Enjoy listening to a short talk from our guest speaker before engaging in debate and discussion around that topic.
We’ll be joined by Dr Sharon Docherty on Tuesday 4 February 7:30-9pm (doors open at 6:30pm) No need to book, make sure you get there early though as seats fill up fast!
Crooked picture frames and ageing of perception
How we experience the environment around us involves the brain combining information from our different sensory systems. Something as ‘simple’ as staying upright involves signals from our inner ears, joints and eyes. Join us to discover how our perception of upright changes throughout our lifetime, and how different medical conditions can affect this. It may also make you reconsider whether your picture frames are straight.
As we go about our daily lives our hair is recording evidence of what we consume and of the environments we are exposed to. It can record how much you drink, whether you smoke or take drugs, or live in an environment where drug abuse is prevalent. Hair testing for drugs and alcohol provides evidence to the police, assists with family law issues, and is utilised in workplace testing and a variety of other settings. The interpretation of analytical data from hair testing is challenging however, and research is continuing to improve the validity of the process.
At this month’s Café Scientifique, Dr Richard Paul discussed the science behind hair testing for drugs and alcohol, and reviewed some of the applications of the technique. Richard highlighted how hair testing may be used in cases of drug facilitated crime, the use of hair alcohol testing to determine abstinence or chronic excessive consumption, and finally reviewed how hair testing will be utilised in new research to examine second-hand exposure to new psychoactive substances in prisons.
Drug facilitated crime
The term drug facilitated crime refers to when a person is subjected to a criminal act whilst they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately in many such cases a victim may experience memory loss caused by certain drugs, or be reluctant or unable to report the crime soon after it has taken place. Certain drugs associated with such crimes are often quickly eliminated from our body through natural processes, rendering blood and urine testing obsolete if too much time has passed following the crime. This is where hair testing has a crucial advantage: once drugs enter our hair they can remain bound and stable for very long periods of time. Richard discussed his research developing new techniques for the investigation of drug facilitated crime and examined cases utilising the technique.
How are drugs incorporated in our hair?
Drugs can enter our hair via three mechanisms;
The bloodstream – every hair on our body has a blood supply, and drugs or alcohol (metabolites) circulating in our bloodstream can access our hair via this system. Once in the hair, compounds can bind strongly to melanin and keratin in our hair.
Sweat and sebum – it has been shown that some drug and alcohol metabolites will be excreted via sweat/sebum, and then re-incorporated in hair that is in contact with sweat/sebum.
Alcohol itself (ethanol) is not tested for in the hair, the compound is too volatile. Instead researchers look for metabolites of ethanol in our system, focusing on ethyl glucuronide, and ethyl palmitate. These are biomarkers of alcohol consumption, and when found in hair samples above a certain concentration, provide good evidence of alcohol consumption. Hair alcohol testing is widely utilised in family law cases, often in child custody disputes. If one parent accuses the other of being an alcoholic, a court may request a hair alcohol test to provide evidence. Our research examines the factors that may influence the incorporation of alcohol biomarkers into the hair, as well investigating fingernails as an alternative testing matrix to hair.
New psychoactive substances in prisons
Richard discussed his latest research project investigating second-hand exposure to new psychoactive substances in prisons. NPS are new narcotic or psychotropic drugs many of which pose serious health risks. The abuse of such drugs in prisons (including Spice and similar compounds) is a significant problem and one which is experienced to different levels across many European countries.
Richard’s team are using a range of analytical techniques to assess the prevalence of NPS abuse in UK prisons and will also be assessing the extent to which prison staff are exposed to secondary drug fumes during their employment.
Dr Richard Paul reflects on his experience of speaking at Café Scientifique: ‘Presenting my research at Café Scientifique was an excellent opportunity to engage the public in debate around the applications and validity of hair testing. The audience was lively and focused, and we had a lot of excellent, thought provoking questions.’
We are taking a break in January but we’ll be back on Tuesday 4 February 2020!
Enjoy listening to a short talk from our guest speaker before engaging in debate and discussion around that topic.
We’ll be joined by Dr Richard Paul on Tuesday 3 December 7:30-9pm (doors open at 6:30pm) No need to book, make sure you get there early though as seats fill up fast!
The secret information hidden in your hair
As we go about our daily lives, our hair is recording evidence of what we consume and of the environments we are exposed to. It can record how much you drink, whether you smoke or take drugs, or live or work in an environment where drug abuse is prevalent. Join us to learn about the technology used to analyse hair and how it can be used in criminal cases to investigate drug facilitated crime, monitor alcohol consumption, and assess the exposure of prison guards to new psychoactive substances in UK prisons.
We are ready and rearing to go for the first Café Scientifique of 2018!
We will be joined by Dr. Phillipa Gillingham, who will be discussing whether managing protected areas is a wise way of spending conservation resources.
Recent climate change has caused many species to change their distributions to try and track suitable conditions. However, borders of the areas that we are managing and protecting do not move, potentially being a waste of time and money.
What’s your opinion? Come on down to Café Boscanova on Tuesday 6th February to join the discussion. Find out more on our website.
Dr. Gillingham is currently working on the likely impacts of climate change on protected areas in the UK.
Therefore, in just a couple of days, thanks to the staff of the Orthopedic Research Institute who provided the location, we started shooting, and here is part of the interview:
I would like to thank Davon, Sacha and all the BU staff for this interview, it was great, and I really hope that helps to have more people involved in public engagement activities.
Following the full script of the interview.
Could you tell us a little bit of your self
My name is Francesco Ferraro, and I am a PhD Student here at Bournemouth University. Currently, I am working on a project which aims to understand the effects of inspiratory muscles training on balance and functional mobility for healthy older adults. The goal is to develop an innovative and effective training for falls prevention.
Before arriving here at BU, I obtained a Bachelor Degree in sports science from University of Rome Foro Italico while in the meantime I was working as a football coach and after I moved to Naples for complete my Master Degree in sports science prevention and wellness. There I worked on motion analysis in young adults, while in the meantime I was a trainer of the Italian Federation of Weightlifting.
Could you tell us your favourite public engagement opportunity at BU?
It is hard to tell, I have enjoyed all the events in which I took part including Pint of Science, Café Scientific, The Festival of Learning, lecturing at University of Third Age and others.I gained something from each of them, and I gave something at each of them. But if I have to pick one, and only one I would say the Festival of Learning. Among all the events FOL is the one who gives you the opportunity to meet all kind of people.
You have the opportunity to explain your research to a very young audience, as well as people with excellent knowledge in your field, while surrounded by members of the BU Staff, BU students and colleagues that are there to help you and motived you.
Why do you find public engagement a good asset to both your research and the community?
My study aims to understand the effect of inspiratory muscle training on balance and functional mobility. My final purpose is to develop a strategy to prevent falls accidents in people over 65.
Therefore it is a research for the community as any other research, especially in health and social science, is done for the people. Hence what would be the point to work for the community and do not explain to them what you are doing? As researchers we have the opportunity to share with others much more than a picture on Twitter, or Instagram, we have the opportunity to share knowledge, ideas and instead of likes, we will have more questions, more curiosity and the chance to give to the audience our ideas.
At Café Scientifique, the public was really engaging in the fact your research was trying to better the wellbeing of the older generation. Why do you think people are so engaged in your research?
At Café Scientifique I was able to give to them my idea. Instead of explaining right away what my research does I told them the idea behind it and why is important to research on it. The reason why we had a great respond must be sought in my past years of work in the public engagement.
Any research is fascinating in is way, but is crucial to share it with others, not only peers and experts but also with the people for which the research is done.
You use your public engagement to advertise the need for participants in your current research, is this an effective way of getting the participants you need?
Yes, it is. But it is not the reason why I do public engagement. I have been introduced to public engagement by my supervisors: Alison McConnell, James Gavin and Thomas Wainwright with the aim to share what learned and discuss it with others.
If you were to advice new researchers about public engagement, what would you say to them?
Do it if you want to do it.
Public engagement is not easy especially if you do it because you “have to”. Do it if you want to share your research if you want to challenge yourself, if you want to meet the community then you will make a great event. You must have the right motivation if you do it just to “hunting” participants it won’t be neither correct or fun, and people will understand, with the result that you and your research will lose trust.
What do you gain most from public engagement?
Motivation – to work more for the community, to help people to learn and understand what we are doing here at the BU and how it helps their wellbeing.
Confidence – have the opportunity to talk to 50, 100 or even 200 people at each event, has grown my confidence inside and outside the University.
Knowledge – I do believe that everyone has a story to tell and you can learn a lot from it. I am always surprised at the questions that I receive.
People curiosity drives my curiosity as well and helps me to think and re-think at my research.
What are you going to do next?
I do have a couple of projects going on, but I will take part in the next Festival of Learning (third year in a row), and I will see what other opportunities the public engagement team will give to us.
Café scientific was one of the best public engagement activities that I have done in the past years, and I do recommend going there and deliver your talk to the public.
In all my past experiences (including pint of science, the festival of learning, U3A, the Air Show and others) I have always met great people who were interested to know and learn more about what we are doing here at BU, and at Café Scientific, it was no different.
I arrived there 1h before the talk, the café (vintage/steampunk style), was already set up for the event, thanks to the great work of the Public Engagement Team. So I had all the time to calm down and get ready.
At about 19:30 the place was packed, and few people had to listen to the talk standing up.
A sample of the presentation is available on Youtube:
Even if the room was fully booked, the audience was very quiet and focused on listening to the 40 minutes presentation.
However, the best part was at the end, and I am not referring to the delicious brownie cake that Boscanova Café made for celebrating the 5th birthday of Café Scientific, but for the questions.
I was happily surprised to have so many interesting questions, which made me think again about my projects.
There were questions about: the effect of singing and yoga exercises on balance; why not make a POWERbreathe that instead of a mouthpiece has a nosepiece; how much the improvement in balance was due to the strength of the muscles trained and not just the ability to breathe deeper; why not test the effects of meditation, and others very intelligent questions.
Finally, it was challenging and I hope that all the audience received the right message: research can be fascinating and fun, especially if you can share it with others.
If you are interested in know more about how to breathe your way into balance, contact me at email@example.com
In the run up to our next Café Scientifique event, we wanted to remind you of some of the brilliant speakers we have had in the past. Check out the video below to watch the fantastic Dr John McAlaney explaining our addiction to anything digital.
Our next event has Professor Jessica Teeling from the University of Southampton, sharing the impact of age on the immune system and how this damages tissue in our retinas, consequently making us lose our sight. It is an interactive Café Scientifique that definitely shouldn’t be missed!
We look forward to seeing you at Café Boscanova on the 5th September.
We have a brilliant Café Scientifique coming to Café Boscanova on September 5th. Professor Jessica Teeling will be joining us from the University of Southampton to help shed some light on our vision, helping to understand why we lose our sight when we get older.
As a professor of Neuroimmunology, as well as a founding member of Genmab NL – a company that produces therapeutic antibodies for cancer and inflammatory diseases – Professor Teeling is certainly someone to listen to when it comes to the central nervous system and the ageing process.
This interactive Café Scientifique will help you understand all there is about the eye, whilst explaining the role of the immune system in tissue damage to the ageing retina. It’s certainly not something to miss if you are interested in the ageing process of the body, or a fan of Neuroimmunology!
If you are free on the 5th September around 7:30, there’s no better place than Café Boscanova. We will see you there for a relaxed atmosphere of education and discussion with others hungry to enrich their learning experience.