‘Highlight of the year’ showcases vibrant campus research community

Dr Dan Maskell's live demo looked at air quality in the Council Chamber. His research concerns using materials such as clay which could make future buildings better for our health.

Dr Dan Maskell's (ACE) live demo looked at air quality in the Council Chamber.

Attendees at last week’s Vice-Chancellor’s Research Day heard from 11 of our early career academics, who presented on a diverse array of topics reflecting the vibrancy in research at the University.

With contributions from all Faculties and the School of Management, attendees heard about work our young researchers are involved in ranging from modern building design to black holes; the economics of migration to improving our healthcare systems.

Their presentations emphasised the importance of collaboration within and between different parts in the University, as well as with our partners both in industry and civil / wider society locally, nationally and internationally.

Stand-out research stories

We heard from:

  • Senior Lecturer of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Dr Christos Kolympiris (School of Management), who has conducted quantitative research on why some scientists appear more successful than others when it comes to attracting research funding. Christos’ work points to the importance of a real research community and knowledge exchange between colleagues, over and above an academic’s own scientific record, when it comes to attracting new research income.
  • Dr Ana Lanham is a biological engineer and lecturer in Water Science and Engineering (Department of Chemical Engineering; Water Innovation & Research Centre [WIRC]). She is studying the identity and function of different environmental bacteria useful in wastewater treatment. Her presentation focused on how data science is being used to bring greater efficiencies in time and cost in removing harmful nutrients, like phosphorus, as part of the water treatment process.
  • Dr Ana Lanham (Chemical Engineering) told the attendees about her work on improving efficiencies in water treatment plants.

    Dr Ana Lanham (Chemical Engineering) told the attendees about her work on improving efficiencies in water treatment plants.

  • Prize Fellow in Construction Materials Dr Dan Maskell (Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering) is exploring how innovation in construction materials can bring important results for building occupants' health and wellbeing in relation of air quality. With 80% of our time estimated to be spent indoors, Dan’s interactive presentation showed how the answer might actually lie with ancient construction materials, specifically using clay over conventional gypsum when it comes to plastering interior walls for improved air quality results.
  • With a background in aerospace, Dr Francesco Ciampa (Department of Mechanical Engineering) showcased how his work could lead to important impacts for the airline industry. His presentation on structural health monitoring and non-destructive testing of aerospace components looked at work on ultrasonic imaging methods. This will create real-time acoustic sensors to check for composite wing damage providing powerful data for pilots in the air and for maintenance crews on the ground.
  • Supermassive black holes are found in the centres of all massive galaxies and understanding how their growth is connected to the galaxies in which they reside is fundamental for understanding galaxy evolution. In her presentation, Dr Carolin Villforth (Department of Physics), explored how her work is contributing to our understanding about the processes that lead to black hole growth.
  • What is the impact on school performance of pupils when one parent migrates to work in another country? Dr Joanna Clifton-Sprigg (Department of Economics) is an applied economist whose work focuses on migration, the labour market and human capital. Her presentation looked at her work in Poland, which contradicted public perceptions about the negative impact of migration on children’s school performance.
  • In a few years, most electronic devices will be able to track your eye movements. This will fundamentally change the ways we interact with technology. Dr Christof Lutteroth (Department of Computer Science) works on Human-Computer Interaction and his presentation highlighted his work on ‘Actigaze’, a spinout company based on his research which allows you to ‘click with your eyes’ with a speed and accuracy similar to a mouse.
  • Across England and Wales, there are an estimated 500,000 cases of Campylobacter - a serious gastrointestinal illness – each year. Public health epidemiologist and lecturer in statistics, Dr Theresa Smith (Department of Mathematical Sciences) has been looking at the data behind patterns of illness for one of area in North East England to uncover how and why rates for this might rise and fall among different populations and at different times in the year.
  • Dr Andrea Herepath (School of Management) previously worked in NHS clinical and senior management settings, prior to her current focus looking at some of the structural challenges large organisations face. Her presentation considered how protocols intended to improve patient safety are translated and the specific challenges that arise when it comes to their implementation, both in terms of a policy lag and how input and feedback from doctors and nurses is actioned.
  • It’s a stark fact that one in two of us are likely to get cancer in our lives. Prize Fellow Dr John Campbell (Department for Health) is looking at the links between exercise and cancer – both as a preventative step and a potential element within treatment. We know that regular exercise can reduce cancer incidence, but John is looking at why this is the case and what additional learning we could take from this and is working closely with the RUH in this endeavour.
  • Politics is in turbulent times. A rise in populist parties, surprise election victories and referenda results across the globe have raised many questions: how do we make sense of political change and how do political parties respond to these shifts? Dr Sophie Whiting (Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies) conducts research about such political transitions and societal impacts and her presentation focused on her recent work with the DUP in Northern Ireland, where entrenched views are proving hard to shift.

Annual highlight

President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell DBE DL said: “Our annual Research Day is always a highlight in my year and this week’s event did not disappoint. Across the board we heard how our early career researchers are engaged in projects that are shaping future design and technologies, responding to modern healthcare challenges, or helping us to better understand our world and the wider universe.

“It was particularly encouraging to learn more about some of the local collaborations our researchers are engaged in too, not least with the Royal United Hospital and National Composites Centre at the Bristol & Bath Science Park.”

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jonathan Knight added: “The Vice-Chancellor’s Research Day is an opportunity to see how our early career researchers are making a significant contribution on campus and across wider society. This week’s event was a real showcase of an active, engaged and vibrant research community here at Bath.”

Presenters at this year's Vice-Chancellor's Research Day

Presenters at this year's Vice-Chancellor's Research Day

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