Non-intrusive river flow measurement – funding available

This SBRI competition is focused on the Environment Agency’s need to measure river flows in challenging locations where existing standard instrumentation cannot be used. However, a solution that could also be deployed in less demanding/normal river conditions would be ideal.

 Over 5.5 million, or one in six, properties are at risk of flooding from all types of floods across England and Wales. The latest UKCP09 climate change projections indicate rising sea levels and increasingly severe and frequent rainstorms mean the risk of floods will increase.
The Environment Agency requires a non intrusive method of river flow measurement which is capable of measuring river flows to “bank full” in rivers with variable backwater, weed growth and with a mobile bed load.
Priority requirements
  • a cost-effective solution
  • minimise the need for in-channel civil engineering works
  • the solution must provide data outputs that can be ported into Environment Agency telemetry systems
  • the solution should be low maintenance
  • it should be able to be supported and maintained by non-specialist staff with moderate technical skills
  • to be able to measure flows in channels that are affected by in channel weed growth and mobile beds
  • to be able to measure flows to local bank full level
  • the solution should measure flows to an accuracy of 6 to 15% or better in the range of flows of interest
  • not affect fish migration, both upstream and downstream
  • have a minimal impact on river fauna and flora and sediment transport
  • meet as many of the aspirational specifications as possible for the proposed new technology (highlighted in the competition brief)
Further details of the challenge are included in the competition brief.
Register for the networking and  briefing event – to be held in London on  Monday 15 September 2014.
Key dates for this call can be found here.

Reflections on an Oasis

Our final blog concerning our Fusion Investment Funded study leave, ENABLE: Establishing Sustainable Research Networks and Building Learning Environments, is written with very mixed feelings in mind.

For seven months we have worked across Southeast Asia to develop and establish links and research collaborations, teaching and education partnerships and to rediscover our passion for social action as ‘professional practice’ associated with our disciplines. The work has been intense, tiring, sometimes frustrating, but always illuminating and productive. It was a wrench to leave.

The return journey began with raised anxieties, heightened a couple of weeks earlier by the awful shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines aeroplane following the same route (although by then re-routed), and exacerbated when we were separated into two distinct travelling units, Jonathan with one child and Sara with the other, because the previous university travel firm booked tickets as two separate families! To make matters worse only Jonathan and Isabel’s tickets showed up and we had to wait to secure the other tickets. We were then given seats at opposite ends of the aeroplane and had to wait again for re-seating. The flight began well enough and was fairly smooth, only briefly punctuated by a somewhat antisocial ‘ramming’ of chair in front into one of our legs with particular force by someone who thought ‘turn off your electronics’ meant send texts to your friends!

However, we landed in one piece and breathed a sigh of relief, or possibly resignation, until, as in our usual practice of each taking one of the children through immigration the UKBA officer asked Jonathan rather sternly ‘where is the child’s mother?’ and when indicating where Sara was the officer proceeded to say that children have to be seen with their mother because mother’s are in general the carers of children and if present they have to be with the child. ‘Red rags and bulls’ often appear to Jonathan in unjust situations and he, as usual, took issue with this, but whilst we all got through immigration clearance more quickly, the officer insisted that his rather warped and myopic view of British law and custom was now right. Oh dear! We wondered what had happened in the seven months we had been away and whether we were entering Gormenghast!

But, back to the project itself! Our four key objectives have been met throughout the project, with varying degrees of success and changing morphologies:

1. Establish a sustainable research network promoting social sciences and interdisciplinary research at BU:

We have made contacts with individual academics, departments and universities across Southeast Asia, notably Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), Universiti Utara Malaysia, alongside contacts with Massey University in New Zealand,  Hong Kong University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Myanmar Institute of Theology.

We have given names and contacts to people abroad and within BU to follow up. Research projects are being developed, publications are in train or planned for the future.

2. Develop research streams of locally specific or cross-cultural relevance:

Our research, completed with the Orang Asli as part of the Tasik Chini Research Centre, has culminated in numerous publications being submitted, developed and developing, wide dissemination across many fora, and establishing on-going research links.

3. Engage and promote educational initiatives via guest lectures/research seminars, developing joint postgraduate research supervision and educational initiatives promoting student mobility:

We have presented lectures and seminars, provided postgraduate supervision and contributed to curriculum planning and development discussions, as well as negotiated an important credit transfer scheme (although uptake has been delayed until we can find students both able and willing to go on this exciting opportunity!). Professional papers have been written and submitted.

4. Engage in discipline-specific activities in relation to social work:

a number of discipline specific activities concerning social action and development have been undertaken, including curriculum planning, assisting in education developments in Myanmar and in Malaysia in reference to the new (to be implemented) standardised Malaysian Diploma Social Work, alongside contributing to NGO development work.

Overall, during the study leave period, there has been 57 outputs, also including on-going work and connections to be completed over time. The 57 outputs included:

  • 6 books (3 published)
  • 14 book chapters (11 published or in press)
  • 12 peer reviewed papers (9 published or in press)
  • 3 professional papers
  • 1 book review
  • 16 conference presentations/open lectures etc.
  • 10 blogs
  • 6 media presentations

During our time away we have worked across five countries: Malaysia, Hong Kong SAR, Australia, Myanmar and Cambodia in order to carry out our research or present it, along with capacity-building missions for professional, social work training. We have undertaken respectively between 24 to 28 flights (trying, when one of us dislikes flying) and stayed in some extraordinarily interesting as well as very grim places during our fieldwork, resulting in abuse from miscellaneous assortments of blood-sucking insects (outsized mosquitoes, the usual bed bugs and fever-inducing leeches) bedding down with us or boisterously noisy lizards, both small and decidedly large, showering us with ordure from above.

One of us was joyfully returning ‘home’ to pioneering fieldwork in Southeast Asia and the other was equally rapturous to be introduced to it. We have developed a new appreciation of the diversity of international driving styles when finding it not unusual to be driven by taxi in the wrong direction through chaotic Yangon in the middle of two long lines of equally erratic cars heading in the right direction – towards us. Above all, we remember the various wonderfully funny, kind, clever, intriguing and endlessly good-natured people we me: all our participants, our various helpers, interpreters, drivers, guides and advisors, the academic staff and students who welcomed us so warmly, the inspiring NGO workers and service users; not forgetting the local café owner in Penang, who wept when we left before running to get her camera for group photos to remember us by.

Also, we will always remember just how much our children, Isabel and Milly grew and developed in stature (in all ways possible): learning the research process, engaging with children amongst the village communities, and themselves collecting valuable data and compiling magnificent school projects on their adventures and experiences. The children put up with a good deal with great fortitude, willingness and humour (or when the going got tough – heavy irony), easily comprehending the importance of the work undertaken; albeit, as 10 year-old Milly gravely commented in her write-up later, ‘fieldwork has its dark side’! Indeed, so impressed were we with them that they will be contributing their experiences and acting as co-authors to the forthcoming book on the Tasik Chini area.

Alongside the outputs, the work is now to capitalise on the study leave by the development and submission of funded research projects. Currently, these include gendered rituals in professional working, problematizing research ethics and learning disabilities, understanding religion as resistance, and gender in higher education.

The study leave represented a life-giving oasis, somewhere to wash and attend to our own sacred cattle as in the photo from Cambodia, and we gratefully acknowledge the help and supported afforded us by Bournemouth University and our two main host universities in Malaysia (UKM and USM). We would encourage other academic staff to apply for study leave and we think that the productivity of our period of study leave indicates how important this can be to both individual academics but also to the greater good of Bournemouth University.

Jonathan Parker & Sara Ashencaen Crabtree

Make Your Voice Heard

Logo with a megaphone and event title

It’s not enough just to do cutting edge research. We also know that we have to share it and pass on our findings or even our views about matters that are important to society.  Such profile-raising can help attract future research funding, raise our standing and that of BU and, with an eye on REF2020, help achieve impact.

Talking to journalists, using social media and updating blogs or websites does not come naturally to all of us and can be seen as just another demand placed on people who are already struggling with a busy schedule.

The communications department at the University have offered to make it easier for us to get our voice heard. They are hosting an event entitled Make Your Voice Heard to explore how to do this with impact and effect.

Taking place on 10 September 2014, we will discuss important topics, such as how academics can enrich the media and how to balance different stakeholder wants and needs. There will also be opportunities to acquire some practical tools, tips and techniques.

Ultimately, it would be great to see more of our staff sharing their unique and valuable perspectives on matters important to society and raising the profile of BU in the local, regional and national scene. Whether that’s through informed comment or sharing research outcomes, the communications team can help us do it more effectively.

‘Make Your Voice Heard’ runs from 9:00 – 14:00 on Talbot Campus and we will even be providing lunch. It is open to all researchers, from PGRs to Professors.

You can see the full schedule and book your place by following this link to the Eventbrite page. If you would like to find out more before booking, please contact Sarah Gorman (Corporate Communications Assistant).

I look forward to seeing you there…..

Surrogate mother producing faulty goods: commodification of childbirth

Over the weekend an interesting story appeared on the BBC news and in the Sunday papers.  The story goes that an Australian couple left a Thai surrogate mother with a baby who is genetically their child.  The reason for this abandonment is that the baby is not perfect.  If that is not bad enough the couple has taken the healthy twin sister of this baby back home to Australia.  Some newspapers reported that the Australian parents knew that the baby had Down’s syndrome from the fourth month of gestation onwards, but that they did not ask until the seventh month  - through the surrogacy agency – for selective abortion of the affected fetus.    The surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua, says that the couple were told: (a) that she was carrying twins and (b) that one of the twins had Down’s syndrome as well as heart problems. The surrogate mother refused the intervention on the grounds of her Buddhist beliefs.

Surrogacy is often a commercial transaction e.g. in the USA, although such a ‘business contract’ is not legal in the UK (Ireland 2011) and some parts of Australia as widely reported in the media.  However, in this case the Australian couple had paid Pattaramon Chanbua (a mother of two) to grow and carry the baby for them. She told the BBC that she had engaged in the surrogacy deal to get money to pay for the education of her other children.

This case epitomises several aspects of life that are of interest to sociology: (a) the commodification and commercialization of life (and health); (b) inequality and exploitation; and (c) globalisation.  Commodification refers to the process by which something that was not originally bought and sold becomes a good or service, i.e. a commodity that is for sale.  As we become more modern and with economic progress/the rise of capitalism, more and more parts of our lives become commodified.  Modernisation changes society and its social institutions and organisations. Economic development is based on industrialisation, but is also strongly linked to urbanisation, mass education, occupational specialisation and communication development, which in turn are linked with still broader cultural and social changes (Inglehart 1997).

The second key issue sociologists are interested in is inequality and the link between poverty and poor health.  In a global perspective where we, people in high-income countries, or so-called developed countries exploit people in low-income countries (or Third World, developing countries or under-developed countries).

Thirdly, globalisation refers to the world becoming a smaller place, both in terms of physical travel as well as the way we perceive it (Simkhada & van Teijlingen 2009).  It takes us less time to travel to London, Paris, Kathmandu than it took our parents’ or grandparents’ generation, and at the same time the information about a disaster or a  human tragedy story such as this one in Thailand reaches us more or less instantaneously.  At the same time, modernisation and globalisation, particularly in many low-income societies, are contributing to rapid socio-cultural changes.

Surrogacy as commodification

Surrogacy is the commodification of a couple having a baby themselves.  Other social solutions from the past to the problem of not being able to conceive include: (a) having more than one wife, a solution for men in a patriarchal society; (b) for women sleeping with their husband’s brother, to increase the likelihood that the baby ‘looks like’ the husband; and (c) adopting someone else’s child.

We must remember that aspects of maternity care have always been commodified.  Rich British families in the nineteenth century would have been paying a wet nurse to breastfeed their babies and a nanny to look after their children whilst instant formula baby milk bought from a shop has been replacing breastmilk supplied by the baby’s mother for nearly a century.

We don’t think surrogacy is the interesting issue here, we should ask ourselves the more basic question ‘What makes us think that every birth and every baby is going to be perfect or even okay?’

One explanation is, of course, that we have seen a rapid decline in the number and the proportion of babies dying in high-income countries such as the UK over the past century and a half.  Women having better nutrition, fewer children, having one’s first child later (but not too much later), better sanitation, and improved obstetric care have all contributed to making childbirth safer now for both mother and baby than ever before in the history of humanity.   However, these changes have also affected our ways of thinking about childbirth (Mackenzie Bryers & van Teijlingen 2010).

Social scientists recognise a social model and a medical model of childbirth (van Teijlingen 2005; van Teijlingen & Ireland 2013).  The former sees childbirth as a physiological event in women’s lives.  Pregnant women need psycho-social support, but not necessarily high-technology interventions by doctors.    The medical model stresses that childbirth can be pathological, i.e. every pregnant woman is potentially at risk.  The medical model argues that every birth needs to be in hospital with high-technology screening equipment supervised by expert obstetricians.  In other words, pregnancy and childbirth are only safe in retrospect.  In terms of social changes, we have moved from a more social model to a more medical model in a society which is more risk averse.

 

 

Edwin van Teijlingen1 & Jillian Ireland2

  1. Professor of Reproductive Health Research, Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health, Bournemouth University.
  2. Visiting Faculty, Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health, Bournemouth University; Midwife & Supervisor of Midwives, RCM learning Rep. Poole NHS Hospitals Trust.

 

 

References:

Inglehart R. (1997). Modernisation and post modernisation: Cultural, economic, and political change in 43 societies. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Ireland, J. (2011) Reflections on surrogacy-using the Taylor model to understand and manage the emotions in clinical practice, Essentially Midirs, 2(9): 17-21.

Ireland, J., van Teijlingen, E. (2013) Normal birth: social-medical model, The Practising Midwife 16(11): 17-20.

MacKenzie Bryers, H., van Teijlingen, E. (2010) Risk, Theory, Social & Medical Models: a critical analysis of the concept of risk in maternity care, Midwifery 26(5): 488-496.

Simkhada, P.P., van Teijlingen, E. (2009) Health: a global perspective, In: Alder, B. et al. (Eds.) Psychology & Sociology Applied to Medicine (3rd edn.), Edinburgh: Elsevier: 158-159.

Teijlingen van, E. (2005) A critical analysis of the medical model as used in the study of pregnancy and childbirth, Sociological Research Online, 10(2) Web address: http://www.socresonline.org.uk/10/2/teijlingen.html

 

Visiting Spanish historian researches PR archives

Since June 30, Professor Natalia Rodriguez Salcedo of the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain has been a visiting scholar at BU, based in the Corporate & Marketing Communications academic group in The Media School.

During a four-week period, she has undertaken detailed research in the archive of the International Public Relations Association (IPRA), which was the first major PR association established in Europe in 1955. The IPRA archive was developed by Professor Tom Watson in 2011.

It is an important source of information about PR’s evolution in the immediate post-World War 2 world and the field’s international expansion in the second half of the 20th century.

“Archives like that of IPRA are always difficult to find and provide essential material for PR historians,” said Professor Rodriguez Salcedo. She has also undertaken research at BU’s Library, including its special collection of historic PR books. As a result of her research, she and Professor Watson are exploring future research collaboration on the development of the PR sector in Europe, especially philosophical and practices approaches that evolved separately from the US.

Professor Rodriguez Salcedo also observed Professor Watson’s editorial and reviewing roles in developing a six-book series, ‘National Perspectives on the Development of Public Relations’ which is being published by Palgrave-Macmillan. She will be a contributor to the fifth book of the series, ‘Western Europe Perspectives’, with a chapter on the history of public relations in Spain.

During her stay Professor Rodriguez Salcedo, who is a member of the European Public Relations History Network, attended the 5th International History of Public Relations Conference at BU on July 2-3, at which she delivered a paper on the formation of the first Spanish PR consultancy and chaired a conference session.

Professor Natalia Rodriguez Salcedo discusses the IPRA archive with its founder, Professor Tom Watson

 

BU presenters at Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development, Melbourne, Australia

Dr Sara Ashencaen Crabtree and Professor Jonathan Parker presented their research at the Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development, in Melbourne, Australia, 9th-12th July 2014.

In a well-received paper concerning the importance of student social workers learning about the causes, impacts and ways of working with the consequences of terrorism, and the problems of rigidity in the current English curriculum, conference delegates were introduced to a two-year study which revealed that student participants felt that a more extensive and sensitive range of intervention tools needed to be taught and deployed via a coherent and nuanced understanding of the geo-political dimensions surrounding the construction of ‘global terrorism’, together with its potential impact on local populations and vulnerable communities. Research findings highlighted the importance of earlier generic community-based and therapeutic approaches, which were favoured above contemporary neoliberal emphases in English social work education concerning assessment, safeguarding and social policing.  Addressing these findings would demand a much needed rebalancing of the curriculum to reinstate essential practitioner skills transferrable to a range of situations and crises – skills that have long been viewed as integral to the social work role by the international community. This research was published earlier in 2014 in the journal Social Policy & Social Work in Transition, DOI: 10.1921/4704030201, http://essential.metapress.com/content/26170w57262444gp/ and was reported in the Guardian on 25th June 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2014/jun/24/how-can-social-work-education-address-terrorism?CMP=new_1194.

The second presentation reported aspects of the highly successful UK-Malaysian study of reactions to and cross-cultural learning from international placements, research that has challenged preconceived notions of anti-oppressive practices and demonstrates the need to move beyond post-colonial analyses of Western social work towards a post-post-colonial dialectic of shared and cultural appropriate practices. This research, funded by a British Council PMI2 grant, took place over three-years, with three separate cohorts of students supported by two Malaysian universities, Universiti Sains Malaysia on the peninsular and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak in Borneo. The success of this study which combined research rigour focusing on  pedagogy with student mobility opportunities has been affirmed by the British Council as one of their most successful funded projects. This study has to-date produced a raft of publications: 2 book chapters, 5 peer-reviewed papers and 5 international conference presentations, including one keynote lecture. The latest research paper has just been published in the prestigious European Jounral of Social Work, Jonathan Parker, Sara Ashencaen Crabtree, Azlinda Azman, Dolly Paul Carlo & Clare Cutler (2014): Problematising international placements as a site of intercultural learning, European Journal of Social Work, DOI: 10.1080/13691457.2014.925849.

Jonathan Parker and Sara Ashencaen Crabtree

SDRC newly appointed visiting professor

SDRC has developed significant portfolio of industrially funded research, national and international collaborations and visiting faculty. BU has recently appointed Professor Bob Cripps as visiting professor.

He is currently a Director of Longitude Consulting Engineering part of London Offshore Consultants (LOC) which was established to provide independent, high quality marine and engineering consultancy to the shipping and offshore industries.

Professor Cripps was previously Director Engineering College for BAE Systems Surface Ships responsible for developing and maintaining BAE Systems Surface Ships academic and engineering reputation as being world class and he was responsible for setting up University Technology Partnerships at six key UK universities.

Prior to this, Professor Cripps was Technical Director at VT Halmatic responsible for all technical aspects including boat design/engineering and composite development. He was Engineering Manager at RNLI for 18 years responsible for the design and development of all classes of lifeboat (offshore and inshore), launching equipment and moorings. He was instrumental in the development of the latest generation of lifeboats namely, Severn, Trent, Tamar and Atlantic 85 class lifeboats. He was also responsible for all research and development undertaken by the RNLI and he established the Advanced Technology Partnership between the RNLI and the University of Southampton in 2000.

Professor Cripps is a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in the Principles of Engineering Design at the University of Southampton. He is well known for his work in the design and development of small craft and the use of composite materials in marine applications and this was recognised with the award of an Honorary Doctor of Engineering from Bournemouth University in 2005. Particular areas of interest and expertise are the development and integration of methods and processes to enable designers to utilise latest technical developments simply at an early stage of the design process.

Professor Cripps was instrumental in introducing different NDE methods into the construction and in-service inspection of composites hulls and this was recognised by The British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing with the 2002 NEMET Award for outstanding examples of effective use of NDT.

He was a Senior Ship Surveyor with Lloyds Register of Shipping for nearly 13 years in the Research and Development Group and the Plan Approval Department. Graduating in 1976 from University of Southampton with a BSc.(Hons) Ship Science, Professor Cripps is also a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (FRINA), Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (FIMarEST), Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (FCMI), a Chartered Engineer (CEng) and European Engineer (EurIng).

If you would like to know more about the SDRC academic activity, please contact

Dr Zulfiqar Khan (Associate Professor)

Director SDRC

South Asian midwifery at ICM 2014

Photo from UNFPA Lao PDR

In early June I published a short overview of Bournemouth University’s contribution to the ICM (International Congress of Midwives) conference in Prague (Czech Republic) (see: http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/2014/06/05/cmmph-strong-presence-at-icm-conference/ ).  In addition we highlighted the Nepal contribution in a separate BU Research Blog (http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/2014/06/03/46-sharma-s-sicuri-e-belizan-jm-van-teijlingen-e-simkhada-p-stephens-j-hundley-v-angell-c-getting-women-to-care-in-nepal-a-difference-in-difference-analysis-of-a-health-prom/ ).   Today a belated update of our presence at the Special Session on South Asian Midwifery at the ICM conference last month, as I just received photos from our friends at UNFPA Lao PDR.

South Asia posters at ICM conference (photo: UNFPA Lao PDR)

One of the speakers at the South Asian Midwifery session was our friend Kiran Bajracharya, president of the Midwifery Society of Nepal (MIDSON).  Several of our posters describing our work in Nepal were on display.  Bournemouth University friends were involved in the organisation of the event, such as Swedish midwife Malin Bogren and the editor of the newly launched midwifery journal Journal of Asian Midwifery, Dr. Rafat Jan. The session was concluded by another BU collaborator Petra the Hoope-Bender of Integrare.

Professor Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH

Rich-cores in networks

The next of our research seminars will take place on Wednesday the 23rd of July, 14:00 at PG10 (Poole House)

Our guest speaker is Dr Athen Ma, Senior Lecturer at the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Queen Mary University of London; Invited by our colleague Dr Darius Krol

The title of her exciting talk is “Rich-cores in networks”  a topic which is of wide interest way beyond computing ; for instance in areas such as Social Networks, Biology etc.

Abstract: “A core comprises of a group of central and densely connected nodes which governs the overall behaviour of a network, and it is recognised as one of the key meso-scale structures in complex networks. Profiling this meso-scale structure currently relies on a limited number of methods which are often complex and parameter dependent or require a null model, and as a result, scalability issues are likely to arise when dealing with very large networks together with the need for subjective adjustment of parameters. The notion of a rich-club describes nodes which are essentially the hub of a network, as they play a dominating role in structural and functional properties. The definition of a rich-club naturally emphasises high degree nodes and divides a network into two subgroups. Here, we develop a method to characterise a rich core in networks by theoretically coupling the underlying principle of a rich-club with the escape time of a random walker. The method is fast, scalable to large networks and completely parameter free. In particular, we show that the evolution of the core in World Trade and C. elegans networks correspond to responses to historical events and key stages in the physical development respectively.”

I very much encourage to the persons interested in the topic to attend. Coffee and cakes will be served.

Best wishes, Emili

Emili Balaguer-Ballester, PhD

Faculty of Science and Technology , Bournemouth University

Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, University of Heidelberg

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