Date released: Wednesday 10 March 2010
The extreme environment faced by Viking settlers a thousand years ago is captured in an innovative sound-art installation which goes on show at Sensation Dundee this week.
Entitled ‘Exposure’ it is a kaleidoscope of sound and vision which combines the skills of University of Stirling environmental scientist Dr Paul Adderley and composer Dr Michael Young from Goldsmiths, University of London.
They have studied the hostile environment of southern Greenland and Dr Adderley, of the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, explained: "Our installation is a live computer-generated performance. We combine visual information gained from a forensic examination of soils from old settlements, with an understanding of how Greenland’s environment has changed. The everyday farm-life of the Viking settlers is used to create the synthesis of the sounds heard.
“Michael and I hope that the work will cause the audience to reflect on the nature of these past communities and the extremes of environment which were faced by Viking settlers who arrived in Greenland over a thousand years ago."
Dr Young added: "This project is a completely innovative science/art collaboration. The installation brings together analytical photographs with environmental recordings, Saga readings and many other sound sources. The audio and visual components are re-shaped and presented in real-time, by a custom-designed computer system."
’Exposure’ runs at Sensation Dundee, from 10 to 31 March. Entrance to the exhibition is included in admittance to Sensation.
Notes to Editors
Further information: contact Paul Adderley at the University of Stirling on 01786 467861 or alternatively on 07801 825514.
Date released: Wednesday 10 March 2010
Scotland’s top alcohol doctors are calling for the four Governments of the UK to support a ban on the promotion of alcohol in social networking sites after research published today shows that producers of leading UK alcohol brands are using new media channels in a way which contravenes the spirit of the advertising codes which maintain standards in alcohol advertising.
The study was undertaken by Dr Oona Brooks, from the Institute for Social Marketing at Stirling University on behalf of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP). The study examined the websites and official pages on social networking sites of four leading UK alcohol brands – WKD, Lambrini, Smirnoff and Carling.
The material was reviewed against the CAP Codes relating to alcohol and the study found that much of the material contained in both the websites and official pages on social networking sites such as Facebook clearly contravened the spirit of the CAP codes.
Dr Brooks said:“Alcohol producers are increasingly using new media channels like websites and social networking sites to promote alcohol, so it is important to examine what kind of marketing messages young people are receiving through these channels. What I found was that the websites and official pages of leading UK alcohol brands on sites such as Facebook contained material which clearly contravened the spirit of the CAP Codes on advertising.
“They did this in different ways – by using fictional characters to appeal to youth culture and masculinity; by suggesting that alcohol is indispensable and by linking alcohol with sporting achievement. Alcohol advertising is not supposed do any of these things. The cumulative impact of such an extensive range of alcohol branded messages has the potential to contribute to the normalization of excessive drinking.”
The study also found that the age verification processes were questionable on all four alcohol brand websites and that television adverts for alcohol brands which have been barred by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) can be found on video sharing sites such as YouTube.
Dr Bruce Ritson, chair of SHAAP added: “The extent to which alcohol producers are now using digital media to promote alcohol is a matter of serious concern, due to the youth appeal of these sites, the difficulties associated with enforcing age restrictions, the relative lack of regulation and the sheer volume of promotional messages.
“We know from the evidence that alcohol advertising influences behaviour by encouraging young people to drink alcohol sooner and in greater quantities. We also know that increased consumption in the UK is linked to the escalating levels of alcohol harm that we have seen in recent years. We would urge all four governments of the UK to support a ban on alcohol promotion on social networking sites and put an end to self-regulation.
“We cannot have the alcohol and advertising industries regulating themselves and greater regulation coupled with action on price and availability offers our best hope of reducing alcohol harm.”
For full findings of the study, click on:
Date released: Thursday 11 March 2010
For 130 local schoolchildren, Wednesday 17 March promises a break from the usual morning routine. The University of Stirling is welcoming final year pupils from Dunblane, Newton and St Mary’s Episcopal primary schools, and first year pupils from Dunblane High School, who will team up to work out of doors on various science-based environmental projects on the University campus.
The pupils will spend the morning on three different activities: Maps, Traps and Baps. The first involves mapping skills, using space and learning how others view space. The second requires the trapping and counting of some of the campus bug population. The third consists of feeding wild birds to determine their feeding patterns and how the act of feeding affects their behaviour.
This is just one of over 130 events occurring in over 40 UK towns, to mark Festival of Social Science Week, organised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The numbers of students taking up science subjects is falling and of those who are interested in pursuing a science-based career, girls are very much in the minority. So the Festival’s aim is to encourage some of today’s school pupils to consider becoming tomorrow’s scientists.
Dr Allen Thurston, senior lecturer at the University’s Institute of Education, has been researching the issue and has found that both boys and girls learn science better when they have hands-on experience of it. Additionally, if learning takes place in an environment where they are working together in groups, children are more likely to remember the information.
“This is particularly the case when children make the switch from primary to secondary schooling,” Dr Thurston explains. “They lose their existing social networks and have to establish new relationships and bonds with their secondary school peer group. It can be an emotionally insecure time which often adversely affects their ability to learn.
“However, engaging in cooperative groupwork helps children to network and, in group situations where responsibilities are shared, they become more motivated, take ownership of the project and tend to enjoy the experience more – which in turn usually results in better performances and higher attainment levels."
Dr Thurston’s findings are the result of two research projects he has been running for the past four years, involving approximately 600 schoolchildren from eight different local authorities in Scotland. His research is funded by the ESRC which examines how social science research influences our social, economic and political lives.
The first research project focused on cooperative learning in the final year of primary school and the second focused on what happened to these same children, during the next four years of secondary school.
Dr Thurston said: “Our research found that children who learned about science in cooperative groups at primary school demonstrated a strong ability to learn during their secondary experience, with no learning ‘sag’ during the period when they moved schools. These findings are now being passed on to teachers, to underline the importance of engaging pupils in collaborative work."
Cooperation will definitely be at the heart of Wednesday’s Maps, Traps and Baps activities, which are all about allotting tasks, creating and agreeing group rules and giving individuals responsibility for collecting data, which will then be used by the whole group to complete the morning’s research.
And many of the pupils working together on Wednesday are likely to meet each other again, when the primary school pupils move up to secondary school, later in the year – making their school transition just that little bit easier.
For further information, please contact Dr Allen Thurston on: email@example.com or call: 01786 467618
Date released: Friday 12 March 2010
Illegal killing of elephants is on the rise, driven by growing markets for ivory in the Far East, and the demand for ivory is spiralling out of control.
In a Policy Forum published in this week’s issue of Science magazine, 27 scientists from Africa, Europe and the United States, including Professor Phyllis Lee of the University of Stirling, argue that ‘one-time only’ ivory sales drive a resurgence in poaching.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is meeting in Qatar over the coming two weeks where representatives will debate whether Tanzania and Zambia should be permitted to down-list their populations and make ‘one-off’ sales of ivory.
Professor Lee, Head of the Department of Psychology and an expert in human-elephant conflict mitigation, said: “Tanzania’s current ivory stockpile lacks source documentation, suggesting inconsistent record keeping, and both countries and their neighbours have seen a resurgence in elephant poaching. This has led to significant declines in some regional populations in eastern and southern Africa, but particularly in Central Africa.”
The authors in Science argue that CITES risks approving the sale of up to 38 tons of ivory from potentially poached animals. The points they make include:
Does a ‘one-off’ sale create a demand for ivory on the black-market? At this stage, all the evidence from intercepted illegal shipments suggests that demand has risen of late, a likely response to two sales from southern Africa in the past decade and anticipation of a forthcoming widening of the trade. Illegal ivory can make the supplier ten times more than legal auctions; an emerging market for ivory threatens the recovery of African elephant populations seen since the original 1989 ivory trade ban.
One-off sales are not in keeping with a trade ban, sending mixed messages to potential buyers. If the new petition is approved, end-users in China and Japan will be the drivers of this increased illegal trade. Much of the recently seized illegal ivory originated in Tanzania and Zambia – the two countries petitioning CITES.
Will the sale contribute to conservation activities as required before down-listing? CITES appears to be influenced by ideological arguments that elephants can, and should, be exploited sustainably to provide funds for conservation. However, the short term income from a one-off sale (c. $14M) is tiny in comparison to the $1.3 billion spent every year by wildlife-viewing tourists in Tanzania, who will not come if the elephant population is threatened by trade and poachers. And the economics of exploitation don’t add up for a large mammal species whose rate of increase is slower than growth in globalized financial markets, spending power and demand for ivory.
The Science authors make four key suggestions:
Professor Lee added: “The CITES mechanisms currently encourage reciprocal swaps between countries in support of favoured petitions, which could result in a future without either elephants or other endangered species, such as bluefin tuna. It is time for scientific evidence to supersede politics in an open, transparent forum.”
Elephants, Ivory and Trade. Wasser et al. Science Vol. 328, 12 March 2010.
The full text of the article in Science can be read at www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/327/5971/1331.pdf
Professor Phyllis Lee, Department of Psychology, University of Stirling
Date released: Monday 15 March 2010
Talented young Canadian rugby players took advantage of the University of Stirling’s top sports facilities last week – then vowed to support the Scottish national team.
Thirty pupils from Saint Michaels University School in Victoria, British Columbia, dropped in at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence during a three-week visit to the United Kingdom.
The teenagers attend one of Canada’s best rugby playing schools, their former pupils’ roster including Gareth Rees, Canada’s all-time leading points scorer. The tour group comprises several youth international players, in Scotland to compete against Haddington RFC and The High School of Glasgow.
Their visit also includes trips to two Six Nations matches, both involving Scotland. And choosing their allegiance wisely, the pupils cheered on Scotland against England at Murrayfield on Saturday and will once again back the Scots when they travel to Dublin for the final Six Nations match against Ireland.
Team Manager Ian Hyde-Lay said: “I was last in Scotland in 1992 and this is our first visit to Stirling, but it has been excellent. We visited the Wallace Monument then took advantage of the great facilities at the University to get in some training before the matches.”
Head Coach Eliot Anderson said: “We were supposed to stay in Haddington for the weekend before we played them, but they couldn’t accommodate us so we had to make alternative arrangements. The chance arose to come to Stirling and knowing it is a national centre for a number of sports, we thought why not!”
The team trained in the spring sunshine at the University’s Airthrey pitches, with the backdrop of the Wallace Monument. Their action packed trip takes them to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and finishes with a match against the High School Dublin before returning home on 23 March.
Mike Fuailefau, 17, a Canadian Junior national player, said: “It’s been really great to come to Scotland and to train in Stirling. It’s nice to visit the country and take in some rugby matches, but it’s also good for the guys as our season is just about starting back home. The Scottish teams will give us a good level of competition and give us vital preparation for the season proper.”
Date released: Tuesday 16 March 2010
Golfers can ease their way back into the swing of things on a nine-hole parkland course at the University of Stirling.
The par three Airthrey Golf Course, stretches more than 1000 yards across the grounds of the University and provides the perfect venue to brush up your game or discover what the sport is all about.
From Friday 2 April, the course will be open to the community seven days a week, with no booking required – just turn up and play.
With plenty of interesting holes and the backdrop of the Ochil Hills and the Wallace Monument, Airthrey GC is ideal for golfers of all ages and abilities. Prices range from £4.50 for an adult weekday round and £2.70 for a juvenile.
Even some top players, including Stirling graduate Richie Ramsay - now playing on the European Tour - have honed their skills on the course, under the watchful eye of University Golf Coach Gordon Niven.
Coach Niven said: “Airthrey Golf Course is a really fun course suitable for everyone. It is a great place to play if you are starting out and one which families can enjoy together. There are not many courses you can just turn up and play at so it’s an excellent course to get people hooked on the game of golf.”
After nine holes, you can also polish up on your putting with a dedicated putting green. And there are also two excellent golf practice areas available for group hire.
These comprise short game areas with target greens, a practice bunker and a medium distance driving range. To book, call 01786 466908.
For any general enquiries and the full price range, please call 01786 466900.
Date released: Tuesday 16 March 2010
Prospective paddlers can make a splash this Easter at the University of Stirling in one of a host of Easter activities on offer.
Classes in kayaking and canoeing are available on campus at Airthrey Loch from 6-16 April, with expert tuition from the University’s qualified instructors.
Youngsters can develop their paddle sport skills, play canoe polo with their friends and even take on the cross stream challenge – making the most of the perfect Loch conditions.
For those who prefer practising the butterfly stroke to the paddle, the Easter sports programme includes a series of swimming classes.
From beginner to support kids aged 5+ who can only swim a few strokes to improver classes and aquatic activities like racing, diving and synchronised swimming, there are plenty of pool-based options.
And if your child does not have their sea legs then there are plenty of other exciting classes running throughout the school holidays. They can try their hand at golf, tennis, football, gymnastics and trampolining, with classes tailored to suit all ages and abilities.
If picking one sport is too tricky, then the sports afternoons are the solution. These classes, for children aged 9+, provide the ideal opportunity to try a range of different activities both indoors and outdoors.
Most classes are aimed at children aged 5+, but pre-school tennis, developing hand-eye co-ordination skills in a fun environment, is open to anyone aged 3-5.
Competitively priced, find out which class best suits your child by viewing the full programme online at: www.sports.stir.ac.uk/sports-development/classes/summer-sport.php.
Postal bookings are now open, with forms available online or to collect from the Sports Centre. Bookings can be made in person at the Sports Centre reception or by telephone from Monday 22 March. Call 01786 466900/466500.
Graduate Assistant Kerry MacPhee said: “Whether it’s canoeing on the loch, bouncing on a trampoline or kicking a football, our Easter programme should have something to suit every child. It’s a great way for them to learn new skills and let off some steam too! I’d urge people to book early to avoid disappointment.”
Call Kerry on 01786 466904 for more information on any of the classes.
Date released: Tuesday 16 March 2010
In a recent Scottish Parliamentary debate, the future of Aquaculture was discussed and Scotland’s achievement in dramatically increasing its export of high quality salmon was recognised. Dr Richard Simpson MSP for mid Scotland and Fife, praised the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture for leading the way in this increasingly important field.
The Institute, which runs highly regarded Undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral courses in Aquaculture, has made a significant contribution to many aspects of fish science. It has international links with Taiwan, Uganda and Trinidad and its recent work with Tilapia fish has contributed to the work on warm water fish worldwide.
In Aquaculture, effective disease control remains an important factor and Dr Simpson raised the issue of upgrading the standards for combating bacterial kidney disease, the control of which is vital to the continued export of eggs and smolts.
Speaking after the debate, Dr Simpson said: “Investment and diversity in Aquaculture is necessary for the Scottish industry’s long term future, as we continue to lead the way in Aquaculture.
“The work already carried out by the University, together with its ongoing research, is integral to Scotland’s success in fish farming. Its record of achievement has also had a knock-on effect worldwide, which is why Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture has a lot to be proud of.”
Head of the Institute of Aquaculture, Professor Brian Austin said: “Aquaculture has been growing steadily and now contributes over 50% of the fish consumed worldwide. The Institute of Aquaculture is proud of its world renowned reputation and long standing involvement in this important industry.
“We work in close association with UK and overseas governments, international organisations and industry to develop innovative technologies and creative approaches for the future."
Notes to editors:
For details about the Institute’s various courses, some of which offer distance learning, go to: http://www.aqua.stir.ac.uk/
Date released: Tuesday 16 March 2010
A University of Stirling venture which helps people to communicate has won a prestigious UK award. At the 2010 Advancing Healthcare Awards, the Talking Mats resource has been recognised for its outstanding work in improving communication for people with aphasia. Not only was this the sole award presented for speech and language therapy work, but Talking Mats was the only Scottish project to be recognised in this way.
Devised in 1998 by Dr Joan Murphy (right of picture), Talking Mats was used originally with adults with cerebral palsy, but has since been developed to help people with a wide range of communication difficulties. Dr Murphy, who travelled to London with her colleague Morag Place (left) to accept the award, explained: “A Talking Mat helps people with communication difficulties to understand and consider issues and express their opinions, providing a structure where information is presented in small chunks, supported by symbols.
“It has a broad range of applications for all ages, including people with dementia, young people in care, and for resolving relationship problems. It has even been used successfully in the University of Stirling’s careers service.”
She said: “We are absolutely delighted to have this recognition for our work, and hope that this will provide a springboard to introducing Talking Mats in many more spheres of life. We already have training contracts around the UK and abroad and will shortly be heading to China to introduce Talking Mats there.”
The award for ‘Enhancing self-care and independent living’ was presented for a new Talking Mats resource called ‘To See Ourselves As Others See Us’. This was developed by Morag Place, Joan Murphy and Alex Gillespie as part of an ESRC funded research project into the impact of aphasia on close relationships. It is specially designed to facilitate discussion between people who have difficulty communicating, and provides a valuable tool for professionals to use when working with clients, family and friends.
The Advancing Healthcare Awards, now in their fourth year, recognise and reward projects and professionals that lead innovative healthcare practice and make a real difference to patients’ lives in the healthcare science and allied health professions. They seek to celebrate ‘patient-centredness’ by demonstrating sustained patient empowerment with the healthcare professional in an enabling, facilitating role.
Supported by all four UK health departments, NHS Employers, Unite the Union, and the AHP Federation, the Advancing Healthcare Awards are unique in that they are UK-wide and cover professional and specialist groups whose achievements often go unnoticed.
Talking Mats: www.talkingmats.com
Advancing Healthcare Awards: www.chamberlaindunn.com/AHPandHSawards/AHA2010.htm
Date released: Thursday 18 March 2010
Fish farming is a hot topic in Scotland, attracting strong supporters and detractors and inevitably, much media attention. However the reality is that most oily fish stocked in supermarket chillers comes from farmed sources and, given the consumer’s growing reliance upon farmed fish – now about 50% of the world’s supply – it is perhaps timely that a new perspective on the subject will be offered by Dr Trevor Telfer (right) in the first of two University of Stirling Lectures.
Entitled: ‘Aquaculture, Fish Farms and the Environment’, his talk will be given in Inverness on Thursday 25 March at 5.30pm. It will be followed at 6pm by a lecture from Environmental Economist, Professor Nick Hanley (below right) , Head of the Division of Economics at Stirling’s Management School.
His talk on ‘The Economics of the Wild’ will examine how economic analysis can help us understand the choices, trade-offs and opportunities which face society in designating and protecting ‘wilderness areas’. It will also analyse economic incentives which could be used to improve the protection of wilderness qualities, without preventing local economic development opportunities. Both events are free and open to all.
A Senior Lecturer at the University’s Institute of Aquaculture, Dr Telfer has 25 years’ experience in marine environmental assessment. He is attached to the Institute’s Sustainable Aquaculture Group which works towards the development of sustainable aquaculture, both in modern commercial markets and with poor communities in developing countries. While Dr Telfer’s research is global, his work is particularly relevant to the development of aquaculture in Scotland.
He is acutely aware of the strength of feeling which fish farming can provoke among Highland communities and acknowledges that there are still issues to resolve. Yet he believes that many of the problems are historical and few are insurmountable.
“When aquaculture was first introduced in Scotland over forty years ago, it was like any other new and fledgling enterprise; it lacked the benefit of experience and accumulated knowledge,” he explains.
“At the time the industry consisted of small-scale sites mostly owned by small independent fish farmers. The technology which existed then would not have supported the notion of fish farms surviving in harsh, exposed, open water environments. So the tendency was to site them in sheltered, inshore, less dynamic locations.
“If the industry had known then what it knows now, and had present day technology, the initial site selection would have been much better informed, as would site design. Over time, the industry has been refined and developed so that today, the infrastructure can cover a much greater expanse in open water areas, which require less protection from our coastlines. So going forward, the siting of fish farms should be less contentious.
“Environmentally unsustainable production practices are fast disappearing, partly because today SEPA aggressively monitors the industry and partly because of the arrival of bigger players with a refined environmental management and welfare infrastructure.
“Their good reputation matters to these high profile organisations which realise they must be accountable for fish welfare and respond to environmental sensitivities. Food industry organisations are vying to exceed their already high standards, because their customers – particularly the supermarket chains – are engaging with public opinion regarding ethical food production, food miles and sustainability.
“Our UK systems are well regulated and therefore more effective and robust than many systems operating around the world, so it is in the industry’s interests to monitor itself, to constantly improve environmental practices and ensure it is the ethical provider of a sustainable food source – in much the same way that livestock and poultry farming, due to similar pressures, has been changed and improved.”
The Institute of Aquaculture is actively working with the industry and their regulators to promote sustainable aquaculture and Dr Telfer’s lecture will outline some of the groundbreaking environmental management developments which his Group is pursuing. These include taking a holistic approach to the identification of future sites by using spatial models to consider everything from currents and wave size, to visual impact and physical environment and biodiversity and climate change.
“Now that expecting nature to provide is no longer an option, The Institute’s research is driven by the ongoing need to maximise sustainable food sources for an ever-expanding world population,” says Dr Telfer.The Institute’s pro-active approach reflects the University of Stirling’s mission to pursue world-class research into those issues which matter to people.
Deputy Principal, Professor Grant Jarvie said: “This second series of Stirling Lectures focuses on the environment and our programme of talks aims to provide some insight into the many ways in which colleagues are working with communities in areas of significant and strategic importance to the Highlands and Islands.
“Whether protecting our indigenous wildlife, conserving our natural heritage, responding to the impact of environmental change or improving our food and energy resources, Stirling’s research scientists are focused on what concerns Scottish communities and are totally committed to creating viable solutions. “
Notes to editors:
Venue details: Inverness - University of Stirling Highland Campus, Centre for Health Science, Raigmore Hospital. To reserve a place in advance contact Liz Beattie on 01463 255649 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Institute of Aquaculture is the leading international centre in its field and one of the largest of its kind in the world. Created 35 years ago, it now has almost 100 staff and 120 postgraduate students. Dr Telfer heads an active research team working on environmental sustainability of aquaculture development in the EU, South-east and East Asia. He is the Director for the Institute’s MSc Programmes and also teaches on the courses – in particular coordinating modules on Environmental Management.
Professor Nick Hanley is Head of the Division of Economics at Stirling Management School. His research interest is Environmental Economics and he is presently conducting a Landscape-scale analysis of the sustainability of the hill-farming economy.
For details of future Stirling Lectures, see: http://www.externalrelations.stir.ac.uk/events/events.php
Date released: Thursday 18 March 2010
The former Director of Ethics and Anti-Doping at UK Sport will question how much integrity remains in sport at a public lecture at the University of Stirling next week.
Michele Verroken, the founding director of Sporting Integrity, will deliver a public lecture at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence entitled Is there any integrity left in sport? on Thursday 25 March from 6pm.
She will draw on her vast experience in this field, having spent three decades as one of the world’s top officials in ethics in sport, helping to shape the fight against doping in sport.
Creating the UK’s Drug Information Database, national anti-doping policy and independent doping control officer training standards, Verroken was instrumental in the organisation of drug testing programmes at major sporting events including Euro ’96, the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the 2003 World Indoor Athletics Championships and successive Rugby Union World Cups and Six Nations’ tournaments.
A former sports science lecturer and one-time England handball player, Verroken was also the Secretary of the Commonwealth Games Federation Medical Commission, where she was responsible for the high quality medical and anti-doping services in Melbourne in 2006 and at the Youth Games in Pune.
In 2004, she established Sporting Integrity, a unique sports business consultancy, which advises clients in sport and business on the adoption and maintenance of best practice procedures relating to ethics and integrity standards. Verroken currently acts as Anti-Doping Administrator for The R&A and International Golf Federation.
The lecture is part of the 2009/10 Research Seminars and Lectures in Sport series. This has already seen a public debate on the future of Scottish football featuring SFA chief executive Gordon Smith and discussed corruption in sport with award winning investigative journalist Andrew Jennings.
Professor Fred Coalter, Director of Research in the University’s Department of Sports Studies, said: “The University of Stirling is privileged to welcome Michele Verroken, who is one of the most experienced and respected anti-doping experts in the world of sport.
“Drawing on her vast experience of sport and sporting organisations, she will reflect on a range of current ethical issues in sport. Given her long standing insider role and her strong public stances on ethical issues this should be a very interesting and provocative evening.”
The lecture will start at 6pm in Lecture Theatre W1. For further information, please contact Karen Caldwell on 01786 466498 or e-mail email@example.com
Following Michele Verroken, the Series will be completed on Thursday 22 April by Professor Stuart Biddle in a talk entitled Behavioural aspects of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health: Why there isn’t a simple answer to a complex issue!
Date released: Friday, 19 March 2010
A programme which supports employment opportunities in the Highlands and Islands has been voted a success. A University of Stirling assessment of the Shell STEP summer placement programme, run by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to place students in small companies, has found that the programme had a positive economic impact by creating jobs, helping companies to expand their market and providing students with valuable work experience.
During 2009, HIE supported 47 Shell STEP placements of undergraduates and graduates in 38 organisations across the Highlands and Islands region.
A staff-student team of the Stirling Management School’s Business and Organisation Division has evaluated the perception and impact of the programme. Their mission was to analyse whether STEP was received favourably by placement students and potential employers and to discuss its expected economic impact.
From this analysis, the Stirling team identified key issues and put forward recommendations for future management of the programme. The results of the evaluation were presented to HIE by Peter Keeling and Fiona Millar (members of the Stirling students’ Business Club) and Ian Roberts of Stirling Management School.
They found that the companies and students all reported positive experiences of the STEP programme. The students particularly appreciated the link between academia and business practice, with some mentioning that it is interesting to apply theory to real life projects. The companies also reported benefits as many of the placement students provided a significant contribution such as designing websites, allowing the businesses to reach a wider audience.
There was a positive economic impact of the programme, as six graduates involved in the recent Shell STEP placement have secured full time employment in the Highlands and Islands.
Senior Development Manager Ruth Sime of HIE said she appreciated the effort the research team had put into the evaluation and highlighted the quick response by Christine Taylor to the evaluation need raised by HIE. As Shell has announced that it will not continue the STEP initiative, HIE is currently discussing future options.
The discussion was also perceived positively by the academics at Stirling, and Dr Markus Kittler said: “I am impressed that the research results have been received enthusiastically and might now play a role in the provision of future placement and employment opportunities in the region. As a result of the positive experience with this initial project, the Business and Organisation Division of Stirling Management School would be happy to provide support on future projects investigating business related issues in the Highlands and Islands Region.”
The STEP team (from left): Ruth Sime, Fergus Watson, Karen Darek, Anne MacDonald (all HIE), Fiona Millar, Ian Roberts, Peter Keeling (all Stirling University), and Donna Chisholm (HIE).
For further information:
Date released: Friday, 19 March 2010
A management team from the University of Stirling has been shortlisted for a highly regarded national award, in recognition of its contribution to the University’s success.
Stirling’s Registry & Governance Services Department has been shortlisted in the ‘Outstanding Registry Team’ category of The Times Higher Education (THE) Leadership and Management Awards. Open to all higher education institutions in the UK, the awards are given for outstanding examples of best practice in 2009.
As with every other education institution, Stirling employs hundreds of people and runs annual budgets worth millions of pounds. The teams responsible for managing these resources demonstrate remarkable business and management skills and, whilst these are appreciated, there is little opportunity to either recognise or reward them.
Joanna Morrow, Academic Registrar, said: “We are delighted to be shortlisted for the THES Leadership & Management Awards Outstanding Registry Team. This recognises the commitment of the Registry & Governance Services staff to providing excellent services to our students and the academic community.”
Among other qualities, the award recognises the team’s support of innovation in teaching and learning; its implementation of key government initiatives; its support for strategic and operational planning; its excellent communication skills and its contribution to the successful running of the University.
Professor Neil Keeble, Senior Deputy Principal, said: "I am delighted that our Registry and Governance Services team has been shortlisted for this award, and not at all surprised, since their contribution to a wide range of University activities is outstanding. It is to them we turn not only for reliable data about both the University and the external higher education environment, but also for guidance on legislative and compliance issues and for clear thinking on matters of strategy and policy. Their conscientiousness, reliability and unfailingly positive response to any enquiry are models of professional behaviour."
The awards ceremony will take place on the evening of Thursday 17 June at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane, when the winners will be announced.
Picture (left to right): Joanna Morrow, Academic Registrar; Jennifer MacPhee, Head of Policy, Planning & Governance; Susan McAuley, Head of Student Administration.
Date released: Friday 19 March 2010
Professor Dave Goulson from the University of Stirling has been named Britain’s Social Innovator of the Year for his work in bumblebee conservation.
He received a £5,000 prize and trophy from Tim Smit of Eden Project fame at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBRSC) awards ceremony and gala dinner in London last night.
The Innovator of the Year Award is a competition designed to recognise and reward scientists who are ensuring that the UK's bioscience research is translated into outcomes that positively affect quality of life for everyone.
Professor Goulson, a conservation biologist specialising in the behaviour and ecology of bumblebees, created the Bumblebee Conservation Trust with Ben Darvill in 2006 after being frustrated by the difficulties of getting his findings to the farmers and politicians where they could make a practical difference.
The Trust has generated huge media interest in the plight of the nation’s bumblebees, raising public awareness around bumblebee conservation and encouraging the creation of bee friendly habitat. Today it has over 7,000 members and by 2015, Professor Goulson aims to have recruited 20,000 Trust members, all working to ensure that no more bumblebee species become extinct.
Professor Goulson said: “I am absolutely delighted with this award, which recognises the success of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in reaching out to the public and involving them in hands-on conservation. This will help us to grow even stronger and so ensure that these delightful insects survive for future generations to enjoy.”
He added: “Bumblebees provide vital pollination services for crops and wildflowers – we lose them at our peril. Only by mobilizing an army of volunteers across the country can we hope to make the landscape-scale changes needed to conserve them. And this is exactly what the Bumblebee Conservation Trust is doing.”
Professor Goulson was one of three major winners at the BBSRC awards, and Tim Smit said: "We face a number of important global challenges today - real life problems that are affecting individuals all over the world. To hear from researchers who are committed to setting their research firmly in context where it can really help people is truly inspiring. All seven finalists have shown that they are capable of realising the potential of their work and should be justly proud of what they have achieved."
Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive said: "BBSRC is pleased to be able to recognise and reward researchers who are making extraordinary progress in translating their research into applications that are of benefit socially and for UK Plc.”
Picture caption: Dr Celia Caulcott (BBSRC Director for Innovation and Skills), Professor Dave Goulson, and Tim Smit of the Eden Project.
Notes to editors
Date released: Monday 22 March 2010
Cancer researchers at the University of Stirling, in collaboration with national and international colleagues, are to undertake an in-depth study to determine if lifestyle changes are prompted by a cancer diagnosis.
Dr Gill Hubbard, of the Cancer Care Research Centre (CCRC) explained the background to the study: “This will be the first UK study that examines the extent to which a cancer diagnosis is a catalyst for lifestyle changes in families.
“There is growing evidence that modifiable health behaviours, including exercise and diet, can improve survival rates, but very little work has been done in this area. We want to determine how a diagnosis of cancer could impact on patients and their partners, and this study will act as an evidence-base for the development of future health improvement interventions.
“We chose to study colorectal cancer because it is among the commonest cancers in Scotland; it affects men and women; there is evidence that lifestyle changes improve survival; and modifiable behavioural risk factors are shared with other chronic diseases.”
The findings will be used to recommend which patients and partners are at greatest risk of not changing their health behaviours following a major health event and thus, ought to be specifically targeted, and the type of intervention that is required (eg one that improves a person’s confidence in their ability to stop smoking or to increase their level of physical activity).
The two and a half year study, entitled ‘Cancer as a catalyst for change? Predictors of changes in diet, alcohol, physical activity, and tobacco use after colorectal cancer diagnosis among patients and their partners’ will start in July and is supported by a £250,000 grant from the Chief Scientist Office.
Summary of Methodology
We will survey patients referred for colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy plus partners before and 10 months after the clinical investigation. We will compare the prevalence and predictors of health behavioural change of 4 groups: Group 1 (patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer); Group 2 (cancer patients’ partners); Group 3 (matched patients without a cancer diagnosis); and Group 4 (matched patients’ partners). We will collect demographic, clinical and psychological information to examine if these variables are associated with changes in smoking, diet, alcohol and physical activity.
The Cancer Care Research Centre (CCRC) was established at the University of Stirling in 2003 so that people affected by cancer could help shape the future of cancer services in Scotland. It works with large numbers of people affected by cancer across Scotland, providing high quality research, evaluation, and teaching for the University, NHS and voluntary sector.
With an agenda of involvement and engagement of patients and carers in research, policy and practice, and experiences of people affected by cancer, CCRC collaborates widely with the academic and health and social care communities, both nationally and internationally.
It carries out research in the key areas of Cancer as a Long Term Condition and Family, Children and Relationships, programmes which currently have a combined direct annual grant income of three-quarters of a million pounds. Funding sources include the Chief Scientist Office, Macmillan Cancer Support and Children’s Hospice Association Scotland.
Dr Gill Hubbard leads the Cancer as a Long-term Condition research programme. Her specific research interests focus on health-related behavioural change (physical activity, smoking, diet, alcohol) following cancer diagnosis and the impact of cancer on patients and unpaid carers’ experiences of paid employment. The programme currently has six fully-funded research projects.
Dr Liz Forbat leads the Family, Children and Relationships research programme. Her specific research interests focus on psychosocial support and therapy for families impacted by cancer. Other specific interests include palliative support for families of children with rare life-limiting conditions. The programme currently has four fully-funded research projects.
The research programmes are supported by Dr Cari Malcolm, who has expertise in children’s health and well-being, and Anne Taylor, who has expertise in information and support. In addition, CCRC employs 11 researchers, two clinical secondees, and two secretaries.
Contact details for further information
University of Stirling media enquiries: 01786 467058
Date released: Monday 22 March 2010
An agreement to harness the economic potential of sport and leisure in advance of the 2012 London Olympics and 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games was reached by Stirling Council to support a groundbreaking project developed by the University of Stirling and Stirling University Innovation Park.
Councillors approved the request to grant funding of £300k over 3 years to support the Sporting Chance Initiative developed by the University of Stirling in consultation with Stirling Council, Scottish Enterprise and other funding partners.
The Sporting Chance Initiative will be supporting small businesses across Scotland to take advantage of sports related commercial market opportunities.
The £1.5m project is a result of a collaborative partnership between the University of Stirling and Stirling University Innovation Park Ltd and is funded by the Scottish Government’s SEEKIT programme and European Regional Development Fund with Stirling Council providing match funding of £300k to deliver additional support to Stirling businesses.
Dr John Rogers, Director of Research and Enterprise at the University and Chair of the Stirling Economic Partnership said: “Sport is a key priority for the University, the Innovation Park, and the Stirling Economic Strategy. I am delighted that we have secured this major business development programme for Stirling and Scotland, through which we can support real business innovation and job creation in sport and related sectors.”
In the Stirling area it will help small businesses to grow, develop new market opportunities and deliver new jobs, opening up new areas of the local economy, and building on the reputation and expertise of the University in sport and sports science.
Stirling Council’s Portfolio holder for Economic Development, Councillor Scott Farmer, added: “Benefits from sport to health, social cohesion, crime reduction, team building and personal development are widely recognised. Less well known, perhaps, are the economic benefits, which a thriving sports and research and development community can offer. “This partnership project provides a good example of community planning partners working together to try to deliver benefit for Stirling.”
One of the priorities in Stirling’s Economic Strategy, Open for Business is the pursuit of areas of competitive advantage - specifically sport and leisure. This is based in part on the University of Stirling’s designation as Scotland’s University of Sporting Excellence. There will be a particular focus on supporting businesses to benefit from the 2012 Olympic Games in London and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Overall, across Scotland the Sporting Chance Initiative aims to help 300 businesses improve their turnover and profitability, to create 200 new jobs and to safeguard a further 400 jobs, many of which will be in design, research and development.
8 new jobs will be created within the Initiative Team itself and will be based at Stirling University Innovation Park. It is anticipated that the Initiative will strengthen Stirling’s position as the natural location for the creation of sports based businesses and activities in Scotland.
Notes for editors:
Funding has been secured by the University of Stirling from the Lowlands and Uplands Scotland European Structural Funds Programme, 2007-13, and SEEKIT to fund the Sporting Chance Initiative. Funding award is dependent, however, on securing additional match funding of £300,000 over the 3 years of the project. The overall project budget is £1.5m.
The University of Stirling was designated in 2008 as Scotland’s University of Sporting Excellence. Stirling University Innovation Park, the wholly owned partnership venture between the University of Stirling and Stirling Council, has as a core aim, the stimulation of innovation, product and process development and knowledge transfer. One of its three priority business sectors is sports technology.
An amendment proposed by Cllr Neil Benny will see a further report brought to the Council’s Executive committee detailing how the Council can ensure that its contribution will provide benefit to Stirling’s local economy. The report will focus on:
Date released: Wednesday 24 March 2010
Nursing and midwifery students in the North recognised practice colleagues who have done most to help and support them during their learning in practice.
Selected nurses and midwives from across the Highlands and Moray (pictured) were presented with certificates by Mr Okain McLennan, who is a Director of Highland Health Board. This was the sixth annual Mentor Event to take place and the presentations were held at the University of Stirling’s Highland Campus, Centre for Health Science in Inverness on Monday 22 March.
Sandra MacFarlane, who is the Practice Placement Co-ordinator at the University’s Highland Campus, said: “All students on a practice placement are supervised by a mentor, who is a qualified nurse or midwife. The students were asked to nominate a mentor who had provided exceptional support during their learning in practice. There were 243 nominees in total and we invited a selection from across the Highlands and Moray to this event.
“The mentors cover all areas of nursing and midwifery and have been instrumental in helping students to develop the skills that will ultimately benefit patients. The event is also a great opportunity to bring everyone together to share best practice and examine what makes a good mentor.”
For further information, please contact Campus Secretary Liz Beattie on: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 01463 255649
Date released: Thursday 25 March 2010
A hat-trick of Scottish University triathlon titles has set Stirling student David McNamee on the hunt for international success.
The Irvine-born triathlete (pictured) made light work of the competition at the Scottish University Triathlon Championships in East Lothian over the weekend.
Over the sprint distance 750 metre swim, 20km cycle and 5km run, Accountancy student McNamee finished a full minute ahead of his nearest challenger at the Tranent course, recording a time of 55.30.
And it was double success for Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence as Kirsty McWilliam claimed the women’s title. In an accomplished performance, the 2008 World Junior triathlon champion was eighth overall and first female to finish.
Both athletes, part of the University’s International Sports Scholarship Programme and also backed by national scholarship scheme Winning Students, showed their credentials as two of Scotland’s 2014 Commonwealth Games medal hopefuls.
Completing an excellent weekend for the University, Rory Downie finished 7th and Tom Watts 12th while Lucy Ross continued her recovery from injury by completing the swim and bike legs.
McNamee said: “It is always good to win a title and also to start the season off with a win. It gives me a nice confidence boost, particularly as I’ve not had a race in six months. I tend to struggle with the cold conditions which means racing in Scotland can be tough.
“So to come out on top and win the title for the third year running is something to be proud of. It is always a well organised event and it has an interesting bike course, undulating and with twists and turns.”
It is a big year for triathlon in Scotland, hosting the World Duathlon Championships in Edinburgh and a European Cup triathlon event at Strathclyde Park – the 2014 Commonwealth Games venue for triathlon.
McNamee and McWilliam will both be competing at Strathclyde Park and the Ayrshire athlete is gearing up for a big year of his own. “The University win is the starting point,” added McNamee. “There are three University competitions in total so hopefully this will set me off on a winning streak. And I am hoping to make selection for Team GB at the European and World U23 Championships. If I can medal in them then even better.”
University of Stirling scholarship coach Blair Cartmell said: “This is the first main race of the season and it can sometimes be a bit of a shock to the system, but our athletes handled it very well. Conditions were tough, but we were still hoping to fill the top spots and the guys delivered. David performed really well and the University has not won the women’s title for some time so Kirsty can be proud of her performance.”
While her scholarship team-mates were in Tranent, triathlete Natalie Milne was making an impressive debut at the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Cross Country Mountain Bike Championships.
A heavy fall in the second lap robbed Milne of a podium place in the event at the Forest of Ae near Dumfries, but she regained her composure to finish fourth, the highest placed Scottish student.
In the men’s event, there were respectable finishes from Stirling riders Angus Keane (36th) and Iain Prescot (186th) in a field of almost 300 competitors.
Date released: Monday 29 March 2010
Two budding scientists from Clackmannanshire have won a national science competition after completing a project at the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling.
Rebecca Chroston and Emma Donaghue (pictured) sixth formers from Dollar Academy, received Nuffield bursaries to do a project in the Institute’s aquaculture laboratory last summer, supervised by Dr Kim Thompson, Dr James Bron and Professor Sandra Adams.
Their project was selected to go forward to the National Science and Engineering competition in Manchester – ‘The Big Bang’ – earlier this month and, after five rounds of judging, Rebecca and Emma won the Senior Team First Prize for Science/Maths.
They were also runners-up for the Gold CREST medal over all disciplines and won a special prize from the Society of Biology. Their prizes were presented to them by Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Overall they had a very successful competition, with each student winning £1500 and a trophy, as well as a trip to Geneva to visit the Hadron Collider at CERN. Over 22,000 people passed through the science fair during the three days in which the competitors displayed their projects.
Notes to editors:
Their winning project: ‘Development of an in vitro model using fish macrophages to investigate latency in Tuberculosis’.
An in vitro model to investigate latency in human Tuberculosis was developed and optimized using fish immune cells. Mycobacterium marinum infected macrophages were investigated using Confocal microscopy. Differential labelling showed bacteria survive within macrophages. This provides a model for human medicine to investigate what triggers mycobacteria release during latency in Tuberculosis.
Date released: Tuesday 30 March 2010
A University of Stirling academic has been involved in the creation of a set of stamps recently launched by Royal Mail. Richard Oram, Professor of Medieval and Environmental History (pictured), was asked to provide details on the Stewart monarchy in Scotland, summarising their individual reigns. An acknowledged expert on this period of Scottish history, he wrote the detailed and informative literature which accompanies the special Stamp Presentation Pack and provided advice on the images to be used and where these could be sourced.
Royal Mail produces regular commemorative stamps editions which reflect landmarks in the UK’s scientific, sporting, artistic, environmental, military and social history. This recently released third Special issue in the Royal Mail’s Kings and Queens series, looks at both the tragedies and triumphs of this great Royal House whose dynasty, according to Professor Oram, helped to create the Scotland that we recognise today.
“By marrying into the ruling dynasties of England, France, Austria and other great powers of the time, The Stewarts established the kingdom’s significance in Europe. They also helped to develop the internal mechanisms of culture and society that underpin most of modern Scotland’s key institutions,” he explains.
“Under the Stewarts, Scotland was provided with the foundations of its University system, national criminal justice system, regulated medical system, central religious institutions and the core of cultural indicators, such as the printing press, literary and poetic culture and painting. All of which gave this nation a distinctive character which survived the 1603 and 1707 Unions with England.”
The structures which the Stewarts set in place in the 15th and 16th centuries remain as the central pillars of modern Scottish culture and society. The Professor’s aim was to link those influences – whether the architectural development of Stirling Castle, or the poetic culture of the Scottish Golden Age – to events which occurred during the monarchs’ individual reigns.
He said of the project: “It offers a tremendous opportunity to raise the profile throughout Britain and beyond of the family who gave these islands their first sole ruler in the person of James VI and to highlight the Stewarts’ earlier achievements as kings of Scotland. It has allowed us to showcase the impact of these figures in shaping the character of their kingdom and how that impact can still be seen and felt to the present day”.
Notes to Editors
Stewart Rulers in Scotland 1406-1603:
Although he was the nominal king of Scotland, James I (1406 – 1437) spent the earlier part of his reign as a prisoner in England. On his release, he made moves to create a strong centralised monarchy in Scotland and was assassinated by dissident nobles.
His son, James II of Scotland (1437-1460) was killed by the accidental explosion of one of his own cannon at the siege of Roxburgh Castle. An unpopular and ineffective monarch, James III (1460-1488) had disastrous relationships with his extended family. Favouring his second son over his eldest son and heir resulted in the latter taking arms against his father, who was killed at the Battle of Sauchieburn.
James IV then became Kings of Scots (1473 -1513). Regarded as the most successful of the Stewart monarchs, his reign ended with defeat and death at the Battle of Flodden Field. James V (1512-1542) was just 17 months old when his father died. The Scottish defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss brought about his premature death at the age of 30.
Mary, James V’s only surviving legitimate child was six days old, when his death made her Queen of Scots (1542-1587). Married in turn to the Dauphin of France; her first cousin, Lord Darnley and James Hepburn, the 4th Earl of Boswell, she was tried and executed for treason, following her involvement in plots to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I.
At her death, her 13 month old son James VI (1567-1625) became King of Scotland – gaining full control of his government when he was fourteen. When Queen Elizabeth I died without an heir, James VI ruled the kingdom of England, Scotland and Ireland for 22 years, often using the title: King of Great Britain.
Stamps and stamp products are available at all Post Office branches, online at www.royalmail.com/stamps and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), Royal Mail Tallents House, 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.
Date released: Wednesday 31 March 2010
University of Stirling student Keeley Mudd (pictured) , who is in the final year of her MSc in Social Work Studies, has received the recognition of her peers at an awards ceremony to celebrate ‘World Social Work Day 2010’. Arranged by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and hosted by Adam Ingram (pictured), Minister for Children and Early Years, the ceremony and reception, which took place in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle on Tuesday 16 March, honoured Scottish social workers who strive tirelessly to help people to change their lives.
Commended in the BASW’s ‘Student Social Worker of the Year’ category, twenty-six year old Keeley from London is currently completing her MSc degree, having previously gained a degree in Sociology and Criminology at Brighton.
“Once I had completed that, I undertook a year’s CSV placement with a Children and Family team in Scotland,” explained Keeley.“ I realised I not only enjoyed the work but I loved Scotland. So after a further year working in social care, I decided to apply to Stirling University to do further study
“My motivation was to have a career in a worthwhile profession that I thought could make a difference in people’s lives and to the community. I particularly enjoyed a placement where I was afforded the time and opportunity to build relationships with the children being cared for. The children’s willingness to engage, their humour and individuality was rewarding.”
Ruth Stark, Professional Officer for BASW Scotland, said: "Celebrating good social work practice is important recognition of those professionals who help people struggling to meet needs, manage risky situations and balance competing rights and responsibilities."
Keeley’s Commendation recognises that, while on that particular placement at the Harmeny, a voluntary residential school in Balerno, she worked imaginatively with children and young people living away from home – enabling them both to value themselves and to recognise the importance of the continuing role of their parents. She was also able to challenge some of the practices of the agency in a thoughtful and diplomatic way. One of the young people she worked with was present at the ceremony to see her receive her commendation.
“It was really exciting to learn that I had received a Commendation,” said Keeley. “In fact, it was lovely to be nominated in the first place; very flattering. Particularly since that was partly based on the feedback from the young people I worked with on the placement.”
Adam Ingram, Minister for Children and Early Years, said: “Social care is life-changing work and one of the most demanding and complex tasks we ask any group to do on our behalf. The skill, commitment, enthusiasm and creativity shown by the nominees display the very best of social services in Scotland.
“These awards are an example of the positive and innovative environment we wish to create for the social services workforce of the 21st century; an environment in which social care staff are developed, valued and rewarded for the excellent work they do.”
Fellow Stirling BA student Laura-Jane Ford also made the short list of six nominees in the student category of the BASW awards.