On 30 January 2023, Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor and President, hosted the annual Vice-Chancellor’s Research Day. The session, held on campus in the Council Chamber, was chaired by Professor Sarah Hainsworth, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research).

Early Career Researchers from across the University had the opportunity to showcase their work with a 10 minute presentation followed by 5 minutes of questioning.

Professor Sarah Hainsworth, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), said: "It was a great afternoon. I left feeling inspired and extremely proud of the ground-breaking work coming from some of our most promising Early Career Researchers."

Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor and President, said: "I am grateful to all the presenters who took the time to share their fascinating research with those in attendance. Driving high impact research is a key pillar in our University strategy and it was encouraging to see such an array of ideas, with exciting applications, coming from across our faculties and departments."

The political and economic implications of social media

Dr Iulia Cioroianu is a Lecturer in the Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies. She is a computational social scientist who studies online communication and information exposure using methods such as quantitative text analysis, machine learning and experiments. Social media allows researchers to capture latent political and economic attributes and behaviours reflected in online communication and interactions. But social media platforms also act as self-standing political and economic entities with the ability to shape the online communication environment. The talk compares these two perspectives. Download.

Understanding knowledge challenges

Dr Jordan Tchilingirian (BA/PhD Cantab) is a political sociologist in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences and co-director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Policy. His research focuses on the dynamics of knowledge regimes and the politics of policy expertise. This presentation outlines an ongoing research programme that studies - and assists policy-actors as they face - knowledge challenges. Knowledge challenges refer to the ability of policy-actors to locate, discriminate, comprehend, and respond to competing sources of knowledge and ‘non-knowledge’. Cases include: the stability of knowledge regimes; epistemic (in)justice in social protection and transitional justice expertise; the role of ‘non-knowledge’ in policymaking. Download

Exercise snacking for healthy active ageing

Dr Max Western is a Lecturer in Behavioural Science in the Department for Health. His research explores motivation and health behaviour change applied to the development and evaluation of active ageing and digital health interventions. Population ageing places an enormous strain on health and social care, leading to calls for novel ways of helping older adults prevent falls and frailty in later life. This talk presents ‘exercise snacking’, an innovative approach to engaging older adults in activity that keeps them strong and independent. Download

Gastrointestinal parasitic worms: genetics to worm-free populations

Dr. Vicky Hunt’s work focuses on parasite genetics. She is a Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale fellow in the Department of Life Sciences, and has previously held postdoctoral fellowship positions at the University of Bristol and the University of Miyazaki, Japan. Soil-transmitted helminths such as the gastrointestinal parasite Strongyloides, infect 1.5 billion people worldwide. The Hunt laboratory seeks to understand how these parasites infect their hosts (humans and other animals) at a genetic level. This talk presents results from projects where Hunt's team has applied their research to the development of improved diagnostic methods. This presentation was confidential.

Shining light on single molecule dynamics at a surface

After obtaining her PhD in 2016, Dr Kristina Rusimova joined the Department of Physics at the University of Bath as an independent Prize Fellow in 2018 and as a Lecturer in 2021. In 2022 she was part of the team awarded the RSC Faraday Division Horizon Prize. When a target molecule is excited by the tip of a scanning tunnelling microscope, the ensuing dynamics are governed by quantum mechanics and the reaction outcome is probabilistic rather than deterministic. Rusimova's research aims to tackle this challenge by using an STM to characterise, understand and control individual chemical reactions. Download

ChatGPT and its predecessors: a look at the capabilities and limitations of language models

Dr. Harish Tayyar Madabushi's research aims to incorporate high-level cognitive capabilities, such as understanding and reasoning, into language models like ChatGPT. In the short and medium term, his research is focused on infusing world knowledge and common sense into language models. This presentation showcases the breadth of linguistic knowledge available to language models. Simultaneously, it reveals their limitations, including their reliance on common word forms for reasoning. Applications include a possible guide for creating assignments that are resistant to cheating using ChatGPT. Download

Decarbonisation of the construction industry through innovation of sustainable materials

Dr Xinyuan Ke, lecturer in Sustainable Materials for Construction, Prize Fellow (2018-2020), member of Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (MIMMM), member of the InnovateUK-ISCF Transforming Foundation Industry (TFI) Future Leaders Group advisory board. With a PI portfolio of >£1M, her research is devoted to improving the sustainability of the construction industry. The UK’s construction sector is worth 7% of the national GDP while contributing 40% of the annual CO2 emission, of which 30% is caused by the use and production of materials. Dr Xinyuan Ke's research aims to tackle this decarbonisation challenge by improving the longevity, resource, and energy efficiency of cementitious materials through materials innovation. Download

Hydrodynamic cavitation based biomass pre-treatment for viable biorefineries

Dr Sanjay Nagarajan, Lecturer in Chemical Engineering, is a Gianni-Astarita Young Investigator Awardee and the only researcher in the UK working on hydrodynamic cavitation of biomass for sustainable biorefineries. He is keen on exploring new avenues for applying advanced oxidation processes (hydrodynamic cavitation and photocatalysis) for accelerated transition towards net zero emissions. Hydrodynamic cavitation, a phenomenon of formation, growth and collapse of microbubbles can be realised in a flowing liquid by the sudden increase in velocity. The consequential bubble implosion leads to high velocity jets, intense shear and highly reactive chemical species that can pre-treat the biomass physico-chemically resulting in intensified biorefineries. Download

Microstructural engineering of ferroelectrics composites for transducer applications

Dr James Roscow is a Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. His research is focussed on designing, with the aid of electromechanical models, and processing of functional ceramic-based composites for sensors, and energy storage/conversion. Ferroelectrics are a technologically important class of material for transducers – devices that convert one form of energy into another useful and measurable form, e.g., sensors. This talk introduces the fundamental science behind their interesting properties and discusses approaches being investigated here for the next generation of smart electronic materials. Download

Understanding and predicting right-wing extremist action using digital data

Dr Olivia Brown completed her PhD in Psychology at Lancaster University in 2020 and began working as a post-doctoral researcher in the School of Management, University of Bath. In June 2022, she was appointed Assistant Professor in the Strategy and Organisation Division. Recent right-wing terrorist incidents have highlighted the role of the internet in the planning and execution of attacks. In her research, Brown adopts a mixed methods approach to explore how online interactions can mobilise extremists to act offline and to identify risk markers of future violence. Download

AI in healthcare: dynamic surgery management under uncertainty

Dr Elvan Gokulp is a Lecturer in IDO group in the School of Management. She has a PhD in Operations Research from Warwick Business School. Her research consists of the applications of Operations Research tools for decision-making problems under uncertainty. Real-time surgery management involves a complex decision-making process. Gokulp's research provides a mathematical modelling approach to this problem. Due to large size of the problem, she applies a reinforcement learning (RL) algorithm to solve the problem. The results show that the RL algorithm provides a better outcome than ad-hoc methods. Download

Identity formation in the gig economy

Dr Anna Roberts research focus is on investigating the impact of technology on work, new organisational forms, and entrepreneurship. She takes a qualitative and processual approach. Her projects are based in both multi-sided platforms, such as Uber and Amazon, and online communities. Through a qualitative analysis of an online forum of Uber drivers, Roberts investigates how identity formation occurs when expectations of work do not align with reality. These findings have implications for how scholars understand identity formation in new forms of work and the implications for managing gig economy workers. Download