Category / BU research

Developing a successful Research Centre at BU!

We recently visited the Design Simulation Research Centre in DEC and were really impressed with the passion and enthusiasm that the staff and students demonstrated for research. The Centre has recently won the Vice-Chancellor’s award for the best Research/Enterprise Project. We asked Research Centre Director Prof Siamak Noroozi to write a blog post about how this magic happens and a successful Research Centre grows and develops…

Starting from zero.
I did not come to BU to continue with my old research. I came here to develop research that underpins what DEC School is about and to create something that is both interesting and challenging both to me as well as everyone else in my centre. 

How did I do it? And was I successful?
I have come to the conclusion that everyone has a certain natural ability in something. For example, one can be natural at sport or art or music, maths, engineering, DIY, medicine, science, management, leadership, etc.  Whatever that natural ability is, if identified and nurtured properly it can change the person’s quality of life. Not everyone is a natural research scientist, even if that person is working in an academic institution or has a PhD. In the past 30 years I have seen many reasons why people engage with research. Sometimes it is because they are creative, driven and passionate about it. And, sometimes the pressure of competitive academic life and challenges that come with that! 

I found it hard to engage people with a PhD in research that is outside their comfort zone or their PhD topic, but I quickly noticed that within my team there are people with a variety of skills or natural abilities. These abilities were ranging from Implementers, Co-ordinators, Shaper, Resource investigators, Evaluators, Team-workers or Completers/Finishers, etc.  However there were not many Planters. By Planters I mean those who could see beyond their PhD who could create projects that are outside their comfort zone. Those who could create new research aligned with experiences, skills or background of other rather than their own. In other words develop different applications of the original research. This is particularly needed to ensure staff without PhD can engage and register for a PhD. Also to make sure projects do not to re-invent the wheel or, as one may put it, search about nothing.

I realised that research does not take place without PhD students (or legs on the ground) so I had to quickly expand our pool of research students and to team them up with different members/group of staff in my team. I had to engage staff in live PhD projects. This was important as their transferable skills was needed to help students to identify and develop their new and novel PhD project proposals, so that everyone in the team could identify with and was aligned or linked to the individual’s background. That resulted in Projects that everyone could get their teeth into and develop a sense of ownership of the original idea. Also to make sure projects have functional outcomes that inform and under-pin what we teach or that we wish to develop in terms of skill-sets or natural abilities.

Who are the people?
Of those involved in research, some are resourceful, creative and can develop new research ideas. Some do it by joining others or managing other people’s research ideas. But some just can’t engage with research full stop. Why? I do not know. Maybe because they need to be told how, and in research no one can. Also personality may have a lot to do with it. So you come to realise that everyone has a different view or definition of what research or research activities is all about.

So what is all this?
So this blog post is not about who is right or wrong. It is about me having a vision of starting a research centre from scratch, and with limited or no financial resources. Having to find funds or sponsors to get the badly needed PhD students, who are essential to get the job done. To enable a diverse group of people all with different ambitions, agendas, interests, natural abilities and passion to form small research teams and collectively engage with research management, supervision and meetings. To bring about an atmosphere where everyone willingly participate in challenging research that is sometimes, or in most cases, outside their comfort zone. To help them develop their confidence in their ability to lead, manage and deliver on the research objectives and also contribute as a team member.

This is about delivering on my vision which was to ensure:

  • All academics in my centre are research active (if they are willing),
  • That we had the research students to satisfy the needs of all the members of the team I inherited,
  • Support exists for a diverse range of funded/sponsored research projects.

This was also about:

  • Identifying the needs, abilities and strength of the members of my team and exploit them in a positive way to bring about the necessary changes.
  • Showing how one’s passion and natural ability in research generation & research informed teaching can quickly result in the creation of a range of diverse and sustainable research activities, all underpinned and based around the expertise of individual staff.
  • My effort to develop a strong and vibrant and sustainable research infrastructure. An environment that is open, forward looking, supportive.
  • A centre that provides opportunities for everyone to engage with research in one form or other.
  • It is about developing projects that are challenging and have strong industrial or commercial relevance,
    projects that push the boundaries of science and engineering by engaging both staff and students in ground breaking research in all aspects of applied design, innovation, engineering and technology.
  • Developing credibility, respect and competence to engage with our customers who are the end users of our research outputs.
  • Developing collaboration with large international companies through CPD or industrial research collaboration that bring with it financial security as well as sustainable KT & TT activities between University and industry.

As I was working in a design school, the generic research to underpin design was a must in my book. So it was also about searching relentlessly to secure fully funded research students willing to work in this areas and to initiate different lines of research that underpin generic design.

The people in my research centre have different academic backgrounds so I tried to create a multidimensional research centre that allowed everyone to engage and participate in research and be able to contribute. I relentlessly pushed and encouraged people to write bids and apply for research funding. In one area where we had the most amount of track record we developed and submitted a substantial number of bids to various research councils and funding institutions such as the EPSRC, the NIHR, the Leverhulme, the RAE etc.  This was quite a hard work and not often successful. It also had a negative effect on my personal profile in terms of actual research and publication but it had to be done.

What is happening now?
I am now enjoying fruits of my labours, watching how research and the sense of research ownership has empowered individual colleagues and transformed their academic life. I see them becoming more and more confident, innovative and dynamic with their ideas. I see how it informs their teaching and teaching material development. I enjoy watching them engaging in heated research discussions, disputes or debates which is necessary, informative, motivating, satisfying and educational all at the same time.  I think most people in my team appreciate now what research can do for them.

We realise that our PhD’s, when we did them, were the state of the art at that time. But 10 or 20 years later, things have changed and moved on so we must change and move on with it. We have also realised that we learn the most when we are challenged. So taking on challenges is needed if one is to remain up-to-date, relevant and skilled. Only then, as academics, can we educate and equip our students with transferable skills that are relevant, modern and continually evolving. So we are the key in creating talented professionals who can secure the future of this country, through sustainable innovation and the export of manufactured goods.

Research is not just about digging out historical data or creating strong justification. Facilitating research provision and enabling engagement in research activity and creating new and valid and relevant lines of research itself is an art or a natural ability. It is not a project management exercise. It needs experience, insight, vision and passion and not just some basic scientific knowledge, which we all have. You need to be able to translate the ideas or visions into sequential activities that bring about changes in the form of knowledge generation, scientific or technological discoveries and their transfer. Some times this relies on intangible things such as instinct or common sense. A very structured, methodical and sequential person will find research hard and slow and frustrating. But as a team that complements each other it can succeed and we have a lot of examples and success stories that I look forward to sharing with you in the future.

A new story and just off the press.
I recently found out that we have been nominated for the VC award. I attended the ceremony and I was even more surprised when I saw just my name appearing on the list. When I was reminded not to get excited and not to say too much if I win, I became even more nervous and as a result forgot to thank those who are instrumental for us to achieve this. So I would like to thank Philip Sewell, who keeps me on the straight and narrow and without whom I could not do any of this. Prof John Vinney who started this project when we were in Bristol. Also I like to thank Bryce Dyer for his passion for success, drive, enthusiasm and support. As a centre/team (those engaged in research) we all complement each other very nicely and together we are a strong team. That is why we have done well in such a relatively short time.

        

But most of all, I like to say this is not about just me.  This is about all of us as a team (both staff and students). Every day I feel the Buzz in the atmosphere of my research centre and that stems from the diversity of our research projects and our research students for their passion, drive and their sense of ownership of their project. and I love it.
To finish off, I like to say blogging or giving public speeches or addressing huge audiences or writing excessively! are not in the list of my natural abilities. So I hope I have not let the side down by all this.

End of Blog 🙂

Update on the Collaboration Tools for Academics project

This is an update on the ‘Collaboration Tools for Academics’ project that many of you will have contributed to.  The project is being run by Amina Uddin, Steve Webster, Matthew Bennett, Julie Northam, Alan Fyall, Sarah Hearn and Clive Andrews on behalf of the academic community as a whole.  The project seeks to deliver a set of useful services that have been identified by the academic/research community as the most useful  in supporting collaborative work whether it be for education or research.

A service proposal document produced by the project after several iterations is available on the I drive at “I:\CRKT\Public\Research Blog Docs\CTA Candidate Service Proposals 280411.pdf”.  It shows you the set of candidate services that the academic community suggested and explains how we got there. The final section of the document promises a survey to validate the priorities of these services, this has now been completed – thanks to those of you who took part.  The results of this survey demonstrate where there is most concern and interest in support.

Service   Weighting
Install of non-standard software   392
Moving large files externally   296
Questionnaire software   293
Blogs and Wikis   236
Guidance and advice on cloud options   222

We are currently specifying these services in detail and trying to estimate the amount of work required to deliver them in order to plan their implementation.  The project has come a long way since it started with the focus being on creating a tool to enable academics at BU to collaborate with one another more effectively, perhaps via some form of ‘facebook for academics’.  On careful analysis this requirement can be meet by existing services available within the cloud or already available at BU.  The issue was more around documentation and support for some of these services. 

We also have put a lot of emphasis on the importance of being able to find collaborators at BU – the find a colleague or expert functions.  We see these as vital to unlocking the intellectual capital at BU but they have been picked up via other projects, namely the publication management system and the new content management system for our web site.  By the early autumn the find an expert or colleague functions will be enabled allowing you to search for potential colleagues or information within BU more effectively.  The Research Ontology is critical here – effectively the keywords by which we will classify our expertise and interests – and avid readers of the blog will see that we have been consulting on this recently to get your views.

Prof Rudy Gozlan – ‘A Fish Tale, World Preservation and You’

Last month Rudy Gozlan gave an inaugural lecture as part of BU’s Public Lecture series. He discussed the biggest issue in ecology right now – how we going to accommodate another 3 billion people on this planet in the next 40 years.  Watch Rudy’s lecture (‘A Fish Tale, world preservation and you’) on this subject here:  httpv://youtu.be/kK3IsaZ2FYc

New BU Blog poll is published

Many thanks to everyone who voted in the first BU Research Blog poll! This was on whether journal impact factors are a good indicator of quality. Anita will write a future blog post on the results.

We’ve now issued the second poll which you should be able to see on the right hand side of the Blog homepage, alongside the Quick Links. The second poll focuses on academic support for specific research activities (such as writing proposals, managing grants, etc) and asks which you’d appreciate more support with.

Please do take the time (it honestly only takes a couple of seconds) to respond as this will shape the support offered to academics in future 🙂

 

Research Themes – Culture and Society meeting

Prof Barry Richards, Media School, is convening a meeting of interested people to explore whether there is sufficient common ground for a meaningful Culture and Society theme to be defined.

If you are interested in attending please could you let Barry know by email (brichards@bournemouth.ac.uk) which of the times below would be most convenient (or register interest if neither time is possible for you). Dr Rosie Read, Health and Social Care, has drafted a possible prospectus for such a theme, as a starting point for discussion, which is available via the Research Themes section of the Blog (you can access it here).

The options for the meeting are:
9.30 Friday 24th June
1.00 Monday 27th June

Creative & Digital Economy Theme

I’d like to update colleagues on the Digital Hub HEIF-funded project which runs in its current format to the end of July. Picking up on an earlier post by John Oliver of the Media School, the Hub is currently providing a lead on this important theme across the university with colleagues from the School of Tourism, Media School, DEC, Applied Sciences and the Busines School involved – it is by any definition a cross-university project. There have already been several tangible outputs:

  • The Hub has just secured £70k of funding for three projects related to digital tourism and online consumer behaviour – two of these projects are a collaboration between Dr Philip Alford (School of Tourism) and Dr Jacqui Taylor (DEC) and are inter-discplinary projects involving psychology and digital marketing (in a tourism context);
  • The Digital Hub website is up and running with the current objective of building a community of experts around the digital theme;
  • The Hub has also embraced social media and has both a Facebook page and a Twitter feed (LinkedIn is under development);
  • The Hub has two events planned – both aimed at external organisations (businesses, charities, public sector): A Digital Dinner which will be an invitation-only event designed to showcase our expertise around this theme; a Digital Day event on the 19th July at Kimmeridge House which, although showcasing our expertise, will be more of a consultative event and an opportunity for us to listen to what organisations’ needs are around the CDE theme. After the keynotes the central value-added proposition of the event is to feature breakout seminars where Digital Theme leaders will present but also use them as an opportunity to engage with organisations.
  • Both events feature Tiffany St James as a keynote speaker. Tiffany is currently retained by Microsoft, The Guardian, Channel 4 and built the world’s first social media laboratory as a managed service for Euro RSCG London, one of the UK’s top integrated advertising agencies. She is a Special Advisor to the British Interactive Media Association and Advisor to the Speaker of the House of Commons. And as a bonus she is a BU graduate! This will give the Digital Hub at Bournemouth University great profile and form a positive association.

If you’re interested in being involved the BU digital community then send me an email (Philip Alford:  palford@bournemouth.ac.uk)

Flushed with conference success

 The BU Research Development Unit (RDU) walked away from this year’s Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA) annual conference with the award for best poster. With 14 posters submitted to this, ARMA’s 21st anniversary conference, in Glasgow, there was hot competition for the prize.

The posters covered a range of issues across research management and administration. The BU entry, put together by Corrina Dickson, Anita Somner and Julie Northam with the help of the Marketing and Communications team, focused on how the RDU has tailored support for academics in the pre-award process by:

  • customising funding alerts
  • redesigning the internal peer review process
  • improving the quality of Je-S proposals prior to submission
  • providing personalised recognition for funding success.

A pdf copy of the poster is available here.

The prize, which included a free delegate place at next year’s INORMS conference in Copenhagen, was presented on the second day of the two-day event, shortly after the team wiped the floor at the previous evening’s conference dinner quiz!

This success closely follows other recent achievements for the RDU and wider Centre for Research and Enterprise Operations team, most notably their shortlisting for the 2011 Times Higher Education Leadership & Management Awards (THELMAs) under the ‘Outstanding Research Management Team’ category. This was for the work done to improve the management and infrastructure of research support at BU during 2009-2010.

The awards ceremony for the THELMAs will be held in London on 16 June 2011 where the team will be joined by representatives from BU’s Financial and Commercial Services (FCS) as part of FCS’s nomination for ‘Outstanding Finance Team’.

Find an Expert: Further Comments

A while back I posted looking for comments on which research ontology to use in order to drive our ‘find an expert’ search engine both for external and crucially for internal users.  How can we increase collaboration in BU if we can’t find each other and seek out the expertise we need?  The find an expert function will help with this.  To help the search engine we need to classify our expertise against some form of research taxonomy or ontology; basically a list of subjects and expertise.  In the original post I favoured the Science Metrix subject list as a simple solution.  The alternative is the Library of Congress list which is much more exhaustive and Holger Schutkowski (Applied Sciences) has made a strong plea via his blog posts for this with the idea that we could edit this list down to something more managable, essentially removing those subject areas that we simply do not have at BU.  I am keen to take a decision on this soon so any further views would be very much appreciated.  May be there is an alternative ontology that we should consider for example.

Research Themes: A Gentle Reminder

A little while back I put out a call for ‘champions’ to help define the emerging BU Research Themes.  The call was heard by some and posts against some of the themes followed, and in a few cases alternative takes on the same theme have been posted which is excellent.  The idea was/is to get different academics to define the themes using a simple template which you can find on the original post [http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/2011/05/24/champions-answer-the-call/].  Debate is essential if we are to understand the scope of these themes and help define them further and I am keen for there to be as many different views as possible.  Don’t just leave it to the usual suspects but have your say and help define the theme most relevant to you.  If someone else has posted then post your own views and perspective; be brave and enter the debtate!  We will be closing the debate soon in order to take stock of where we are with each theme.  I still hanker after reducing the number of themes further and one way to do this is by culling those that haven’t attracted much interest.  Towards the end of next week I will try to pull together the different views and provide a briefing document on all the themes.  So please engage and have your say before its to late!

Sustainable methodology of conserving large historic vehicles in the museum environment

Dr Zulfiqar Khan, School of Design, Engineering and Computing, discusses the work undertaken by BU academics and the Tank Museum to conserve large military vehicles…

The Tank Museum Bovington has the largest collection of military tanks from World War 1, 2 & recent. These historic military vehicles and all other large objects have always been key entities, which provide a wealth of information and insight into the past design process, design methods, materials and manufacturing techniques. These rare & historic collections are valuable assets for our present and the future generation.

These historic vehicles like any other museum artefacts are associated with deterioration due to aging mechanisms such as corrosion, stress corrosion and fatigue crack propagation and wear in the interacting surface.

Large military vehicles such as military tanks were exposed to extreme physical and environmental conditions during the war, in addition after the war the vehicles were left unattended for an unidentified period in the uncontrolled environment resulting accelerated aging mechanisms.

Corrosion is one of the growing persistent problems in the military vehicles in the Tank Museum at Bovington. The historic vehicles are stored in the museum in two distinct controlled and uncontrolled environments with a transitional mode when vehicles move between the two. Varying environmental conditions together with operational factors pose a significant risk to the vehicles.

To preserve these vehicles in a valuable state for the benefit of the society, sustainable conservation techniques are required to slow down or suspend the deterioration within these historic vehicles.

Extraordinary interests and efforts of the Director of The Tank Museum at Bovington Mr. Richard Smith and Professor Mark Hadfield, Director Sustainable Design Research Centre (SDRC) at Bournemouth University lead to the design of a research project between BU and the Tank Museum.  Mr Adil Saeed has been conducting important research under the supervision of Dr. Zulfiqar Khan co-director SDRC, Dr. Nigel Garland and Professor Mark Hadfield as mentor.

Adil was recently invited as guest speaker by Forensic Institute Cranfield University at Shrivenham where his guest lecture was well attended and received. In addition Adil has also presented the outcome of the ongoing research in the Department of Materials at Oxford University, where member of the research consortia and Oxford university staff attended the presentation.

Recent research outcomes and results were also presented in a paper at an international conference of Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE) in May 2011 at Atlanta, Georgia. STLE is highly reputable organisation with members around the world. The conference in May attracted around 400 papers with well over 1000 delegates, 70 multinationals industrial participants and 40 student posters.

The aims of the research are to indentify the aging mechanisms such as corrosion, stress corrosion and fatigue cracking, failure due to static and dynamic stresses including the role of residual stresses, deterioration in the interacting components and other potential risks in the historic vehicles through non-destructive methods and develop sustainable methodology for the preservation of these vehicles in different museum environments.

Phytoplankton research aboard R.V. Cefas Endeavour

Dr. Dan Franklin and Deborah Steele, School of Applied Sciences, have joined forces with scientists from across Europe on a research cruise in the North Sea exploring the abundance and growth of plant cells (phytoplankton).

The research team conducted their study aboard the R.V. Cefas Endeavour, using specialised optical instruments called flow cytometers, which analyse thousands of cells per second.

Using this technology the scientists have built up a comprehensive picture of what grows where and how productive the different cells are.

This data will improve the way plant growth is seen by satellites and will help to map out fish production, which is ultimately dependent on phytoplankton growth.

Dan Franklin said: “We were exceptionally lucky with the weather and enjoyed calm seas throughout the cruise. Our track took us North from Lowestoft, across to the Dogger Bank, east into Dutch coastal waters before returning to Lowestoft via the Greater Gabbard wind farm in the Thames estuary. The fact that we had calm seas made the lab work much easier. I found the habitat complexity and biodiversity of the North Sea a revelation – everywhere was different. When not working long hours in the laboratory, we were fortunate to see plenty of wildlife such as whitebeak dolphins, various seabirds such as gannets and guillemots, and possibly minke whales and orcas.”

The research trip was made possible by the generosity of CEFAS, the government laboratory responsible for monitoring fish stocks, promoting the sustainable use of marine resources and improving the marine environment. BU extends thanks to CEFAS for this opportunity.

You can view an excellent video of dolphins from the trip below:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DhzSaq_KS4

Get your own business cards!

Last month I attended the GrantCraft: Research Workshop Day that Corrina arranged and which many of you attended. The session, facilitated by Dr Martin Pickard, was a huge success and we will definitely be inviting Martin back to run a similar workshop at BU again.

During the ‘Impact and Benefits’ session the importance of business cards in establishing academic networks was discussed, and I was surprised to note that less than 10% of the audience already have cards.

The Vitae website notes that business cards are essential in establishing academic networks, and that networks enable researchers to:

  • create a professional image
  • exchange information and keep up-to-date with new developments
  • identify potential areas for collaboration
  • establish disciplinary, cross-disciplinary, cross-institutional and cross-sector groups
  • get published

With this is mind the Research Development Unit has funding available to purchase some business cards for academics who need them. If you’d like some business cards then let us know and we’ll see what we can do! Email us at researchunit@bournemouth.ac.uk

BU Research Themes – have your say!

The future BU Research Themes are starting to take shape but your input is still needed!

Several champions have already stepped forward to start defining the themes, and these can be read on a special part of the blog – BU Research Themes. Everyone is encouraged to read and comment on these emerging ideas. Once fleshed out these themes will shape the future BU research strategy and will inform how research is presented on the BU website.

No one has yet stepped forward to define the following potential Research Themes:

  • Recreation and Leisure
  • Creative and Digital Economies

If you have an interest in either of these themes then please do help us to flesh these themes out. See our previous Research Themes blog post for details of how to get involved. The completed templates were due back last week but the deadline has been extended until Friday 10 June.

Speak now or forever hold your peace!

Cross BU themes – big but still narrow?

Outlines for the big themes are unfolding, or are they? Let me share some observations. Several weeks ago, the professoriate had an immensely fruitful brainstorming meeting to discuss, among other things, how we can take forward the promotion of cross-University research collaboration and which big research themes would be suitable given their current representation in the funding landscape and their contribution towards societal need. Of the impressive and broadly supported list that emerged, three themes have so far been tackled: Technology and Design, Ageing, and Health & Wellbeing. Their recent descriptions on the research blog, however, reveal what I think may turn out to be a fundamental dilemma. Those three themes, the way they are outlined, can still be run by their home Schools alone and look like the continuation of big themes that were in existence already before we started to brainstorm rather than the roadmap to a wider integration of thoughts and people. I hasten to add here that I hold up my hands for not having engaged enough myself with two of the themes that my area of expertise can contribute to, but my impression is that there may be more people like me out there who just need that little kick. Therefore, for the penny it is worth, here are my suggestions for broadening out the themes on ageing and health & wellbeing.

The ageing society is at the fore, and will continue to be so for generations to come. However, do we trace old age back in time – and by that I mean from prehistory well into post-medieval periods? Do we settle happily with the perpetuated notion that people in the past all died young? How would a better understanding of the size and importance of the elderly cohort in past societies change our perception of old age today? How can we interrogate the most immediate source material to learn about humans in the past – their skeletal remains? Biological Anthropology (or Bioarchaeology) is set up to make the contribution here. First of all, dying young was by no means everybody’s fate. Not infrequently, people lived to respectable high age, comparable with, say, that during the Victorian period (once they survived infancy and early childhood). Vastly improved methods of age assessment from human skeletal remains now provide an increasingly clearer picture of life and death in the past. This information can be most beneficially used to inform research on the life course, differential mortality and patterns of longevity for girls and boys, women and men, in the context of prevailing socio-cultural, political and economic circumstances. I am sure; this can strike a chord with the outline on the ageing theme as it stands.

In a similar vein, health & wellbeing has for a long time concerned biological anthropologists. Palaeopathology is one of the prominent and rapidly expanding sub-fields of the discipline. Using sound, clinically-informed diagnostic approaches, patterns of disease (infectious, metabolic, degenerative, dental, neoplastic etc.) and evidence for treatment and care of the infirm can be reconstructed that provide a fascinating insight into living conditions and ambient socio-ecology of times past.  Naturally, this also feeds back into the Ageing theme, as morbidity is one of the prime causative factors of differential mortality. Palaeopathological diagnosis extends into deep time as well and extends as far back as to include our hominin ancestors who were all but exempt from chronic disease that left traces of skeletal alterations.

I am aware that these two sketches may go too far for some, but I am at the same time convinced that a holistic approach, which explicitly includes the past and which embraces both biological and social sciences, will be able to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of two defining and prominent themes that have a strong pedigree at BU. All comments welcome.

Dr Zulfiqar Khan is elected as Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Dr Zulfiqar Khan, School of Design, Engineering and Computing, has achieved the status of Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (FIMechE).

 

The title is the highest elected grade of membership within the IMechE. Fellowship is awarded to members who have demonstrated significant individual responsibility, sustained achievement and exceptional professionalism during their careers.

This is an excellent achievement – congratulations Zulfiqar! 😀

BU research-based film to be directed by Josh Appignanesi

Rufus Stone, a film by Josh Appignanesi

A film about love, sexual awakening and treachery, set in the bucolic countryside of south west England, and viewed through the lens of growing older.

Josh Appignanesi, London-based filmmaker, script writer and director, has been chosen to direct a short film based on three years of research at Bournemouth University.  The film, Rufus Stone, will tell the story of being gay and growing older in the British countryside.

Appignanesi recently directed and script edited the comedy feature film, The Infidel, written by David Baddiel and starring Omid Djalili and Richard Schiff, was released internationally in Spring 2010.  He has written and directed several short films, most notably Ex Memoria (2006) which stars Nathalie Press and Sara Kestelman in a study of a woman with Alzheimer’s disease, funded by the Wellcome Trust; and Nine 1/2 Minutes (2003), a romantic comedy starring David Tennant.

Rufus Stone is to be produced as the key output of the three-year research project, “Gay and Pleasant Land? – a study about positioning, ageing and gay life in rural South West England and Wales “. The Project is a work package in the New Dynamics of Ageing Project, “Grey and Pleasant Land?: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Connectivity of Older People in Rural Civic Society” and funded by the British Research Councils.

Dr Kip Jones, Reader at the School of Health & Social Care and the Media School, who is the project’s Principal Investigator and Executive Director of Rufus Stone said, ‘We are very fortunate to secure Appignanesi’s involvement in this important output resulting from our three year’s of research efforts. Our hope is that the film will dispel many of the myths surrounding ageing, being gay and life in British rural settings.  By engaging Appignanesi, the film and the results of this important, in-depth research will have significant impact on a wide variety of audiences’.

Champions Answer the Call!

Several champions have stepped forward to help define the BU Research Themes.  You may recall I asked for people to help frame these themes and encouraged as many people as possible to step forward with their thoughts.  In fact the more views we have for each theme the more debate we can generate. 

To help this debate we are posting the detail from the templates on a special part of blog – the Themes page.  I encourage everybody to engage and to comment on the text as it is posted.  If you feel inspired then fill in a template as well!  The more people that get involved with this debate the stronger the definition of each research theme will be.  So please have your say!

For the template, please see my previous Research Themes post.

Matthew Bennett

PVC (Research, Enterprise and Internationalisation)