Category / Strategic Investment Areas

Our strategic research clusters: introducing Fish Ecology and Conservation at Bournemouth University (FishE@BU)

Professor Robert Britton - Bournemouth University Staff Profile PagesThe Research Cluster for Fish Ecology and Conservation at Bournemouth University (FishE@BU) is being established to address a significant current global challenge: how can we manage and respond to rapid environmental change to prevent the collapse of aquatic ecosystems that is being driven by the dramatic declines in fish biodiversity? These biodiversity declines are global, from sharks in the open ocean to migratory fishes that use both marine and freshwater habitats – and even include endemic fishes in the monsoonal rivers of Southern Asia. These declines threaten ecosystem functioning, food security and income streams globally.  They are driven by the interactions of anthropogenic pressures that include exploitation, invasive species, climate change and habitat fragmentation. Decoupling how these pressures interact to drive these declines is complex, which then inhibits the generation of the information required to formulate sustainable solutions.

Correspondingly, FishE@BU is being established to help resolve this global crisis through the application of state-of-the-art spatial, behavioural, trophic and molecular ecology approaches to create significant new knowledge to increase contemporary understandings of, and help manage, the underlying causes of the on-going global loss of fish biodiversity. Previously endorsed as an Institute of Aquatic Sciences by the University Board in February 2020, it was delayed in its launch by the Covid-19 Pandemic, with subsequent revision of the Institute to a strategic research cluster focused on fish ecology and conservation. The work of FishE@BU is intended to strongly inform policies and practices at regional, national and global scales in order to secure the sustainable utilisation of fish, fishery and aquatic resources that no longer imperil their biodiversity.

FishE@BU will be hosted by the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences (LES) of the Faculty of Science and Technology. It will be directed by Professor Robert Britton, in collaboration with Dr Demetra Andreou (LES) and Dr Adrian Pinder (BUG Enterprise Unit). Their roles will include driving the RKE activities of the Cluster so that bidding for substantial funding opportunities can be increased, which in turn will generate increased income and permit the undertaking of cutting-edge research and the production of high-quality RKE outputs and associated impact generation. This will increase the international profile of BU, directly contribute to the BU2025 Strategic Vision, provide new ways for BU staff and students to engage with Fusion, and help improve BU’s ranking in various frameworks and league tables. Opportunities to develop new income education schemes will be investigated, such as through developing a new Level 7 programme on aquatic ecology and conservation, and developing a CPD programme with the potential for including accredited options.

FishE@BU will use the existing RKE activities within LES and BUG as its platform for launching its activities, where RKE on the impact of global environmental changes on fish biodiversity has been established during the last decade, where considerable work has been completed on critically endangered species that are of imminent risk of extinction (e.g. European eel, hump-backed mahseer). This investment in new technology, including state-of-the-art biotelemetry equipment, and in new opportunities for postgraduate research students, will not only ensure that FishE@BU is equipped with the tools needed to deliver its vision, but will provide it with the technologies needed to make substantial progress in halting this biodiversity decline.

Our strategic research clusters: introducing ADDISONIC

Summary

The Faculty of Science and Technology has successfully led a joint submission with the Faculty of Media and Communication and the Business School that is being supported by the March 2021 call for ‘game-changing’ research concepts to enable growth of BU2025 Strategic Investment Areas (SIAs).

We are very excited that, through our existing state-of-the-art advanced materials and manufacturing facilities at the Design and Engineering Innovation Centre, BU now reunites all the conditions required to becoming World-leader in ultrasonic fatigue testing of advanced materials. Our wish is that this will ultimately impact in the World’s eco-economy and sustainable development.

Our Mission

Having as primary SIA Sustainability, Low Carbon Technology & Materials Science, the ADDISONIC (Advanced Manufacturing Ultrasonic Fatigue Prediction and Life Extension) mission is to contribute to reducing global waste by extending the life and enhancing the optimisation of any engineered systems through incorporating novel advanced materials tested under ultrasonic fatigue for quick and reliable predictability of properties to extend their lives. Therefore, the project addresses the UN sustainability goals of Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; Responsible Production and Consumption; and, Climate Action.

The project also aims at contributing to fostering networking between BU and local or national businesses and industries, whether in this research area or in any other field where BU academics have strengths.

What industries partnering up with us will find

Making use of the Design and Engineering Innovation Centre at Bournemouth University, our partners will find cutting-edge laboratories and workshops featuring industry-standard facilities and the latest rapid 3D printing, prototyping, and manufacturing equipment. We also have long-lasting collaborations with other UK-based and international Universities to access additional expertise, such as the University of Hertfordshire or the University of Lisbon.

Why is this research a priority?

With up to 4x lower scrap material generated in parts manufactured, metal additive manufacturing is more eco-friendly. The market is estimated to grow by £4.42bn between 2016 and 2024 with an annual growth rate of 14%. However, little is known about the lifetime properties of novel advanced materials, such as metal additive manufactured ones. Knowing that approximately 90% of all metallic failures are due to cyclic loadings, we will lead global research into the application of ultrasonics for fatigue testing of advanced materials as it is the only method to quickly determine the predictability of material properties that will be subjected to cyclic loading. Ultrasonic fatigue testing machines enable tests to be extended to 1 billion cycles in just a few days compared to months or years (figure 1), which has as growth driver the adoption of “just-in-time” processes.

Figure 1. Comparison between the duration different fatigue testing methods need to be completed, assuming tests can run uninterruptedly.

Furthermore, recent developments show it is possible to carry multiaxial testing too, including with different biaxiality ratios. The PI, Dr Diogo Montalvão, was the first researcher in the World to adapt specimens being loaded in two directions (known as ‘cruciform biaxial specimens’) to ultrasonics. This is important because most fatigue testing still uses ‘uniaxial loads’ (loading in one direction), although real components are exposed to ‘multiaxial loads’ (loading in multiple directions), which means new products will see enhanced optimised designs that will contribute to less waste. In terms of future developments, the project will also allow tackling the ‘enigma’ of experimentally reproducing, in a lab, 3D cyclic stresses that more accurately replicate what happens in real engineered components (figure 2). With new materials being developed every year, we believe ultrasonic fatigue testing will be the standard testing procedure in the future as it is estimated that it can lead to savings of between £13k and £71k per ASTM E379/ISO12107 material test programme.

Figure 2. Multiaxial ultrasonic fatigue testing: (a) System; (b) equibiaxial specimen; (c) pure shear specimen; (d) thermographic image; (e) fatigue crack; (f) Idealised (future) triaxial specimens – equibiaxial (top) and shear (bottom).

 

 

Our strategic research clusters: introducing Multimodal Immersive NEuro-sensing (MINE)

Our proposal titled “Multimodal Immersive NEuro-sensing (MINE) for natural neuro-behavioural measurement” is one of the three successful research concepts to be supported by BU’s Strategic Investment Area scheme. It aims at developing a pioneering multimodal and immersive system for the measurement of human behaviour and neural activities in realistic and controlled environments.

This project has several aims. Firstly, conducting human behaviour and neuroscience research traditionally requires laboratory-based settings and well-controlled environments. However, this reduces the ecological validity of research studies because the laboratory environment and the experimental stimuli are not realistic, and natural social interactions are often difficult, if not impossible.

To embrace high ecological validity, one solution is to go out of the laboratory and conduct studies in real natural environments. However, these natural environments are very uncontrollable due to all the random events happening constantly. This dilemma can be bridged by using VR technologies. VR can exert high experimental control while keeping a high ecological validity. The virtual environments can be of high realism and fidelity, for example, for social interactions (thus immersive) or scenes with affective content.

Secondly, the MINE team proposes to combine virtual reality (VR) and various neural and physiological measures in an easier to use and mobile integrated platform (see the figure below). Electroencephalography (EEG), the recording of brain activities from scalp surface to reveal neural underpinnings of human behaviour (thus neuro-sensing). Mobile EEG allows users to carry all equipment components in a backpack and walk around in a natural manner, maximally allowing natural social interactions. For instance, in the figure, a human user interacts with a virtual character while EEG is being recorded. Other measures that will be combined with VR and/or EEG setups are eye tracking, facial muscular activity, head and body motion, heart rate and skin conductance recordings (thus multimodal). This integrated platform allows researchers to have a complete picture of human behaviour and physiological responses and it opens up many possibilities to expand experimental design possibilities in natural settings. Overall, the MINE concept allows researchers to study human-environment and human-human interactions during neural measurement in controlled and realistic virtual environments.

The MINE concept greatly promotes interdisciplinary research across all faculties and with external industry partners in research fields such as mental health, way finding, healthy ageing, consumer behaviour, neuromarketing, social and affective neuroscience. The leading MINE research team (Dr Xun He, Prof Fred Charles, Dr Ellen Seiss, Dr Emili Balaguer-Ballester) are based in Faculty of Science and Technology, and also members of Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Research Centre (INRC). There are nine other collaborating team members from Faculty of Health & Social Sciences, BU Clinical Research Unit, Faculty of Media & Communication, Institute of Medical Imaging & Visualisation, and Ageing & Dementia Research Centre.

We very much look forward to the journey ahead of us!

If you would like to collaborate with the project team, please contact Dr Xun He directly. For any other queries in relation to the SIAs, please contact the RDS team on sia@bournemouth.ac.uk

Our strategic research clusters: introducing Virtual Production

Today’s blog post, written by Dr Richard Southern, introduces one of our new strategic research growth clusters, which is building on BU’s existing excellence in computer animation to forward research in the pioneering field of virtual production: 

Project Summary

This 3-year project establishes a Multi-Disciplinary Cluster of Excellence for Research in Virtual Production to develop the game-changing idea of Remote Production through strategic investment, enabling research to widen access, enhance sustainability, and explore applications, reducing barriers to entry and putting visual content creation in the hands of a wider range of storytellers and innovators.

Figure 1: Pre-Visualisation Demonstration. Image credit: Paolo Mercogliano, Diana Pelino, Anna Semple, Miguel Pozas, Joseph Adams and Nathalie Puetzer

Figure 2: LED Wall Demonstration. Image credit: Richard Southern.

Introduction

Virtual Production (VP) defines a set of new production practices where practitioners work in and interact directly with a virtual set. VP reduces the need to move crews and equipment to location and enables remote working in VR, reducing CVD-19 risks, the environmental footprint, slashes production costs and upends the traditional production process by blurring the lines between production departments.

Evidence of sustainability of VP practices is already emerging studios and technology providers:

The logical next step in is to transition production in film, TV and broadcast media practices from those that are mainly facilities-bound to working environments that are remotely collaborative and thereby making the practices more sustainable. Examples of new technologies in this are virtual cinematography and VR puppeteering.

Previous Work

Virtual Production reframes games, virtual reality, and computer graphics technology in the context of production practice, allowing us to leverage our existing excellence and industry expertise in a booming sector. A myriad of applications stem from this including sustainable production, immersive storytelling, networking, ethics, digital heritage, collaborative visualisation and military, which broadens opportunities for collaboration across the wider the University. This project applies and develops research into areas for which BU is recognised internationally:

This project focuses BU’s existing research portfolio, supports ECRs and develops new research aligned with the identified themes to establish BU as a key partner in future industry and academic collaboration. Existing institutional resources include:

  • Thousands of students in complementary discipline areas who will collaborate and co-create content and undertake research with this technology, while entering the sector with a deep understanding of the sustainability implications of their practice.
  • Multi-disciplinary and industry-relevant skills and knowledge base in film, VFX and games production directly relevant to Virtual Production.
  • Current multi-million pound externally funded research projects aligned with applications in the Creative Industries (Centre for Digital Entertainment (EPSRC), Centre for Applied Creative Technologies (Horizon 2020), AniAge (Horizon 2020), VistaAR (Interreg)).
  • Industry standard facilities, including film studios, VR labs, motion capture technology, strengthening our research capacity in enabling experimentation and validation of production ready research projects to delivery high impact research.
  • Strong regional and national partnerships and alumni network in the Creative Industries.
  • Members are represented on BFI Albert, the National Standards Working Group in Virtual Production, and the StudioUK Skills Group. The NCCA is an Unreal Academic Partner.

 

Project Goals

After 3 years we envisage a Centre of Excellence in Virtual Production to deliver:

  • Impactful research outputs in virtual and remote production for enhancing productivity and sustainable working practices,
  • Grant capture with industry collaborators to tackle industry-relevant challenges,
  • A consortium of industry partners to advise activity in research, teaching and enterprise,
  • World-class research-informed teaching in this highly sought-after discipline area,
  • A demonstration facility showcasing our research and new technologies.

 

Background

The Creative Industries contributes 6% of UK GVA, with estimated year on year growth estimated at 7.1%, and constituting 7% of global output in this sector. Global Virtual Production Market size is expected to reach £2.2b by 2026, rising at a rate of 14.3%. UK studios and core technology providers are global leaders in this space, leading to the Digital Catapult and Screenskills to identify this as a critical growth area. As of November 2020, there were 150 Virtual Production studios in the world, and 70 new sound stages have been designated for construction across the UK until 2023. This demonstrates strong commercial and UK government interest in leading advances in TV and film production, and has already attracted significant productions to move to the UK.

The Creative Industries have rapidly embraced this technology, and vendors and studios are moving swiftly to meet this new demand. Commercial R&D ranges from the cameras, tracking and LED walls to the software needed to drive the displays. Production companies are actively investing in R&D to gain competitive advantages, such as Mo-Sys Star Tracker, ILM’s Stagecraft and Bournemouth-based Tree House Digital’s custom drive train for filming vehicles.

Bournemouth has been classified as a high growth area in the Creative Industries, fuelled by access to talent from local Universities and geographic advantages. BU has ranked in the bottom 30% in terms of local growth and regeneration, and bottom 50% of working with business in the recent KEF exercise, presenting an opportunity for significant impact through regional growth.

This proposal seeks to address internal and external priorities: sustainability in the creative industries is an identified priority of BU, BFI and the Creative Industry Pact; production costs and finance are identified as one of the four key challenges facing the sector; innovative immersive applications are a UKRI priority; and post-pandemic business and production models are critical research questions currently facing the immersive technologies, particularly virtual production.

BU’s Strategic Investment Areas and our new research clusters

As articulated within BU2025, our Strategic Investment Areas (SIAs) build on our existing academic strengths and future opportunities aligned to external priorities, including policy direction and funding. BU Research Blog | How do I get involved with the Strategic Investment Areas at BU? Insight for academics and professional service staff | Bournemouth University

The four Strategic Investment Areas are:

  • Assistive Technology
  • Animation, Simulation & Visualisation
  • Medical Science
  • Sustainability, Low Carbon Technology & Materials Science.

These areas were developed in consultation with BU staff through the BU2025 planning process.

Since the launch of BU2025, we have developed the scope for each SIA and reviewed the relevant policy, legislation, networks/specialist interest groups as well as related growth/acceleration of areas of research for the UK, EU and globally. To date, two major new initiatives have been supported and enabled strategic University support, the Institute of Medical Imaging & Visualisation and the Institute of Modelling Socio-Environmental Transitions.

But what comes next? As we have explored before on the Research Blog, the creation of new knowledge is a fundamental part of what we do as a University. This is especially pertinent for BU given our commitment to fusion, meaning that everyone has responsibilities for research (alongside education and professional practice). Over the spring and summer of 2021, as we began to emerge from the initial COVID-19 related crisis, you may remember that we put out a call forward for Expressions of Interest for game-changing research concepts. Many brilliant ideas were forthcoming with a number of concepts identified as priority areas for support further to a competitive process. A series of blog posts will take you through them this week in more detail, but can be summarised in brief as follows:

  • Towards Remote Production: Multi-Disciplinary Innovation in Virtual Production to widen access, enhance sustainability and enable new applications; led by Dr Richard Southern
    • Virtual Production (VP) defines a set of new production practices where practitioners work in and interact directly with a virtual set. VP reduces the need to move crews and equipment to the location and enables remote working in VR, reducing CVD-19 risks, the environmental footprint, slashes production costs and upends the traditional production process by blurring the lines between production departments. The logical next step in the evolution of the discipline is to transition production in film, TV and broadcast media practices from those that are mainly facilities-bound to working environments that are remotely collaborative.
  • Advanced Manufacturing Ultrasonic Fatigue Prediction and Life Extension (ADDISONIC); led by Dr Diogo Montalvao:
    • Our mission is to reduce global waste by extending the life and enhancing the optimisation of engineered systems utilised in the medical, assistive technology, sustainability and low carbon sectors through incorporating novel advanced materials tested under ultrasonic fatigue for quick and reliable predictability of properties to extend their life”.
  • Multimodal Immersive NEuro-sensing  (MINE), led by Dr Xun He.
    • “The concept is to develop a pioneering Multimodal Immersive NEuro-sensing (MINE) system for the measurement of human behaviour and neural activities in realistic and controlled environments. Our concept will enable strategic research growth in multiple disciplines, with human signal measurement at the core of Assistive Technology (AT).”
  • Fish Ecology and Conservation at Bournemouth University (FishE@BU), led by Prof Rob Britton:
    • The Research Cluster for Fish Ecology and Conservation at Bournemouth University (FishE@BU) is being established to address a significant current global challenge: how can we manage and respond to rapid environmental change to prevent the collapse of aquatic ecosystems that is being driven by the dramatic declines in fish biodiversity? Correspondingly, FishE@BU is being established to help resolve this global crisis through the application of state-of-the-art spatial, behavioural, trophic and molecular ecology approaches to create significant new knowledge to increase contemporary understandings of, and help manage, the underlying causes of the on-going global loss of fish biodiversity. 

How can I learn more? 

Look out for the forthcoming blog posts that introduce these concepts and feel free to get in-touch with colleagues directly to explore the potential for collaboration. Furthermore, if you would like to receive details of forthcoming launch and networking events, please email: sia@bournemouth.ac.uk

 

NIHR Bulletin

RDS NEWS

From the RDS (Research Design Service) desk – raising the public involvement standards in the RDS.
Patient and public involvement has been an essential element of research funding applications for many years, and the RDS has been making it an essential element in how we work. Our blog this month shows how we’ve integrated our public contributor teams to our advice-giving service, and the resulting benefits. Read the blog here.

NIHR News

Good Clinical Trials Collaborative launches new guidance consultation

Professor Lucy Chappell begins role as NIHR Chief Executive

eBulletins and Newsletters

NIHR Funding and support round-up: August 2021

NIHR ARCs – August Newsletter

Funding Opportunities

Latest NIHR funding calls

Evidence Synthesis Programme
Incentive Awards Scheme 2021

Programme Development Grants
Competition 31

 

Your local branch of the NIHR RDS (Research Design Service) is based within the BU Clinical Research Unit (BUCRU) should you need help with your application. We advise on all aspects of developing an application and can review application drafts as well as put them to a mock funding panel (run by RDS South West) known as Project Review Committee, which is a fantastic opportunity for researchers to obtain a critical review of a proposed grant application before this is sent to a funding body.

Contact us as early as possible to benefit fully from the advice

Feel free to call us on 01202 961939 or send us an email.

EVENT: Returning to Sport Sustainably Post-Covid

The Sport and Physical Activity Research Centre (SPARC) invites you to join us at our lunchtime seminar, “Returning to Sport Sustainably Post-Covid”. The seminar is taking place on Wednesday 7 July, between midday and 1.30pm.

The event, which is being held in conjunction with BASIS (the British Association for Sustainable Sport), aims to bring together practitioners and academics working in sport & sustainability, to discuss key issues and best practice as we emerge from lockdown.

The seminar is an excellent opportunity for BU staff to engage with those working in industry, in one of BU’s Strategic Investment Areas – Sustainability.

Programme:

12.00   Introduction: Sport and Sustainability Research – Raf Nicholson (Bournemouth University)

12.10   Building Back Better: The BASIS White Paper – Russell Seymour (CEO of BASIS)

12.25   Strategies to Ensure the Sustainability of Women’s Sport – Beth Clarkson (University of Portsmouth) and Keith Parry (Bournemouth University)

12.40   Returning to Action – Leigh Thompson (Head of Policy, Sport and Recreation Alliance)

12.55   Roundtable Discussion: Returning to Sport Sustainably Post-Covid

 

The Zoom link for the seminar is here: https://bournemouth-ac-uk.zoom.us/j/89306375276?pwd=SWJSay80QTl3V256eWk2N3JhMUtmUT09

 

For any queries, contact Dr Raf Nicholson – rnicholson@bournemouth.ac.uk

Institute of Medical Imaging and Visualisation to be part of study to test new Alzheimer’s diagnostic tool

BU’s Institute of Medical Imaging and Visualisation (IMIV) will be part of a project awarded funding by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to test a new Alzheimer’s diagnostic tool in the NHS.

The three-year multi-centre study, led by Oxford Brain Diagnostics (OBD), aims to assess the use of Cortical Disarray Measurement (CDM®) as a tool to identify and predict disease progression amongst patients presenting with mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease.

As part of the project, a total of 300 MRI scans from NHS patients in the early stages of the disease will be examined using CDM to distinguish patient cohorts and measure changes in brain structure over time.

This will enable the project team to assess how improved diagnosis will impact on current treatment pathways and patient outcomes, and to assess future economic impact across primary, secondary, and social care.

IMIV will be one of the centres carrying out imaging for this study using its state-of-the-art Siemens Lumina 3T MRI scanner. IMIV MRI Operations Manager John Totman said: “Our Siemens scanner has the capacity and capabilities to perform complex neuroimaging research studies, and we look forward to working with OBD in delivering this project.”

The project also involves the University of Oxford Health Economics Research Centre, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, NIHR Community Healthcare MedTech and IVD Cooperative, Cardiff and the Vale University Health Board, the University of Southampton, and Cardiff University.

It has been awarded funding of £1.4m from the NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) programme.

Dr Jamie Franklin, Head of the Institute of Imaging and Visualisation, said, “We are excited to be using Bournemouth University’s fantastic imaging facilities to contribute to this innovative and collaborative project.”

SIA game-changing ideas EoI call: reminder to drop-in!

At the risk of needling you with yet another blogpost regarding our exciting Strategic Investment Areas Game-Changing Ideas call for Expressions of Interest (closing 30 April), RDS will take this opportunity to remind you that there are a further two drop-in sessions, on 19 and 22 April respectively: you can find the meeting links on the blogpost regarding these events here: https://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/2021/04/01/the-call-for-game-changing-research-concepts-is-currently-open/.

Tips on completion of the EoI will be dispensed at those events, which are entirely informal and also provide possible networking opportunities with others whose ideas may resonatewith yours and with whom you may consider strategically joining join forces.

Finally, should game-changing ideas crossover with one of the other SIAs (as they invariably will, if grand!), we can advise that there are two remaining SIA briefings: Assistive Technology on 22 April, 10.30am, and Sustainability, Low Carbon Technology and Materials Science on 23 April at 10.00am. For the session links, see https://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/2021/04/12/88688/

Do pitch up for an informal chat over how you can make your idea a winning one. We look forward to seeing you there!

How do I get involved with the Strategic Investment Areas at BU? Insight for academics and professional service staff

Since BU’s strategic plan went live in 2018, one of the questions that I am frequently asked – in my capacity as a research manager – is how do I get involved in the Strategic Investment Areas? This is a remarkably tricky question to answer, as I’m always concerned that being overly prescriptive risks stifling creativity and innovation; and as such you won’t find a prescriptive list of ways to get involved in strategic growth. After all, we are a University, and not a sausage factory, so providing operational frameworks that assume certain inputs will lead to a set of standardised outputs, is far from appropriate.

I’ve also met with considerable antagonism over the years as to the nature of the SIAs with a common criticism that they focus on a small number of STEM orientated areas. As a social scientist myself (who spent ten years undertaking interdisciplinary research before stepping over to the ‘dark side’), I would dispute this perception, and would suggest that the scope of the SIAs is tremendous, and there is great contribution to be made from all disciplinary areas. I’ve yet to find any area of research which does not link, in some way at least, to the scope of the SIAs – although, feel free to challenge me! Much like undertaking public engagement, some disciplinary areas take a bit more creativity to make the connections, but it is always possible if you are willing.

But how do you make a meaningful contribution to strategic growth without a list of schemes, events and seed funding opportunities to feel as if you are ‘doing something’?  Here are some of my ideas, on how anyone from BU’s academic community can become more closely involved with the SIAs:

  • Get involved with an existing SIA-related initiative. They are all inherently interdisciplinary in nature, led and supported by welcoming colleagues. Details of the initiatives, including IMSET, IMIV and the ASV Network have been posted this week on the Research Blog.
  • Got an idea you’d like to pursue, or an area of interest and a skill set you’d like to contribute to something bigger? Get networking. Cross University strategic growth rarely happens owing to one individual working in isolation. One of the great joys of working in Higher Education is the ability to connect with a vast breadth of disciplinary and methodological expertise, and – perhaps more importantly – a set of colleagues with a passion for research and addressing the challenges that society faces.
  • Have an idea that has the potential to change the world? Tell the University about it so it can be enabled. We currently have an open call running for game-changing concepts so you can do exactly that. This is your opportunity to highlight what you could do and articulate what you need support with the achieve it.
  • Apply for external funding, be bold in how much you apply for and don’t think to yourself that it is ‘too early’ in your career. Funders, especially more ‘non-traditional funders’ are often looking for radical/innovative ideas to enable through funding and are often short of fundable solutions. Always ensure your application tells the funder how your research will enable their strategic aims and don’t assume they will be able to make the connection if you articulate your research interests and associated questions alone (i.e. without answering the question as to why it is beneficial to the funder to support you).
  • Build your external networks. In particular, consider how colleagues at BU can enable you to do this. For example, Dr Alastair Morrison – our International Partnerships Manager – does a fantastic job making connections between BU and Universities around the world. Ian Jones, our Head of External Engagement has an extensive contact book and is actively seeking ways to ensure he can enable our strategic research growth.
  • Build a digital presence by considering how you can reach out through the power of social media, including our very own research blog and your BU staff profile page (powered by brian.bournemouth.ac.uk). In the world of digital marketing, content is so important (hello algorithms), so get yourself known and have confidence in your ideas.
  • Ask those outside of academia what the major challenges that they face are. This is can be such a rich source of inspiration. Industry captains may well be able to articulate a problem their factories have faced for years, or children may ask the seemingly obvious questions which require research to resolve. One that sticks in my mind from a child at a local event who asked, ‘why don’t we make prosthetics for racing horses rather than putting them to sleep?’ Why not indeed.
  • Prioritise strategic research growth, make a plan and find a way of sticking to it. It’s very easy for research dreams to ‘get lost’ in the day to day, with education and domestic duties seemingly endless. It is important to carve out the time to think creatively and to plan what you will do by when. And to paraphrase Sheryl Sandberg, done is better than perfect (perfectionism being so interlinked with procrastination).

This is not exclusive to our academic community; our professional services have an integral role to play in enabling strategic research growth. Without engaged professional service colleagues, we will not be able to fully realise the potential of our game-changing research ideas. Exactly how  research becomes a lived reality depends on the nature of research and specific operational support required, but an excellent first step is to listen to researchers on how your service (and associated processes and culture) can be a core enabler. Knowledge exchange between academics and practitioners is an area I am passionate about and one which I am always delighted to discuss further, in any fora. Looking at the trajectory of other institutions can also be inspirational: The University of Bath’s historic development provides a fascinating reminder of how Universities can grow rapidly to meet the needs of society; hundreds of years of history is not a pre-requisite for being a world-leading research institution.  The success of such institutions has not been based purely on academic strengths, but the collaborative cross-team working to make an ambition a lived reality. Good practice exchanges with counter parts in other institutions can help to reveal the most effective path forward, and the diversions that are best avoided!

Securing strategic growth is not easy; it presents many challenges to overcome which are intellectual and operational in nature. That said, the challenges these present can be instrumental in our development and capabilities in leading transformative research (see, for example, the concept of a Crucible). What I do know, is that since joining BU some nine years ago, confirmed by our most recent REF submission, I have seen the University grow exponentially from 2014 to 2021. As we look ahead to the future, I look forward to continuing to collaborate with colleagues. I firmly encourage you all to engage with our SIAs, and for us all to collaborate, not just to secure a strategic growth for BU, but also address the core challenges society needs us to.

Animation, Simulation, Visualisation: you are already immersed….

“Smart” homes, cities, and motorways, the Internet of Things, and Digital Twins are just some of the 21st century phenomena fast becoming – if not yet a ubiquitous reality on the (Western) ground – at least now common parlance, and no aspect of our lived experience and myriad environments remains untouched by such technologies. As you will be aware, your research – in whatever field you specialise – is not unaffected by these developments. Our Animation, Simulation and Visualisation (ASV) Network literally and virtually plugs into these digital drivers and interfaces, now forming an expanding transdisciplinary group populated by talented, research-active academics from all BU faculties and several research centres, and sharing a commitment to growing high-end, collaborative, fundamental and applied research at BU.
Included in the network are our internationally reputable National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) and the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) – both renowned for sterling achievements in their fields – and our more recently launched Institute for the Modelling of Socio-Environmental Transitions (IMSET), and Institute for Medical Imaging and Visualisation (IMIV), who already have a raft of invigorating projects in the pipeline. They are exemplars of the scope and impact of ASV-based or deployed research, and mentioned here to fire up your enthusiasm to explore ASV and ponder how this strategic investment area may be relevant to or harnessed for your research. The strategic mission of the ASV network is to orient the valuable research projects undertaken by BU academics, their partners and stakeholders towards current “real-world” problems which require innovative solutions.
Whether it is entertainment and the pandemic-induced move towards virtual production, the rapidly-evolving digitisation of education, public health or environmental crisis management, the democratisation of medical self-surveillance, state-of-the-art ASV medical diagnostics, AR/VR-enhanced surgical training, virtual access to natural and cultural heritage, inter alia, ASV features in much of the research and practices, products and outputs immanent to these areas of knowledge and expertise. As well as conceptualising, supporting and securing funding for transdisciplinary projects, the ASV network seeks to nurture ECRs and MCRs in their career progression and encourage BU academics to network and explore ambitious, mutually beneficial cross-fertilisations from an ASV perspective which they may not have considered previously.
If you wish to explore how you might become involved in the mission, aims and objectives of the ASV strategic investment area, and ascertain how you might strategically tailor your research for the common good by becoming part of this broad-based, vibrant and dynamic network, please contact me, Nicolette, at nbliebchen@bournemouth.ac.uk, or via MS Teams for an informal chat.
To pique your interest in the strategic investment areas in general, do have a look at the SIA Expression of Interest call for Game-Changing Concepts on the BU Research Blog (on which you shall also find the EoI template: deadline 30 April 2021)

The Institute of Medical Imaging and Visualisation (IMIV): getting involved with this SIA enabled initiative

The Institute of Medical Imaging & Visualisation (IMIV) has come to fruition thanks to a central University strategic investment and support from the Dorset LEP Growth Fund. A cross University team, and a series of new appointments, have worked tirelessly over the past two years to turn the concept into a reality. Having overcome the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute will shortly be opening its doors to progress the strategic priorities of the Institute.

Some of the first projects that will utilise the MRI scanner at the heart of the institute, stem from the internal pump priming scheme announced in late 2020 and include:

  • a project to investigate alterations in functional connectivity following therapeutic cold-water immersion (led by Professor Hana Burianova)
  • a study investigating the brain networks involved when two people work together responding to visual targets (led by Dr Xun He)
  • the investigation of a novel, cost-effective and non-invasive therapeutic intervention for individuals with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (led by Dr Rebecca Rendell) and
  • a group of lumbar spine 3-D scans to inform future grant applications for studies into intervertebral loading during spinal motion using MRI and our niche fluoroscopy technology (led by Professor Alan Breen).

Projects are also planned by Professor Carol Clark exploring the impact of sub-concussion on footballers and a pilot study on the feasibility of using abbreviated MRI for liver cancer screening for at-risk patients, led by Anmol Gangi and Dr Jamie Franklin.

Of course, the possibilities for research relating to advanced imaging are endless. As this article from the Chan Zuckerberg initiative articulates, the past, present and future of medical imaging is a truly fascinating endeavour, with endless possibilities for the future through interdisciplinary collaboration.

To forward future research, the IMIV team welcomes research collaboration ideas and colleagues across BU to access the research facilities housed by the institute. To learn more, read about IMIV on BU’s website or contact the core team directly on: IMIV@bournemouth.ac.uk

Research in the time of COVID: Insights from IMSET and opportunities for collaboration  

In this blog post, Dr Fiona Coward explores the profound challenges faced in establishing a transformative research agenda when you lose two seasons of fieldwork, but reminds us of the importance of undertaking activities which are energising and inspiring. On behalf of the IMSET team, she also invites greater collaboration to accelerate our research contribution as we look towards the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) later this year.  

Well, what a time to pick to launch a research institute! Back in early 2020, we were very excited to have recruited four great new colleagues to the brand new Institute for the Modelling of Socio-Environmental Transitions (IMSET) and anticipated great things… Little did we know. A year later, still in lockdown, we’ve learned a few things about doing research in the time of COVID. How do you do research in lockdown? As many have found, doing anything in lockdown can be tricky. The stress of life under lockdown during a global pandemic is enough to deal with on its own, and of course those of us with caring responsibilities have had other pressures. Add that to the extra time consumed by the frantic shift to online learning – the need to record and caption lectures and plan engaging interactive virtual sessions in lieu of face to face seminars, the additional time spent supporting struggling students… For many of us, research had to take a backseat simply because there were only 24 hours in a day and we were exhausted.  

There are more practical problems, too: some research simply can’t get done in lockdown. Computer modelling can in theory be done from home… but only if you have the data. Producing new data, however, is … well, tricky. To generate entirely new data on global ecology and human behaviour, there’s no getting around the fact that you need to get out around the globe. It’s impossible to understand past patterns of sea level rise in northern Vietnam without going out there and logging the coordinates of sea notches on the ground; likewise, understanding past environments around the long-drowned continent of Beringia which once connected eastern Russia and north-western America can’t be done without fieldwork to collect samples of ancient plants and animal species. And without access to labs and specialist equipment, it’s impossible to analyse samples and data collected previously. We valiantly battled this one: IMSET’s postdoc was faintly embarrassed to have a new fridge delivered to her house at the start of lockdown, worried she’d be accused of stockpiling food rather than needing space to keep temperature-sensitive samples that could – with difficulty – be studied at home. OK, well fieldwork could wait, yes? Well, no, not really … much of IMSET’s fieldwork is highly seasonal in nature. For fairly obvious reasons, it’s quite difficult to collect ecological samples from Alaska during the northern hemisphere’s winter. Likewise, tramping around Vietnam or Jordan in the heat of summer is definitely best avoided. So when the window of opportunity for one year expires, that’s it until the following year …. We assumed. Only to find ourselves still in lockdown a full year later: two field seasons down. Even with the vaccination programme rolling out relatively swiftly in the UK, travel to other countries will remain difficult; where vaccination rates are slower than the UK, ethically it will not be possible even for vaccinated British people to travel there and work with local teams for extended periods. Similar problems are faced by researchers in any field where data collection is time-sensitiveFor those of us lucky enough to be on permanent contracts this is a blow; without data, associated schedules of processing and analysis, writing up, publications, dissemination and other impact activity have to remain on hold., pushed back indefinitely. For those on fixed term contracts – PGRs and post-doctoral researchers – it’s a massive problem. Extensions to funding from UKRI bodies seem unlikely, but future employment and careers hang on presentations, publications, collaborationsIt remains unclear how these issues will be accounted for, going forward. 

Well, then perhaps we could use the time instead to plan future research projects, develop grant proposals? Well, maybe … The funding landscape changed dramatically during the pandemic, with available funding shunted towards COVID-related research. While to a certain extent that’s understandable, we do also need to keep focus on longer-term challenges – climate change, for example. That’s not going away, global pandemic or no! Grant proposals already under way slowed as we and our collaborators dealt with all the additional demands on our time and thinking; some proposals just couldn’t be progressed because they relied on pilot studies, originally planned for 2020, that had been put on hold; RKE, struggling valiantly with a raft of short-term COVID related projects with extremely short lead times, understandably had less time for support; uncertainties over HE funding in the short and medium term prompted more careful scrutiny of prospective bids, and put the kibosh on some which had been years in development. 

Grants already submitted now look out of date as they failed to foresee the coming global pandemic; ones being submitted now need careful consideration of the ways in which they can be adapted or modified in the event of ongoing global or local lockdowns and COVID mitigation measures. Reviewing and decisions about outcomes either way is also taking longer, as everyone deals with the same problems. The funding landscape of the future remains unclear, but post-Brexit and in the wake (hopefully!) of the pandemic ongoing economic concerns forcing difficult decisions (witness the recent withdrawal of the ODA money from already allocated projects!), we can expect big changes. 

The past year has been a difficult one for many. Time for research was squeezed or simply vanished as we tried to get our heads around phonics (yes – teachers are saints)remain sane as we watched the death count grow on a daily basis; worrabout our loved ones and wonder when we might get to see them again.   And yet research remains important, even – dare I say it – fun. Energising. One thing I have learned is that just as the best response to feeling run down and exhausted is – counterintuitively – to do some exercise, the best response to despair in the face of the impossibility – surely? – of research, is to dive back in. Finding it difficult to think deeply about anything right now? Time-limited? (I know I’m both!) One answer might be to create short stints of time in the madness to just chat about your research interests. Maybe it will, ultimately, lead to a formal project, or collaboration, or grant proposal …. And maybe it won’t, but perhaps that’s OK. It will kickstart your grey matter and – dare I say it – give you a chance to think about something other than the day-to-day grind of life in a pandemic, to chat with friendly colleagues facing the same problems, and to explore research and fusion-related questions, issues and themes without any pressure. OK, so research in the time of COVID is difficult – but it’s difficult for everyone. It’s not just you, promiseSo let’s work together to improve things. Remember when research was fun, not just another chore you had to squeeze into your overstuffed day? Let’s bring a little of that fun back again.  

Part of that joy – and growth from the adversity we encountered – comes in seeking out new collaborations and, with it, directions for future research, impact and engagement. Not least as the UK looks towards hosting COP26 and considering the impact of climate change once again. With that in mind, we would like to invite colleagues across BU and beyond to work with us. IMSET has a series of events in the pipeline which all are welcome to attend, and if you can’t make them then just drop us a line and we can catch up with a virtual coffee and chatWe’re interested in all things sustainability, from systems modelling to working with local communities across the globe to understand how people interact with their environments and to develop resilience and sustainability at the grass roots. If you work in any area relating to sustainability, human/environment relations, community engagement or beyond, drop us a line! Contact the core team, or email IMSET@bournemouth.ac.uk

The past year has taught a lot – one thing it’s made abundantly clear is the power and importance of researchNot all of us can directly work on preventing the next global pandemic, but COVID has also sparked a lively debate about the impact of human interactions with other animals and with the environment more generally; probably many of us can contribute in some way to this wider picture, so if you’re interested, get in touch and let’s help each other get through! 

SIA open call for game-changing research concepts: what could you do?

In today’s blog post, Dr Nicolette Barsdorf-Liebchen, our Research Facilitator for Animation, Simulation & Visualisation explores game-changing research ideas that have come across her desk. To learn more about the call for game-changing research concepts, see our blog post on where to find out more information. 

“In case you are not quite sure just how game-changing your research ideas are, here are some examples randomly culled from the many diverse current projects around the globe to guide and inspire you. Some may even relate to your own field, and provide an indication as to possible directions in which you could drive your research. All game-changing ideas require interdisciplinary collaboration nowadays. The ones below typify projects which integrate two or more of the SIAs, and so represent paradigmatically the type of game-changing ideas we seek to support. Read, and be inspired!

Innovative Technology in the Manufacturing Industry

In their article “Augmented Reality – A Game-Changing Technology for Manufacturing Processes”, Kohn and Harborth (2018) explain that current research has shown that in the digital era companies are experiencing ever-increasing pressure to be both more productive and produce better quality goods while simultaneously cutting costs. The integration of innovative new digital technologies throughout the manufacturing process is now crucial, requiring fundamental transformation in businesses to cope with these increasing requirements, and continue to be competitive. The current integration of such an innovative technology like, eg., augmented reality in the manufacturing industry has a significant impact on different work processes, improving production operations and especially assembly processes, while applied AR solutions involve maintenance and inspection processes. If you think you may have just such an industry solution, let it wing its way to us via your EoI!

Digitalisation and Sustainability

Digitalisation towards sustainability is a rapidly-growing area of research and innovation around the globe (Seele and Lock, 2017), and if you are not on board, you will surely get left behind! E-health services, robotics, emission reduction solutions, and so forth, are all areas of vibrant development geared towards helping ourselves and saving our planet. Sustainability is the buzzword, and rightly so: our survival literally depends upon making almost every area of our lives sustainable. However, the overall “sustainability gap” (Lubin and Esty 2014) continues to be a major issue. As Seele and Lock (2017) observe, “The overconsumption of natural resources and its harmful consequences threaten the basis of our existence and that of future generations”. If you wish to be part of the global mission to achieve a more sustainable planet in light of the sustainable development goals, gear your idea in this green direction. Any research which targets strategic innovation via digitisation in the services of sustainability is by its very nature game-changing research.

Urban Design and Spatial Development

One striking Leverhulme project we have found which inspires us concerns urban design. We love Professor Marion Roberts’ award-winning project. She describes it thus: “Urban design as a practical activity can be loosely described as three-dimensional town planning. Urban designers set out the framework for the spatial development of urban places, at scales ranging from a whole town down to an urban square. This ‘specialist-generalist’ activity covers a complex assembly of agendas, as it tries to accommodate buildings, hard and soft landscaping, transport and movement systems and of course, people in all their diversity. Contemporary urban design theory and practice has largely avoided the night as a time-space…” This project focusses on the dark side and is thus a game-changer in terms of frameworks for urban design. (https://www.leverhulme.ac.uk/emeritus-fellowships/urban-design-and-urban-night)

Early Learning with Technology: Determining the Most Effective Use of Digital Learning Tools

The Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington describes 6 game-changing projects upon which its scientists are currently working. One of them concerns children and early learning with digital technology (http://ilabs.washington.edu/game-changing). Children are our future; we all know that. They are the ones to inherit this besieged planet and find messianically redemptive solutions for its diabolical troubles. So, from an ASV perspective, how do children benefit from the use of AR/VR technology in particular? Given that our visual sense is central to our learning processes, what we discover in experimenting with how children interact and learn with AR/VR could be used “to refine learning technologies, from computers to mobile phones, in ways that promise personalized learning in developing children”. CV-19 has required a rapid step-change in the further development of these tools, and the pedagogic research surrounding their use in early education. Let your ideas plug into the demand!”

Your opportunity to put forward the concepts for which BU will be known in the years to come!

The call for game-changing research concepts is currently open to enable the growth of BU’s Strategic Investment Areas.

This is your opportunity to put forward the concepts for which BU will be known in the years to come. Concepts that are prioritised for development by the SIA Steering Groups, will benefit from tailored institutional support to turn your idea into a reality.  This could include identification of match-funding, support from estates, personalised funding development support and much more – you tell us what you need!

 Game-changing research concepts are welcomed from all of our academic community across all career stages. 

To learn more about the SIAs, the open call and to discuss what you could do, read further details on the staff intranet The Teams links for each of the sesisons are here below for you to save in your calendars. For enquiries, please email sia@bournemouth.ac.uk. 

Briefing Events

Briefing events are taking place on the following dates:

  • Medical Science – 6 April, 9.30am

If you would like to join the meeting, please save this link in your diary and click on the link to join the meeting on the day: Click here to join the meeting

  • Animation, Simulation & Visualisation – 7 April, 10am

If you would like to join the meeting, please save this link in your diary and click on the link to join the meeting on the day: Click here to join the meeting

  • Sustainability, Low Carbon Technology and Materials Science – TBC

If you would like to join the meeting, please save this link in your diary and click on the link to join the meeting on the day:  TBC

  • Assistive Technology – 22 April 10.30am

If you would like to join the meeting, please save this link in your diary and click on the link to join the meeting on the day: Click here to join the meeting

 

General drop-in sessions

General drop in-sessions for any queries, to discuss potential ideas or to identify potential BU partners are taking place on the following dates/times supported by SIA Steering Group members and RDS staff:

  • 8 April 2pm

If you would like to join the meeting, please save this link in your diary and click on the link to join the meeting on the day: Click here to join the meeting

  • 19 April 11.30am

If you would like to join the meeting, please save this link in your diary and click on the link to join the meeting on the day: Click here to join the meeting

  • 29 April 2pm

If you would like to join the meeting, please save this link in your diary and click on the link to join the meeting on the day: Click here to join the meeting

 

The SIA call for game-changing research concepts: insights from the Institute for the Modelling of Social Environmental Transitions

In this guest blog post, Dr Emma Jenkins, outlines how a concept for interdisciplinary research has become a lived reality through a previous SIA EoI open call… 

The Institute for the Modelling of Socio-Environmental Transitions (IMSET) started off as a vague notion of where the field of archaeology is heading and where BU’s Department of Archaeology & Anthropology could make a significant contribution. The core challenges facing the world are summarised in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The problems behind most of these challenges, however, are neither modern nor restricted to the present – some have long histories that set the world on the trajectory it currently is while others are known to have already challenged communities and societies in the past. This is as true of the recent historic past, as it is of the deeper timelines of prehistory. IMSET was conceptually founded on the notion that we can learn from these past occurrences of socio-environmental transitions, and that what we learn from them can be useful for present and future challenges facing the world. Archaeology, anthropology and palaeoecology can contribute the necessary data, whereas computational modelling and analysis can help shed light on the complex dynamics of the interactions and bidirectional impact between people and their ecosystems.

These ideas gathered momentum with the first BU’s Strategic Investment Areas call for Expressions of Interest in 2018. What was but a vague notion to begin with, developed into a proposal to create a multidisciplinary research institute that straddled the fields of archaeology, anthropology, ecology and computer science with the aim of furthering our understanding of how human societies responded to climate and environmental change in the past in order to provide insights into how modern societies can adapt to the challenges facing them. This was a bold request which, to both our surprise and delight, was picked up to be developed into a Full Business Case in 2019 which enabled the creation of IMSET.

The development of IMSET was a team effort. We were one of the first projects to be asked to complete a Business Case and the first to be supported under the SIA call and, as such, we could be described as ‘lucky guinea pigs’! Some of the procedural ‘hoops’ that we needed to jump through were not really suitable for our purposes and we were also met with one or two ‘surprise deadlines’ but colleagues in RDS and the OVC went above and beyond to support us with some of these challenges. We also, all, learnt a lot from this process and our understanding is that the application procedure is much more transparent and streamlined than it was back in 2019. As an institute we have, on the whole, been fantastically supported throughout this journey by professional services staff across BU and our advice would be that if you have an idea, no matter how vague or crazy, you should go for it. If there was one piece of advice we would give, it would be don’t start a new research institute, that is predicated on the need for over-seas fieldwork and international collaboration, right at the beginning of a global pandemic! Otherwise Good Luck!

At BU we are keen to foster amazing, game-changing, transformative research ideas, so if you have one we would love to hear from you. You are invited to put forward your ideas through the current Strategic Investment Areas (SIA) EoI call for transformative research concepts, aimed at providing the dedicated, tailored support to make your research ideas a reality.

To learn more about the call, sign-up now for one of our open briefing sessions or learn more on the staff intranet.

If you would like to learn more about IMSET or collaborate directly with the team, email Dr Emma Jenkins or see their webpages