specify what they include, that is up to the academics, but we think it will give our students an edge in their careers to have considered some of the environmental challenges they will face in their lifetimes. For example, chemistry students are exploring their role in finding solutions to feeding the world in a sustainable way and primary education students learn practical gardening skills at the university’s food share allotments that they will be able to share with their future pupils.” Government policy is likely to continue to have an impact, however – but a less positive one. Abigail Dombey, Brighton’s environmental manager, says the university has recently installed 893 solar panels, which will save £40,000 a year in energy bills and reduce its carbon footprint by more than 100 tonnes a year. “But the feed-in tariffs – the financial incentives for generating electricity from renewable sources – have been slashed by the government so there is much less incentive to invest in renewable energy.” She fears some universities could also face higher taxes under the business rates revaluation from next April through the government’s proposal to increase the rateable value of solar panels. As charities, most universities are exempt from at least 80% of business rates but some pay 20% and all pay rates on buildings used commercially. The bottom 10 in the green league are mostly small, specialist institutions that are less likely to have the resources to employ staff to oversee environmental issues. However, the small specialist Royal Agricultural University, at 16th in the league, shows that a lot can be achieved on a smaller scale. St Mary’s University in Twickenham, London, with 4,400 students, came in the bottom 10 after researchers found it had no environmental policy or strategy, no publicly available carbon management plan, ethical investment policy or evidence of dedicated sustainability staff. In response, a spokesman said the findings were “not reflective of St Mary’s approach to sustainability” and that “the university has extensive environmental policies including strategies for carbon management, biodiversity and sustainable catering”. Hefce says its capital investment framework remains in force and requires universities and colleges to “demonstrate that their capital investment plans are aligned with the goal of managing environmental impact and that they have an acceptable carbon management plan in place”. It adds: “The HE sector has developed its expertise significantly over the last decade or so and they are the real experts in what the sector needs to do to drive sustainability plans forward.” Top 20 1 Nottingham Trent University 2 University of Brighton 3 Manchester Metropolitan University 4 Cardiff Metropolitan University 5 University of Worcester 6 Aston University 7 City, University of London 8 = Newcastle University 8 = University of Gloucestershire 10 Swansea University 11 University of Bedfordshire 12 Plymouth University 13 De Montfort University 14 London School of Economics 15 Keele University 16= University of Exeter 16= Royal Agricultural University 18 University of Greenwich 19 University of Bradford 20 Bournemouth University Bottom 10 141 Heythrop College, University of London 142 Writtle University College 143 University of St Mark & St John 144 St Mary’s University, Twickenham 145 Royal Northern College of Music 146 University College Birmingham 147 Stranmillis University College 148 University of Bolton 149 Royal Veterinary College 150 Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance • For the full league table go to peopleand planet.org/university-league/table • This article was amended on 22 November 2016 to correct the rankings for four universities in the top 20, and to put Bournemouth University at No 20 rather than Coventry University. The article was also amended to correct a reference to the Royal Agricultural College; it has been the Royal Agricultural University since 2013.
News Article | November 10, 2016
Project led By University of Maryland School of Medicine will focus on accelerating the use of vaccines to protect from disease that kills more than 220,000 annually Baltimore, MD, November 10, 2016 - Typhoid fever, a bacterial infection that causes high fever and other disabling symptoms, remains a serious global problem in the developing world: it kills almost a quarter of a million people annually, and infects about 21 million. To help speed the introduction of, and access to, new and more effective typhoid vaccines, the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) has received a grant of $36.9 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project, known as Typhoid Vaccine Acceleration Consortium (TyVAC), is a partnership with the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford and PATH, an international nonprofit global health organization based in Seattle. TyVAC will focus on conjugate vaccines, which can trigger a stronger immune response in certain vulnerable populations, such as infants and children, than current typhoid vaccines. TyVAC will employ a multidisciplinary approach to study and control typhoid, and generate evidence that informs global policies. The project will work closely with governments and policymakers to introduce vaccines in lower-income countries with a high burden of typhoid. The effort will also examine how well the vaccine rollouts work in early adopter countries. The project's overall goal is to support accelerated, evidence-based decisions for new typhoid conjugate vaccine introductions that will significantly reduce the severe health and economic burdens of the disease. "Typhoid fever disproportionately impacts children and poor populations," said Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, FIDSA, professor of medicine at UM SOM, director of CVD, and deputy director of the Institute for Global Health (IGH). "With our long history of work in typhoid and typhoid vaccines, we look forward to working with partners to catalyze action against this significant public health problem." "It is unconscionable that children are still dying by the thousands every year from diseases like typhoid that are completely preventable," said Anita Zaidi, director of the Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "The prevention and control of typhoid should be a global health priority and we are pleased to support the Typhoid Vaccine Acceleration Consortium as part of our overall strategy to combat typhoid through an integrated approach including access to clean water, improved sanitation, and immunization." At present, the currently available vaccines for typhoid fever are underutilized despite the substantial disease burden and a World Health Organization recommendation for the use of typhoid vaccines in areas of high burden. Typhoid conjugate vaccines have the promise to overcome some of the barriers of the currently available vaccines, providing a stronger immune response, a longer duration of protection, and the ability to be incorporated into the routine vaccination schedule targeted at children less than two years old. "We are excited to work in partnership with CVD to bring our expertise on typhoid infections and vaccines to the consortium and improve health through TyVAC," said Andrew Pollard, MD, PhD, professor of pediatric infection and immunity at the University of Oxford, and director of the Oxford Vaccine Group. Population density, limited sanitation, and poor water quality can provide a breeding ground for typhoid. "With increasing urbanization, we could see an even greater burden of typhoid," noted Deborah Atherly, PhD, head of Policy, Access, and Introduction for PATH's Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access. "Through TyVAC, we will work to ensure that typhoid vaccines finally reach those who need them most." "Typhoid is a significant public health problem in many parts of the world," said UM SOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, who is also vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. "Over several decades, the CVD has helped save millions of lives. This generous grant from the Gates Foundation will allow our scientists, working with national and international partners, to continue with this crucial work." The CVD at the University of Maryland School of Medicine works nationally and internationally to prevent disease and save lives through the development and delivery of vaccines. As an academic research center, CVD is engaged in the full range of vaccinology, including basic science research, vaccine development, pre-clinical and clinical evaluation, and post-marketing field studies. Learn more at http://medschool. . The University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 and is the first public medical school in the United States and continues today as an innovative leader in accelerating innovation and discovery in medicine. The School of Medicine is the founding school of the University of Maryland and is an integral part of the 11-campus University System of Maryland. Located on the University of Maryland's Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine works closely with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide a research-intensive, academic and clinically based education. With 43 academic departments, centers and institutes and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians and research scientists plus more than $400 million in extramural funding, the School is regarded as one of the leading biomedical research institutions in the U.S. with top-tier faculty and programs in cancer, brain science, surgery and transplantation, trauma and emergency medicine, vaccine development and human genomics, among other centers of excellence. The School is not only concerned with the health of the citizens of Maryland and the nation, but also has a global presence, with research and treatment facilities in more than 35 countries around the world. Learn more at http://medschool. . The University of Oxford is one of the top five higher education institutions in the world and hosts the Oxford Vaccine Group (OVG) in the Department of Paediatrics (http://www. ). OVG is a vaccine design, development, clinical trials, and laboratory evaluation research group with specific expertise in vaccine evaluation in paediatric populations. The University of Oxford has strategically made a major investment in infrastructure to support research on vaccines and immunity over the past two decades. The OVG is one of the largest academic research groups in the world focused on designing, developing, and evaluating vaccines for children, as well as characterizing immune response to vaccines and infectious diseases. PATH is the leader in global health innovation. An international nonprofit organization, we save lives and improve health, especially among women and children. We accelerate innovation across five platforms--vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and system and service innovations--that harness our entrepreneurial insight, scientific and public health expertise, and passion for health equity. By mobilizing partners around the world, we take innovation to scale, working alongside countries primarily in Africa and Asia to tackle their greatest health needs. Together, we deliver measurable results that disrupt the cycle of poor health. Learn more at http://www.
News Article | November 4, 2016
The winning bids for funding from the UK Quantum Technologies Innovation Fund will be announced today, Thursday November 3rd, to delegates attending an international Quantum Technologies Showcase, at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, in London. Representatives from around the world will discover which companies working with academics in the field of quantum technologies have been successful applying to the Fund - a joint investment by the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) . The projects will link academia and industry to research and translate quantum technologies into new products and services. The conference will hear how the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme (UKNQTP) is continuing to draw the country's research base together with industry, research funding bodies and other government agencies to build a new high tech industry in the UK. The Showcase event will also demonstrate the progress being made by the UKNQTP, including work carried out by the UK's four Quantum Technologies Hubs, UK companies, the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). There will be over 30 live demonstrations on show, which harness the power of quantum effects and using this to advance technologies in measurement, security, computing, imaging and sensing, in what has become known as the second quantum revolution. Dr Ruth McKernan, Chief Executive of Innovate UK, said: "Quantum technology has the potential to be a global game-changer. The UK is at the forefront of this and Innovate UK and its partner EPSRC, are there to give vital support to UK companies as they take the opportunities offered by this fascinating and exciting new sector." Two world-leading quantum companies, ID Quantique and QxBranch, will also be announcing the opening of UK offices in order to become closer to the UK quantum programme. Exhibits will demonstrate the development of 3D cameras; low-cost quantum keys for encryption; gas detectors that can image invisible gases, together with quantum magnetometers that will enable higher imaging resolutions and the ability to image deeper areas of the brain. Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which funds the Hubs and other parts of the programme said: "This year's showcase will give researchers an opportunity to demonstrate how their work is progressing and is an open door to potential partners to get involved. The joint investment by Innovate UK and EPSRC, announced today, will allow us to accelerate the application and exploitation of these technologies and keep the UK at the leading edge of this exciting field." The event has been organised to mark the second anniversary of the UK National Quantum Technology Hubs which were set up in November 2014. The Hubs have been formed by a consortium of 17 universities led by the universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Oxford and York, funded by EPSRC. Professor David Delpy, Chair of the UKNQTP, said: "This second showcase event demonstrates the progress we have made with the number of exhibits increasing from 11 to 39 and industry partners being more clearly visible throughout both the speaker programme and exhibition." Details of the winners are set out in the table below. For further information please contact the EPSRC Press Office on 01793 444 404 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Images from the showcase will be available shortly afterwards on request. 1. The UK National Quantum Technologies Programme (UKNQTP) aims to ensure the successful transition of quantum technologies from laboratory to industry. The programme is delivered by EPSRC, Innovate UK, BEIS, NPL, GCHQ, DSTL and the KTN. For more information, visit http://uknqt. . As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate. By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. We work collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. http://www. Innovate UK is the UK's innovation agency. We are business focused and drive disruptive innovation right across the UK economy, funding and connecting pioneering businesses so they can create the products, processes and industries of the future. It is our mission to boost productivity, increase exports and help the UK economy grow head and shoulders above other nations. For further information and to stay updated on our latest news visit http://www. , follow us on Twitter at @innovateuk or subscribe to our YouTube channel at http://www. . The University of Birmingham (led by Professor Kai Bongs) - UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Metrology Quantum Sensors and Metrology will dramatically improve the accuracy of measurement of time, frequency, rotation, magnetic fields, gravity and other key fundamental measures, which will have impact across a wide range of fields, from electronic stock trading to GPS navigation. They will deliver unprecedented views into the brain for dementia research and into the ground allowing reduced roadworks, detecting sinkholes and finding archaeological treasures. The Birmingham-led hub will partner with academics at the universities of Southampton, Strathclyde, Sussex, Nottingham and Glasgow and aims to build a supply chain for quantum sensor technology, build a series of quantum sensor and metrology prototype devices and develop the market and links between academia and industry. The University of Glasgow (led by Professor Miles Padgett) - QuantIC (Quantum Enhanced Imaging / Sensing) QuantIC will develop new types of camera with unprecedented sensitivity and the capacity to time the arrival of the detected light. These cameras will open up new markets in medical imaging; security and environmental monitoring; and manufacturing of high value materials. Quantum cameras will be able to visualise gas leaks, see clearly through smoke, look round corners or underneath the skin. Quantum sensors developed by the Hub will detect single contaminant molecules and detect electromagnetic and gravitational fields with exceptional sensitivity. The University of Glasgow-led hub will partner with academics from the universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Oxford, Strathclyde, and Heriot-Watt University. The University of Oxford (led by Professor Ian Walmsley) - Networked Quantum Information Technologies (NQIT) (Quantum Computing/Simulation) Quantum information processing will enable users to solve problems that even the most powerful of today's supercomputers struggle with. They will accelerate the discovery of new drugs or materials by simulating different molecular designs using programmable software, thus dramatically reducing the laborious trial and error of making each molecule in the laboratory. Another application is making sense of 'big data', the immense torrent of information about economics, climate, and health that can help us make better predictions of future trends. The Oxford-led hub will partner with academics from the universities of Bath, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Leeds, Southampton, Strathclyde, Sussex and Warwick, as well as dozens of national and international companies. The website is http://nqit. The University of York (led by Professor Tim Spiller) - Quantum Communications Hub Quantum Communications can transform the security of data and transactions across multiple sectors and users, ranging from government and industry to commerce and consumers. The York-led hub is aiming for breakthroughs that will lead to widespread and affordable use of the technology. These include: chip-scale integration based on Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), thus reducing the size and manufacturing costs of equipment; building a UK Quantum network for the demonstration and testing of new equipment and services - providing early access to advanced technologies for industry, business clusters and communities of users. The Hub partnership includes leading researchers from the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Heriot-Watt, Leeds, Royal Holloway, Sheffield, Strathclyde and York, collaborating with world-class researchers working in the labs of industrial partners. Several companies and organisations are formally involved in one or more of the Hubs these include: BT, Toshiba, e2v, M Squared Lasers, Dstl, AWE, NPL, Thales, Coherent Lasers, BP, Compound Semiconductor, GCHQ, Selex, Oxford Instruments, and Kelvin Nanotechnology.
News Article | March 11, 2016
As the low hanging lightweighting fruits are picked, automotive manufacturers have to now work that bit harder to shed the pounds. BMW is perhaps one of the more progressive examples of a manufacturer driving composite R&D in a major way. However, it is not simply abandoning metal, and like many others, it is seeking out ways to lightweight vehicles using conventional steel. This has led to BMW Mini initiating a project between The University of Oxford and Diamond Light Source – the UK's national synchrotron science facility located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. The facility harnesses the power of electrons and x-rays to help scientists and engineers gain new insight and understanding in to the microscopic and internal structures of materials. BMW Mini wants answers to a phenomenon that has been witnessed, more broadly, since the 1950s. It is seen when parts are stamp formed, a common automotive process, to make everything from bonnets to doors. The problem is, for any stamping process that is completed in more than one stage, the deformation becomes highly complex, particularly for a pressed part with strain applied in two-axes. This results in a non-homogeneous arrangement of the crystalline and microscopic defect structures. While it may sound arbitrary, the affect can influence grain morphology, crystal orientation and distribution – all of which have significant impact on mechanical properties, including most importantly, how much the material will stretch before it fractures. Leading the work is Dr David Collins, a researcher at the University of Oxford, who explains the problem. He says: "They can't stamp form stronger steels at the moment because of this affect. The metals they use on body panels are actually quite weak, say 10% as strong as the strongest steels on the market. Stronger metals are not ductile and can't be stamped into the complicated shapes needed." It means thicker sections have to be used, so panels end up weighing more. It's something BMW is keen to understand so it can ultimately reduce the weight of steel chassis. The problem is complex, meaning testing and analysis is far from straightforward. The deformation is biaxial, meaning any obvious traditional solution is not suitable. It led to Dr Collins applying to use the synchrotron to carry out tests and shed new light, or x-rays in this case, on the problem. However, he soon faced another problem, the Shimadzu AGS-X 10kN load frame that was available, was a single axis machine. Dr Collins decided to do what so many engineers have done before him – innovate. He designed a mechanism to generate the bi-axial deformation needed, which also bolts straight on to the Shimadzu machine. "I've built a mechanism that uses the power of the load frame to generate the stresses," he says. "There are four diagonal rods at the corners to change the angle and determine the ratio of how much it is deforming in each direction. I can make it more biased towards the horizontal, vertical or even one side. "I spent time in the workshop machining all the components myself. I started from scratch and it was a very steep learning curve. I broke a lot of tools and upset a couple of people, but I was very determined to make the mechanism and run the tests." The request to use the synchrotron was successful and four days of testing commenced. The results show a series of concentric rings, with each ring corresponding to a signal coming from individual lattice planes. The shape of these rings, and their radius, gives an important microscopic insight. "If you deform a bit of material, those rings change in diameter," he says. "And you can then measure how much strain is being taken up by individual planes. So you capture what is happening on the atomic planar level." The cross shaped specimen is 1mm thick, but in the centre this is reduced to just 300µm. If it was a uniform thickness, the test would simply pull the arms off. A cross is machined in the middle, which steps down to a thinner circular cross section just 300µm thick. "One thing you can see is how strain is being accommodated in the individual grains based on their orientations," says Dr Collins. "You can monitor the centre on a macroscopic level by putting a camera in front of the rig. But with x-rays, they tell you what the strain is, on all of the individual crystals." With the tests complete, the hard work begins. After four intense days of gathering data, it could be a year or more of analysis to find conclusive explanation of the bi-axial deformation phenomenon. What is known is that 'material texture', ie the orientation of grains in the material, has a big effect on the ductility of the materials and how strain is accumulated. As all sheet materials are rolled during production, it forces most of the crystals to align in one orientation. "We can tell BMW things like 'texture is important', but we don't yet know how to optimise it," says Dr Collins. "Eventually, however, we hope to get enough of an idea about the affect to apply it to different materials. We're sticking with steel for the moment as we don't want to end up blurring the problem with other complexities. But, there is no reason why this research could not be limited to any alloy. For a lot of metals, no one has proved if this phenomenon even exists or not, so there might be massive benefits with lots of different applications outside the automotive world." Explore further: A new twist makes for better steel