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BUDI Goes To Colombia!!

It was at the age of 23 when I first discovered South America. As an inexperienced backpacker fresh out of university, I decided to spend six months travelling around the continent. I grew my hair, bought some beads and away I went with nothing but a couple of t-shirts and a Lonely Planet guide. The culture, the openness and warmth of the people I met and the beauty of the environment was like nothing I had ever experienced before and it was at this point that I was bitten by the bug (thankfully not malaria). I vowed that by the age of 30 I would return to the continent. I have no idea why I placed this arbitrary figure on my return but it just felt right at the time.

Anyway, thanks to the Santander PGR grant I was able to realise this aspiration and in my 30thyear I spent two weeks over this July and August in Bogota, Colombia. A colleague and I from Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI) were provided the opportunity to visit and work with the Universidad del Rosario. The Schedule was hectic and full-on and included four full days of lectures and discussions running from 7am to 5pm (Bogota has no seasons and so it is always light at 6am and always dark by 6pm whatever the time of year) arranged by our hosts Laura and Olga who were Occupational Therapist lecturers at the university. We were invited as expert speakers to enlighten, what is fair to say, a very medically minded audience of neuropsychologists, doctors and medical students on more sociological approaches to understanding dementia. Our lectures were warmly received by the audience and interesting discussions have already begun on how BUDI can work with the Universidad del Rosario to introduce more sociological approaches into their teaching schedules and collaborate on future research. This opportunity, as a relatively early career researcher, was nerve-racking yet enthralling and has certainly provided me with the confidence to present, discuss and defend my research in public arenas.

Outside the Local Government HQ with Joanna and Dr Alvaro Mayorga a neuropsychologist from the Universidad del Rosario

However this was not the highlight of the trip for me. This came in the second week when we were introduced to Dr Ricardo Alvarado who was to accompany us on our visit to Nocaima, a small remote settlement just outside of Bogota. As a relatively reserved English PhD student meeting a senior and well respected academic for the first time, I offered out my hand for the usual formalities only to find it being swept aside by Dr Alvarado and replaced by a huge embrace. At this point I remembered why I loved the Latin American people; there was no pretence with them. Dr Alvarado, was genuinely excited to see us. He had read about my PhD work, which involved working with rural communities of Dorset to set up activity groups for older people with dementia, and was keen to show us the work he was doing in Nocaima creating a healthy municipality.

During the winding three hour drive to Nocaima, and despite the fact that it was 6am, Dr Alvarado bounced around the minivan as he attempted to deliver a standing lecture about the work he had been doing with the rural community. He described the many problems which faced rural settlements in Colombia, as lack of jobs, income, and healthcare coupled with drug trafficking, armed conflict and acts of terrorism forced many people, particularly the young and more mobile, to head for the cities and never return. Consequently, this meant that rural communities were dying out and the populations of major cities, particularly Bogota, were rapidly increasing beyond control leaving many people living in cramped dilapidated housing on the fringes of the city. The ‘Healthy Municipality’ project aimed to develop strategies that promoted the commitment of citizens to individual and community health and in doing this it was hoped that it would encourage people to remain within the rural settlements. The project began in 2001 and since then a number of interventions have been implemented to address the needs of the Nocaima community including: employment generation; The Healthy and Useful Schools initiative; a comprehensive human development program and; a basic care plan support for the population. Dr Alvarado described in great depth the work they were doing to educate the young and working age population of Nocaima around health and well-being and to improve the services and development for the area. However until he was made aware of BUDI’s visit he had not considered introducing any initiatives for the elderly population. Despite this though, the elderly in the town had created their own group called ‘Semillas de Amor’ or ‘Seeds of love.’  All members of the group wore a white t-shirt and regularly met (some walking for over three hours each way) to participate in activities and to socialise at the back of one of the facilities that had been constructed as part of the Healthy and Useful Schools Initiative. Dr Alvarado was aware that dementia may be a concern for some of this population, yet as is the case all over the world, stigma and ill-informed perceptions of the condition presented a huge barrier in the society. Although he had recently begun some preliminary work testing for dementia throughout this population, he was keen ‘to pick our brains’ on ways he could work with the community to break down these barriers and to promote the well-being of the elderly population using more sociological and holistic approaches.  

Dr Alvarado providing us with a more sedate lecture on the work of the Healthy Municipality

As soon as we arrived and stepped off the van we were greeted by two members of the ‘Semillas de Amor’ who placed a bag of Clementines into our hands as a welcoming gift and took us to meet the rest of the group. Around 40 elderly people sat outside playing games, drinking tinto (black coffee) and eating cake. Using a mixture of pigeon Spanish and exaggerated hand gestures, I introduced myself and was warmly received by everyone there. Following a half hour meeting with the group, where I was encouraged to continually stand up and speak in an English accent to the amusement of everyone, we were taken to meet Joanna, a senior member of the local authority. She fully embraced Dr Alvarado’s work and had collaborated closely with him to implement many of the strategies in Nocaima. She was keen to show us the town and the care home where a number of elderly people, some with obvious signs of mental ill health, had been abandoned by their families when they migrated to the cities.

The care home was clean and the residents clearly well looked after which was astounding when I was introduced to the one and only carer working in the home. She was responsible for washing and dressing the 33 residents everyday, addressing any medical concerns they had and then working with the chef (the only other employee in the care home) to prepare the meals. It was an arduous task for this one woman, particularly when one of the residents needed to visit the hospital meaning that the chef was left solely in charge of the other 32 residents. At BUDI we continually promote person-centred care approaches, to understand the person and give time and consideration to their care needs, but the situation I was faced with in the care home put everything into stark reality. The care home existed on small funding pots and donations from the community alone. There was no way that additional carers could be employed and so this one woman was left to do everything on her own. Despite this though, she had developed close relationships with the residents, understood what made them ‘tick’ and went out of her way to address all of their care requirements. For this she truly deserves a medal. In fact Joanna described her as half way to heaven already and I had to agree!

However, what really struck me during my visit to Nocaima was the sense of community and the strong bond between the generations of people. People within the community looked out for others in the community as well as those in the care home. When working with rural populations, the informal support and networks that have developed over years of people living together are invaluable when implementing dementia care strategies. Of course they have the potential to be destructive to a person’s well-being if stigma surrounding dementia is prevalent and continually perpetuated but if these communities can come to see dementia in a different light, through initiatives that attempt to raise awareness and understanding of the condition, then they can offer huge support to these people and the benefits can be enormous.

My first trip to Nocaima and my first meeting with Dr Alvarado is something that I will never forget. I am excited about the future work that I can embark on with the community and Dr Alvarado and even on the drive back I was thinking about my first book-setting up Colombia’s first Dementia Friendly Municipality! Still, for now my feet are having to remain firmly grounded as I undertake the ‘small’ task of finishing my PhD. Gracias Nocaima y hasta pronto!

Still rocking the beads (old habits die hard) with one of the care home residents

Dr Tim Breitbarth and a final year Sports Management student win best paper at the Academy of Marketing Conference 2013

Dr Tim Breitbarth and a final year Sports Management student win best paper at the Academy of Marketing Conference 2013

Back in early July Dr Tim Breitbarth attended the Academy of Marketing Conference 2013 hosted by the University of South Wales in Cardiff.

Tim presented the paper “Downstream indirect reciprocity: explaining and measuring consumer reactions to sport clubs’ corporate social responsibility activities” which was co-authored by himself, Dr Stefan Walzel, German Sport University, Cologne and John Bryson, final year Bournemouth University Sports Management student.

The paper won the Best Paper in the Sports Marketing track at the conference. The award was sponsored by Emerald.

The paper presented by Tim forms part of an on-going research project. The international project team for the research, led by Stefan has also just been awarded £15,000 from the prestigious UEFA Research Grant.

Congratulations to Tim, Stefan and John on this achievement.

 

Inventions and Intellectual Property Law comes alive at the Festival of Design and Innovation 2013

The annual Festival of Design and Innovation (FoDI) opened on Thursday 20 June 2013.  It was an opportunity for students from the School of Design, Engineering and Computing (DEC) to exhibit their innovations and creations. “A cake icing pen, a computer game controlled by brain power and a glamping pod were just some of the ground-breaking ideas and inventions on display at this year’s FoDI.”

During the academic year, final year students from DEC are paired off with final year students from the Law Department studying Intellectual Property (IP) Law.  The law students are tasked with advising their DEC clients on the protection and exploitation of their innovative creations.  The DEC clients then incorporate the advice which they have received from the ‘lawyers’ into their final year projects.

The IP-DEC Project brings Intellectual Property law to life.  It gives an opportunity for law students to apply IP Law to real-life inventions and in turn it helps the DEC client to understand the importance of strong IP protection when preparing to protect, market and exploit their various creations.

The IP-DEC Project culminates with Awards for the Best DEC Student; Best IP Student and Best IP-DEC Group sponsored by Paul Turner, a retired Patent Attorney.

The Paul Turner Prize for the best IP-DEC Group was awarded at the opening night of the Festival.  The prize was awarded to Law Students Danielle Foster and Luke Trim and DEC Students Benjamen Armstrong, George Burge, Joseph Carter, Markko Reinberg, Nicholas Cron, Thomas Clements and Thomas Reynolds.

Paul Turner with two of the winning DEC students and law students Luke Trim and Danielle Foster.

The Paul Turner Individual Prize for the Best IP Student went to Gemma Jefferies whilst the Paul Turner Prize for the Best DEC Student was awarded to Coco Canessa.  The Individual Prize winners will officially receive their awards at the Graduation Ceremony in November 2013.

The opportunity to apply Intellectual Property Law to real-life scenarios and to real-life innovations together with helping the DEC clients to grasp the importance of IP law, makes this project truly unique.

The IP-DEC Project is co-ordinated by Dr. Dinusha Mendis (Law); Dr. Tania Humphries (DEC); and Dr. Reza Sahandi (DEC).

 

European Science Foundation and Global Changes in the Marine Environment

I was very proud to have been invited by the Institute of Marine Sciences – National Research Council (ISMAR-CNR) in Venice who developed on the European Science Foundation Platform, the Exploratory Workshop:  Marine woodborers: New Frontiers for European Waters. And I have to say that that was one of the most exciting research opportunities I have taken part of in the recent past.

The European Science Foundation (ESF) was established in 1974 to provide a common platform for its Member Organisations to advance European research collaboration and explore new directions for research. Currently it is an independent organisation, owned by 67 Member Organisations, which are research funding organisations, research performing organisations and academies from 29 countries.

The focus of the Exploratory Workshops scheme is on workshops aiming to explore an emerging and/or innovative field of research or research infrastructure, also of interdisciplinary character. Workshops are expected to open up new directions in research or new domains. It is expected that a workshop shall conclude with plans for follow-up research activities and/or collaborative actions or other specific outputs at international level.

The organisers, namely Davide Tagliapietra, Erica Keppel and Marco Sigovini – all from the ISMAR-CNR- did an amazing job in organising this much needed research group and by planning an excellent working programme.

The topic, centred on Marine woodborers is of utmost important as these organisms are a threat to maritime structure and archaeological heritage. Recently, an increase in attack and a northward spread has been reported. Despite the ecological, economical and cultural importance, research on this subject is carried out by few scientists scattered across Europe. An interdisciplinary approach is needed to reach a synthesis of knowledge and a deeper understanding of the causal factors. The main outcome of the workshop is the establishment of a research network aiming to coordinate scientists with an European perspective and a global view. Through the establishment of such a network, new theoretical and technical developments could be achieved.

The agenda of the workshop was to focus on:

1) bringing together experts in complementary fields that have hitherto not collaborated as a group;

2) identifying additional research competences that are not covered within the group of participants;

3) identifying, exchanging and sharing research interests for future joint leading research projects and developing an application strategies;

4) the establishment of an international network on marine woodborers.

Despite the subject ([wood-]‘boring’ organisms), there wasn’t a single dull moment. It was very exciting to spent a considerable amount of time with international peers coming from as far as Colombia and discussing the problems surrounding these particular organisms.

All sessions were extremely interesting and productive and I totally enjoyed chairing one of them in the Knowledge Café, with my hat of maritime archaeologist whose research interest based also based on marine organisms and global changes, but I am also one of few who combines degradation and protection of the cultural heritage and marine science. The Knowledge Café focussed on Systematics and biogeography, Marine woodborer-microorganism interactions, Protection of shipwrecks and maritime structures. Each group discussed weaknesses: Problems, constrains and bottlenecks, Strengths: Opportunities, synergies, and Perspectives: Solutions, actions and recommendations.

19 international peers attended, which was by invitation only, this amazing opportunity, some of which were old friends and some of which have become reference points for my current and future research on wood borers.

All with the amazing architectural beauties of a tiny Venetian island just in front of one of the world most famous squares: San Marco square!

Paola Palma 

Face Blindness Public Awareness Campaign Gets Underway!

Research from BU’s Centre for Face Processing Disorders was featured in a CBBC documentary today.  The film was entitled ‘My life: Who are you?’ and followed the journey of Hannah, a teenager with face blindness, as she participated in one of our training programmes and discusses the difficulties of everyday life.  The documentary also featured Hannah meeting another girl with face blindness for the first time, and her encounter with Duncan Bannatyne who also has the condition.

We are so pleased with the documentary, and felt the producers did an excellent job in portraying the condition with scientific accuracy, and in demonstrating the difficulties associated with face blindness.  Despite Hannah’s struggles she still maintains a positive attitude to life and the film does an excellent job of presenting her as the remarkable young lady that she is, who was so keen to make the film in order to raise public awareness of the condition.  Hannah’s story illustrates how life can be affected by brain injury, but her remarkable positivity shines through as the programme follows her journey.

If you missed the programme you can watch it here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/cbbc/episode/b01rlyc9/My_Life_Who_Are_You/

We recently launched an e-petition that aims to promote public and professional awareness of prosopagnosia by campaigning for its discussion in the House of Commons.  We need to gain 100,000 signatures to make this happen, so if you were moved by the documentary, please do add your signature:

http://www.prosopagnosiaresearch.org/awareness/e-petition

Our public awareness campaign has only just taken off so watch this space for more activities!

Ant Colony Optimization for Dynamic Optimization Problems

This interesting talk will take place next Wednesday the 5th of December, 16:00-17:00 at P302.
Our external guest is Dr Michalis Mavrovouniotis from the University of Leicester, an specialists in evolutionary algorithms, ant colony optimization, memetic computation and dynamic optimization.

Dr Mavrovouniotis will discuss very recent advances in nature-inspired computational intelligence. These ideas have also relevant implications for optimization problems, knowledge transfer and meta-learning; thus I think may be of great interest of many students, PhD candidates and senior researchers of the three centres in our school.
Abstract: In the last decade, there is a growing interest to apply nature-inspired metaheuristics in optimization problems with dynamic environments. Usually, dynamic optimization problems (DOPs) are addressed using evolutionary algorithms. Recently, ant colony optimization (ACO) algorithms proved that they are also good methods to address DOPs.

However, conventional ACO algorithms have difficulty in addressing DOPs. This is because once the algorithm converges to a solution and a dynamic change occurs, it is difficult for the population to adapt to a new environment since high levels of pheromone will be generated to a single trail and force the ants to follow it even after a dynamic change. A good solution to address this problem is to increase the diversity of solutions via transferring knowledge from previous environments to the pheromone trails of the new environment.

Best wishes, Emili

Emili Balaguer-Ballester, PhD

School of Engineering & Computing, Bournemouth University

Center for Computational Neuroscience, University of Heidelberg

Are we born to yawn?

Yawning consistently poses a conundrum to neurologists and neuroscientists. Increasingly, evidence is found to link neurological disorders through the commonality of yawning episodes and contagious yawning. Despite discrete incidences (such as parakinesia brachialis oscitans) in brain stem ischaemic stroke patients, there is considerable debate over the reasons for yawning, with the mechanism of yawning still not fully understood. Cortisol is implicated in the stress response and fatigue; repetitive yawning may be the link between neurological disorders and with a strong correlation between yawning and a rise in cortisol levels. Evidence has now been found in support of the Thompson Cortisol Hypothesis that proposes cortisol levels are elevated during yawning [1]. Additional data is in press, and further research is planned with longitudinal consideration to neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and stroke. Funding for such initiatives is currently being sought.

[1] Thompson, S.B.N., & Bishop, P., 2012. Born to yawn? Understanding yawning as a warning of the rise in cortisol levels: randomized trial. Interactive Journal of Medical Research, 1(5), e4:1-9. Doi: i-www.jmr.org/2012/e4/

Abortion a hot topic in UK in the 1960s and 1970s: A sociological analysis of book reviews of the edited volume Experience with Abortion: A case study of North-East Scotland

Prof Edwin van TeijlingenLate August Sociological Research Online published my historical analysis of the reviews of the book Experience with Abortion: A case study of North-East Scotland edited by Aberdeen-based academic Gordon Horobin. Experience with Abortion, published in 1973 by Cambridge University Press, was the first study of abortion of its kind to be published in the UK since the introduction of the 1967 Abortion Act. The book’s contributors had been involved in a multi-disciplinary longitudinal study of women’s experience of abortion in Aberdeen in the period 1963-1969.

The paper is content analysis of the book reviews which I found in the late 1980s when I helped clear out Gordon Horobin’s former office in the Department of Sociology (University of Aberdeen).  Amongst the papers to be thrown out were photocopies and cuttings of reviews of  Horobin’s book of the first social medicine study on abortion published since the introduction of the 1967 Abortion Act. I saved the paperwork from recycling. Since then I have searched electronically for further reviews at the time and this resulted in the recently published article.

The paper in Sociological Research Online sets the scene at the time of publication in the early 1970s, and includes abortion as a societal issue, the 1967 Abortion Act and the role of the MRC Medical Sociology Unit in Aberdeen. The reviews were analysed using content analysis. Considering the controversy of abortion at the time, it is interesting that the book reviews were overwhelmingly positive towards both Experience with Abortion and the need for high quality social science research in this field. Several reviews highlighted the importance of having someone like Sir Dugald Baird in Aberdeen and of the Aberdeen-based Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Medical Sociology Unit. Other reviews highlighted Aberdeen’s reputation as a city with a fairly liberal policy towards abortion before the Abortion. One of the chapters in Experience with Abortion reported that between 1938–1947, some 233 women in North-East Scotland had their pregnancies terminated in Aberdeen, less than 25 per year!  Dugald Baird started offering abortions on the NHS in the 1950s. He would offer to terminate the unwanted pregnancies of women with too many children and offer subsequent sterilisation. Today nearly 40 years later, abortion has largely disappeared from the social policy agenda in the UK, although not in many other countries.
Edwin van Teijlingen

References:
Horobin, G. (ed.) (1973) Experience with Abortion; A case study of North-East Scotland, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
van Teijlingen E.R. (2012) A Review of Book Reviews: A Sociological Analysis of Reviews of the Edited Book Experience with Abortion, Sociological Research Online 17 (3) available online: http://www.socresonline.org.uk/17/3/14.html

Munchausen by Internet

Online health forums offer much needed support, advice and friendship for people suffering with illnesses. But within this supportive atmosphere, unwelcome visitors sometimes lurk; a breed of malicious, hurtful Internet trolls masquerading as real group members.

Munchausen by Internet (MBI) sees people faking illnesses and fabricating serious health conditions in online support groups, building relationships with genuine sufferers and generating sympathy for their invented condition.

In one case documented in 2011, a brother and sister posed as relations of a multiple sclerosis sufferer on a social networking website and created an elaborate narrative, which included diagnosis of terminal cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a baby miscarriage, pneumonia and the death of a loved one through a heart attack. They trapped their victim – a genuine MS sufferer called Elizabeth – into providing half a year of time-consuming and emotionally draining interaction with themselves and their fake personas.[i]

Events such as these can have devastating effects on online health communities, destroying trust when the hoax is exposed and sometimes damaging the communities beyond repair. But what can be done to manage this more effectively?

Andy Pulman and Dr Jacqui Taylor from Bournemouth University are the authors of a recent article on MBI and its motivation, opportunity, detection, effects and consequences. They suggest that MBI trolling should be formally acknowledged: “This will help patients, caregivers and practitioners to more effectively identify cases of MBI and minimise the growth of this behaviour as more and more people seek reassurance and support about their health in an online environment,” they explain.

Pulman and Taylor also suggest that more research is required in order to provide victims of suspected MBI trolls with the right advice and for facilitators of discussion groups to effectively manage interactions. “There is a clear, compelling need to recognise that in addition to MBI being classed as a condition in its own right, there is a subsection of people currently tagged as MBI sufferers who are MBI trolls intentionally harming well intentioned support groups and abusing members for their own pleasure or enjoyment. It is this area which needs urgent attention and action either by group users or the creators of the software that host them.”

‘Munchausen by Internet (MBI): Current research and future directions’ is published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR). Read it online here.

[i] Case documented in Cunningham JM, Feldman MD. Munchausen by Internet: current perspectives and three new cases. Psychosomatics 2011 Apr;52(2):185-189.

BU’s ECOSAL Team visiting Northern Ireland to investigate the coastal salt working site at Ballycastle, Co Antrim

BU’s ECOSAL Team recently visited Northern Ireland to investigate the coastal salt working site at Ballycastle, Co Antrim. ECOSAL is a multi-national EU-funded project that is recording the archaeological evidence for salt working around the Atlantic Coast of the UK, France, Spain and Portugal. It is also recording the ecology and biodiversity of these sites, many of them located in fragile environments such as lagoons. Key sites will be included on a European Salt Route, linking sites from all four countries while telling the story of salt production, the uses of salt, its economic history, etc.

The photo shows that it’s not all sunshine and celebrity media events, but on this occasion we found some excellent evidence for the 17th to 19th century salt-workings at Ballycastle, a once thriving industry now completely gone.

From left to right in the photo: David Cranstone, Wes Forsythe, Mark Brisbane, Michael Fradley and Danny McGill.

You can find out more about ECOSAL at our BU website: http://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/applied-sciences/research/ecosal-atlantis/index.html

School of Tourism’s Dr. Debbie Sadd undertaking an ethnographic study of volunteering at the Olympics

Dr. Debbie Sadd, from School of Tourism, had the fantastic opportunity to work as a volunteer with the world’s photographers and journalists covering the basketball at the London Olympic Games. Her duties varied from day to day but involved sitting court side with the photographers making sure they don’t stray from their allotted areas to working ‘backstage’ ensuring all the required technical material is available for them to transmit their stories/photos back to their respective editors. Some days the sports specialists rang through whilst the transmissions were live on US television asking for facts and figures, which have to be available immediately for broadcast in the US. Debbie’s group had their own system called info+ which contained all the necessary information and they were required to be proficient in its use pretty quickly.

In Debbie’s own words, the experience was “quite stressful and tiring but gosh have I seen some exciting games and met some wonderful people and I even got to see my hero Kobe Bryant!”

School of Tourism’s Ivana Rihova gets ‘stuck in’ with her research fieldwork at this year’s summer festivals!

School of Tourism’s Ivana Rihova – a PhD Student at the John Kent Institute in Tourism – certainly experienced what ‘getting stuck in’ with fieldwork can feel like at this year’s summer festivals. As part of her research project entitled “Consumers as producers: customer-to-customer co-creation in the context of festival experiences” Ivana is visiting five multi-day outdoor festivals in England and Wales this summer. Through participant observation and interviews with festival goers she aims to explore how value is co-created in the context of festival participants’ social practices and experiences. Ivana’s research, supervised by Prof. Dimitrios Buhalis, Dr. Miguel Moital and Dr. Mary Beth Gouthro (all based at the School of Tourism), highlights various issues related to customer co-creation in socially dense festival contexts. The findings will not only contribute theoretically to our understanding of how people co-create value with each other, but could also help turn event and festival experiences from the ordinary to the extraordinary.