Category / Strategic Investment Areas

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 (Hana Burianova)
  • a study investigating the brain networks involved when two people work together responding to visual targets (Xun He)
  • the investigation of a novel, cost-effective and non-invasive therapeutic intervention for individuals with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (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 (Alan Breen).

Projects are also planned by 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 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

What’s your idea of a research game changer?

When I was asked to think about what signifies a ‘game changer’ in terms of research, it didn’t take me long to think about the huge effort and scientific endeavour that has led to the development of multiple COVID-19 vaccines, in a step that will hopefully lead to a more ‘normal’ way of life over the coming months.

As the government announces plans to approve the fourth coronavirus vaccine, what seemed like an impossible feat a year ago was achieved in a matter of months. Twelve months ago, few of us would have imagined we’d have developed, trialled, and approved four vaccines for use in the time we have. What we have seen over the last year is nothing short of game changing research in its highest form.

I’m not a scientist nor an academic, but I have worked in health research for over 10 years and the collective effort that has gone into all COVID-19 research is clear. Over 1 million participants have now taken part in COVID-19 research, across over 180 studies in the UK. This has been achieved through doctors, nurses, members of the public, academics, scientists, researchers, research managers and administrators, regulators, life science companies, funders and policy makers all working together to a timeline considered unusual for clinical research. This monumental effort has led to world-leading research into therapeutics, as well as delivery of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which saw 10,000 UK patients recruited over 20 sites.

Game changing research – what is it?

When I looked up the definition of a ‘game changer’, the Oxford English Dictionary tells me it’s “an event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current way of doing or thinking about something.” Not all of us are going to have the opportunity to develop a new vaccine, but we can all think of a new way of doing something, and that’s the beauty of research.

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.

SIA open call for game changing concepts: Hear from BU collaborator, Paul Brookes from Siemens, about the future R&D needs of industry

Bournemouth University is delighted that Paul Brookes, Head of Innovation, Siemens ITS at Siemens Mobility Ltd, will be providing an open briefing session to BU on Thursday 15th April at 12noon. He will explore current research priorities before an open Q&A session. This online event will be chaired by SIA Conveners, Professors Christos Gatzidis and Kate Welham.

Paul’s experience spans three industry sectors: computer systems, motion control and intelligent transport systems. He has specialties in broad and deep understanding of electronics, embedded software, cloud (AWS), people management, employee development, competency frameworks, networking, design thinking, innovation and business development. Paul is currently working on 5G, IoT, connected car, infrastructure as a service, cooperative perception and AI.

Paul works closely with BU, is an External Advisory Board member for Animation, Simulation & Visualisation SIA, and has kindly agreed to provide insight from his experience as to the future research needs of industry.

This is an opportunity to develop expressions of interest for the SIA open call for game-changing research concepts.

To register for this open session, please email sia@bournemouth.ac.uk to receive the diary invitation and video conference link.

 

 

Defining BU’s research future: what could you do?

If ever there was a year in which technology has transformed the ways in which we live our lives, it has been 2020-21. Gone are the meetings in formal committee rooms, and the casual chat with a colleague over a cup of coffee, and enter the plethora of video conference facilities that now shape our lives.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of this to me (as an entirely biased social scientist!) is how the challenge that society faces, combined with the technology at our fingertips, has led to profound (and I suspect long-lasting) shifts in our social practices. But how will technology change our lives in future?

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport have recently released a guide detailing their top 10 Tech Priorities, summarised as follows:

  1. Rolling out world-class digital infrastructure nationwide
  2. Unlocking the power of data
  3. Building a tech-savvy nation
  4. Keeping the UK safe and secure online
  5. Fuelling a new era of start-ups and scaleups
  6. Unleashing the transformational power of tech and AI
  7. Championing free and fair digital trade
  8. Leading the global conversation on tech
  9. Levelling up digital prosperity across the UK
  10. Using digital innovation to reach Net Zero

Arguably, whilst none of these are new/surprising thematic areas, they do – in themselves – embed challenging research questions in which academic research will be integral to secure and progress societal expectations.

Furthermore, although they are labelled as ‘tech’ priorities – for me, they are inherently interdisciplinary in their very nature. Effective leadership and engagement surely requires a multidisciplinary approach, achieving net zero won’t happen with technological solutions alone – we will also need profound social change. Barriers to start-ups and scaleups aren’t necessarily owing to a lack of innovation, but around how IP is protected, understood and shared.

As a community of researchers, it is important that we consider and challenge the technological imperative and draw upon our interdisciplinary strengths to contribute effectively to our future. What could you do to contribute to this agenda and progress academic research with it? Do you and your collaborators have fundamental research questions that could provide this insight, that as a University we can support you in developing? If so, could you consider developing an EoI for our next SIA open call for concepts?

BU is committed to nurturing the game-changing research concepts which will define our future, through our Strategic Investments Areas (SIAs). To learn more about the current SIA EoI call for transformative research concepts, sign-up now for one of our open briefing sessions or learn more on the staff intranet.

SIA open call for game changing research concepts: what could you do? Sign up now to find out more!

Last Friday, we announced the call for game-changing research concepts 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 and sign-up for sessions now by emailing sia@bournemouth.ac.uk. 

Briefing events are taking place on the following dates:

  • Medical Science SIA briefing session, led by Prof Stephen Tee – 9.30am on 6th April
  • Animation, Simulation & Visualisation SIA briefing session, led by Prof Kate Welham – 10am on 7th April
  • Assistive Technology SIA briefing session, led by Prof Christos Gatzidis, 10.30am on 22nd April
  • Sustainability, Low Carbon Technology and Materials Science SIA briefing session, led by Prof Richard Stillman, time and date TBC

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:

  • 1st April at 2pm
  • 8th April at 2pm
  • 19th April at 11.30pm
  • 29th April at 2pm

Email sia@bournemouth.ac.uk to get your diary invitation now!