Networking and research dissemination in San Diego


San Diego
For the ones interested in human interaction with coastal and marine spaces and oceanography in general, San Diego (California, USA) is one of the most interesting and iconic places on earth. San Diego has a diverse and thriving marine life due to the rich waters of the California Current; an outstanding coastal geology shaped by tectonics and coastal erosion; and settings that create a varied range of landscapes and habitats (not to mention the perfect sunsets). If the natural settings alone were not already extraordinary, the proximity with Mexico, the vast military facilities, and the southern California lifestyle make San Diego a unique location. In addition to all that, San Diego is home of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, one of the oldest, largest, and most important research centres  in the world for ocean, earth and atmospheric science.

In May 2015, I went to San Diego to attend Coastal Sediments, one of the most important international conferences with focus on coastal research (there were over 350 attendees from the private, public and research sectors). The presentations of my two papers were very well-attended and created very good opportunities for networking. For example, after my presentation on the first day, Julia Chunn-Heer (San Diego County Policy Manager at Surfrider Foundation) contacted me to say she found the presentation very relevant to their work, in particular to current coastal development pressures they face in San Diego. As I was staying in San Diego after the conference to visit local organisations and collate material for teaching and research, I was able to meet Julia again and find out more about one of their projects. She showed me locations in Solana Beach where local property owners are filling wave-cut notches at the cliff base with ‘erodible concrete’ as an attempt to slow down the cliff retreat. Surfrider’s concerns are the preservation of the natural cliff line and therefore to ensure that the concrete used is actually eroding at rates similar to the natural cliff.

After the conference, I visited colleagues of the San Diego State University, Geography Department, and many interesting coastal locations in southern California, including: the Border Field State Park at the border with Mexico, the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Coronado Beach, Cabrillo National Monument, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and many other interesting coastal settings between the Mexican border and Oceanside Beach.

I also had the opportunity to visit Scripps installations, including the famous pier, with Ron Flick. At the Scripps pier measurements of water parameters, waves and weather have been collected since 1975. These data and other coastal environment data collected elsewhere are made available online through the Coastal Data Information Program. Ron is currently interested about how high water levels are used as a public land boundary at the coast, and the implications concerning private property legislation (e.g. the implementing private coastal defence structures). One important aspect we discussed, which may result in a future collaborative publication, concerns changes in the position and elevation of the high water line due to major storm impacts or sea-level rise and how/how often public land boundaries may need to be updated. So watch this space for updates!

Conference attendance and the extended stay in San Diego were facilitated by a Fusion funds (SMN) and my R-budget.

Workshop Metastable Dynamics of Neural Ensembles Underlying Cognition

Is the traditional view on cortical activity dynamics, in which the cognitive flow of information wanders through multiple attractor states driven by task-dependent inputs, still a valid model? This picture has been recently challenged both empirically and from the modelling perspective.

The interpretation of the collective dynamics of neuronal assemblies underlying perception and cognitive processing is a very active debate, touching the essence of our understanding of neural computation, and hence one of the most exciting topics in neuroscience. This workshop will address a range of modelling and data analysis approaches which focus on metastable nonlinear dynamics underlying perceptual and cognitive functions in cortex.

The workshop will take Place in Prague, on the 23rd of July of 2015 in the context of the 23rd Computational Neuroscience Meeting; and will have the participation of some of the world-leading scientists in the area. Please find more information in the following link:

‘Meet the Editors’ at BU Midwifery Education Conference

Slide1Dr. Jenny Hall and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen are holding a lunchtime at today’s (Friday 3rd July 2015) BU Midwifery Education Conference (#MidEd15) in Business School.  The one-hour session is advertised under the title ‘Believe you can write!’  Both BU academics are editors and on editorial boards of several prestigious health journals across the globe.       Slide2

Over the past few years CMMPH staff have written and published several articles on academic writing and publishing.  Some of these papers have been co-authored by BU Visiting Faculty, Dr. Bri jesh Sathian (Nepal), Dr. Emma Pitchforth (RAND, Cambridge), Ms. Jillian Ireland (NHS Poole) and/or Prof. Padam Simkhada (Liverpool John Moores University).


Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen & Dr. Jenny Hall


Twitter accounts:  @HallMum5   /   @EvanTeijlingen

BU publications in Taylor & Francis top 20 most read articles

SDRC has developed a significant research portfolio in collaboration with industrial partners within corrosion, corrosion modelling, corrosion simulation, in-situ and remote corrosion condition monitoring.

SDRC industrial partners in corrosion research include The Tank Museum at Bovington, Defence Science & Technology Laboratory Ministry of Defence and Wessex Institute of Technology.

SDRC researchers have delivered invited guest speaking on the above topics in corrosion at the University of Oxford, Cranfield University, Institute of Physics and University of Southampton.

This activity also led to organising the 1st BU-International Tank Museums Conference at BU and organising a special session at the recent Contact & Surface conference that included solving corrosion issues through Surface Engineering.

Recent publication “Optimisation of interface roughness and coating thickness to maximise coating–substrate adhesion – a failure prediction and reliability assessment modelling” has made to the top 16th in the top 20 most read Taylor & Francis publications list with 409 article views/downloads.

Another recent publication “Modelling of metal-coating delamination incorporating variable environmental parameters” now stands 2nd in the above list with 1161 article views/downloads.

It is worth noting that the first publication was available since April 13, 2015 and the later publication was available since December 15, 2014. The rest of the papers (except one Feb 7, 2014) in the Taylor & Francis most read articles list were available since April-Aug 2012.

If you have interest in the above research area or would like to know more please visit SDRC webpage or contact

Dr Zulfiqar Khan (Associate Professor)


CMMPH at the 10th International Normal Birth conference

Grange-over-Sands in Lancashire was once again a beautiful setting from 15th-17th June for one of the most inspirational midwifery research conferences. Attracting a significant international attendance from eminent researchers, clinicians and user representatives from as far afield as Australia, China, Canada, Brazil and across Europe (many regular attendees), the conference is now in its 10th year. Hosted by Professor Soo Downe and her team from UCLAN, it brings together researcher across all maternity professions, to present and debate work primarily relating to physiological birth. Two members of CMMPH were presenting (and tweeting!):

Professor Vanora Hundley discussed ‘Do midwives need to be more media savvy?’, a presentation created with Professor Edwin van Teijlingen and Ann Luce, based on a previous FoL public debate at BU relating to the role media plays in creating fear in childbirth . She highlighted the need for midwives to be more aware of how to work with the media in order to harness the power to present positive messages, as well as understanding impact on women and health care providers. A paper on this presentation is accessible from:

Jenny Hall with Maltese midwives and other delegates

Jenny Hall with Maltese midwives and other delegates


Dr Jenny Hall presented as part of a symposium with midwifery colleagues from Malta on an ongoing educational project relating to promotion of physiological birth in Malta. Malta has one of the highest Caesarean section rates in Europe and the team have been working together to develop midwives confidence in facilitating physiological birth as well as supporting them to educate women and families.


All delegates also received a copy of the book ‘Roar behind the silence: why kindness, compassion and respect matter in maternity care’, that includes chapters by two BU authors: Dr Jenny Hall and Consultant midwife, Katherine Gutteridge. ( see for further information)

As usual the conference provided extensive opportunity for networking and developing links for future collaboration in a considerably relaxing environment.

A tweet storify and photographs of the whole conference are available which includes contribution from BU researchers:



The Future of Research Practice





Blog post by Professor Neal White, Faculty of Media and Communication


The Future of Research Practice

At a HEFCE sponsored conference run at Goldsmiths in London last week, a very large body of academics invested in the Future of Practice Research in the Arts and Humanities, gathered to hear HEFCE’s position on the area.

Following a stimulating keynote on the history and value of Undergraduates in this area by the artist Anne Tallentire, Professor Emeritus Central Saint Martens University of the Arts London, the audience was given an update on the state of play from HEFCE’s perspective.

In doing so Ben Johnson, Research Policy Adviser and then Steven Hill, Head of Research Policy at HEFCE, underlined the critical importance of practice research and the wide range of outputs considered in the recent REF. Central to their statements was an analysis of the amount and the impact of practice research submitted to the Panels. Writ large was the fact that one third of the overall REF submission was practice research and here was the first surprise, from HEFCE and REF position, this was a disappointing figure.

The reason for this, as Professor Bruce Brown (Pro VC Research at of Brighton University, lead of Arts and Humanities Panel D) expressed, was the overall balance of text and non-text outputs; simply put, there were not enough non text outputs at 36% of the submission. The apprehension had been that in UoAs 34-35 at least, these figures should have been reversed, with 64% practice research expected.

With many institutions hesitant about how to capture and articulate not only practice research, but specifically Impact, we were reassured that we had nonetheless delivered exceedingly high levels of world leading and international research in the REF – around 80% in total (BU return to Impact in UoA34 was 60/40 – 4*/3*), underlining our role in articulating and facing head on societal challenges to the human condition and ways of life. And so we were reminded of our contribution to not only the search for new knowledge, but our contributions to ‘enhanced understanding’ (a key definition outlined by HEFCE) in terms of the recovery of lost knowledge, and the testing of existing knowledge.

So what do we need to do in order to increase the amount and quality of practice research as will be expected, to deal with a problem that has for many been attributed to the confidence of our institutions, and those who lead the returns, for we were told, it does not reflect what is going on in UK Higher Education, as designers, performers, artists and other creative intellectuals continue to undertake and are leading the world in practice research.

In later presentations, and woven throughout the day were themes and concerns about practice research and its status in the Academy, running from staff requiring PhD’s, to the poor auditing tools available to them and the lack of understanding in the sciences, who largely run the exercises. Many points were highly valid, and some very familiar, but at the end of the day, HEFCE, who was in listening mode noted down and responded to the key suggestions and proposed actions.

More practice research figures it was agreed should and will be appointed to bodies like the British Academy. There would be less emphasis on the PhD from HEFCE in this area. A separate research practice policy lobbying body such as exist in Science would be supported. Overall, it was clear the value that practice brings, with HEFCE underlining the contributions to economic, social and cultural values in particular.

HEFCE and the REF need and expect much more non-text outputs – the role of practice in particular in the communication and engagement with research across the board should not and cannot be underestimated, they declared. They want and expect more scholarly forms of practice research, an area in which we now lead the World. But together, the next job is also to ensure that the government does not dismantle one of the liveliest and most engaged research bases in the World, aided and abetted by disciplinary divisions; the power bases of science and the arts respectively. Least we forget, the contribution to GDP from the fast growing sector of our economy, the creative industries was recorded in 2014 at £71.4 Billion (

In briefly summarising all of the fascinating discussions and agreements, for there was much consensus, was a single line, delivered by Bruce Brown at the end of his own presentation in the morning that made an awful lot of sense to those of us trying to persuade our colleagues of our own value. The argument for practice research is won he declared on behalf of HEFCE and REF, the future of research practice is clear. We simply need to ensure that we can now; ‘Get over it and get on with it’.

Neal White is Professor of Media Art. He contributed to BU’s leading return in the RAE in 2008 and REF 2014, with one of two Impact Case Studies. He currently is REF leader for UoA34 and heads Experimental Media Research in the Faculty of Media and Communication.

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