News Article | April 20, 2017
“Brexit vote site may have been hacked” warned the headlines last week after a Commons select committee published its report into lessons learned from the EU referendum. The public administration and constitutional affairs committee (Pacac) said that the failure of the voter registration website, which suffered an outage as many people tried to sign to vote up at the last minute in 2016, “had indications of being a DDoS ‘attack’”. It said it “does not rule out the possibility that the crash may have been caused … using botnets”. In the same paragraph it mentioned Russia and China. It said it “is deeply concerned about these allegations about foreign interference”. With a general election just seven weeks away, how worried should we be about foreign interference this time round? Labour MP Paul Flynn, who sits on the Pacac, certainly thinks we should be worried – although closer inspection of the report finds that, beyond the headlines, there’s a startling lack of evidence for those particular fears. In reality, a DDoS – “distributed denial of service” – attack is the bombarding of a server with requests it can’t keep up with, causing it to fail. Not only is it not actually hacking at all, but it also looks rather similar to when a lot of people at once try to use a server that doesn’t have the capacity. Given the history of government IT projects, some might favour this more prosaic explanation of why the voter registration website went offline. And that’s just what the Cabinet Office did say: “It was due to a spike in users just before the registration deadline. There is no evidence to suggest malign intervention.” So perhaps we shouldn’t fear that kind of attack, but hacking elections takes many forms. The University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, found a huge number of Twitter bots posting pro-Leave propaganda in the run up to the EU referendum. At least, that was how it was widely reported. The actual report reveals the researchers can’t directly identify bots – they just assume accounts that tweet a lot are automated – and admit “not all of these users or even the majority of them are bots”. But the accuracy, or inaccuracy, of the research aside, there’s a bigger issue. What the Oxford Internet Institute never says is that there’s no evidence bots tweeting actually affects how anyone votes. Bots generally follow people – we’re all used to those suggestive female avatars in our notifications feeds – but people don’t really follow bots back. So when they push out propaganda, is there anyone there to see it? Of course, en masse, those bots can affect the trending topics. But getting “#Leave” trending is not the same as controlling the messaging around it, and Twitter’s algorithm explicitly tries to mitigate against such gaming of the system. And again there’s the question: who looks at tweets via the trending topics tab anyway (except perhaps journalists looking for something to pad out a listicle)? Fake news, the last of the unholy trinity, is a harder problem. We know it exists, and we know it gets in front of many people via social media sites like Facebook. We don’t really know how much it affects people and how much people see it for what it is – but the history of untrue stories in the tabloid press on topics like migration does lend weight to the idea that fake news can influence opinion. What is and isn’t fake news is a contested field. At one end of the spectrum, mainstream publications report inaccurate stories about flights full of Romanians and Bulgarians heading for the UK. At the other, teenagers in Macedonia run pro-Trump websites where the content is pure invention. Most would agree the latter is fake news, even if not the former. But this is a different problem to DDoS attacks or bot armies. The Macedonian teens aren’t ideologically driven by wanting Trump in the White House, they’re motivated by the advertising revenue their well-shared stories can earn. Even when fake news is created for propaganda rather than profit, there’s rarely a shadowy overlord pulling the strings – and bad reporting is some distance away from hacking the election. While there’s a strong case that foreign actors have tried to influence elections in other countries - such as the DNC hack in the US - we probably don’t need to worry unduly about cyberattacks swinging the UK election. Besides: why would a foreign state bother? We’ve already got a divided country struggling with its own future without any need for outside interference.
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 | 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
News Article | March 2, 2017
SAN RAMON, CA--(Marketwired - March 02, 2017) - WANdisco ( : WAND), the world leader in Active Data Replication™, is pleased to announce it is supporting a major European project, led by the University of Sheffield, which could make it easier for doctors to spot the early signs of dementia. The Dementia Research Enabled by IT project, VPH-DARE@IT, seeks to learn more about the interaction of genetic, non-genetic and environmental factors thought to cause dementia through the analysis of large quantities of behavioral, genetic, environmental and clinical data. The project is using WANdisco's patented Fusion technology to move large volumes of continuously changing structured and unstructured data between eight different cloud providers so it can be analyzed by more than 950 applications. The researchers hope to be able to combine this data with novel biomarkers to provide new and feasible ways to screen for dementia before symptoms appear. Professor Alex Frangi, lead project coordinator, said, "This project wouldn't be possible without moving around large volumes of continually changing data. We need to do this in a distributed manner and for that we are using cloud technology and WANdisco Fusion. There is no other solution on the market that can move such active data and do it with guaranteed consistency." David Richards, CEO and Co-founder of WANdisco, said, "We have the only solution in the world that can move active data to the cloud with no interruption to service so that data can be analyzed very quickly. It is great to see our technology being used in projects which could make a positive difference to people lives." To learn more about the project please watch our video here. About WANdisco WANdisco is the world leader in Active Data Replication™. Its patented WANdisco Fusion technology enables the replication of continuously changing data to the cloud and on-premises data centers with guaranteed consistency, no downtime and no business disruption. It also allows distributed development teams to collaborate as if they are all working in one location. WANdisco has an OEM with IBM as well as partnerships with Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Google Cloud, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Microsoft Azure, and Oracle. We also work directly with Fortune 1000 companies around the world to ensure their data gives them the real insight they need. About VPH-DARE@IT The Dementia Research Enabled by IT project -- VPH-DARE@IT -- is a Virtual Physiological Human initiative funded through the European Union. There are a total of 20 partners including from the UK The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, The University of Oxford, University College London, Imperial College London, Kings' College London. Also involved are companies and research establishments from Finland, France, Germany, Norway, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal and Austria. For more information www.vph-dare.eu About University of Sheffield Center for Computational Imaging and Simulation Technologies in Biomedicine CISTIB is an international and interdisciplinary research center in department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Sheffield. It focuses on the development of computational medical imaging. and simulation techniques, with emphasis on angiology, cardiology, neurology and orthopedics. The group's main objective is the consolidation of a solid scientific base regarding the acquisition, analysis, and post processing of medical images and simulations. For more information www.cistib.org
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 email@example.com 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 | 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 21, 2016
Receive press releases from TEAM (Energy Auditing Agency Ltd.): By Email TEAM are proud to announce that customers University of Oxford and the University of the West of England scooped prestigious awards at the EAUC Green Gown Awards 2016 Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, November 21, 2016 --( Winners were announced on 10th November at the Athena in Leicester. The awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities, colleges and the learning and skills sectors across the UK and Ireland as the education sector leads a path to efficiency, employability and better quality of life for us all. The University of Oxford, a TEAM Sigma Software customer, won the Carbon Reduction Programme award, whilst the University of the West of England (UWE), who is also a TEAM software customer, picked up three awards for Continuous Improvement; Learning & Skills and Leadership. What did the University of Oxford Do? The University of Oxford set an ambitious target to reduce carbon emissions by 33% by the end of 2020/21 against a 2005/06 baseline. A generous budget of £14.6 million was awarded in 2011 to aid achieving the target of 21,773 tonnes of carbon savings. So far, 4,767 tonnes of carbon and £1.1m of annual energy costs have been saved by the university since 2011. Recognising the University of the West of England UWE was recognised for its sustainability aims between 2013 and 2020 and its work in Bristol’s year as European Green Capital 2015. Jim Longhurst, UWE’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for Environment was also recognised for ensuring that graduates are equipped to face the sustainable development challenges of the 21st century by integrating sustainability into curricula, research and campus operations. For the full list of winners at the Green Gown Awards 2016, visit their website at http://www.greengownawards.org/2016-winners1 Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, November 21, 2016 --( PR.com )-- TEAM is delighted to announce that two TEAM customers have scooped up prestigious awards at the Green Gown Awards 2016.Winners were announced on 10th November at the Athena in Leicester. The awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities, colleges and the learning and skills sectors across the UK and Ireland as the education sector leads a path to efficiency, employability and better quality of life for us all.The University of Oxford, a TEAM Sigma Software customer, won the Carbon Reduction Programme award, whilst the University of the West of England (UWE), who is also a TEAM software customer, picked up three awards for Continuous Improvement; Learning & Skills and Leadership.What did the University of Oxford Do?The University of Oxford set an ambitious target to reduce carbon emissions by 33% by the end of 2020/21 against a 2005/06 baseline.A generous budget of £14.6 million was awarded in 2011 to aid achieving the target of 21,773 tonnes of carbon savings. So far, 4,767 tonnes of carbon and £1.1m of annual energy costs have been saved by the university since 2011.Recognising the University of the West of EnglandUWE was recognised for its sustainability aims between 2013 and 2020 and its work in Bristol’s year as European Green Capital 2015.Jim Longhurst, UWE’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for Environment was also recognised for ensuring that graduates are equipped to face the sustainable development challenges of the 21st century by integrating sustainability into curricula, research and campus operations.For the full list of winners at the Green Gown Awards 2016, visit their website at http://www.greengownawards.org/2016-winners1 Click here to view the list of recent Press Releases from TEAM (Energy Auditing Agency Ltd.)
News Article | September 30, 2016
Scientists working in the mid-Atlantic and south-west Indian Ocean have found evidence of microfibers ingested by deep sea animals including hermit crabs, squat lobsters and sea cucumbers, revealing for the first time the environmental fallout of microplastic pollution. The UK government recently announced that it is to ban plastic microbeads, commonly found in cosmetics and cleaning materials, by the end of 2017. This followed reports by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee about the environmental damage caused microbeads. The Committee found that a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean. Researchers from the universities of Bristol and Oxford, working on the Royal Research Ship (RRS) James Cook at two sites, have now found evidence of microbeads inside creatures at depths of between 300m and 1800m. This is the first time microplastics – which can enter the sea via the washing of clothes made from synthetic fabrics or from fishing line nets – have been shown to have been ingested by animals at such depth. The results are published in the journal Scientific Reports. “This result astonished me and is a real reminder that plastic pollution has truly reached the furthest ends of the Earth,” said Laura Robinson, professor of geochemistry in Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences. Microplastics are generally defined as particles under 5mm in length and include the microfibers analysed in this study and the microbeads used in cosmetics that will be the subject of the forthcoming Government ban. Among the plastics found inside deep-sea animals in this research were polyester, nylon and acrylic. Microplastics are roughly the same size as ‘marine snow’ – the shower of organic material that falls from upper waters to the deep ocean and which many deep-sea creatures feed on. “The main purpose of this research expedition was to collect microplastics from sediments in the deep ocean – and we found lots of them. Given that animals interact with this sediment, such as living on it or eating it, we decided to look inside them to see if there was any evidence of ingestion. What’s particularly alarming is that these microplastics weren’t found in coastal areas but in the deep ocean, thousands of miles away from land-based sources of pollution,” said Michelle Taylor of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, and lead author of the study. The animals were collected using a remotely operated underwater vehicle. The study, funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), was a collaboration between The University of Oxford, the University of Bristol, the Natural History Museum in London, and Staffordshire University’s Department of Forensic and Crime Science, which made sure the results were robust and the study was free from potential contamination. “Existing forensic approaches for the examination of fibers are tried and tested for their robustness and must stand up to the scrutiny of the courts of law. These techniques were employed in this research in order to effectively reduce and monitor contamination and therefore provide confidence in the fact that the microplastics found were ingested, and not from the laboratory or other external contaminant," said Claire Gwinnett, associate professor in forensic and crime science at Staffordshire University. “Using forensic laboratory techniques, we have identified that microplastics are present in ingested material from deep sea creatures. Forensic science is still a fairly new science, but we are delighted that our work and techniques are starting to inform other sciences and important environmental research such as this.”
PubMed | The University of Oxford
Type: | Journal: Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE | Year: 2016
The oculomotor system involves a large number of brain areas including parts of the basal ganglia, and various neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinsons and Huntingtons can disrupt it. People with Parkinsons disease, for example, tend to have increased saccadic latencies. Consequently, the quantitative measurement of saccadic eye movements has received considerable attention as a potential biomarker for neurodegenerative conditions. A lot more can be learned about the brain in both health and disease by observing what happens to eye movements when the function of specific brain areas is perturbed. Deep brain stimulation is a surgical intervention used for the management of a range of neurological conditions including Parkinsons disease, in which stimulating electrodes are placed in specific brain areas including several sites in the basal ganglia. Eye movement measurements can then be made with the stimulator systems both off and on and the results compared. With suitable experimental design, this approach can be used to study the pathophysiology of the disease being treated, the mechanism by which DBS exerts it beneficial effects, and even aspects of normal neurophysiology.
News Article | November 15, 2016
The Wallis Annenberg PetSpace™ today announced a unique new community center featuring an interactive space for on-site pet adoptions and training classes, an education center and a leadership institute. Annenberg PetSpace will focus squarely on the mutually beneficial and dynamic bond between people and their pets as well as the origins and science of that relationship. The Wallis Annenberg PetSpace represents the latest extension of Wallis Annenberg’s philanthropic work, which has long supported organizations and projects dedicated to improving the well-being of people and communities in L.A., surrounding regions and throughout the world. The Wallis Annenberg PetSpace™ is scheduled to open summer 2017, in the heart of Silicon Beach, in Playa Vista, CA. "This new initiative couldn't be closer to my heart,” said Wallis Annenberg. “Gandhi once said that 'the greatness of a nation ... can be judged by the way its animals are treated.' I believe that very strongly; we share this Earth with them, we enjoy love and companionship from them, and as every animal lover knows, we can learn a great deal from them too. The purpose of Annenberg PetSpace is to strengthen the bonds between us and all animals and pets, and to form innovative new policies and partnerships – to save animals' lives through adoption and education, and to help make our communities more animal-friendly." The Annenberg PetSpace will offer the following public services and opportunities: Community Center: Create a model community space that will address the growing issues surrounding people and their pets in their communities, in their homes and at their place of work. Pet Adoptions: Offer pet adoptions through collaboration with local and municipal animal welfare organizations, giving rescued animals a second chance at life. Partnerships: Partner with and support expert and specialized organizations for education and impact such as: California Science Center, Pediatric Therapy Network, Loyola Marymount University, The University of Nottingham, The University of Oxford, County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control, State Humane Association of California, and Lewis & Clark Law School’s Center for Animal Law Studies. Collaborate with those in the rapidly growing academic field of Human Animal Studies (HAS), which examines the complex and multidimensional relationships between humans and animals. Employment and Volunteer Opportunities: Offer opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to assist in the diverse and robust programs. Conversation: Lead and advocate for dialogue and awareness of public policy relating to animals, and champion high-level discussions about the science and origins of the human-animal bond.