Category / Research communication

Inaugural lecture: Performing hip replacements in space

Digital screen

Established in 2015, Bournemouth University’s Orthopaedic Research Institute (BUORI) is at the forefront of developing virtual reality training and robots that will allow surgeons to perform hip replacements in this world and beyond.

As part of his inaugural lecture, Professor Robert Middleton, Head of BUORI, will share his research into developing virtual reality training for surgeons, which allows them to practice in the space in front of them – or even in space!

After the lecture, you’ll have the chance to see some of the state-of-the-art training equipment being used by BUORI and even try your hand at virtual surgery.

Professor Middleton joined Bournemouth University in 2015, while continuing to practise as a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and working as the Director of Trauma at Poole Hospital.  His extensive clinical experience helps to inform his research and the direction of Bournemouth University’s Orthopaedic Research Institute (BUORI).

Bournemouth University’s inaugural lecture series aims to celebrate new professorial appointments and the depth and breadth of research produced by the university.  For further information on the inaugural lecture series, please visit

About the event

To book your free ticket, click here.

Venue: Executive Business Centre, Holdenhurst Road.

Date: Wednesday 12 April.

Time: 6:30pm for a 7pm lecture start.

Refreshments will be provided at the event.

For more information about the event, please contact Rachel Bowen at

New midwifery paper by Dr. Jenny Hall

Congratulations to Dr. Jenny Hall in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH) on the publication of her paper ‘Spiritual aspects of living with infertility: synthesis of qualitative studies’. [1]  Dr. Hall co-authored this paper in the Journal of Clinical Nursing with colleagues from Ireland and Portugal.

This international team conducted review and synthesis of qualitative research to seek a deeper understanding of the spiritual aspects of patients’ experiences of infertility.  They concluded that infertile couples’ experiences of infertility may offer an opportunity for spiritual care particularly related to the assessment of spiritual needs and the promotion of spiritual coping strategies. Moreover, effective holistic care should support couples in overcoming and finding meaning in this life and health condition.

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen


What is FoMO and how do you deal with it?

Students and staff attended 14:Live in the Student Centre, on Tuesday afternoon to hear from Dr Miguel Moital about FoMO.

FoMO is a fairly new area of research which looks into the psychology behind the ‘Fear of Missing Out’.

With the upcoming festival season, the session looked at FoMO in relation to festivals and marketing tactics used to convince consumers to attend.

Much of the research has been conducted by events management undergraduate students Ellie Taylor and Helena Jarman who previously worked on the topic as part of their dissertation.

Ellie was the pioneer conducting the first dissertation on the topic, whilst Helena worked with Dr Miguel Moital during June-July 2016 as a Student Research Assistant. Helena collated and organised material around FoMO in events leading up to the organisation of a workshop for local event professionals. The students created and provided a large amount of material for 14:Live.

The fear of missing out is a psychological fear that comes from a heightened sensation that everyone but us appears to be having more fun. Social media can often make us feel as though we’re missing out on socially driven events and experiences, because of posts from friends, family or even strangers.

FoMO appeals are often used by marketers to sell an event or product to consumers. Marketers often use specific communication tactics which play on someone’s emotions. This can include using ‘highlights videos’ and using techniques such as ‘75%’ sold out. This then encourages you to book early or attend at the risk of ‘missing out’ on the event.

Dr Moital commented “We looked at the types of emotions felt when experiencing FoMO, what it is people miss out on, how people may behave when they feel FOMO, the types of communication tactics that can be used when designing FoMO event marketing appeals, and what strategies can individuals reduce the levels of FOMO,”

“The session was very interactive and it was great to see a mix of colleagues from faculties and professional services, as well as a number of very engaged students.”

If you’d like to hear more about FoMO please contact Dr Miguel Moital.

14:Live is monthly lunchtime session, that discusses the different areas of research being undertaken here at BU. If you’d like to hear more about 14:Live please contact Hannah Jones.

Why victims and survivors of atrocities need a right to the truth

Melanie Klinkner, Bournemouth University and Howard Davis, Bournemouth University write for The Conversation. For more information about writing for The Conversation, contact or

When heinous atrocities and human rights violations are committed, knowing the truth about what happened to the victims matters. The Conversation

In many conflicts raging around the world today, among them those in Syria, Yemen, and Nigeria, legal norms meant to protect civilians are being utterly disregarded, with brutal consequences for thousands of people. When the dust settles on gross human rights violations, victims of these crimes should have the right to know who and what caused their suffering, and what happened to family members who went missing. Societies should also have the right to know and understand what happened to them as a whole.

Documenting patterns of violence not only serves as a record of human rights abuses, it may also lead to information on victims who may still be alive. Survivors need to mourn their dead, and they also have pressing practical needs; they often need formal evidence of what happened to file insurance claims, reparation schemes and other benefits.

These are urgent moral imperatives – and they are increasingly being acknowledged.

March 24 marks the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. The date commemorates the 1980 assassination of Óscar Romero, human rights advocate and archbishop of San Salvador. He campaigned for justice and peace for his fellow citizens against a repressive regime and during a brutal conflict; he was assassinated by a paramilitary unit.

The right to the truth is being advocated and shaped by various actors, from governments to NGOs and civil society groups. The UN officially deems it essential to recognise the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations. International law recognises the right of victims and survivors to know about the circumstances of serious violations of their human rights. Initially conceived as the right of families to know the fate of their loved ones, the idea has since evolved into a more-encompassing right that extends to society.

Archbishop Óscar Romero.
Wikimedia Commons

When confronted with a history of human rights violations, states are obliged to undertake, on their own initiative, effective, independent investigation to provide victims, their next of kin and the public with a full and detailed understanding of what happened, why it happened, and who was responsible, both directly and indirectly. The purpose is not only to satisfy the need to know, but also to provide the basis on which victims and others can obtain whatever reparation the law permits for these violations of fundamental rights.

The right to the truth also forms a central and necessary element in efforts to combat impunity for human rights violations. On the basis of a proper understanding of the facts, victims, prosecutors and others can then pursue the right to justice against perpetrators as well as the right to reparation, and guarantees of non-repetition.

Mechanisms that can help achieve the right to the truth are truth commissions, official inquiries and courts of law. But they have their detractors and often face serious obstacles.

Uphill struggles

Any government or organisation charged with seeking the truth may clash with political forces seeking to protect their own interests, whether or not those same forces were involved in the crimes being investigated. In societies transitioning from dictatorship or conflict to a less violent future, some people imagine that silence, forgetting and even impunity are needed to keep all sides on board with the process of peace.

Then there’s the problem of multiple, contested and unacknowledged truths; if these are downplayed or overlooked, the result can be an incomplete or unsatisfying process of truth-seeking and truth-telling that leaves deep problems and grievances unresolved.

These are all understandable complications, but they should not deter truth-seeking efforts. The need for truth is seemingly universal; what is required is a clarification in international law whether a right to it can be articulated and upheld as a right in itself, rather than as an aspect of other rights. A standalone right has to be robust and convey some real force, not just aspiration or rhetoric.

But no matter what the legal basis, truth-seeking and truth-telling carry moral weight regardless of what mechanism is used. In an era marred by post-truth politics and blatant contempt for the actual facts, finding and telling the truth is all the more urgent.

Melanie Klinkner, Senior Lecturer In Law, Bournemouth University and Howard Davis, Reader in Public Law, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Reasons to be cheerful as Liberty Media era dawns in Formula One

Image 20170320 9108 1n0jm3c
PJMixer/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Dr Bruce Grant-Braham writes for The Conversation. For more information about writing for The Conversation, contact or

The new Formula One season offers some reason for optimism. When the green lights flash for the opening race in Melbourne at the end of March, we will get our first glimpse of the new promised “Super Bowl-style” Grand Prix. If its recent history is any guide, Liberty Media, the group which now owns F1, should have the ability, experience and resources to revitalise the sport, and deliver on promises they’ve made. The Conversation

John Malone’s Liberty is a vast media conglomerate, and a rival of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Both, at various times, have eyed each other’s share holdings. Liberty controls big name brands such as Virgin Media and the shopping channel QVC. It is anticipated that the organisation’s media pedigree will be used to recruit younger Formula One fans, and attempt to keep a tight hold of them through improved interaction.

For an idea of how this might go, we can look at Liberty’s ownership of the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball (MLB) team in the US. The former World Series Champions were bought a decade ago from Time Warner in what was described rather unromantically as a “tax driven transaction”. Since then, performance on the field has not lived up to expectations. Two years ago, attendance slumped to the lowest level in 25 years, which affected revenue badly. Not good signs for Formula One you might say.


However, many of the problems for the Braves were caused by essential renovations of their home ground, Turner Field. This had been the 1996 Centennial Olympic Stadium and was in need of substantial upgrading to improve the experience for fans. There was no solution that didn’t involve a significant outlay.

What Atlanta is getting is a new stadium complex – Sun Trust Park, which opens in April and involves a deal to bring in Comcast’s high-speed voice and video services. An agreement like this could have potential in F1 where Liberty has suggested both virtual reality and gambling opportunities might be developed.

For the Atlanta Braves, the prospect of this new venue bolstered confidence and led to a sharp increase in the value of the MLB franchise. There is fresh optimism around results on the field too if forecasts are right about the good young players that Liberty has assembled.

Sun Trust Park is not just a sports stadium, and as such, it doesn’t have to rely entirely on MLB games for revenue. It includes a shopping mall which will have up to a million square feet of retail space, as well as a hotel and sponsorship involvement from other local blue chip companies including Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines. The prospect of year-round entertainment is a message for many Formula One tracks: investment in infrastructure could pay off.

MLB makeover. Turner Field in 2006.
Gregor Smith/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Liberty are well placed to advise. Another Liberty company, Live Nation Entertainment, is a partner in Sun Trust Park, and describes itself as the largest live entertainment company in the world. Billy Joel will headline the first concert at the sports stadium, opening a schedule that is expected to see 40 music and comedy shows each year.

Brains and Brawn

The Liberty team has some strong leadership in place, but they haven’t played it flawlessly so far. CEO of the parent group Liberty Media Corporation is Greg Maffei, who also acts as Live Nation’s chairman. Maffei is a former Microsoft chief financial officer (CFO) and was once chairman and CFO of technology group Oracle. He described Liberty as “happy owners” of The Atlanta Braves but came in for criticism from loyal fans when he referred to the team as an “asset” and wouldn’t give a long term commitment.

This is noteworthy because Liberty Media Corp chairman, John Malone, has a reputation for building and selling business empires. At the time of writing he has not yet visited a Formula One race.

Liberty’s Formula One Group, however, is being led by Chase Carey – a former executive vice-chairman at 21st Century Fox. He claimed to be “awed” when he visited the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix and was impressed that the race managed to captivate the whole city. He drew that comparison with the Super Bowl.

But the really crucial part of the leadership team must be Ross Brawn. He was hired by Liberty to act as managing director for motor sports and called the Formula One deal an “almost unprecedented opportunity to work together with the teams and promoters for a better F1.”

There is little that Brawn doesn’t know about Formula One having delivered no less than 20 world titles. He has worked with Williams, Benetton and Ferrari, notably with Michael Schumacher. In 2009 he won one title with his own team’s Brawn GP Formula One car driven by Jenson Button. And Brawn has many educated opinions about the competitiveness of the racing and the show expected by spectators.

These were no doubt expressed during his time as a consultant to Liberty before the company purchased Formula One. Brawn also introduced Virgin Media to Formula One in 2009, a company now absorbed in to Liberty. He too knows the media ropes and the expectations of such sponsors.

Brawn’s involvement, alongside the long-term game played with the Atlanta Braves, offers every indication that Liberty has the potential to improve Formula One for all concerned – and to do so not just with an accountant’s eye, but with some understanding of the glorious romance attached to this global sport.

Bruce Grant-Braham, Lecturer in Sport Marketing specialising in motorsport, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Latest Funding Opportunities

The following is a snap-shot of funding opportunities that have been announced. Please follow the links for more information:

Scoping group for designing future landscapes for biodiversity and ecosystem services – meeting

Natural Environment Research Council, GB

NERC invites applications to join a scoping group that will develop the science case for a potential strategic research programme on designing future landscapes for biodiversity and ecosystem services.

This is one of two potential strategic programme areas (SPAs) which have emerged from the ideas process for strategic research. Any potential SPA must meet NERC’s criteria for a strategic programme, so it is possible that neither will result in a funded programme.

Maximum award: Not known

Closing date: 27 Mar 17 Closing soon

Invitation to quote for the development of an assessment template to monitor sector progress towards open access (OA) compliance with funder policies

Higher Education Funding Council for England, GB

HEFCE, RCUK, Jisc and Wellcome require an understanding of how the higher education sector is progressing towards OA compliance in relation to funder policies. We require further understanding of the tools and systems being utilised by HEIs to fulfil OA compliance needs.

We require a contractor to work with HEFCE, RCUK, Jisc, Wellcome and the HE sector to develop a method to collect appropriate quantitative data on HEI compliance. This must not be unduly burdensome for the institutions to complete and should draw upon existing mechanisms and data where possible. Further detail on the tender requirements can be found in the specification section below.

We anticipate that the eventual data collection will be in the form of an assessment framework (survey) which HEFCE, RCUK, Jisc and Wellcome will deliver in summer 2017.

Maximum award: £25,000

Closing date: 28 Mar 17 Closing soon

LARIA annual conference bursaries

Economic and Social Research Council, GB

The Local Area Research and Intelligence Association (LARIA) and the ESRC invite applications from academic researchers based at UK universities to receive a bursary to attend the LARIA annual conference. The conference will be held on 23-24 May 2017 in Sheffield.

ESRC and LARIA would like to increase the level of attendance by ESRC supported researchers and social scientists generally at the conference. It is the highlight of the research calendar for those researching local areas and is the ‘must go’ event for such analysts. In 2016, over 100 delegates attended from the public sector including local authorities, fire and rescue services, health, and housing. The majority of attendees are from local authorities and the sector is known for its commitment to collaboration and innovation.

Maximum award: Not known

Closing date: 03 Apr 17 (recurring)

University of Sheffield/English Heritage/AHRC – the evolution of Audley End collaborative PhD studentship

Arts and Humanities Research Council, GB

These studentships are based on research areas we have identified because they will:

  • Advance the protection of the historic environment
  • Advance understanding and interpretation of the nationally important sites in the care of English Heritage
  • Are in areas we would not otherwise be able to carry out research on by ourselves alone.

They are supervised by both Historic England and English Heritage experts in partnership with University academics.

The CDP programme provides the perfect opportunity to align practical research with heritage protection outcomes. It also provides skills-sharing to students planning careers in heritage research and management; and by doing that, it helps to address skills shortages in the heritage profession.

Maximum award: Not known

Closing date: 17 Apr 17

Accelerating innovation in rail

Innovate UK, GB

The rail industry is transforming the way it manages innovation and introduces new technologies. The Rail Capability Delivery Plan 2017 outlines the industry’s vision for using technology to create a better railway. This competition aims to provide direct support and encourage collaboration between rail industry clients and innovative businesses.

The focus of this competition is industrial research. To be in scope proposals must demonstrate how they meet specific industry challenges. Proposals should contribute to the high-level programmes developed by the rail industry, as outlined below. Future exploitation is a key priority. Applications should provide evidence of a market need for specific solutions and engagement with potential rail industry customers.

Maximum award: Not known

Closing date: 10 May 17

Research institute in hardware security

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, GB

Reflecting the aims of the National Cyber Security Strategy, the UK Government and its delivery partners are working to increase the UK’s academic capability in all fields of Cyber Security. EPSRC and NCSC are inviting proposals from academic researchers to form a Research Institute in Hardware Security. The Research Institute will be jointly funded by NCSC and EPSRC, with an indicative budget from the sponsors of £5 million over five years. In order to establish the institute there are two concurrent calls – one to identify a director of the institute and one to support initial research projects.

Working in conjunction with NCSC whilst undertaking research to be published in the public domain, the Research Institute will identify and address key issues that underpin our understanding of Hardware Security.

This call will identify a number of research projects to form the core research activity of the institute. The concurrent call ‘Research Institute in Hardware Security – Call for Director’ will invite proposals for the Director.

Maximum award: Not known

Closing date: 10 May 17

UK-Philippines – joint health research initiative

Medical Research Council, GB

The UK Medical Research Council (MRC), and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the Philippine Council for Health and Research Developmentopens in new window (PCHRD) invite concept proposals to the second UK-Philippines Joint Health Research Call.

This initiative will provide funding for high quality 3-year collaborative research projects focusing on Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases of relevance to the Philippines. This exciting initiative builds on the MRC-PCHRD Call launched in 2015 through which 6 proposals addressing research needs in Infectious Diseases were funded.

Maximum award: Not known

Closing date: 11 May 17

Productivity network plus

Economic and Social Research Council, GB

The ESRC is pleased to invite applications for a Productivity Network.

Productivity has a major bearing on sustainable economic growth. The UK’s ongoing low levels of productivity, especially in comparison with international competitors, are of critical concern and require affirmative action on the part of both government and business. To aid progress, the UK needs research to help understand and explain the factors affecting productivity levels, and to provide robust evidence to inform policy and practice. The complex nature of the productivity challenge requires a multi-perspective, interdisciplinary approach.

To this end, the ESRC will fund an interdisciplinary ‘Network Plus’ as a first step to developing the capacity needed to sustain a substantive multidisciplinary and policy-orientated research programme. The network will include representatives from the policy community and the private sector, as well as academics from a range of disciplines. It will connect interdisciplinary research groups and networks from academia, policy and business; complement and collaborate with existing capacity and current research agendas (whether or not ESRC-funded); and develop an understanding of the current state of productivity research. It will promote methodological innovation and develop a series of small-scale studies. The Network Plus will also play a role in co-ordinating the ESRC’s data strategy for productivity, including by encouraging the exploitation of existing data resources and feeding into the development of new data infrastructure.

Maximum award: Not known

Closing date: 17 May 17

COMING SOON: Industrial CASE studentships

Medical Research Council, GB

*** This opportunity will be available soon. The next call is expected to open in April and close in July 2017. The following information is subject to change. These studentships aim to provide students with research training experience by facilitating collaborations with academic and non-academic partner organisations. ***

Driving innovation and collaborating with industry remains at the heart of MRC strategy and delivery plans.

Our industrial CASE (iCASE) PhD studentship scheme has for many years played a key role in this by helping develop partnerships and enabling students to benefit from a broad and unique training experience.

Given this previous success and the enormous potential that industry-academic collaboration has to offer for UK society and the economy, we wish to enhance the flexibility of the MRC iCASE studentship scheme.

Maximum award: Not known

Closing date: Not known

Find more funding opportunities

Search all the latest calls

If you are interested in submitting to any of the above calls you must contact your  RKEO Funding Development Officer with adequate notice before the deadline.

For more funding opportunities that are most relevant to you, you can set up your own personalised alerts on Research Professional. If you need help setting these up, just ask your School’s/Faculty’s Funding Development Officer in  RKEO or view the recent blog post here.

If thinking of applying, why not add notification of your interest on Research Professional’s record of the bid so that BU colleagues can see your intention to bid and contact you to collaborate.

Inaugural lecture: Secrets of storytelling in documentaries, movies, and games

Stories are all around us – in the books we read, games we play and films we watch. The best stories are those that draw us in, captivate us and make us empathise with the characters and their situations. But can you create a story that will thrill and engage your audience?

Professor Kerstin Stutterheim, Professor of Media & Cultural Studies at Bournemouth University, is an expert in dramaturgy – the study of the different elements that make up a story. As part of her inaugural lecture, Professor Stutterheim will share insights from her research and professional practice as a documentary film maker. She will explain how to tell a story that will interest, inform and excite your audience, illustrated with a wide range of examples from documentary film, and the games industry.

Professor Kerstin Stutterheim joined Bournemouth University in 2015, where she teaches a range of subjects, including film studies, directing of documentary and fiction films. She is currently involved in a research project exploring the cultural legacy of the Paralympics, as well as undertaking research into the storytelling of HBO hit TV show – Game of Thrones.

Bournemouth University’s inaugural lecture series aims to celebrate new professorial appointments and the depth and breadth of research produced by the university. For further information on the inaugural lecture series, please visit

About the event

To book your free ticket, click here.

Venue: Poole Lighthouse, 21 Kingland Road, BH15 1UG.

Date: Tuesday 9 May.

Time: 6:30pm for a 7pm lecture start.

Refreshments will be provided at the event.

For more information about the event, please contact Rachel Bowen at

BU Undergraduate Research highlighted in Parliament

Now in its fifth year, and for the fourth year running for BU, the Posters in Parliament exhibition has given MPs a window onto the innovative research undertaken by university undergraduates across the UK. The annual exhibition at Westminster is part of BCUR – the British Conference of Undergraduate Research– which BU is hosting this April, an open coalition of universities dedicated to encouraging a national culture of research at undergraduate level.

Staged this year by UCL, the exhibition showcased the work of 52 students from 27 universities, with BU undergraduates among them:

“The Posters in Parliament exhibition was a remarkable experience. It was technically a competition and there were some very worthy entries, but that was just a small part of the overall celebration and culmination of incredible research from a breadth of subjects. From music to science to media and back again, I was humbled to be a part of it” Jordan Ezra, in his final year of Digital Media Design (FMC).

“It was an amazing experience to stand alongside other passionate and inspiring students in the Houses of Parliament …I truly appreciate the support from all who attended but also those who approached me asking questions on my research. I am so happy and proud to attend and I am certainly looking forward to attending the BCUR in April”. Georgia Robertson, final year Events & Leisure Marketing student (FM).

The posters on display explored an impressive range of research topics, including eg everything from the relationship between short-term memory and inner speech, the impact of dieting on mortality in obese adults, the reasons for low participation in physical activity by older South Asians in the UK and the role of the West in the development of the Ukraine crisis.   Other uni’s attending included eg: Lancaster, London Met, LSE, Queen Mary, Teeside, UCL, Leeds, Reading, Sheffield, Sussex, Warwick, York etc.

Bournemouth’s own Conor Burns and Tobias Ellwood along with Hilary Benn (Leeds), Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) and Caroline Lucas (Brighton) were among the MPs who attended the event on Tuesday 14 March.  Each year prizes are awarded to the best posters. The judging panel is made up of leaders in the higher education and research sectors and this year consisted of, Naomi Saint, Universities Programme Manager at Parliament, Diana Beech, Higher Education Policy Institute, Professor Dilly Fung, UCL and Professor Stuart Hampton-Reeves, UCLan.

UCLan’s Professor Stuart Hampton-Reeves, Chair of the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) Steering Group, said: “The students whose posters are included here represent the next generation of innovators and academics. Their discoveries are already helping to further our understanding of the big challenges facing the world today.” Hilary Benn MP (Leeds) said: “Shut your eyes and listen to that buzz! It’s ideas, it’s determination and it’s cutting-edge research. This is the sound of the future. It’s fantastic that this event has taken place in Parliament today.”

The event was sponsored by Keir Starmer, MP for Holborn and St Pancras, Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, and Naomi Saint, Houses of Parliament Universities Programme Manager.

The 2017 British Conference of Undergraduate Research meets annually every Spring in a different British university to showcase research by undergraduates at all levels and in all disciplines. The 2017 Conference will be held in Bournemouth on 25-26 April and also comes out of BU’s hosting of SURE (Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence) conference first held in 2015.


The genetics of psychiatric disorders


It’s British Science Week 2017 and to celebrate we’re sharing some of our science research stories, to highlight some of the fantastic research taking place here at BU. Today we’re looking at how a team of BU researchers are uncovering the genetics of psychiatric disorders.

While it has long been recognised that genetics – alongside environmental factors – play a role in developing psychiatric disorders, the function of individual genes is still largely unknown. But an international, multi-disciplinary team led by Bournemouth University’s Dr Kevin McGhee is aiming to uncover just that – using fruit flies to isolate and examine the genes involved in the development of schizophrenia, with the hope of improving knowledge and treatments for the condition.

“In psychiatric genetics, a lot of time and money has been invested in large, genomewide studies to find the genes that are involved,” said Dr McGhee, a Senior Lecturer in Health Sciences at Bournemouth University (BU). “Now, we want to find out what the functions of those genes are. If you can do that, the ultimate impact is that you can then design better treatments.” Dr McGhee is the principal investigator of the year-long project, working alongside colleagues from the National University of Ireland, Galway and University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Students are also playing a part in the Bournemouth University funded project, with a number of dissertation students trained to carry out lab-based examinations of the fruit flies. They will isolate and switch off genes that human data has previously indicated play a role in schizophrenia, before examining the effect on the flies’ nerve cells at different life stages.

“If we can prove that it works and can be applied to human psychiatric genetics, then it helps create a cheap and easy functional model that is beneficial to everyone,” explained Dr McGhee. “I believe what we find out from these genetic studies will help infer what is going on biologically, and that will ultimately lead to better treatment.”

Another strand of the research will help kickstart the use of psychiatric genetic counselling in the UK. Genetic counselling – where patients and relatives are given advice and support around the probability of developing
an inherited disorder – has long been used to assess the risks around conditions like Down’s Syndrome and certain cancers.

A psychiatric genetic counselling workshop – the first of its kind – is being held by the research team. It will explore how best to translate the increasing knowledge about the genetics of psychiatric disorders into educational and counselling-based interventions to improve outcomes for patients and their families.

“Genetic counselling will probably expand over the next ten or 20 years and we want to put BU at the forefront, as a UK leader in the field,” said Dr McGhee, adding that the workshop has already attracted interest from around the world. “I think people having that education and training to be able to explain and support people through diagnosis will lead to better treatments and help reduce that sense of stigma and guilt around
psychiatric disorders.”

Open access publishing is another way in which Dr McGhee believes that the wider public can benefit and learn from research projects. “Impact is really important for research and open access really helps to achieve that – as anyone can see it, whether they are students, doctors, charities, policy makers, whoever,” he said. “I think, hopefully, another impact of this work will be to better show where we are with this research, which again goes back to open access – helping people to see that there are hundreds of markers and hundreds of genes and they each have a very small effect.

“Ultimately, we want to educate the  healthcare professionals, policy makers and eventually the public – the patients and families who suffer from psychiatric diseases –
so that they are better informed.”

Derks EM, Vorstman JA, Ripke S, Kahn RS; Schizophrenia Psychiatric Genomic Consortium, Ophoff RA., 2012. Investigation of the genetic association between quantitative measures of psychosis and schizophrenia: a polygenic risk score analysis. PLoS One

This article appeared in the 2015 Bournemouth Research Chronicle. Download a copy of the magazine, or view the articles online.

Dr McGee is currently working on the HEIF funded project Psychiatric Genetic Counselling . The project is looking at improving UK psychiatric services by expanding local and regional healthcare professionals’ understanding of the role genetics plays in mental illness. Through Psychiatric Genetic Counselling they’re looking at empowering mental health sufferers and their families.

Conserving wildlife and tropical habitats in Indonesia


It’s British Science Week 2017 and to celebrate we’re sharing some of our science research stories, to highlight some of the fantastic research taking place here at BU. Today we’re looking at the how researchers are working to conserve wildlife and tropical habitats in Indonesia.

In rainforests and tropical forests all across the world, deforestation, human activities and climate change are having a huge impact on both vulnerable eco-systems and the wildlife that depend on them for survival. For the last few years, researchers and students at Bournemouth University have been working in the remote forests of North Sumatra to find out what these changes mean on the ground.

LEAP (Landscape Ecology and Primatology) is led by Associate Professor Amanda Korstjens and Professor Ross Hill from BU’s Department of Life & Environmental Sciences (LES). They are supported by a number of postgraduate students.

In the tropical forests of northern Indonesia lies the Sikundur monitoring site, run by the Sumatran Orang-utan Conservation Programme (SOCP) which for several months of the year, is home to BU staff and students. From here, the team carry out research to understand changes in the forest and how this affects species such as orang-utans, siamangs, gibbons, Thomas’s langur monkeys and elephants.

Dr Amanda Korstjens explains the project: “It’s all about disturbances to the forest – both from humans and climate change – and how that affects the forest structure and carbon stock. We’re also exploring how different primates and elephants use the forest, depending on its structure and vegetation and how they respond to changes in their habitat.

“For example, if humans cut down hard wood trees, which are often the taller trees that siamangs, gibbons and Thomas’s langurs prefer for safe sleeping places, how does this affect their chances of survival? How does the extraction of mature fruiting trees affect primate densities? We’re looking at endangered primates that tend to live in very specific areas. They’re likely to be disproportionately affected by changes to their environment.”

Professor Ross Hill says: “We’re working in an amazing area of Indonesia, the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, which is the last place where you can still find Sumatran orang-utans, rhinos, elephants and tigers together. Changes to the environment and human activity, such as road building or the development of palm oil plantations, can have a huge effect on declining species.”

The project site is set up as a student learning platform, where PhD and Master’s research students spend several months carrying out their fieldwork. Some undergraduate students have had the opportunity to spend a short amount of time in the region, giving them an insight into future conservation careers. The elephant project has also included project work by three Indonesian Master’s students.

“It’s great for our undergraduates to get their first experiences of living and working in the tropics. It can be quite a daunting prospect to go alone, so travelling together as a group makes it much more manageable,” explains Dr Korstjens. “Our PhD students and postdoctoral researcher work on a variety of projects, using cutting edge technology including airborne laser scanning to assess the forest structure, as well as photography from drones.

“These data sets are very important as they enable us to see how the forest and vegetation are changing. One of the aims of our project is to find ways of gathering these data at a much lower cost, which is made easier by rapid changes in technology. As an example, we hope to be able to use photographic data from drones to measure carbon stocks rather than having to send people out into the forest to measure trees individually; the latter can be hugely expensive.”

These developments in technology are not only helping the advancement of science and research methods, but are also being used by local organisations in the area to monitor poachers and forest loss. Several now have their own drones, which enable them to keep watch over vast areas of forest and mean that eventually they may also be able to use the methods being developed by the LEAP team, especially by BU’s postdoctoral researcher Dr Cici Alexander as part of her European funded Marie SkŁodowska-Curie project.

The data gathered by Bournemouth University’s researchers is being fed back to local conservation organisations, such as the Leuser Conservation Forum (FKL), HAkA, and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme of the YEL-PanEco consortium, BKSDA, and activists, including Rudi Putra, and Dr Nursahara (from the University of North Sumatra) and Dr Abdullah (from the Syiah Kuala University in Aceh). They are then able to use the results to change the way that conservation takes place in the area. It’s an ideal partnership as research teams are able to contribute their knowledge, while local people are able to make a difference in practice.

“We provide them with the data they need to be able to properly and effectively protect the forest and the animals,” explains Dr Korstjens, “They are involved in the management of the site and of the parks. They talk to the government and other local organisations in a way that we simply wouldn’t be able to.

“As an example, we’ve shown that there is a link between primate densities and forest structure. Old growth forests are likely to have a higher proportion of gibbons and siamang. We are measuring differences in temperature at different heights in trees located in more open and more dense forests and will be linking this to the behaviour and movement of orang-utans, gibbons and siamangs.”

One of the PhD students involved in the study, Chris Marsh, has shown that temperatures can differ by up to 10oC between locations. An increase in temperature is particularly noticeable when trees have been cut down, as the remaining trees are more exposed and become hotter. By demonstrating the link between the two, the team hope that local organisations will be able to make a difference to conservation and logging practices.

For more information, visit the project website:

This story featured in the 2017 Bournemouth Research Chronicle, which can be read in full here.

Innovation in sport: breaking through the white-water

Shelley3-1100x500It’s British Science Week 2017 and to celebrate we’re sharing some of our science research stories, to highlight some of the fantastic research taking place here at BU. Today we’re looking how we’re breaking down the barriers in kayaking for women.Kayaking originated as a method of hunting on rough seas for Arctic Inuit tribes. It was later popularised in the UK by Scottish sportsman John MacGregor, known as Rob Roy, who wrote about his many voyages in a canoe more than 150 years ago, before his death in Bournemouth in 1892.The sport has, ever since, exhibited a more male-dominated history, with only 18% of UK kayakers being female in 2013, according to figures from Sport England.An early career researcher at BU is researching the design of kayaks, focussing on understanding how anthropometric enhancements, such as seating height within the craft, can affect the performance and paddling efficiency of white-water kayaks for women. Shelley Ellis, an academic and Lecturer in Biomechanics and Performance Analysis, became interested in the subject as she saw the challenges facing women in kayaking first-hand.

“My research looks specifically at kayak sitting height – it’s about trying to identify whether adapting sitting height in a white-water kayak can make our paddle strokes more efficient. It’s really borne out of my personal background as a kayaker and the challenges I’ve faced,” explains Shelley.

Having been around the kayaking community for some time, Shelley had heard many coaches suggest that seating height should be raised in order to improve performance, but discovered that there was no follow-up guidance about how much to raise the seat by. It tends to be based on trial and error, rather than taking into account an athlete’s height, body shape and size.

“Because historically kayaks have been predominantly designed with male participants in mind and we can’t change that or make the kayak different at this point in time, we have to make what we have more accessible to all users,” says Shelley, “We already know that by altering sitting height it will effect a chain of contact points within the kayak, however we don’t know how high it has to be to improve efficiency overall.”

Women tend to have a shorter torso length and shorter arms, which gives them a smaller lever to paddle the boat through water. If the sitting height is changed, then this means women have a different torso height, enabling them to have better leverage when paddling.

“My research is all about making sport, in this instance kayaking, more accessible to female participants. The number of women taking part in kayaking is considerably lower than men, although the female population in kayaking is growing much faster than males.

“It’s really about breaking down those barriers on the basis that equipment wasn’t originally designed for women – sport should be accessible for everyone and can be with our scientific knowledge. If we’re able to say that based on height and arm span, for example, we are able to calculate an altered seat height to enable a kayaker to be more efficient, this can help them to progress to the next level of their sport.

“If you look back to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, there are many names of female athletes that come to mind, from Jessica Ennis-Hill and Laura Trott to Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds, these now well-known names are helping to change perceptions of what is and isn’t achievable. But these successes didn’t happen by accident – alongside incredible athletes, a lot of science and research has taken place and this has also helped to understand how equipment should be setup for each athlete.

With these role models, even more people are likely to get involved in sport. As all of kayaking’s history has come from a male background, what we now need is for manufacturers to catch up to the fact that it is becoming more popular for women.

“We’re very lucky in the way that we think at BU – we’ve got a lot of academics here who feel that research is important but are also keen to make it relevant and useful. We want to make sure that our research will be used by people and through engaging people with that process, we can ensure that it has a further reach in the long run.

“I’m supported by a local kayaking business, South Coast Canoes, who give me access to participants and a place to share my research directly with the kayaking population in the form of workshops and talks. It really motivates me to solve this ‘challenge’ that female kayakers face as there are people telling me that this research is important, and that they need the answers to move forward in the sport.”

This story featured in the 2017 Bournemouth Research Chronicle, which can be read in full here.

14:Live Presents- Festival Fear of Missing Out (FoMO): What is it and how can you manage it?


Come along on Tuesday 21 March at 2-3pm on Floor 5, Student Centre on Talbot Campus for the March edition of 14:Live.

Spring is fast approaching and festival season is just around the corner. Over the next few months you will be subjected to intense marketing campaigns from festival promoters, such as Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, who will be telling you not to miss out on this year’s music festivals.

Many of your friends will be sharing their excitement about going to these festivals on social media. Social media has heightened the sensation that everyone but us appears to be having fun and many people have become more sensitive to FoMO appeals.

In this 14:Live, Dr Miguel Moital will discuss the psychology of ‘Fear of Missing Out’. What emotions come with FoMO? What marketing tricks are used to heighten FoMO? How can these emotions be managed?

With drinks and snacks provided, this will be a session you won’t want to miss!

All staff and students are welcome!

Inaugural lecture: Performing hip replacements in space

Digital screen

Established in 2015, Bournemouth University’s Orthopaedic Research Institute (BUORI) is at the forefront of developing virtual reality training and robots that will allow surgeons to perform hip replacements in this world and beyond.

As part of his inaugural lecture, Professor Robert Middleton, Head of BUORI, will share his research into developing virtual reality training for surgeons, which allows them to practice in the space in front of them – or even in space!

After the lecture, you’ll have the chance to see some of the state-of-the-art training equipment being used by BUORI and even try your hand at virtual surgery.

Professor Middleton joined Bournemouth University in 2015, while continuing to practise as a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and working as the Director of Trauma at Poole Hospital.  His extensive clinical experience helps to inform his research and the direction of Bournemouth University’s Orthopaedic Research Institute (BUORI).

Bournemouth University’s inaugural lecture series aims to celebrate new professorial appointments and the depth and breadth of research produced by the university.  For further information on the inaugural lecture series, please visit

About the event

To book your free ticket, click here.

Venue: Executive Business Centre, Holdenhurst Road.

Date: Wednesday 12 April.

Time: 6:30pm for a 7pm lecture start.

Refreshments will be provided at the event.

For more information about the event, please contact Rachel Bowen at

Busting three myths around elite sports performance

Image 20170309 21026 1pomdoe
Montserrat Alejandre/Shutterstock

Professor Tim Rees writes for The Conversation. For more information about writing for The Conversation, contact or

Creating high performance sportspeople is something like alchemy, and comes with the same baggage of half-thoughts, assumptions and quasi-quackery. But the research has moved on, and we can put to bed three powerful myths about building the ultimate athlete. The Conversation

The first of these myths is linked to the idea that “practice makes perfect”. This message has been passed down through generations as a fact and there is now much popular wisdom and misinformation, derived from a belief in a simplified number: 10,000 hours. But can it really be that easy? There is no question sportspeople must practice a lot to get to the top. But how much is enough? And can we all be world class with sufficient practice?

The 10,000 hours “rule” came out of work by a psychologist at Florida State University, Anders Ericsson. Popularised in books such as Bounce by Matthew Syed, and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, it has led to the belief that if you put in this amount of deliberate and focused practice you can reach elite levels of performance.

Blend Images/Shutterstock

Golden chance

But rather than needing 10,000 hours, there is now evidence that as few as 4,400 hours of deliberate practice may be sufficient to claim a gold medal in hockey, 4,500 hours to reach a top-tier European national football side, and just 4,000 hours to reach the highest levels in basketball and netball. Good news, then, for those with busy lives but a hankering for Olympic success.

Ericsson himself has emphasised that he did not intend a “rule” to be drawn from his research. He does though for the most part believe that practice is more important than genetics but would no doubt agree that to make it as a rower or basketball player, way above average height and limb length are a clear advantage.

And there is also intriguing evidence that genetics may more generally influence one’s suitability for endurance versus power events. Genetics may underpin key performance factors such as explosive strength, speed of movement, running speed, reaction time, flexibility and balance.

Therefore, although we can’t predict the world’s best athletes based on genetics, combinations of gene variants are likely to act in concert to influence the sport in which athletes are most likely to successfully compete. It is at that point that practice comes into play.

Developing a theme

The second myth is that you must be in a sport’s development programme from an early age to make it. Here I’d offer a cautionary tale to parents who feel pressured to drag their offspring all over the country to attend development squads, fearing this is the only route to the top.

The sporting landscape is littered with those who have relocated in pursuit of success never to fulfil their early promise, while at the same time halting opportunities for the development of other key attributes necessary for performance and life.

Although most world class sportspeople have been involved in athlete support programmes at some stage, the evidence suggests a very non-linear path to the top. There is frequent selection and de-selection from squads, rather than linear progression within athlete support programmes. But here’s the conundrum: while most talent identification systems use current junior performance as the main criterion for selection to a development programme, junior success does not reliably predict long-term senior success.

Prepare for hurdles.
Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

Longitudinal studies with large samples of athletes across numerous sports have shown that the younger the first recruitment to a support programme, the younger the exit from the programme, and the higher the level of senior success, the later the age of first recruitment on to programmes.

In other words, the world’s best performers are recruited to support programmes significantly later than their less able counterparts. It’s important to stress then that early athlete support programmes are not the sole route to the development of talent. And furthermore, the world’s best sportspeople tend not to have progressed exclusively within one sport, but have practised multiple sports during childhood and adolescence.

In fact, the probability of attaining the highest level in sport is likely enhanced by the coupling of a large volume of intensive, organised specific training in the main sport with appreciable amounts of organised training and competitions in other sports.

Role models

The third myth is the concept of the happy, successful, champion that we should admire. The world’s best athletes are extraordinary, and we rightly marvel at their prowess and bask in their glory. Holding them up as role models to create a sporting and physical activity legacy is laudable.

What pushes people to fight for the top step on the podium?
Aizzul A Majid/Shutterstock

But with 307 golds available at Rio 2016 for a world population of 7.4 billion, Olympic champions are, by definition, abnormal. In fact, there is now growing recognition that the intense resilience, determination, and will to win of the world’s best performers can be driven by something altogether different from happiness. The cartoon strip Dilbert facetiously observed: “I would think that a willingness to practice the same thing for 10,000 hours is a mental disorder.” At the very least, it takes a certain mindset to cope and flourish in the harsh world of elite sport.

In fact, there is emerging evidence that this deep-seated need to win at all costs may be driven by early developmental adversity and obstacles, which leave an indelible mark on the sportsperson. Thus, although this level of determination and commitment is something we might rightly be in awe of, to think we could or should emulate it is unrealistic, unnecessary, and potentially damaging.

The route to the top in sport isn’t as simple as accrued hours or neat pathways. It likely entails many ups and downs both within and outside sport. We should beware a tendency to over-simplify past success, and in doing so, leave the door open to a renewed appreciation for the myriad ways in which elite level can be reached.

Tim Rees, Professor in Sport, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Energy: developing reliable renewable energy sources


It’s British Science Week 2017 and to celebrate we’re sharing some of our science research stories, to highlight some of the fantastic research taking place here at BU. Today we’re looking at how BU researchers are working to develop reliable and renewable energy sources.

As the world’s population continues to grow, so does our consumption of natural resources. Many of these resources are non-renewable, so research into renewable sources of energy is vital. Research led by BU’s Professor Zulfiqar Khan is tackling this issue through reducing corrosion, improving heat transfer and fluid dynamics, and using nano coatings to enhance surface effiencies in renewable energy systems.

The European Union’s (EU’s) Renewable Energy Directive states that the EU should be producing 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020; a challenging target for any country. Professor Khan’s research is a direct response to this initiative and to the challenge of finding sustainable and renewable ways of meeting our future energy needs. His research is supported by a team of PhD students, many of whom are fully or part funded by industry and international HEI partners.

One of his major areas of focus is developing solar thermal technology, solar energy is available abundantly due to its nature. “Currently, we are very reliant on Solar Photovoltaic for our solar panels, but we do not have a large supply of the materials used, so using it won’t be sustainable over a long period,” explains Prof Khan. “I am developing means of using readily available and sustainable materials to be applied in flat plate solar thermal systems through a combination of thermofluids with nano additives and efficient thermal storage, which will help meet our future energy needs. I am also looking at ways to move away from standalone panels to integrating them within standard building practices.”

Professor Khan explains the different components in the system: “There are four parts to this system. One part focuses upon generating heat for colder climates, while within warmer climates it focuses on generating electricity. The third part of the project looks at thermo-fluids, with the aim of improving the efficiency of fluids within the solar energy system. The final part will be the integration of heat storage and recovery system from waste.”

At the moment Professor Khan and his team of PhD students and Post Docs are testing the system for generating electricity in warmer climates. Funding from industry has allowed Professor Khan and his team to set up labs in Poole, which include a scale model of the solar thermal system – an invaluable tool for testing. The first two phases of heat generation in cold climates and generating electricity in warmer climates have been successfully commissioned. The third and fourth phase of optimisation of thermo-fluids and heat storage are in progress.

The very nature of the programme and its complexity means that an interdisciplinary approach is vital. Professor Khan’s research combines materials sciences (nano coatings), mechanical engineering (heat transfer and thermodynamics), and electrochemistry (corrosion). “It is the combination of several subjects and disciplines which guarantees the delivery of objectives of this very challenging and exciting programme, which will put BU in particular and the UK in general on the international map as a leader in developing clean energy technologies,” says Professor Khan. “This is why we shouldn’t shy away from other disciplines as it can bring huge benefits and opportunities to research which will give it originality, significance and reach.”

The research and its interdisciplinary nature has the potential to make a significant difference to society as it presents a solution to one of the biggest challenges now facing us – how to meet our current and future energy needs. “I think we can learn to do without many things, but without energy, life as we know it would not be the same,” says Professor Khan. “With our current levels of consumption and the non-renewable sources we are using, our energy sources won’t last forever. If we look to the future, our energy reserves used at our current rates will last us perhaps another 50 – 60 years for oil and gas, and coal another 100 years. What are we going to do when that runs out?”

You can read Professor Khan’s most recent publication on Thermodynamic modelling and analysis of a solar organic Rankine cycle employing thermofluids here

You can find more of Professor Khan’s publications on his staff profile.

The team would like to thank UK and International industry as well as HEI partners for providing funding and resources to enable their research to take place.