Posts By / iralfe

Photo of the week

The photo of the week series is a weekly series featuring photos taken by our academics and students for our Research Photography Competition, which provides a snapshot of some of the incredible research undertaken across the BU community.

This week’s photo of the week, ‘Llamas at Rainbow Mountain, Peru’ is by Karen Thompson, a senior lecturer in Leadership, Strategy and Organisations, from the Faculty of Management. 

Global warming is believed to have melted the snow and ice revealing Rainbow Mountain or Vinicunca, in the Andes in the Cusco region of Peru.  In recent years around 500 villagers are reported to have moved back to their ancestral land to act as guides to tourists bringing in around $400,000 a year to compliment farming activity in the region.  At 5,100m above sea level, the altitude and weather that can be inhospitable make for a challenging hike and yet there are fears of environmental destruction by the large numbers of tourists.   

The delicate balance between planet, people and profit is a key driver for my research and is represented by setting for my photograph.  The curious llamas captured my heart and as a result I used a llama as the icon for curiosity – one of the eight principles I identified for the concept of Responsible Project Management.  I used this photo in the practitioners’ Guide to Responsible Project Management that was created with colleagues, students and professional practitioners using a social learning approach to research.

Photo of the week

The photo of the week series is a weekly series featuring photos taken by our academics and students for our Research Photography Competition, which provides a snapshot of some of the incredible research undertaken across the BU community.

This week’s photo of the week, ‘Digital Virtual, the Liminoid Space,’ is by Nurist Ulfa, who came second in this years research photography competition and is a PGR student in the faculty of Media and Communications.

Digital virtual space (Shields 2003) is a ‘liminoid’ zone (Turner 1982), the locale mediated by technology that combine aspects of materiality and imagination. This space is characterised by the removal of physical boundaries and the interwoven sociocultural norms, codes and rules, and thus offer freedom for individual to carry out various practices, adopt different subject positions and actualise fantasises and daydreams beyond what is possible in the materially real (Denegri-Knott and Molesworth 2010; 2012). In the context of Jilbab girl, the digital virtual space in video games has enabled them to move away from the physical, social, cultural and religious contexts of everyday life, facilitating experimentations of practices that are inconsistent with their Islamic beliefs, including wearing non-veiled fashions, consuming non-halal foods, performing excessive shopping and practicing non-Muslim lifestyles, including dating and flirting, etc.

Photo of the week

The photo of the week series is a weekly series featuring photos taken by our academics and students for our Research Photography Competition, which provides a snapshot of some of the incredible research undertaken across the BU community.

 

This week’s photo of the week, ‘A quiet moment at my local, but I can’t relax. How am I going to find the dream placement?’ is by Vianna Renaud, a placement development advisor and postgraduate researcher from the faculty of media and communications.

Each year second year university students prepare for their sandwich placement search. Whilst a variety of both academic and support staff promote employability activities to help students gain a better idea of what is out there, student engagement can be quite low. Given the success of peer assisted learning initiatives across the HE sector, I am researching the potential impact of an employability coaching and mentoring programme on both first year and final year students.

Photo of the week

The photo of the week series is a weekly series featuring photos taken by our academics and students for our Research Photography Competition, which provides a snapshot of some of the incredible research undertaken across the BU community.

This week’s photo of the week, ‘Post-feeding Blood pattern comprised of the artefacts of the blowfly Calliphora vicina enhanced with Bluestar,’ is by the winner of this years Research Photography Competition, Christopher Dwen, a TTO Demonstrator In Forensic Science.

Blowflies have a high affinity for some bodily fluids such as blood, semen and saliva when other food sources are absent. For this reason, they are frequently found at crime scenes if they have access through open doors or windows.

Because some foods are difficult for a fly to breakdown in their pure forms, it first uses the proboscis (mouth parts) to draw it up, which it then mixes with digestive enzymes to break it down. This food is then expelled, again via the proboscis, and returned to at a later time when it is more easily consumed. Often, this type of feeding behaviour will leave ‘spotting’ stains on a surface as the fly dabs a surface with the proboscis following ‘bubbling’, which involves the fly repeatedly expelling and reabsorbing a bubble of regurgitated liquid (in this case, blood) from its proboscis.

The attached image is of a bloodstain pattern created entirely by just five blowflies (Calliphora vicina), and then enhanced with Bluestar® Forensic latent bloodstains reagent. A petri dish of horse blood in the centre of the pattern was the food source, and the resulting pattern shows the density and distribution on deposited fly artefacts in relation to that source.

How prehistoric people faced climate change revealed by video game technology

Esteban De Armas/Shutterstock

Peter Allen, Bournemouth University and John Stewart, Bournemouth University

How will climate change remake our world in the 21st century? Will we be able to adapt and survive? As with many things, the past is a good guide for the future. Humans have experienced climate changes in the past that have transformed their environment – studying their response could tell us something about our own fate.

Human populations and cultures died out and were replaced throughout Eurasia during the last 500,000 years. How and why one prehistoric population displaced another is unclear, but these ancient people were exposed to climate changes that changed their natural environment in turn.

How habitats in prehistoric Eurasia would have looked (a) during a period of relative warmth, and (b) during period of relative cooling ‘T.’ = Temperate.
Allen et al. (2019), Author provided

We looked at the region around Lyon, France, and imagined how Stone Age hunter gatherers 30,000-50,000 years ago would have fared as the world around them changed. Here, as elsewhere in Eurasia during colder periods, the environment would have shifted towards tundra-like vegetation – vast, open habitats that may have been best suited for running down prey while hunting. When the climate warmed for a few centuries, trees would have spread – creating dense woods which favour hunting methods involving ambush.

How these changes affected a population’s hunting behaviour could have decided whether they prospered, were forced to migrate, or even died out. The ability of hunter gatherers to detect prey at different distances and in different environments would have decided who dominated and who was displaced.




Read more:
Humans are not off the hook for extinctions of large herbivores – then or now


Short of building a time machine, finding out how prehistoric people responded to climate change could only be possible by recreating their worlds as virtual environments. Here, researchers could control the mix and density of vegetation and enlist modern humans to explore them and see how they fared finding prey.

Surviving in the virtual Stone Age

We designed a video game environment and asked volunteers to find red deer in it. The world they explored changed to scrub and grassland as the climate cooled and thick forest as it warmed.

The participants could spot red deer at a greater distance in grassland than in woodland, when the density of vegetation was the same. As vegetation grew thicker they struggled to detect prey at greater distances in both environments, but more so in woodland. Prehistoric people would have faced similar struggles as the climate warmed, but there’s an interesting pattern that tells us something about human responses to change.

As the climate warmed and wooded environments spread, finding prey became increasingly difficult.

Creeping environmental change didn’t affect deer spotting performance in the experiment until a certain threshold of forest had given way to grassland, or vice-versa. Suddenly, after the landscape was more than 30% forested, participants were significantly less able to spot deer at greater distances. As an open environment became more wooded, this could have been the tipping point at which running down prey became a less viable strategy, and hunters had to switch to ambush.

This is likely the critical moment at which ancient populations were forced to change their hunting habits, relocate to areas more favourable for their existing techniques, or face local extinction. As the modern climate warms and ecosystems change, our own survival could become threatened by these sudden tipping points.

The effects of climate change on human populations may not be intuitive. Our lifestyles may seem to continue working just fine up until a certain point. But that moment of crisis, when it does arrive, will often dictate the outcome – adapt, move or die.


Click here to subscribe to our climate action newsletter. Climate change is inevitable. Our response to it isn’t.The Conversation

Peter Allen, PhD Researcher in Human Evolution, Bournemouth University and John Stewart, Associate Professor of Evolutionary Palaeoecology, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

A day in the life of a PGR with Chloe Casey

Chloe Casey is a first year PhD student from the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences who is researching the mental wellbeing of postgraduate researchers (PGRs). Research suggests that the prevalence of poor mental health is higher in PGRs than in other student populations or the highly educated general public, yet few researchers have implemented interventions to promote wellbeing in doctoral students. We follow Chloe as she attends her first academic conference in Brighton: The UK Council of Graduate Education’s first annual conference on the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Postgraduate Researchers, where she presented with her supervisor, Dr Steve Trenoweth.

Day 1

05.59

En route to Brighton from Bournemouth on the earliest train I have ever boarded. I thought I would do some work to distract myself from worrying about the presentation, whether I’ve chosen the right outfit or if people will think I’m smart enough to be there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11.57

I don’t know what I was panicking about, everyone from professors to other PGRs were really open and willing to learn from each other.  Apart from my initial worry: ‘is everyone in the world researching the same topic as me?!’ I realised that although there were consistent themes we all seem to be approaching the issue using different methods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13.52

A conference highlight for me was listening to John de Pury from Universities UK discuss their wellbeing strategies through the PGR lens. There was a real sense that the HEI sector and policy makers are starting to take note that PGRs aren’t the same as other students and need support tailored to their needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14.39

The break-away sessions were a great opportunity to network with other researchers and HEI professionals in smaller groups. As a PGR myself, my favourite session was ‘Fail again, fail better’, celebrating failure as a wellbeing intervention for doctoral students. Research is a rollercoaster, it’s exploratory, frustrating and rewarding. We should honestly share our ups and downs with others, not to normalize struggle, but engage with failure as a positive, learning process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21.08

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2

10.21

I loved the use of a life grid in a research project from the University of Lincoln; it visually showed the highs and lows of doctoral study and what we all experience as PGRs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14.15

Our presentation of Steve’s study results was well received and I heard some really useful feedback about my research proposal. Dr Gill Houston from UKCGE chaired our session and said we should come back to present the results of my research in 2020. I’m so glad my supervisor provided me with the opportunity to practice presenting and to promote my own research. I’ve had the chance to exchange ideas and build relationships with some great contacts.

17.21

I’m so glad I took the time out of studying to attend the conference, the experience was invaluable. It’s reassuring to know as a researcher that you are working in an exciting, up-and-coming topic area, but also as a doctoral student to hear the collaborative efforts of the HEI sector, policy makers and researchers to promote wellbeing and encourage a positive postgraduate research experience.

Photo of the week

The photo of the week series is a weekly series featuring photos taken by our academics and students for our Research Photography Competition, which provides a snapshot of some of the incredible research undertaken across the BU community.

This week’s photo of the week, ‘Diana painting trees of life in her family shop,’ is by Paola Vizcaino, a lecturer in Events Management.

The picture is part of my personal collection from the ethnographic research I conducted for my PhD in Tourism Studies (2013-2016). I investigated women’s processes of empowerment in relation to their work as producers and vendors of handicraft pottery catered to the tourist market in central Mexico.

Diana was one of the research participants who shared her story with me:

“Ah, a nivel personal, a mí me encanta. Nos cambió a todos, nos cambió la vida porque, vamos, el hacer artesanías nos abre otro mundo ¿no? Aparte de que de esto vivimos, nos adentró en un mundo muy especial. Yo creo que el conocer a mucha gente de todos los tipos y clases sociales, yo creo que el trabajo de uno habla por sí solo, pero sí nos cambió la vida… Me encanta mi trabajo.”

Translation:

Ah, on a personal level, I love it. It changed us all, it changed our lives because, come on, making handicraft pottery opens another world, right? Apart from the fact that we make a living out of this, we entered into a very special world. I think that knowing a lot of people of all types and social classes, I believe that one’s work speaks for itself, but it did change our lives … I love my work.

Photo of the week

The photo of the week series is a weekly series featuring photos taken by our academics and students for our Research Photography Competition, which provides a snapshot of some of the incredible research undertaken across the BU community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week’s photo of the week, ‘Happy Place,’ is by Chloe Casey, a PGR student from the faculty of Health and Social Sciences.

This photograph represents my ‘happy place’ where I escape my all-consuming doctoral research. The PhD experience is said to be difficult, autonomous and characterised by high workloads and pressure, so it is important that postgraduate researchers are encouraged to prioritise their own well-being throughout the journey. There has been much interest in the mental health of undergraduate students but there is limited research exploring factors underpinning the mental well-being of postgraduate research students specifically. However, preliminary results suggest a high risk of stress, anxiety and burnout in this population. It is documented that the organisational stressors that doctoral students experience can impact academic performance and attrition, but these require further exploration. Postgraduate researchers are often part of wider research teams and their output provides scientific advancement, societal and institutional benefits therefore programme attrition can pose significant personal and financial costs. Our research is concerned with exploring and understanding the promotion of well-being in doctoral students and developing methods to promote their mental health and resilience so they are best supported to thrive academically, achieve their personal goals and successfully complete their planned research.

Photo of the week

The photo of the week series is a weekly series featuring photos taken by our academics and students for our Research Photography Competition, which provides a snapshot of some of the incredible research undertaken across the BU community.

 

This week’s photo of the week, ‘Peeping Capuchin,’ is by Aaron Hart, an Ecology and Wildlife conservation student from the faculty of Science and Technology.

Going on the international field trip to Costa Rica as part of my course (Ecology & Wildlife Conservation) was truly inspiring. I found myself immersed in the whole experience, surrounded by an abundance of wildlife of which I took a keen interest to the white-faced Capuchin monkeys that roamed within the forests on Montezuma. Their behaviours and relationship with the local residents  fascinated me and I left wanting to study them further.

This led me to want to base my dissertation on them looking at observed differences found in behaviour between the wild and captive populations and how enrichment techniques can reduce stereotypical behaviour and preserve natural behaviours, essential for successful reintroduction’s. This involves working closely with local zoo’s and implementing a variety of enrichment techniques to test their effectiveness against stereotypical behaviour and then possibly going back to Costa Rica to volunteer in a monkey sanctuary of which I can observe natural behaviours in my time off. This also provides an opportunity to investigate further into the relationship between monkey and man and if their change of relationship over the years has led to a change in natural behaviours.

Why Huawei security concerns cannot be removed from US-China relations

File 20190509 183080 14q9co.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
astudio / Shutterstock.com

Sascha-Dominik Dov Bachmann, Bournemouth University and Anthony Paphiti, Bournemouth University

Huawei’s role in building new 5G networks has become one of the most controversial topics in current international relations. The US is exercising direct diplomatic pressure to stop states from using the Chinese telecoms giant. The US government regards Huawei as a clear and present danger to national security and argues that any ally opting for Huawei will compromise vital intelligence sharing among these countries in the future.

So far Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Japan have heeded the US call to ban Huawei. The UK, however, is still considering using Huawei to build non-core elements of its new internet infrastructure. Differences over the matter within the UK government recently led to the sacking of defence secretary, Gavin Williamson.

When assessing the risks of having Huawei involved in building 5G infrastructure, it’s important to consider not just the security risk from Huawei, but also the wider context of international relations. It’s important to first recognise that China is a major cyber-power.

The Chinese government has been using cyber-operations since at least 2006 for strategic and military gains. Tracing the origins of hacks is difficult but China is accused of a number of hacks on government departments in the US and around the world.

Military operations aside, US politicians say Chinese cyber-enabled espionage directed at the US economy has resulted in an estimated loss of US$300 billion a year in intellectual property theft.

Risky business

Additional risks come from China’s increasing military cooperation with Russia, NATO’s main rival. And also that China seems keen to supplement its Belt and Road Initiative of global trade dominance with dominance in cyberspace. Huawei offers highly competitive pricing that could drive out rivals and this potential monopoly could be costly in the long run for countries that rely too heavily on it.

It is in the context of China’s growing cyber-power that Huawei is seen as a risky business partner when it comes to developing critical infrastructure, such as a new 5G network. Huawei may insist that it is an independent company that does not have ties to the Chinese government, but this is not how it looks to Western powers. According to the CIA, Huawei has received funding from both the Chinese army and Chinese state intelligence. Plus, it does not help that Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei was once an engineer in the Chinese army and that the company’s ownership lies with a “trade union committee” that is appointed by the state.

Then there’s China’s National Intelligence Law of 2017, which requires Chinese companies “to provide necessary support, assistance and cooperation” with national intelligence work, if called upon. So Huawei’s assurances that it will not hand over customer data to the government are difficult to trust. All the more so given China’s track record of using private actors for the purposes of spying.

Backdoors and vulnerabilities

If a country’s 5G network is compromised, this could open it up to a number of risks. First, there’s simply access to information that is transmitted across the network. More worryingly, the “internet of things” will be built on 5G. Everyday devices will all be connected – from driverless cars to smart fridges, speakers and traffic signals.

This opens the possibility for a determined actor (whether state or non-state) to control these important processes. A cyber-attack via 5G infrastructure could lead to significant damage to property and even loss of life, and would amount to an armed attack under international law.

The internet of things opens up a number of cyber-risks.
Shutterstock

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has a dedicated Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre. Its 2019 report found no evidence of Chinese state interference or the deliberate introduction of “backdoors” that could be used to siphon off information. But it does criticise Huawei’s technology for being generally vulnerable to attack. The potential risks, however, apply to any equipment vendor that the UK may choose to use instead of Huawei.

In light of the current US government’s tough stance on China, in terms of trade and security, it is fair to ask if the present US warnings have more to do with denying market access to a strong competitor than security concerns? If so, the UK may have to decide whether it values its relations with the US or China more. As well as the security risks that Huawei may pose, the UK must consider the importance of maintaining its information sharing arrangement with the US and the other “Five Eyes” countries, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The trust issue will always remain with Huawei because of its proximity to the Chinese government. But, after the UK’s top spies said Huawei could be “managed” in terms of potential security risks, the main risk at the moment seems to be diplomatic. Namely, repercussions with Washington and the potential backlash regarding a post-Brexit trade deal and suspension of intelligence sharing. With China potentially becoming a global adversary to the West as a whole (not just the US), the UK should bear in mind which side it is choosing when deciding who builds its 5G infrastructure.The Conversation

Sascha-Dominik Dov Bachmann, Associate Professor in International Law (BU) and (extraordinary) Reader in War Studies (SEDU), Bournemouth University and Anthony Paphiti, Visiting Research Fellow in Conflict, Rule of Law and Society, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Photo of the week

Our Photo of the Week series has returned and we’re kicking things off with Dr Anya Chapman.

The weekly series features photos taken by our academics and students for our Research Photography Competition, which provides a snapshot of some of the incredible research undertaken across the BU community.

This week’s photo of the week, ‘Pier Watch Day,’ is by Dr Anya Chapman, a senior lecturer in tourism management.

In October 2017 Blackpool’s three piers were awarded ‘Watch Status’ by international conservation organisation The World Monuments Fund. Research conducted by Anya Chapman into pier regeneration and the challenges of climate change faced by seaside piers underpinned Blackpool Council’s bid for the piers’ addition to the Watch List.

Anya was involved in the organisation of the ‘Big Pier Watch Day’ event which took place in June 2018 on Blackpool’s North Pier to raise awareness of the pier’s history and seaside heritage. The photograph was taken at the start of the day before 6000 people visited the pier to participate in guided tours, rides on the Victorian carousel, viewed the exhibition on pier development and design, and tried their luck at the traditional coconut shy.

Blackpool is the only place in the world with three seaside piers and in 2019, as part of the Watch Status, the resort will host ‘Sea Change’ an international conference on seaside heritage and climate change in conjunction with Bournemouth University.​

We are looking forward to hearing Anya present her work at tonight’s Cafe Scientifique at Cafe Boscanova in Boscombe. More information regarding the talk, ‘Pier review: what does the future hold for British seaside piers’ can be found here: https://research.bournemouth.ac.uk/cafe-scientifique/

#TalkBU with Rick Stafford

We will be joined by Professor Rick Stafford at Mays #TalkBU session, who will be discussing tackling environmental breakdown and climate change!

David Attenborough’s recent climate change documentary and Extinction Rebellion’s protests in London have brought home the message of climate change in recent weeks. Add to this biodiversity loss, land use change, deforestation and unsustainable food production, and it is clear we are facing Environmental Breakdown. Government and corporation responses have so far been poor, and are often token gestures such as eliminating plastic straws, which scientific evidence shows to be ‘relatively’ harmless. There is a lack of willingness from the rich and powerful in society to accept what Gretta Thunberg calls ‘System Change’, and Guardian Journalist George Monbiot has recently called for an end to Capitalism.

The key question is, what does a changed system look like?

In this session Rick Stafford will present some key policies for discussion, which will address the underlying and fundamental causes of environmental breakdown as well as provide a fairer and more equitable society. System change can provide benefits to the majority of the population, and certainly isn’t as scary as the alternative of business as usual.

The final session of 2019 is being held in FG04, 12-1pm on the 16th May, with lunch provided! You can register for free tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/talkbu-with-rick-stafford-tickets-61146492806

HEIF-6: funding now available for innovative KE projects

Research England provide Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) to universities to facilitate a broad range of knowledge-based interactions between them and the wider world, which result in economic and social benefit to the UK. The current round of funding is referred to as HEIF-6 and runs from August 2017 to July 2022.

An internal call is now open for applications from BU colleagues who wish to develop innovative projects. Funding will be awarded to those applications that clearly demonstrate how new/existing collaborations will be developed and how societal/economic impact will be achieved. Interdisciplinary and/or cross-Faculty/PS proposals are encouraged, as are proposals with international collaborators.

We anticipate making awards of £25k-100k per project per year. Projects should be between one and three years in duration and must align to one of BU’s HEIF-6 themes:

  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Health (focusing on digital health and e-health)
  • Digital and creative

Colleagues wishing to apply should read BU’s HEIF-6 strategy and the HEIF-6 FAQs before completing the HEIF-6 application form. These documents can be found on the i-drive (I:\RDS\Public\HEIF 6). Applications must be supported by the Project Lead’s Faculty and signed by the relevant Deputy Dean (Research and Professional Practice). Any queries should be sent to Ehren Milner (emilner@bournemouth.ac.uk) in the first instance.

The panel will ensure the consistency, quality, robustness and inclusiveness of the funding allocation process by adhering to BU2025 Research Development Principles

Completed applications should be sent to (HEIF@bournemouth.ac.uk) by midnight on
11th June 2019.

We aim to confirm the outcomes by mid-August.

BU undergraduates showcase their research in South Wales, at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research 2019.

Following the success of SURE 2019 at BU on the 20th March, over 16 undergraduate students across all faculties were offered the support to showcase their research at BCUR 2019.

Presentation topics ranged from implications of Augmented Reality (AR) as location-based technology for a mixing tool in music production, to merits of the Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) programme on diverse backgrounds, to concepts of brand personification and shared values as antecedents of customer engagement in brand research on Jimmy’s Iced Coffee.

George Caton-Coult, an FMC student studying BA (Hons) for scriptwriting and television was one of the funded students attending and presenting at the conference and presented ‘Theorising a relationship between soundtrack and antihero engagement in Peaky Blinders.’ He said; ‘Really great 2 days, really great to come somewhere there are so many ideas and presentations s very good for presentation skills, for your future career, everything. If you are passionate about your work and have a desire to share it anyway, even if you are the kind of person that doesn’t talk a lot, it’s completely worth doing.  SURE in particular really helped me prepare for BCUR, it worked really nicely as a kind of way to build up to this.  The SURE conference was great for that.  I would advise anyone who is passionate about their work and know they’ve done good work to push the boat out and give this a try, it’s been really great’

Daisy Woodall, an Events Management student presented on Internal political efficiency as a motive for mobile millennials to attend people’s vote and The Independent’s March for the Future. She said ‘If not for anything else, it is something you should do even if it just for getting an in depth understanding of what you are researching and practicing your presentation skills, that alone is really good.  And after that, networking, meeting other people and you never know who you are going to meet and what they are going to think about your work and you might get more insights that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought about’

Matthew Dray, a Computing student from the faculty of Science and Technology presented his work on Efficient and scalable landslide monitoring via internet of things and data analytics. ‘It’s a great opportunity to hone professional skills, seeing other people and how they present their research and take that away with you, and learn and adapt from that as well.’

The involvement of BU undergraduate research at the national BCUR event along with a presence at their annual precursor event, Posters in Parliament, has been possible with key support and involvement from CEL and key contributors across all faculties.  It is an opportunity for students to engage with the research process and make real world connections to the impact of their work.  For future opportunities in these initiatives, contact Mary Beth Gouthro mgouthro@bournemouth.ac.uk or Fiona Cownie fcownie@bournemouth.ac.uk.

‘Climate Change – The Facts’: the BBC and David Attenborough should talk about solutions

Rick Stafford, Bournemouth University and Peter JS Jones, UCL

Guardian journalist George Monbiot wrote a damning critique of the BBC and Sir David Attenborough’s wildlife documentaries in late 2018, arguing that they do little to illustrate the huge environmental issues faced by the natural world.

Since then, Attenborough has adopted a much stronger position. He spoke at both the UN Climate Summit and the World Economic Forum in Davos, and used his platform to highlight the threats of climate change.

Embarking on a new collaboration, Attenborough and the BBC are set to confirm their position in a one-off documentary entitled Climate Change – The Facts, airing on April 18. The 90-minute film will explain the effects that climate change has already had and the disasters it might cause in future.

Although it’s crucial to raise awareness among the public about the impacts and threats of climate change, it’s equally important to explain how to fight it. That’s something the BBC has been more quiet about.

Solutions to climate change

The recent series Blue Planet Live featured a segment on the Great Barrier Reef in which it stated that coral bleaching is the result of climate change. That places the BBC in line with the scientific consensus. The same episode later described the “heroic research” effort that is needed to save the world’s reefs from coral bleaching, and covered the capture and transfer of coral spawn to a new location.

However, science has already given the solutions to address this problem. Recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Institute for Public Policy Research and some of our own research all clearly indicate that tackling climate change and other environmental issues – including biodiversity loss, soil erosion and even ocean plastic pollution – requires major changes to society.

We need to revise our economic system and its dependence on growth to prevent the unnecessary consumption of the world’s resources. As the youth climate strikes leader, the 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, clearly puts it, we need “system change, not climate change”.

In an era when schoolchildren are striking for climate action and radical proposals for climate action are entering the political mainstream, the BBC’s timidity towards even discussing solutions seems odd.

Covering these arguments is political but goes way beyond party politics and certainly wouldn’t breach impartiality guidelines. Audiences might understand that this isn’t as interesting as coral spawning being captured during a lightning storm, as was shown on Blue Planet Live. But if the BBC don’t address the solutions to climate change, then how can there be an educated public which understands that saving the planet requires more than individual gestures like carrying a reusable coffee cup?

There’s no doubt that Attenborough’s BBC documentaries have inspired millions of people around the world to take environmental issues seriously. His programmes have encouraged many of our students to undertake degrees in environmental sciences.

Their insights into the natural world can present a sense of environmental optimism that promotes action. But failing to address the political and economic solutions necessary to stop climate change means the BBC could fail to respect its own values in education and citizenship. With their new documentary, Attenborough and the BBC should challenge our current economic system – only then can they fulfil their duty to inform the public with accuracy and impartiality.

Click here to subscribe to our climate action newsletter. Climate change is inevitable. Our response to it isn’t.The Conversation

Rick Stafford, Professor of Marine Biology and Conservation, Bournemouth University and Peter JS Jones, Reader in Environmental Governance, UCL

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

There’s a massive cyber security job gap – we should fill it by employing hackers

File 20190404 123395 155dk1m.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com

John McAlaney, Bournemouth University and Helen Thackray, University of Portsmouth

Cyber security incidents are gaining an increasingly high profile. In the past, these incidents may have been perceived primarily as a somewhat distant issue for organisations such as banks to deal with. But recent attacks such as the 2017 Wannacry incident, in which a cyber attack disabled the IT systems of many organisations including the NHS, demonstrates the real-life consequences that cyber attacks can have.

These attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, using psychological manipulation as well as technology. Examples of this include phishing emails, some of which can be extremely convincing and credible. Such phishing emails have led to cyber security breaches at even the largest of technology companies, including Facebook and Google.

To face these challenges, society needs cyber security professionals who can protect systems and mitigate damage. Yet the demand for qualified cyber security practitioners has quickly outpaced the supply, with three million unfilled cyber security posts worldwide.

So it might come as a surprise that there is already an active population with a strong passion for cyber security – hackers. This is a term with many negative connotations. It evokes the stereotypical image of a teenage boy sat in a dark room, typing furiously as green text flies past on the computer monitor, often with the assumption that some criminal activity is taking place. The idea of including such individuals in helping build and protect cyber systems may seem counter intuitive.

But – as we have highlighted in our recent research – the reality of hacking communities is more complex and nuanced than the stereotypes would suggest. Even the phrase “hacker” is contentious for many individuals who may be labelled hackers. This is because it has lost the original meaning: of someone who uses technology to solve a problem in an innovative manner.

Researching cyber security.
Bournemouth University, Author provided

Hacking today

There are a growing number of online hacking communities – and regular offline meetings and conventions where hackers meet in person. One of the largest of these events is DEFCON, held every year in Las Vegas and attended by up to 20,000 people. These hacking communities and events are an important source of information for young people who are becoming involved in hacking, and may be the first contact they have with other hackers.

On the surface, the conversations that are held on these forums often relate to sharing information. People seek advice on how to overcome different technical barriers in the hacking process. Assistance is given to those who are having difficulties – provided that they firstly demonstrate a willingness to learn. This reflects one of the characteristics of hacking communities, in that there is a culture of individuals demonstrating passion and the desire to overcome barriers.

But such events are about more than sharing practical skills. As individuals, we are strongly influenced by those around us, often to a greater agree that we are aware of. This is especially the case when we are in a new environment and unsure of the social norms of the group. As such, these online and offline hacking communities also provide an important source of social identity to individuals. They learn what is and what is not acceptable behaviour, including the ethics and legality of hacking.

Technological approaches alone cannot prevent cyber attacks.
Bournemouth University, Author provided

Myths and opportunities

It is important to stress here that hacking is not an inherently illegal activity. There are many opportunities to engage in ethical hacking, which refers to attempting to hack systems for the purpose of finding and fixing the flaws that malicious hackers may try to exploit for criminal activity.

Our research demonstrates that the majority of people active within hacking communities have no wish to exploit the flaws they find although they do believe that such flaws should be exposed so that they can be addressed – especially when the organisation concerned is holding public data and have sufficient resources that it is reasonable to feel they should not have any gaps in their cyber security in the first place. Several large and well-known companies actively engage with this culture, by offering hackers “bug bounties” – financial rewards for identifying and reporting previously undiscovered weaknesses in their systems.

Of course criminal hacking does happen – and many of the people we have spoken to acknowledge that they take part in activities that are of questionable legality in order to achieve their goal of finding the flaws in a system. This creates a risk for those people, especially young adults, who are becoming involved in hacking. Through ignorance or through being wilfully misled, they may become involved in activities that result in them gaining a criminal record.

If so, this impacts not only them as an individual but also the cyber security profession. As a result of this culture, many companies are being deprived of individuals who could have helped fill the increasingly urgent gap in cyber security professionals. To address both of these problems, we need to move past unhelpful and negative stereotypes and work with young people and hacking communities to provide an awareness of how their passion and skills can be used to address the cyber security challenges that society faces.The Conversation

John McAlaney, Associate Professor in Psychology, Bournemouth University and Helen Thackray, Senior Research Associate, University of Portsmouth

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

BU team developing new treatment for high blood pressure during pregnancy – volunteers needed

In the UK 12-15% of pregnancies are complicated by high blood pressure. Specifically, pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) is high blood pressure that is diagnosed during the pregnancy and was not present before. Women with PIH normally return to having normal blood pressure within a few weeks of giving birth but during the pregnancy high blood pressure can cause many problems with women often having to spend extra time in hospital and having to be induced to give birth preterm.

 Researchers at BU are addressing this issue by seeking to design a new alternative drug-free treatment for high blood pressure. Slow and deep breathing has been shown to reduce blood pressure chronically when practiced daily over a period of 6-8 weeks in non-pregnant people who have high blood pressure. The Brythm App, using a graphic designed by a BU Student Research Assistant, uses bio-feedback to dynamically reduce the user’s breathing frequency to a personalised optimum. However, despite the research showing chronic adaptations from slow and deep breathing very little is known about the acute responses to slow and deep breathing. Therefore, the BU project started by characterising the short-term physiological effects of slow and deep breathing with women of childbearing age.

 With assistance from BU staff and student members, the first testing phase of the BU Brythm App was completed last year. The results show that there is an immediate physiological response in heart rate and blood pressure during just 5 minutes of slow and deep breathing. Specifically, this study allowed us to move forward in identifying the optimal breathing frequency which we believe can maximise the cardiovascular responses. Participants who took part last year will be pleased to know that future participants no longer need to undertake the inspiratory resistance protocol, where participants breathed through a Powerbreathe medic, as this was found not to elicit any additional benefit compared with the other slow and deep breathing protocols.

The second testing phase for Brythm, as part of my PhD project, is to examine the short-term responses to slow and deep breathing within a pregnant population. This study will predominantly replicate the first study protocol to investigate whether the physiological changes caused by pregnancy influence the responses to slow and deep breathing. The aim of this study is to identify the optimal breathing frequency that will be used in the final study of my PhD. The final study will be an interventional study with pregnant women who have high blood pressure. They will use the Brythm App at home on their own devices for 10 minutes every day for a period of 8 weeks.

The current study will investigate the physiological responses to multiple breathing frequencies; 4, 6 and 8 breaths per minute, and a dynamic breathing frequency controlled by an in-built algorithm. This may seem a low breathing frequency but your body compensates automatically by taking deeper breaths, and some participants feel so relaxed during the protocols they often nearly fall asleep. These protocols will be compared to spontaneous normal breathing and each protocol will be 5 minutes in duration. Heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored continuously to find the optimal breathing frequency for pregnant women, which maximises the physiological responses. Participation involves a one off session which takes place at the Lansdowne Campus and lasts for approximately 90 minutes. Participants will receive a £20 Amazon voucher as a thank you for their time.

 If you would like to participate, or know anyone who is currently pregnant who may want to take part, then please read the following inclusion and exclusion criteria and contact Malika Felton (mfelton@bournemouth.ac.uk & 01202 961845). More information can be found on the Brythm website (https://www.brythm.com/news/research/pregnancyresponses/).

 To participate you must be:

·         Over 20 weeks gestation with first pregnancy;

·         Carrying a single pregnancy (not twins, triplets, etc.);

·         Aged 18 or over and a non-smoker;

·         Have no current diagnosis of:

o   Hypertension, pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia;

o   Asthma, bronchitis, COPD;

o   An allergy/reaction to the gel used for ECG.