Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Portsmouth, United Kingdom

The University of Portsmouth is a university in the city of Portsmouth, England. It was previously known as Portsmouth Polytechnic until 1992, when it was granted university status through the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.The University is a member of the University Alliance and The Channel Islands Universities Consortium. Wikipedia.


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Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: REFLECTIVE-3-2015 | Award Amount: 2.50M | Year: 2016

The PERCEIVE (Perception and Evaluation of Regional and Cohesion policies by Europeans and Identification with the Values of Europe) project aims at both mapping and explaining inter- and intra-regional variations in: a) the experiences and results of cohesion policy implementation, b) citizens awareness and appreciation of EU efforts for delivering cohesion and c) European identities and citizens identification with the EU. In doing so, PERCEIVE will develop a comprehensive theory of cohesion in diversity, and use this theory to create a better understanding of the channels through which European policies contribute to create both different local understandings of the EU and different levels of European identification across profoundly different European regions. In addressing the aim of the project, PERCEIVE contrasts two different perspectives: a rational choice perspective stressing mainly the idea of institutions as rules of the game and the calculative rationality of actors as determinants of European identities and identification, and a social constructivist perspective stressing mainly the idea that European identities and identification emerge from a process of social learning associated with different institutional discourses. PERCEIVE relies on a multidisciplinary portfolio of competences bridging socio-political, regional-economic and public-administrative backgrounds. It integrates the use of both qualitative and quantitative analytical methods such as surveys, focus groups, case studies and econometric modelling. In addition, it uses particularly innovative methods such as quantitative discourse analysis to elicit meaning structures in public discourse about the EU, its regional policy and being European. Finally, PERCEIVE will produce a computer simulation environment and embed it into a virtual platform that cohesion policy stakeholders will be able to use and produce what-if analysis and long-term scenario analysis of the effects of policies.


Rozas-Fernandez A.,University of Portsmouth
Physics Letters, Section B: Nuclear, Elementary Particle and High-Energy Physics | Year: 2012

A ghost dark energy model has been recently put forward to explain the current accelerated expansion of the Universe. In this model, the energy density of ghost dark energy, which comes from the Veneziano ghost of QCD, is proportional to the Hubble parameter, ρ D=αH. Here α is a constant of order ΛQCD3 where Λ QCD~100 MeV is the QCD mass scale. We consider a connection between ghost dark energy with/without interaction between the components of the dark sector and the kinetic k-essence field. It is shown that the cosmological evolution of the ghost dark energy dominated Universe can be completely described a kinetic k-essence scalar field. We reconstruct the kinetic k-essence function F(X) in a flat Friedmann-Robertson-Walker Universe according to the evolution of ghost dark energy density. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Koyama K.,University of Portsmouth
Reports on Progress in Physics | Year: 2016

We review recent progress in the construction of modified gravity models as alternatives to dark energy as well as the development of cosmological tests of gravity. Einstein's theory of general relativity (GR) has been tested accurately within the local universe i.e. the Solar System, but this leaves the possibility open that it is not a good description of gravity at the largest scales in the Universe. This being said, the standard model of cosmology assumes GR on all scales. In 1998, astronomers made the surprising discovery that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating, not slowing down. This late-time acceleration of the Universe has become the most challenging problem in theoretical physics. Within the framework of GR, the acceleration would originate from an unknown dark energy. Alternatively, it could be that there is no dark energy and GR itself is in error on cosmological scales. In this review, we first give an overview of recent developments in modified gravity theories including f(R) gravity, braneworld gravity, Horndeski theory and massive/bigravity theory. We then focus on common properties these models share, such as screening mechanisms they use to evade the stringent Solar System tests. Once armed with a theoretical knowledge of modified gravity models, we move on to discuss how we can test modifications of gravity on cosmological scales. We present tests of gravity using linear cosmological perturbations and review the latest constraints on deviations from the standard CDM model. Since screening mechanisms leave distinct signatures in the non-linear structure formation, we also review novel astrophysical tests of gravity using clusters, dwarf galaxies and stars. The last decade has seen a number of new constraints placed on gravity from astrophysical to cosmological scales. Thanks to on-going and future surveys, cosmological tests of gravity will enjoy another, possibly even more, exciting ten years. © 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd.


Sakstein J.,University of Portsmouth
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2015

The most general scalar-tensor theories of gravity predict a weakening of the gravitational force inside astrophysical bodies. There is a minimum mass for hydrogen burning in stars that is set by the interplay of plasma physics and the theory of gravity. We calculate this for alternative theories of gravity and find that it is always significantly larger than the general relativity prediction. The observation of several low mass red dwarf stars therefore rules out a large class of scalar-tensor gravity theories and places strong constraints on the cosmological parameters appearing in the effective field theory of dark energy. © 2015 American Physical Society.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-IF-GF | Phase: MSCA-IF-2015-GF | Award Amount: 250.10K | Year: 2016

This project seeks to bring a new perspective to understanding state construction in Algeria after independence. Through a history of the first generations of Algerians who went to university in the 1960s and 1970s, it explores the intersections between political and institutional transformations and social, cultural and economic processes. These processes include increasing literacy, rural to urban migration, migration to study abroad and changes in gender relations and family structures. Bringing together concepts and methodologies from across a number of humanities and social science disciplines, the project will produce a case study setting out new approaches to studying state-building as a dynamic process which takes place at different levels of power (transnational, national and local) and which both shapes, and is shaped by, individual agency and wider processes. The goal is for this approach to be applicable to a range of other post-colonial contexts, challenging teleological readings of post-independence histories and homogenising understandings of post-independence states. The project is to be carried out in Algeria, France and the UK, with the researcher working with leading experts in the field in each of these countries to create a transnational, interdisciplinary network exploring the central research themes. Through extensive interviewing of former students, this project will create a new body of sources for researchers, which will also, with informants consent, be made accessible online. Public engagement is integral to the research design and process of data collection as well as dissemination, with Algerian students from the 1960s and 1970s invited to participate in group testimony sessions, alongside the wider public, throughout the project.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 183.21K | Year: 2016

Nuclear power has great potential as a future global power source with a small carbon footprint. To realise this potential, safety (and also the public perception of safety) is of the utmost importance, and both existing and new design nuclear power plants strive to improve safety, maintain availability and reduce the cost of operation and maintenance. Moreover, plant life extensions and power updates push the demand for the new tools for diagnosing and prognosing the health of nuclear power plants. Monitoring the status of plants by diverse means has become a norm. Current approaches for diagnosis and prognosis, which rely heavily on operator judgement on the basis of online monitoring of key variables, are not always reliable. This project will bring together three UK Universities and an Indian nuclear power plant to directly address the modelling, validation and verification changes in developing online monitoring tools for nuclear power plant. The project will use artificial intelligence tools, where mathematical algorithms that emulate biological intelligence are used to solve difficult modelling, decision making and classification problems. This will involve optimizing the number of inputs to the models, finding the minimum data requirement for accurate prediction of possible untoward events, and designing experiments to maximize the information content of the data. We will then use the optimised system to predict potential loss of coolant accidents and pinpoint their specific locations, after which we will progress to prediction of possible radioactive release for various accident scenarios, and, in order to facilitate emergency preparedness, the post release phase will be modelled to predict the dispersion pattern for the scenarios under consideration. Finally, all of the models will be validated, verified and integrated into a tool that can be used to monitor and act as an early warning device to prevent such scenarios from occurring.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 401.07K | Year: 2016

Our current reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable and there is a clear need to find alternative sources of renewable fuels and chemicals to meet the needs of an expanding global population. A vast amount of work has been done in developing the technologies to turn waste plant material (biomass) into sugar that can be fermented to produce bioethanol for our cars, trains and planes. This relies on enzymes, like those used in washing detergents, to break down the plant material so that that it can be converted into biofuels - a direct alternative to fossil fuels. Although the technology now exists to do this, it is simply too expensive. So how can we make it cheaper? Plant cell walls contain cellulose and it is this polymer that can be broken down into sugars to make fuels. However, up to one-third of plant material is made up of a sticky brown compound called lignin. This is currently vastly underused in commercial plants and it is mainly burned to generate power. This is a huge waste, and one of the reasons that biofuels are currently so expensive. Lignin is actually a very valuable compound, and with the right enzymes, can be turned into useful products such as chemicals, plastics and even carbon-fibre. Not only would these materials be renewable and sustainable, their high value would make biofuels cheaper. As usual, nature already has the answer. We have found microbes that can live on lignin as a food source and have evolved powerful enzymes break this resistant compound apart. We plan to research these enzymes and link them together in new systems to make them efficient. We will use genetics to help us evolve better enzymes, work out their 3D structures and use advanced computer models to work out the best combinations. If we succeed, we have the potential to make biofuel production commercially viable and create a new range of plant-based products. The result will be transportation fuels that dont rely on dwindling fossil fuel reserves, are sustainable and are kinder to the environment.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: ERC-COG | Phase: ERC-CoG-2014 | Award Amount: 1.70M | Year: 2015

Einsteins theory of General Relativity (GR) is tested accurately within the local universe i.e., the solar system, but this leaves open the possibility that it is not a good description at the largest scales in the Universe. The standard model of cosmology assumes GR as a theory to describe gravity on all scales. In 1998, astronomers made a surprising discovery that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating, not slowing down. This late-time acceleration of the Universe has become the most challenging problem in theoretical physics. Within the framework of GR, the acceleration would originate from an unknown dark energy. Alternatively, it could be that there is no dark energy and GR itself is in error on cosmological scales. The standard model of cosmology is based on a huge extrapolation of our limited knowledge of gravity. This discovery of the late time acceleration of the Universe may require us to revise the theory of gravity and the standard model of cosmology based on GR. The main objective of my project is to develop cosmological tests of gravity and seek solutions to the origin of the observed accelerated expansion of the Universe by challenging conventional GR. Upcoming surveys will make cosmological tests of gravity a reality in the next five years. There are remaining issues in developing theoretical frameworks for probing gravitational physics on cosmological scales. We construct modified gravity theories as an alternative to dark energy and analyse screening mechanisms to restore GR on scales where it is well tested. We then develop better theoretical frameworks to perform cosmological tests of gravity that include non-linear scales by exploiting our theoretical knowledge of the models and our state-of-the-art simulations. This grant will exploit and develop the world-leading position of the group initiated by Kazuya Koyama at the University of Portsmouth funded by the ERC starting grant (2008-2013).


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 299.36K | Year: 2016

The Open Data Initiative (ODI) demonstrates that there is a growing ambition from government to publish internal data as open data sets. (See https://data.gov.uk). Data custodians, particularly large governmental organisations such as the DVLA and HMRC, have a legal duty, enforced by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), and social duty of care to the public, to ensure that privacy is not breached by the release of data as open data sets. These large organisations face an increasingly difficult task in establishing whether the release of data will result in enough data being open to triangulate individuals and destroy privacy. Our research takes a collaborative approach uniquely combining formal methods, counter-fraud, data mining and data visualization to produce new tools, methodologies and theory for working with data release. We will produce tools that allow interactive analysis of data sets to determine if data release can combine with existing data to triangulate personal data. We will take a new approach of using formal notions about data, memorandums of understanding (of data use) and criteria of control to auto-generate software tools that allow the user to manipulate, investigate and analyse data sets for potential unintended consequences if released. We will undertake empirical studies with data keepers, data users and members of the public to inform data policies surrounding release of data and integrate this within our toolsets and methodologies.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: STFC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 1.64M | Year: 2016

This consolidated grant is to support cosmologists and astrophysicists in the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) at the University of Portsmouth. The ICG was formed in 2002 through a strategic investment from the university, and now hosts 50 researchers making it one of the largest extragalactic astronomy groups in the UK e.g. ranked 8th in research outputs in the recent REF2014. Cosmology and astrophysics are experiencing a golden age of discovery driven by new experiments and theoretical advances. However, we still face three fundamental challenges before a more complete model of the Universe can be achieved: i) What are the properties of the dark matter and dark energy that make up 96% of the Universe? ii) How do galaxies form and evolve? iii) What is the origin, and statistical nature, of structures in the Universe? This grant will address these fundamental problems through pioneering theoretical work and the use of new surveys of the sky to map billions of distant galaxies. Galaxies are the building blocks of the Universe and as well as studying how they form, we will use the galaxies to improve our understanding of cosmology (the properties of the Universe as a whole). We will exploit current and forthcoming galaxy surveys including the Dark Energy Survey, SDSS-IV, SERVS and Euclid to measure numerous probes of cosmology such as the clustering of galaxies, supernovae and weak gravitational lensing (distortions of the galaxies shape due to gravity). Precise cosmological models will be constructed and analysed, and simulated with Portsmouths SCIAMA supercomputer. These models will be compared to data to reveal the cosmological properties of the Universe. The surveys will be used to study how galaxies form, by measuring their colours and taking detailed spectra of the galaxies. We will also study the evolution of galaxies by comparing the galaxies in the nearby Universe, showing their present state, with those of the distant Universe, which gives us a window into the past. Bringing together all our work, we will model and measure the evolution of the Universe throughout its entire history. We will study how quantum fluctuations in the very early universe may be stretched by inflation in the very early universe to astronomical scales, leaving their imprint in the distribution of light and matter in the universe today. We will also explore the characteristic imprint of Einsteins general relativity and the role of dark energy in shaping the evolution of structure in our Universe. Additionally, our analyses will shed light on the properties of dark matter, which we can see via gravity but which does not interact like normal matter. We will also obtain a fuller understanding of the characteristics of galaxies throughout cosmic time. This will tell us whether the usual assumptions about dark matter provide an adequate description of the formation and evolution of galaxies. ICG staff are committed to public outreach and have been engaged in a number of high-profile activities in the media and local community. For example, our staff have visited many local schools to discuss their careers, their research, and share their enthusiasm for astrophysics and cosmology, e.g. BBC Stargazing Live for the last few years with thousands of participants

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