Posts By / Rachel Bowen

Research Impact Fund open for applications

Demonstrating impact is becoming an increasingly normal part of academic life, with changes in the external environment underpinning the need to show how research is making a difference beyond academia. As well as forming a significant part of a university’s REF submission, impact pathways are often included as a routine part of funding applications.

In order to support impact development at Bournemouth University, an impact fund has been established, which will be overseen by the Research Impact Funding Panel.  The fund is now open for applications for this financial year.

The first call for applications is open to impact case study teams who submitted an impact case study to the 2019 REF Mock Exercise.  The aim of the call is to support those who are developing case studies for REF2021, in recognition of the impact period for this REF cycle coming to an end in July 2020.

Small travel funding requests to support impact development can be submitted to the Panel on a rolling basis throughout the 2018/19 financial year.  These will be capped at a maximum of £200.  For this financial year travel grants will only be open to those developing case studies for REF2021.  This will be opened up to all researchers in the 2019/20 financial year.

A further call will be announced in spring 2019 which will be open to those working on embryonic or developing areas of impact, as well as researchers developing impact case studies for REF2021.  These funds will be available to spend from September 2019 – July 2020.

Application process
To apply, please read the application form and guidance.  Applications must be submitted to by Friday 12 April.

If you have any questions about your application please email either Rachel Bowen (for HSS or FM queries) or Genna del Rosa (for FMC or SciTech queries).

BU’s Research Principles
Putting the Research Impact Fund into strategic context, under BU2025, the following funding panels operate to prioritise applications for funding and make recommendations to the Research Performance and Management Committee (RPMC).

There are eight funding panels:

  1. HEIF Funding Panel
  2. GCRF Funding Panel
  3. Research Impact Funding Panel
  4. Doctoral Studentship Funding Panel
  5. ACORN Funding Panel
  6. Research Fellowships Funding Panel
  7. Charity Support Funding Panel
  8. SIA Funding panel

Please see further announcements regarding each initiative over the coming weeks.

These panels align with the BU2025 focus on research, including BU’s Research Principles.  Specifically, but not exclusively, regarding the Research Impact Funding Panel, please refer to:

  • Principle 5 – which sets of the context for such funding panels,
  • Principle 6 and Outcome 9 – which recognises the need for interdisciplinarity and the importance of social science and humanities (SSH).

Research Photography Competition: prize giving

Thank you to everyone who entered or voted for an image in this year’s Research Photography Competition.  Hundreds of staff, students and members of the public have helped to select this year’s winner, which we will be announcing in the Poole House Art Gallery on Thursday 14 March at 10am.

Please do join us if you can.  You can book your free tickets here.

All images will be on display in the Art Gallery until the end of March.

SURE: book your free ticket

The SURE (Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence) conference is returning for its fourth year, taking place on 20 March.

Over 90 submissions have been received on a wide range of subjects, including discrimination and minority groups, business management and diabetes in public health, so there is something to cover all interests.

Both students and staff are encouraged to attend, whether it’s to support your friends, your students, or just hear more about the research being carried out by students at BU.

The SURE conference is an annual event which gives undergraduate students the opportunity to showcase the work they are carrying out throughout their studies at BU, whether it’s their dissertation, coursework or research carried out during their placement year. They share this either in the form of a poster, 10 minute speech or an installation. It’s a great opportunity for them to be involved in as it allows them to develop their public speaking as well as their general approach to research.

Register for your free tickets via Eventbrite. 

As if 15 years of oil price volatility was not enough… energy markets now need to deal with Brexit

The next in our series of Fusion inaugural lectures will take place on Tuesday 26 March in the Executive Business Centre on Lansdowne campus.  Professor George Filis from the Faculty of Management will be speaking.

During the course of this inaugural lecture, Professor George Filis will present recent developments relating to energy markets (with particular focus on the oil market). This will include some of the potential drivers behind the increase in oil price volatility over the last 15 years. Professor Filis will also look at the political economy of the oil market, with particular emphasis on the current status of the “petrodollar system”, the developments in Venezuela and whether Brexit could signal the onset of another turbulent period for the oil market.

Professor George Filis is a specialist in energy and financial economics. Currently, he is working towards the development of new modelling frameworks for forecasting energy prices. In particular, he looks at the predictive information of different asset classes on oil prices and oil price volatility. Professor Filis has also served as a consultant for the US Energy Information Administration and the Bank of Greece.

You can book your free tickets here.

Call for EoIs: Unit of Assessment (UOA) Impact Champion for UOA 24 to drive REF 2021 preparations

BU is preparing submissions for units of assessment (UOAs) for REF 2021. Each UoA has a UoA Leader, supported by an Impact Champion and Outputs Champion.  The roles are recruited through an open and transparent process, which gives all academic staff the opportunity to put themselves forward for UOA roles.

We are currently seeking an expression of interest (EoI) from academic staff interested in supporting impact development for UoA24 (Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism).

Impact Champions play a key role in shaping the impact element of their UoA’s submission.  They work closely with their Faculty’s Impact Officer and Impact Post-Doctoral Researcher, where relevant.

Key responsibilities of the Impact Champion role include:

  • Review the development of impact case studies being prepared within the UOA
  • Provide guidance on how impact case studies can be accelerated and evidenced
  • Advise colleagues on the REF impact guidelines
  • Review impact strategies related to the UOA and assess progress made against them
  • Review and implement recommendations from external research users to strengthen research impact
  • Ensure that colleagues are updating institutional systems for impact tracking
  • Promote relevant training and development opportunities
  • Review impact arising from major programmes of research and knowledge exchange to make recommendations as to how these can contribute to impact case studies
  • Advise on the use of appropriate metrics specific to the subject area
  • To undertake any other duties as requested by the relevant Deputy Dean for Research and Professional Practice (DDRPP) and/or Unit of Assessment leader.

The full role description can be found here.

Application process:

To apply for the role, please submit a short statement (suggested length 300 words) explaining your interest in the role and what you could bring to it. This should be sent by email to Professor Tim Rees by Friday 15 March.  The EoIs will be reviewed by the UoA Leader and current Impact Champion.

The selection criteria used at EoI are outlined below. Each criterion carries a total possible score of 5. The role will be offered to the highest scoring applicant. The UoA Leader or current Impact Champion will provide feedback to all applicants.

  • Knowledge of the REF and research impact (scored out of 5): Applicants should have the appropriate level of skill and knowledge to help them support the development of impact in their UoA. It is expected that Impact Champions will predominantly be practising researchers and will have a breadth of understanding of research across their Faculty.  They are also expected to have an understanding of the REF assessment process and of research impact.
  • Experience of external engagement and / or impact development (scored out of 5): Impact Champions are expected to be able to provide advice and direction to colleagues who want to develop their research impact. Experience of engaging with external organisations or developing your own research impact would be of benefit in this role.
  • Commitment, motivation and enthusiasm (scored out of 5): Being an Impact Champion is a big commitment and the role has the scope to help shape impact development at BU. Applicants need to be committed to the role, as well as showing the enthusiasm and motivation needed to support their UoA.

Research & Knowledge Exchange Development Framework – give us your feedback

The Research & Knowledge Exchange Framework (RKEDF) is now into its third year.  It offers training and development opportunities to academics at all stages of their career, supporting staff to increase their skills, knowledge and capabilities.

The RKEDF offers range of support including sessions for those who are new to research or to BU, for staff who want to further develop their research careers and for people who want to disseminate their research findings or create an impact plan.

The Research Development & Support team are currently planning activities and sessions for the 2019/20 programme of events and would like to hear your ideas and suggestions.  What’s worked well?  What would you change?  Are there any other sessions or training materials you’d like to see included?  We’d like to hear both from people who have engaged with the RKEDF and those who haven’t.

Tell us what you think via our survey and be in with a chance of winning one of three £20 Amazon vouchers.  The deadline date is Friday 15 March.

British Academy funded study of Digital Possessions in the Family is launched

Members of the Promotional Cultures and Communication Centre (PCCC) have been granted British Academy/Leverhulme funding to conduct an inter-generational study of digital possessions in the family.

The study is a collaborative project with industry (Microsoft Research) and two Universities (Bournemouth University and Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University) that will provide insights into what the digitalisation of many objects – including heirlooms – means in the context of family and methodological testing that will enable future research. It also addresses crucial questions about the role digital media companies have in enabling and safeguarding family identity and history.

Dr. Janice Denegri-Knott, who leads the project said that “carrying the work now was crucial as we hope to provide a historical record of meaningful digital possessions kept at a unique point in time when children, parents and grandparents have varying degrees of digital media literacy.”   The work develops award winning research dealing with relationship between ownership and possession within a digital context (for more visit:

Janice is working on this project with Dr. Rebecca Jenkins and Dr. Sevil Yesiloglu.

The fine art of healthcare: using art to think about people and practice

The first of this academic year’s inaugural lectures will take place on Tuesday 23 October in the Shelley Theatre.  Professor Sam Porter will be discussing the ways in which art can influence health practices.

For the American philosopher, John Dewey, the importance of works of art lies in the fact that they ‘are the most intimate and energetic means of aiding individuals to share in the arts of living’. They distil the meanings behind our experiences and provide us with the opportunity to consider them from a fresh perspective.The ‘arts of living’ that will be considered in this lecture are those related to health, illness and care.Through exploring artworks from many different genres, this inaugural lecture given by Professor Sam Porter, will encourage us to think about how art can help us to improve healthcare.

Professor Sam Porter is a nurse by profession and a sociologist by academic training. His research ventures into one of the most difficult and sensitive areas of human experience: caring for people who are reaching the end of their lives. In addition to his role as the Head of Department for Social Sciences and Social Work, Professor Porter is researching issues such as the use of music therapy in hospice care, how family members can best care for their dying loved ones, and how care homes can be supported to provide excellent end of life care.

Free tickets can be booked here.

Details about whole series can be found here.

Rohingya refugees remain a heavy burden on Bangladesh

The Rohingya people of Myanmar are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. The Myanmar government doesn’t consider them as citizens and deprives them of basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.

To avoid persecution, waves of Rohingya people have taken refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh in recent decades, with particular flash points in 1978, 1992 and 2012.

The latest and largest mass exodus to Bangladesh took place in late August 2017. Within a month, around half a million Rohingya had fled to Bangladesh. This influx gradually slowed down, but did not stop there. A year later, the total number of Rohingya in Bangladesh is estimated to be 918,000, with around 700,000 new arrivals since August 2017.

The Rohingya refugees are confined within several camps in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh, which are managed jointly by the government and a coordinating body of international organisations called the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG). The largest of these, which I visited in August 2018, is known as the Kutupalong camp and hosts more than a half a million people. The camp seems neverending, with shelters, shops and narrow paths leading to every corner.

The Kutupalong site covers about 6,000 acres and is densely populated with eight square metres per person. The sites are highly vulnerable to rain, floods, cyclones, fire and landslides. Access to basic services is still insufficient, and there are poor quality shelters, latrines and delivery clinics. According to the ISCG’s 2018 joint response plan, 12,200 metric tonnes of food per month and 16m litres of safe water per day are needed to sustain the refugee population.

Disappearing forests

From what I saw, the environmental impact of the crisis is clearly devastating. A local forest officer told me that, in the past, the site upon which the Kutupalong camp now stands was a protected forest. Now, not a single large tree can be seen.

Many local Bangladeshis around the camps previously depended on nearby forests – to collect honey, and use dead branches and leaves as firewood. These forests are now disappearing.

Near the camp, I saw many large holes, evidence of the complete uprooting of trees to meet the demands for firewood. Bangladesh’s forest department is relentlessly trying to protect the nearby forests, but doesn’t have enough manpower to maintain the vigil 24 hours a day.

There is no clear boundary to the camp, and nearby I saw some Bangladeshi settlements. The demarcation is obvious: if a group of houses is surrounded by large trees then it is a Bangladeshi settlement, if not, it’s a Rohingya settlement.

The area used to be a habitat for many forest animals including about 40 elephants. The animals are now all gone and the elephants are trapped in another small patch of forest nearby, a local forest officer told me. In the early part of 2018, some elephants attacked Rohingya settlements.

Impact on local economy

The local economy of the camps seem to be thriving and the Kutupalong site is full of small shops selling many kinds of goods. The shop sellers are largely Rohingya, though there is reportedly some Bangladeshi involvement, too.

The presence of the refugees has imposed a heavy financial burden on the Bangladeshi government. One government officer told me that about 2,000 government officials are involved in the management of the camps at various levels – at an annual cost of US$15.24m to the Bangladeshi government. This is a huge sum, considering the per capita annual GDP of Bangladesh is only about US$1,700.

It was the local community in the area that provided much needed early support to Rohingya refugees in August 2017, before aid arrived. Since then, research has begun to highlight the impact of the Rohingya refugees on the local communities, including on the price of local goods and on the local job market

In June 2018, the Bangladesh government signed a memorandum of understanding with the aim of facilitating the voluntary repatriation of 700,000 Rohingya back to Myanmar, but the prospect of actual returns is in question because of the previous experience of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. Meanwhile, they continue to see Bangladesh as a place of refuge, as they have for decades. To ensure voluntary repatriations happen, full assurance is required that they will not be persecuted upon their return.

The ConversationMeanwhile, a longer term, sustainable solution is required for the area, one which secures the safety and livelihoods of both those Rohingya people in fear for their lives, and the hosts who have given them sanctuary.

Mehdi Chowdhury, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Bournemouth University

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

Brexit: champagne, parmesan, prosecco and feta could soon be at the centre of negotiations

As Brexit day creeps closer, one issue that remains unresolved is the way that food names will be protected in Britain and the EU. From parmesan and feta to cornish pasties and Bavarian beer, the EU is fiercely protective over protected designations of origin (PDOs) or protected geographical indications (PGIs).

A number of highly popular products are protected under this legal framework that dictates certain products can only be produced in certain regions. So champagne must be produced in the Champagne region of France and prosecco in a small pocket of north-eastern Italy. These are products with big market shares in the UK, with consumer loyalty being built up and consolidated through the use of these reputable geographical names.

The issue is also important to the UK. Many British products are also protected under the EU regime. It helps protect both their quality and value.

Accept no imitations.

But when the UK leaves the EU, it will no longer be under the laws that govern the protective status of these products. The government’s recently launched white paper, which outlined the UK’s plans for Brexit, declares that Britain will set up its own protection of geographical names to provide for continuous protection of UK products within the UK. But it doesn’t mention any continuation of the EU’s protection scheme.

Some in Brussels have expressed fear that British producers will start exploiting previously protected European names. Yet, rather ironically, British products would not lose their status in the EU (and could still seek new EU registrations in the future), since the EU allows for the protection of geographical names from non-EU countries. It’s an imbalance which seems to please British negotiators.

So, the European Commission fears that after Brexit the high level of protection that European products currently enjoy in the UK under EU law may evaporate. The white paper proposal rather contrasts with the commission’s proposal, which suggests that the UK continue protecting geographical indications, as it does under the EU.

US interference

But the EU’s desire that post-Brexit Britain keep its protection of geographical indications is bound to collide with US strategic interests. The US position is an important factor to take into account in the Brexit negotiations. If the UK signs a trade deal with the US, it will likely clash with a lot of EU regulations – including provisions governing the use of geographical names for food and beverages.

The US plays by different rules when it comes to the protection of these names. There are numerous US food companies that freely use European geographical expressions (including parmesan and feta for cheese) to identify products that have not been produced in the relevant European locations. In the US, these are considered to be generic names that describe the products and cannot be monopolised by anyone, not even by the producers coming from the relevant European geographical area.

Is it feta or ‘Greek-style cheese’?

That is why the US is lobbying the UK to abandon the EU’s protection of geographical indications, namely to allow US food and beverage companies to enter the British market by freely using European names. A US-UK trade deal would likely be contingent on the UK dropping the EU-level protection of geographical indications. But this, in turn, would scupper the prospects of a trade deal with the EU – an even bigger trading partner for the UK.

Sticking point

The EU has continuously placed great emphasis on the protection of its geographical names during trade negotiations. It proved to be a big sticking point in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. France and Greece, for example, threatened to veto a deal with the US unless it upheld their geographical indications. More recently, Italy’s minister for agriculture noted that Italy may not ratify the EU’s trade deal with Canada because, in his view, it does not adequately protect Italian geographical names.

The ConversationIt is therefore not a stretch to say that the entire Brexit deal could hinge on the issue of geographical indications. There is no doubt that providing a level of protection in the UK which is comparable to the current EU scheme – for example, via a mutual EU/UK recognition scheme – would facilitate an agreement not only on the specific issue of geographical names, but also of the entire Brexit deal. This would, however, make favourable trade agreements between the UK and the US less likely. The battle over geographical indications will surely go on.

Enrico Bonadio, Senior Lecturer in Law, City, University of London and Marc Mimler, Lecturer in Law, Bournemouth University

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

Plastic pollution: could we clean up the ocean with technology?

File 20180720 142405 1lpfc4u.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Rick Stafford, Bournemouth University

Our oceans are threatened by three major challenges: climate change, overfishing and pollution. Plastic pollution is of growing concern, and has gained international attention from governments, media and large sections of the public, partly fuelled by last year’s BBC documentary Blue Planet II and its images of sperm whales and seabirds entangled or ingesting plastic debris.

Despite the attention plastic pollution has received, some scientists think this is the least important of the major marine threats, and that climate change and fisheries need more urgent attention.

This is not to say that plastic is not a major issue – it is, especially in some parts of the developing world, and in large open ocean gyre systems where ocean currents meet and all that they carry accumulates. Research has also found that microplastics (small fragments which form as larger plastic pieces are broken down in the sea) are found in seafood, and plastic may even accumulate as it passes up the foodchain.

The Ocean Cleanup

One reason why plastic pollution seems to get more attention than other threats to the ocean is that the issue may have a technological “fix”. The Ocean Cleanup is the flagship tech solution to marine plastic and proposes using several 600-metre long barriers to float in the ocean current and catch plastic drifting in the surface waters of the gyres.

Invented by a then 19-year-old student, the idea has come in for criticism in recent years with concerns ranging from the project’s ability to reach microplastics to it causing harm to wildlife.

Nevertheless, the Ocean Cleanup has captured imaginations by trying to reverse the problem of ocean plastic on a large scale.

We’re familiar with the idea that we can all do something to prevent plastic ending up in the sea, such as refusing plastic straws and carrying a refillable water bottle. However, while we need to use less, we also need to produce less, and throw away less of it. This means not only individual behaviour change, but changes in industrial processes, and government policies worldwide.

The visual impact of plastic pollution and high levels of public interest might be fundamental to some solutions. In many countries, local beach cleans are a regular occurrence, and are rapidly gaining in popularity. It has also been suggested that despite plastic hotspots in ocean gyres, eventually, many large plastic items will wash up on beaches, and that a significant proportion of plastic waste ending up in the sea comes from coastal or riverside communities.

Most plastic enters the ocean from the shore and accumulates in ocean ‘gyres’, where different currents meet.

Think global, act local

This provides hope for community networks to be formed that can combat plastic pollution at a local level. These networks need to expand beyond beach or river clean-ups to involve and engage multiple groups and individuals in society.

These stakeholders, who have a shared interest in healthy oceans, should include local retailers who can provide deposit return schemes on bottles and other recyclable materials and even reduce or eliminate the sale of products such as plastic straws, disposable coffee cups, plastic bags and takeaway containers.

Local councils could set up rubbish and recycling facilities for beach goers and enforce penalties for littering and fly tipping near beaches and rivers.

Communities in charge of managing their local environment have been shown to be effective in coastal areas, but issues always arise with the scaling-up of these approaches to national or international levels.

There is clearly a need for policies which support local initiatives, rather than combat them. For example, government policies should immediately call for bans on non-essential plastic packaging rather than “working to a target of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042” as the UK’s 25 year environmental plan currently indicates.

Beach cleanup events can engage communities in halting the flow of plastic into the ocean.

Remaining non-essential packaging should urgently be made recyclable, and recycling incentive schemes, such as payment for recycling, need to be introduced quickly, beyond the approaches used by local retailers.

Technological solutions can and should form part of our approach to environmental problems, whether plastic pollution or climate change. However, they can only be part of a solution.

Schemes which change attitudes and empower communities at a local level can be effective worldwide, but they need support from national and international policies to bring about real change. At present, pollution and natural resources are dismissed as necessary casualties in the pursuit of economic growth.

The ConversationSupport for seaside communities in policy is missing, and until it is in place, no high tech miracle will step in to save us.

Rick Stafford, Professor of Marine Biology and Conservation, Bournemouth University

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

Can a scientific name save one of Earth’s most iconic freshwater fish from extinction?

File 20180723 189319 11gg69t.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The iconic hump-backed mahseer.
J. Bailey, Author provided

The mahseers are an iconic group of fish found throughout the fast-flowing rivers of South and South-East Asia. Characterised by their large scales, attractive appearance and potentially vast size, the mahseers have long been afforded saintly status as “God’s fishes”. They are also known to anglers as some of the world’s hardest fighting freshwater game fish, earning them the reputation of “tigers of the water”.

But despite lots of interest in mahseers, their future is under serious threat as their rivers become polluted and blocked by hydropower dams in order to support a rapidly growing human population. Those fish that do survive are vulnerable to illegal “dynamite fishing” in which a blast kills or injures all aquatic life, allowing poachers to harvest anything that floats to the surface.

Of the 18 currently valid species of mahseer, the official IUCN Red List of Threatened Species currently lists four as endangered, one as vulnerable, and one as near threatened. The rest either lack enough data to reach a conclusion or haven’t been evaluated.

Recent research published by colleagues and I in PLOS ONE focused on the hump-backed mahseer, the largest and most endangered of all mahseers. The fish was once common throughout the Cauvery river and its various tributaries in southern India, but it is now limited to just a handful of small isolated populations. Weighing as much as a small adult human (55kg), this freshwater giant qualifies as megafauna, yet bizarrely it has remained a taxonomic enigma without a valid scientific name.

The Cauvery and its tributaries flow through the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Central Ground Water Board, India

Until now. Colleagues and I discovered that the hump-backed mahseer is actually the same species as Tor remadevii: a mahseer that previously lacked a common name. Scientists first described Tor remadevii as a new species in 2007, based on a small sample of juvenile fish from the most southerly tributary of the Cauvery catchment in the state of Kerala. Little did they realise that the small fish they had discovered from this remote sub-catchment was the same as the monster mahseer found in the upper and middle reaches of the main river Cauvery.

The rise and fall of a freshwater icon

The hump-backed mahseer was first brought to the attention of the world’s anglers in Henry Sullivan Thomas’s 1873 classic, The Rod in India. During British rule, several huge specimens were recorded, including the still-standing world rod-caught record, a 120lb (54kg) monster captured in 1946 by a taxidermist from Mysore known as de Wet Van Ingen. Indian independence followed soon after, and the mahseer was largely forgotten by the outside world, with many believing the fish had been dynamited to extinction.

Although larger fish have been reported, this catch by de Wet Van Ingen still stands as the official world record.

That was until 1977, when the Trans World Fishing Team – comprised of three Englishmen –travelled to India and spent several months exploring the country’s rivers before reaching the Cauvery. There they found the hump-backed mahseer very much alive, and realised their sporting dreams by recording individual catches up to 92lbs (42kg).

This reignited global interest, and catch-and-release anglers from around the world flocked to the River Cauvery in search of the legendary fish. Local villagers found employment as angling guides, cooks or drivers, some of them rehabilitated poachers who realised that a live mahseer had renewable value, unlike the single value of a dead one at market. Patrols were set up to protect the species 24/7, allowing the ecology of the river to flourish.

Martin Clark of the Trans World Fishing Team with one of the fish caught in 1978.
Trans World Fishing Team, Author provided

But all was not what it seemed. Since their establishment in the 1970s, the angling camps had been collecting invaluable data which shed new light on the situation. When colleagues and I analysed these detailed catch records, we realised the hump-backed mahseer had almost disappeared. Although overall mahseer stocks were rising, the humpback itself was being rapidly replaced by a non-native and highly invasive species of mahseer, which had been deliberately introduced to the River Cauvery to boost stocks in the late 1970s. This led us to publish a paper in 2015, outlining the threat of imminent extinction facing the hump-backed mahseer.

So, what’s in a name?

The hump-backed mahseer has been known around the world by its common name, but confusion over its scientific name has prevented its inclusion in the IUCN Red List of threatened species. Given the fish is on the edge of extinction, it proved a significant challenge finding wild specimens from which to collect the DNA and associated evidence required to support a formal taxonomic clarification. Only after three years of expeditions was our team finally successful in finding a small population of humpbacks in a remote jungle section of the River Moyar, a tributary of the Cauvery.

The paper we recently published fixes the scientific name as Tor remadevii and should see the iconic species assessed as “critically endangered” in the next update of the Red List. The significance of the research published will afford this iconic fish the recognition and legislative protection it so urgently requires to develop robust conservation planning.

The ConversationHowever, in the long term, the fish’s future rests in the hands of the three Indian states with stakes in the highly-contested Cauvery river system – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. One hope is that the humpback mahseer will become a unifying force and bring these states together to protect the rich biodiversity and natural function of the Cauvery from further decay, allowing the river to continue to support the many millions of people who depend on it.

Adrian Pinder, Associate Director, Bournemouth University

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

ResNET Research Network Project

My name is Natalia Lavrushkina and I am a member of staff in the Faculty of Management at Bournemouth University and a postgraduate research student at the University of Southampton and before sending you invitations to take part in a short online survey, as a part of this research, I would like to introduce the ResNET Research Network Project to the BU research community.

ResNET is a Doctoral Research project undertaken in collaboration with the Doctoral College and it is being mentored by Dr John Beavis.

The aim of this research project is to investigate and understand the development and operation of social networks amongst the internal research community within Bournemouth University. Its objectives are:

  1. to explore the concept of ‘institutional collegiality’ as a measure of the degree of cooperativeness and collaborative interaction within the organisation;
  2. to map expertise distribution within BU.

Once data has been collected, I will make social network charts like this one below.

The chart shows the organisation with the squares representing individuals in different subject areas.

I will be using specialist Social Network Analysis software for my data analysis which graphically shows communications points through our community. It links people working together and demonstrating density of the communication. It also shows the difference between external and internal communication flow. Additionally the longitudinal data analysis allows reflection on the dynamics of the research network’s development.

I will send individual survey links via BU emails to ask BU researchers and related staff to complete a short online survey through three rounds of data collection approximately 3 months apart. The questions seek to identify levels of communication flows, the presence of communication hubs and brokers, the closeness and strengths of ties and levels of network’s cohesiveness.

As you can see from my diagram it isn’t about looking at individuals per se – I am not concerned with who particular people are or what their job titles are. It is the network composition and the nature of communication flows that are being analysed not the communications of any named individual(s) within the network.

All data will be analysed and reported anonymously using the specialist SNA software.

I anticipate that the research findings will benefit Bournemouth University by informing strategies and innovative practice related to the improvement of collaboration in knowledge creation and transfer.

It will benefit Faculty research activity and research support through a deeper understanding of institutional research network dynamics and through a greater understanding of communication flows and research process and expertise mapping.

This study has been approved by the University of Southampton Ethics Committee (ERGO number: 31376) with Bournemouth University support and agreement. BU Academic and Research Staff are the population of this study.

I am hoping that my peers and colleagues at BU will support me on my doctoral journey by investing some of your very precious time and effort in participation in ResNET project’s survey.

I know that completing surveys can be time and effort-consuming, so I would like to say thank you by offering to provide you and the whole BU Research Community a summary of the research findings through this research blog.

I am happy to answer any query regarding this project and can be contacted via my university email address:

How breathing slowly can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of serious health conditions

Performing slow and deep breathing is frequently used to aid in relaxation, but recent research has suggested that it can also lower blood pressure. Researchers within HSS have created an App, called Brythm, that guides breathing to a lower, personalised optimal frequency.

Brythm guides breathing using visual biofeedback, via a graphic, which was created by a BU Student Research Assistant. Optimisation of breathing frequency is achieved using real time monitoring of the cardiovascular responses via a finger sensor, which plugs into the headphone socket of [almost] any smartphone or tablet.

The finger sensor uses the same technology as oxygen saturation monitors in hospitals and monitors the blood flow in your finger. Using a patent-pending algorithm, Brythm aims to maximise the cardiovascular responses to breathing.

The research team is being led by Professor Alison McConnell, a physiologist who has previously undertaken research showing the positive effects of breathing muscle strength training on exercise tolerance for athletes as well as people with cardiovascular or respiratory disease. The product she created ( was approved for NHS prescription in 2006, and she has similar aspirations for Brythm.

“Our new anti-hypertension App has been developed to provide people with a personalised training programme that adapts their breathing rate according to their individual physiology,” explains Professor McConnell, “It’s designed to be used for just ten minutes per day using a smartphone or tablet, which fits easily into most people’s busy lives. If Brythm training is found to be effective, it could provide a game-changing addition to the fight against hypertension, which afflicts around 30% of the UK population.”

The Brythm research team is currently carrying out research to find out more about the effects of the Brythm app for different groups of people. Professor Alison McConnell secured funding for a PhD student to work with pregnant women who have pregnancy-induced hypertension; this project started in September 2017, and is being led by Malika Felton. The team has partnered with the National Childbirth Trust, which helped to refine the Brythm and will assist in making contact with pregnant women who can help with the research.

Malika’s first study is investigating the immediate effect of using Brythm with healthy women of reproductive age, before examining these immediate effects in healthy pregnant women. The project will culminate in a study investigating both the immediate, and long-term, effects of slow and deep breathing with women who have pregnancy-induced hypertension. The hope is to be able to provide preliminary evidence of an alternative to pharmacological treatments for women who develop hypertension during pregnancy. It is hoped that this preliminary evidence might support bids for further funding to undertake a larger, randomised control clinical trial using Brythm.

As part of the process of preparing for NHS trials in people with primary hypertension, Professor McConnell was recently awarded internal funding for two pump-priming projects using Brythm. Both projects will provide the preliminary evidence of the feasibility of using the Brythm App, as well as the proof of concept evidence needed to secure external funding for larger studies.

The first pump-priming project is investigating the feasibility of using Brythm under ‘real world’ conditions. Stephanie Grigsby, a research midwife from Poole Hospital, is on secondment to the Brythm team for 1 day a week as Project Manager. Participants are being drawn from BU staff, who are asked to download Brythm onto their own device and to use it for 10-minutes daily for 8-weeks. The aim is to understand the use of the App itself, rather than its physiological effects, so there are no health-related exclusion criteria, but participants must be aged 40 or over. The results of this project will help with the design and running of future trials, providing evidence of the usability of Brythm.

The second pump-priming project that is currently underway compares the immediate effects of using Brythm with those created by a breathing biofeedback device already approved by the NHS and US Food & Drug Administration. RESPeRATE delivers the paced breathing using auditory tones and lowers breathing frequency to 6 breaths per minute. The short-term effects of the two methods will be compared, with the aim of demonstrating that Brythm is at least as good as the NHS-approved RESPeRATE device. This project is being undertaken by Dr Pedro Vargas, a co-inventor of the Brythm App, and a previous Postdoctoral Research Fellow of Bournemouth University, who is now based in his home country of Portugal. The study takes place from 29th May – 8th June.

The Brythm team is also delighted to have secured a new SRA who will assist with data collection for all current studies, as well as with data collation and analysis. They will have a fantastic opportunity to be part of the Brythm team and get involved in all aspects of the project, from testing in the HSS Cardiorespiratory Research Laboratory, to analysing the data, as well as taking part in preparing the published research papers that will follow these projects. A second SRA from the Faculty of Media and Communication, has also come on board to produce instructional videos to assist participants with using Brythm and with troubleshooting. These videos will be important tools for supporting participants in future trials, as well as for promoting the research at BU, and the videos will be an integral part of the new BU Brythm website ( [awaiting publication]).

If you are interested in the Brythm research and would like to try the App, the Brythm team is running a drop-in activity session at the Festival of Learning in the Fusion Building on Saturday 16th June.

There are also opportunities to participate in one of our current or future research studies, and if you are interested in this, please read on for more information.


Would you like to help test Brythm?

Brythm is currently in the testing phase and the Brythm team are recruiting for 3 separate projects investigating different aspects of the Brythm App.


Malika Felton’s study on the immediate cardiovascular effects of Brythm

Who? Healthy women of reproductive age (18-49 years).

Requirements? One 2-hour session in the Cardiorespiratory Research Laboratory in Bournemouth House, Lansdowne campus.


Feasibility of using Brythm in the ‘real world’

Who? Anyone aged 40 years or over. Must have a device capable of downloading and using the Brythm App. We can provide guidance on this on request.

Requirements? 10-minute daily breathing sessions for 8 weeks. Recorded daily blood pressure readings, using an automated monitor we provide. An initial meeting is required to demonstrate Brythm and provide the required equipment, which lasts 30 minutes.


Brythm vs. RESPeRATE

Who? Non-smokers who have no history of cardiovascular or respiratory disease.

Requirements? One 1 ½ to 2-hour session in the Cardiorespiratory Research Laboratory in Bournemouth House, Lansdowne campus.


If you would like more information on any of the projects described above, and/or to receive a participant information sheet, please contact Malika Felton at or on 01202 961845. Alternatively, drop in to her office in R305 to find out more about the Brythm project, or about participating in one of the research projects.

Research communication training day

Are you interested in finding out how BU can help you communicate your research more widely?  Join the Corporate Communications Team and Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team at our Research Communication Day on 23 May for sessions such as:

  • Creating & marketing your Festival of Learning event,
  • Sharing your research via social media,
  • Developing the impact of your research,
  • Pitching to the Conversation,
  • Developing your digital profile,
  • Broadcast training,
  • Influencing policy makers.

More information about the day and a booking link can be found here.

Are you interested in testing an App developed at BU and designed to lower blood pressure?

We are continuing to recruit for 2 studies involving our Brythm App, designed at BU. Brythm is based on the principles of slow and deep breathing that have been found to lower blood pressure. Our previous research supports the idea that changing the way you breathe has an impact upon your heart rate and blood pressure. We have developed an App (called Brythm) to exploit the beneficial influence of breathing, which guides users to a personalised, optimal breathing frequency.

We are currently conducting one study on healthy women in a laboratory setting to test the cardiovascular responses to slow and deep breathing, which would require approx 2 hours of your time. The other study involves using the App daily at home for 8 weeks to test the feasibility of using the App. For both studies participants will receive information about their current blood pressure.

Lab Based Cardiovascular Responses Study

Participants must be female non-smokers of reproductive age (18-49 years) who are not currently pregnant. They must also have no prior medical diagnosis of cardiovascular or respiratory disease (including asthma). The entire study requires a single visit to the Cardiorespiratory Research Laboratory in Bournemouth House (3rd floor) lasting approximately 2 hours. During this visit you will be asked to undertake a number of 5-minute sets of slow and deep breathing, guided by our App, while a series of non-invasive and painless cardiovascular measurements are made. The App will be installed on our iPad in the lab and you will not be required to use your own device.

At Home 8-week Feasibility Study

Participants must be aged 40 or over and you must have access to an iOS or Android device capable of downloading and running the Brythm App. More details on device specifications available on request. You will be expected to complete daily 10-minute sessions using the Brythm App for 8 weeks and will have an initial meeting with our Project Manager prior to commencing the study, where you will be given a demonstration of the Brythm App and be given an opportunity to try it for a few minutes. You will also receive an automated blood pressure monitor to take home with you for the duration of the study; you will be asked to use it to make two measurements each day, which will be recorded via the Brythm App. Following the intervention we will ask you to attend a focus group where you will be invited to share your experiences of using the App.

For more information, and to receive a participant information sheet outlining either study in more detail, please contact Malika Felton at or 01202 961845.